“So you ask for a hotter fire, a fiercer confrontation. Even though this is often painful rather than pleasurable, it’s all right, for you are reaching toward that freedom which lies beyond pleasure and pain. When you want to burn away the grip of your ego on your awareness you’ll endure whatever is needed to clean up your life.” – Ram Dass
A spiritual journey gets hardcore when your commitment to it rises above all else. As you come to realize that everything is a spiritual experience – every encounter, every relationship, every problem, every joy – you are inevitably confronted with the heavy stuff, the seedy stuff you need to fundamentally change about the way you view the world and your role in it.
It can be excruciatingly tough to face and forgive yourself for all kinds of madness: jealousy, hatred, anger, judgment, abuse, greed. We’d rather not look at those marks on our own mind.
But only through forgiveness will we see that the things that trip us up the most – that keep us from our grandest expression – are just illusions born of fear, not the reality of love.
“Fear condemns and love forgives. Forgiveness thus undoes what fear has produced, returning the mind to the awareness of God. For this reason, forgiveness can truly be called salvation. It is the means by which illusions disappear.” – A Course In Miracles
Unearthing the ways in which we are weak, the ways in which we need help, the ways in which we cling to fear in spite of ourselves, becomes the fire through which we are made to walk.
Our egos will resist the blaze. Ego will convince us we can’t handle that kind of penetrating purification, that without all of our petty bullshit addictions to what harms us and keeps us small, we’ll be nobody.
That without all of our complications, worries, anxieties and obsessions we won’t exist.
But the truth is that by surrendering the heaviest parts of our self-loathing over to Love, we become infinitely more powerful, not less. Strikingly more present and alive, not invisible.
Birthing our personal truth isn’t pretty; it’s a rugged process and it’s hard. If we are more concerned with being perfect than being real, we will never get there.
One of the wildest things that strikes me repeatedly as I continue to write about and explore spirituality and creativity is the inseparable connection that seems to exist between the two. I am constantly convinced that to walk the artist’s path is to walk the soul’s path, every step.
Both ask of us surrender and commitment. Both offer a ceremonial healing of sorts, a walk through the ferocious fire.
Both, about learning to love ourselves in all the ways that break us down.
In talking about the process of writing his most recent album, Mutineers, British singer-songwriter David Gray describes the gut-wrenching creative stretch he’d not been ready to put himself through until it was time to create this album.
His words touch beautifully on his personal journey of soul and sound:
“Out of the apparent traumas of that procedure “tears, furniture getting thrown,” something more sublime began to emerge. “I was reaching, I was feeling for things rather than knowing and placing, and something far more interesting happened, and there’s such an authority about any recording that’s made in the heat of the moment when you’re actually discovering it as you’re recording it.” – from David Gray’s website
It’s tough to expel the demons even as you’d like to cling to them; to release the illusions and accept the light and grace of who we truly are. To get to the ultimate freedom that lies beyond pleasure and pain.
But getting past the burn, getting to that rare freedom, is what allows us a command, an authority over the development of ourselves, our purpose, and our craft.
Incredibly, it’s not the least bit easy to fall hard in love with yourself.
I guess we can smile, though, that the Universe has one hell of a sense of irony. ;)
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