Sunday, March 4, 2018
It’s Not Always Kumbaya
People think that when you live a spiritually awakened life, you are always serene, always la la happy, always wise.
But that’s not true.
First of all, spiritual awakening is not a one time thing. As Adyashanti says, there is no such thing as enlightenment. There are only enlightened moments, because enlightenment, or awakening, can only happen in this moment. And this one.
Second, even enlightened moments are not always kumbaya. Enlightened moments are those in which we are fully engaged with what is, directly experiencing the present moment. Without the filter of our judgments and stories about what is happening. Without the desire to hold onto or change or avoid reality. Without the refuge of alternative facts. Just realizing and accepting that what is, simply is.
Sometimes what is happening is hard, or sad, or unpleasant. We might have a variety of feelings, including some we might label as “bad.” Perhaps I am angry. I can try to deny it and hide it, especially from myself. Or I might try to transform it into something more lofty, more spiritually acceptable.
Or I can just let it be, knowing that without my adding energy to it through struggle, it will soon dissipate on its own. I need not express it outwardly towards others, but I can acknowledge it with compassion and hold it tenderly like a cranky baby until it is soothed. I can refrain from adding judgment to whatever is happening and however I’m handling it.
One time something happened that was so startling and frightening, I was immediately thrown into my reactive, reptile brain. I lashed out in a violent response that later, when the adrenaline was spent, seemed like a humiliating abandonment of all my “inner work.”
Pouring out my misery to my qigong teacher, I bemoaned my lack of spiritual fortitude. I felt like a fraud, preaching what I utterly failed to practice in the moment of testing. He listened patiently, his face open but neutral. When I finally wound down, I looked to him, seeking guidance, penance, redemption. I expected he would tell me where I went wrong and how to do better. I wanted to do better.
He didn’t say anything for what seemed like a long time but was probably just seconds. Then he leaned forward and said gently, “How do you know that what you did wasn’t exactly what was called for in that moment?”
Our notions of how we “should” act, our efforts to mold ourselves into some walk-on-water guru, our judgments of how we always fall short, all do violence to ourselves by perpetuating the very separation that we seek to heal.
What we yearn for is right here, in this moment, in plain view if we look with unclouded eyes and embrace what we see with the arms of compassion. And while it might not always be kumbaya, it is always perfect.
I am what I am, and that’s all that I am. ~Popeye the sailor man