WHAT CREATIVE FORCE MANIFESTS astoundingly inspirational individuals? What allows some human beings to become capable of realizing magnificence, often in spite of severe resistance? Nelson Mandela. Aung San Suu Kyi. Martin Luther King, Jr. Thich Nhat Hahn. Mahatma Gandhi. I speak their names aloud, vibrating with reverence for their accomplishments and the beauty of their humanity. I place their photographs on the walls of my home, looking upon them with tenderness, awe and respect.
Because I work in the field of healing and spirituality, continuously surrounded by those who are striving to improve their lives and the lives of others, I am familiar with the question of how to put one’s spirituality into action. Honestly, I challenge the very premise and suggest that our primary focus needs to be directed towards realizing an intimacy with the Self. I admit my personal bias for explaining great humanitarian acts by attributing them to spiritual practice and divine inspiration. I cannot honestly say that all the individuals I honor and admire were adherents to a spiritual path. I study the lives of the magnificent ones in an attempt to understand what fueled their creativity and led to greatness. Human beings are gifted with consciousness and, yet, science and technology are still challenged to explain how it actually functions. The mystery is largely left uncharted. We also do not know what creates spiritual experience or how it inspires a paradigm shift. We only observe the results and marvel that somehow, contact with the spiritual fosters potent change.
I have been increasingly adverse to the hype regarding spirituality, and in particular, enlightenment. The marketing of the mysterious, sacred aspects of human consciousness only serves to cheapen the experience. The materialism of the West is intent on molding spirituality into an object with an associated business model. Our divinity should not be distorted by superlatives and we must avoid the promise of a shortcut to ecstasy. Our spirituality is neither mechanical nor predictable.
Life is a continuous stream of challenges. We are tested by circumstance and constant change. How we respond is a reflection of the quality of our inner life. If we react violently, it is likely because our mind is clouded by grief, regret, jealousy, competition, anger — any one of the many emotions that arise when we are not at peace with ourselves. If we meet the moment with equanimity, compassion and an open heart, it is confirmation that our inner world is in order and our glaze clear, free of the dark veil created by past injury or future desire.
It is vital to know what motivates us and to be intimate with the many forces comprising our personality. The legacy of wisdom offered by master teachers from many spiritual traditions encourages deep contemplation in order to meticulously examine what in the mind prolongs suffering and prevents access to liberation. I know from personal experience that once one is aligned with Stillness, a process is initiated that allows the turbulence of the mind to increasingly soften and quiet. A stable place of reference forms — a resource of peace, clarity and compassion that expands into all areas of life. This Stillness is aligned with our purest potential. Allowing regular contact with sacred Stillness increases the possibility that we live and express from the most magnificent of human values.
The miracle of consciousness is an inherent aspect of us. It is our natural inheritance. The task is to clear the muddle so that we can live from the still place within. It is neither an expensive nor grueling task. It is exquisitely simple. The tools required are self-discipline and focus. We are invited to change our habitual vacillation between thoughts regarding the past and the future, to be diligent and patient in tending our inner world so that we can reside fully in the present. It is only in the present where we can locate Eternity’s gifts.
Last November, alone, high in the Andes in a snowstorm, I met a profound, deep peace in myself. In spite of the circumstances, I was fully present. My concerns dissolved and I was softly, simply held by Eternity. A part of me still vibrates with the sense of oneness I encountered that night. I often return to this reference point in meditation. During my daily activities, I notice that the qualities I long to embody are finding natural expression: patience, compassion, and clarity.