Counting Blessings—What an Awful Life (Awful or Awe-Full?)
During a recent meditation I was surprised to find myself reflecting on the word Awful (Awe Full). Like so many words we use without ever really thinking about them, the word originally had a very different definition. The archaic definition:
Somewhere along the line, the balance tipped and a word that began as being “filled with Awe” or Wonder became swallowed up by the Fear, and its connotations became almost universally negative.
As I considered the word twisting around in my consciousness, I determined that my life is indeed Awful these days. I am, as always, filled with Awe at the magnificence of the Creation we live within, and sadly, too often filled with fear and dread at the directions I so often see it going. To progress on any Spiritual Path, one must overcome that fear and dread. Not in the sense of defeating it, but from rising above, seeing the bigger picture or plan, and releasing the limitations that fear always enforces.
One of my main objectives these days on my own Path is to release the lingering fear that is holding me back, and to once again experience the World filled with Awe and Wonder— to See the Awefull Truth of it all.
For today, I am offering up another edited post from my previous Blog that still holds much meaning for me…
Peace, Love and the Path to Enlightenment
Being at peace, finding contentment and following your bliss are among the highest of spiritual ideals. They are wonderful states to contemplate. Just thinking in such terms evokes an emotional gestalt for me that I can only describe as “the warm fuzzies”. But practically speaking, is it likely that such states can be achieved and maintained in this frantic, chaotic and fast paced world we inhabit?
There are tools like yoga and meditation that can help. There is mindfulness—immersion in the present without the nagging voice of memory prattling in your ear. Neither will anticipation or anxiety about the future be distracting you. Nice when you can manage it, but often difficult in a world of deadlines and hectic schedules. Certainly, we all encounter people who are very “Spiritual“, who seemingly have it all together and just radiate their Love and Harmony to everyone they meet. Some of them are even genuine. More power to those few. Spiritual attainment is hard work. You can’t just meditate and think good thoughts.
More often, this spiritual realization comes as the result of years of effort, of divesting oneself of the very human accouterments of greed, desire, selfishness and pettiness. It requires being willing to look back over life, to both release and heal all that has occurred in the past. All of this demands that we both See ourselves for all that we are and have been, and that we find it in us to forgive ourselves also.
There are no magic shortcuts to Enlightenment, nor are there easy Paths to get there. You have only to look around though, to see that there are plenty of folks out there who would offer these very same to you. It is true, however, that nothing truly worth having comes easily or cheaply. So, if this book or DVD, or that course and teacher promise to set you on a Path to Realization, what do you choose? Is it easy as that? In a consumption driven culture, are we able to purchase the Keys to the Kingdom with a credit card or PayPal account?
Umm! Useful tools perhaps. But if you show me an Online Shaman who can convey your Initiations to you with a Certificate after you pay her/him enough money, I will show you a freshly shorn sheep. Look in the mirror.
Each of us is ultimately left to discern for ourselves what coin we’re willing to spend, and indeed, whether we want this spiritual aspect of being enough to make the required sacrifices. The Secret masked by all of the religious and philosophical Mysteries throughout the ages, isn’t really a secret at all in my view. To embark upon a Path of spiritual attainment requires your readiness for same. And, if you are ready, your absolute and unwavering Intent that it be so. That is all. However, until you have reached that point, it all remains a great Mystery indeed.
Now, anyone reading this has no way of knowing whether I have a clue about what I am speaking of—or not. That is perfectly alright with me. I have nothing to gain by making any of these statements or postulations. I have been privileged, in the past, to attain some rather profound spiritual states and I should very much like to believe that I am moving in those same directions again.
Making a Choice
Not that have I ever ceased to struggle in these directions, mind you, but it has been a struggle. More of one than I have been up for at some points. Life, with all of its insistent demands and cares too often keeps me mired in what I can only call Deep Earth Energies―not quite Hell, but this manifest world’s equivalent. I have known for a long while that it is Time for me to Seek the Light again, and I think perhaps I am supposed to take along any who care to follow in this instance. Having achieved certain levels of what I’ll call Enlightenment, not just once, but on several different occasions, there are those who may rightly wonder why I did not maintain that exalted state, and why I do not now consider myself in it.
I know a lot―about the processes involved in pursuing a spiritual path, about what sacrifices need to be made and how to go about making them. I am familiar with the need to maintain an outlook that is congruent with spiritual attainment. But for a long time I no longer Knew these things. In other words, I lacked the knowingness or understanding that transforms mere information into Awareness and Transcendence.
In each instance that I have reached one of these spiritual plateaus, I have been given a choice. The choice is whether to continue along the Path, to become free of the need for incarnation in the physical form, or to go back into the World, to be plunged once more into the mundane and from that vantage, to assist others to heal and to move toward their own freedom from the mortal veil. Though I could often as not kick myself during the in between, there is no real choice. Once your Heart and Eyes are wide open, Service to Spirit is the only possible action.
In between these periods of Enlightenment―you forget. You forget how to Be and you forget the reasons you are pursuing this Path. Awareness returns oh so slowly, and if you are not careful, you will be consumed by despair when you do begin to remember. Spirituality, like almost everything in life, tends to be cyclical. There are mountains and valleys, and when you walk through the Valley of the Shadow, it is very difficult to recall the view from those lofty peaks you have since quitted. I have been mostly in one of those valleys for a number of years now.There were intervals when I wondered if it would ever be Time to complete the climb again, and sometimes felt hopeless that it ever should occur. But I feel such stirrings in my Heart these days. The return of Memories long mourned has begun in earnest.
For a very long time, I Knew I needed to make changes— physically, mentally and emotionally. I would try, but seemed unable. Time and again I would realize that the Still, Small Voice was whispering to me. Learning to listen to Ones’ inner voice, or Higher Self if you like, is one of the most important facets of spiritual realization. I am quite accomplished at listening, though I also remain a master at avoidance when the mood is upon me or if I don’t like what I Hear. Ultimately, true change comes when you are ready, without being forced or coerced. All that was really required was that I start listening, and quit judging myself when I couldn’t accomplish all that I thought I should.
What sort of changes do I need to make? Mostly ones that a great many people in our culture also need. More exercise―in my case, other than my usual activities, I have resumed a long interrupted practice of Yoga. And more Meditation time. Both of these things, while not required, facilitate spiritual growth as well as nurturing body and mind. Nutritionally, I have oftentimes fallen into bad habits over the past few years. I pretty much let my body have its own way. Like many others, it likes diet sodas, sugar and potato chips. Lucky for me, my body is also enamored of fruits, vegetables and not so fond of lots of refined grains, so it is not so great a challenge to make changes as it might be. In the past I have at times been vegetarian, vegan and even tried a macrobiotic diet for a short while. Do I think that is a necessity for someone pursuing spiritual growth? Not really, but if anyone is interested, I will perhaps discuss more on the subject at some later time.
I am doing an Awfully (definition: very or extremely) lot better these days. Change has found me, and slowly I am feeling more Myself, and no longer so tentatively resuming my Journey. Ultimately, it needs to be the right Time. We Seek because a spark is ignited in our Heart that will not allow us to do otherwise. We follow the Path because to do aught else is a pain we cannot contemplate. I feel that call as I have not in many weary years, and it may take me awhile to completely hit my stride, but I will follow. And if I can be of assistance to any others along that Way, it shall be my privilege and blessing to do so.
Follow Your Bliss!
“If you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. Follow your bliss and don’t be afraid, and doors will open where you didn’t know they were going to be.”
― Joseph Campbell