My dear friends...
Knowing something and accepting it are two different things. I discovered this when I finished (or thought I had finished) my exploring. "Exploring," you will remember from our previous weeks' discussion here in the Bulletin, is Tool #3 in my creation of The Holy Experience. Today, we're going to discuss Tool #4: "Embracing." This is about truly embracing a new idea about everything--who I am, who God is, why we are here...everything.
I had spent years looking at many different religions, philosophies, belief systems, paths to enlightenment, methods of consciousness-raising, self- realization techniques, body-mind-spirit integration trainings, personal growth retreats, programs and workshops of every type, shape, size, and approach.
I read books, listened to lectures, attended seminars, did fire walks (yes, I walked across a bed of glowing hot coals not once, but twice), meditated, put myself on ten-day liquid cleansing fasts, disciplined my body (well, a little at least), and even at one point sat atop a telephone pole for ten days and nights! (Not as part of any spiritual training. It was just one of the many weird, offbeat things I have done in my life through which I confronted myself and my fears.)
After all of this I felt that I was no closer to grander knowing or greater awareness than when I began. That is not to say that none of these activities were valuable. It is simply to notice that I was not ready to embrace what they had to show me. The old saying, "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear" also works in reverse: when the student is not ready, all the teachers in the world will make no difference at all.
Still, I had picked up and used--without consciously knowing it--Tool #1 in what later evolved into Ten Instruments of the Holy Experience. I had engaged the energy of yearning. This energy, in fact, had been engaged in me from the time I was a small boy. Even in those earliest days of my life I wanted to know more about what I understood from my parents to be God, and what I understood from them about Life, and what I understood from them about other human beings.
Later in my life I came to realize that much of what I understood was, in fact, not true. At least, it was not true for me. It may have been true for my parents and for my childhood role models and teachers, but it was not true for me. I had no idea if any of these understandings were even true objectively. I only knew that they were not my truth.
(I am speaking now about some of my childhood ideas about God and religion, about life and its purpose, and about other human beings.)
Standing in the Land of the Unsure was very scary. After all, the people who gave you the ideas you once held to be true were very high authority figures in your life. These are the people you would have to make wrong if you rejected their ideas and their truths, and struck out to find your own.
That wonderful teacher of mine, Terry Cole-Whittaker, once helped me understand what my resistance was to embracing a new truth, my own truth, about something. "Who would you have to 'make wrong' in order to accept what you know to be true inside of you?" she asked. In one case it was my father. In another case, it was my mother. In still another case it was my favorite childhood teacher. Rather than make them "wrong," I held onto their truth, clung to their story, and made it real.
Next week: a look at how I took something that my mother told me and turned it into a "truth" that "ran" my life for 30 years...and how this can happen to you.
With Hugs & Pure Love,
Read this week's Letter to Neale here
Read a message from one of the prisoners impacted by our Prison Outreach HERE
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