Being real in this world of fantasy film, video games, mass media marketing and 24-hour-everything isn’t easy, is it. Real means whole. Whole means complete. To me, ‘being real’ means spirituality.
Our society wants us to be less than all we can be. It wants us to turn from our intuition and from our heart, and to live from our head space: want more, think less, be good consumers.
So I swim against the tide of the conditioning and ‘mis-education’ that I experienced as a child and as a young adult, at home and at school.
There is a battle going on—between the side of me that wants things to remain the same, to control, and thus to ease into a lazy life of comfortable mediocrity; and the side of me that wants to embrace change, go with the flow and surrender fully to the wonder and magic of this present moment.
They say that ‘all is fair in love and war.’ Well, I use all the weapons I can get my hands on. I employ every strategy available.The purpose of this article is to share one of those strategies with you.
It is: constantly remembering my motivation.
I try to keep in mind why I walk this spiritual path. So much of the world around me is geared towards making me forget, keeping me down, putting me to sleep—I find that if I start to fall, it’s good to have a reminder of why I’m fighting this battle.
So I want to share one of my reminders here with you now…
Primo Levi was a Jewish-Italian chemist, who in 1943 became a partisan to fight against the Fascist regime. He was later captured, and finally ended up in Auschwitz concentration camp. Of the 650 Italian Jews in his shipment, Levi was one of only twenty who left the camps alive. The average life expectancy of a new entrant was three months. He survived just under a year there, and wrote with great courage and honesty about his experience in the book ‘If This is a Man’. This is the poem he wrote at the start of that book:
You who live safe
In your warm houses,
You who find, returning in the evening,
Hot food and friendly faces:
Consider if this is a man
Who works in the mud
Who does not know peace
Who fights for a scrap of bread
Who dies because of a yes or a no.
Consider if this is a woman,
Without hair and without name
With no more strength to remember,
Her eyes empty and her womb cold
Like a frog in winter.
Meditate that this came about:
I commend these words to you.
Carve them in your hearts
At home, in the street,
Going to bed, rising;
Repeat them to your children,
Or may your house fall apart,
May illness impede you,
May your children turn their faces from you.
‘Meditate that this came about.’ This is the line that gets me.
Meditation is not navel gazing. It’s not a self-indulgent temporary escape from reality. It’s not about ‘feeling better.’
It is about being whole again. It’s for putting things right, and remembering our divine nature: our perfect essence.
When enough people do that—practice spirituality rather than just talk about it as an idea—then we will have created a world in which Auschwitz can finally be forgotten. There will be no more Holocausts, Srebrenica’s, and Rwanda’s.
Terrorism will be a thing of the past.
The real war is inside.
I keep this poem close by, so that from time to time I can remind myself of why it’s important to keep fighting. It’s hard for me to read that poem and then go back to sleep. I carve the words in my heart, and I will repeat them to my children, and I do commend them to you, because it helps me to be all I can be. It’s a strategy I use in the ongoing ‘war against ego-ism.’