Let’s face it; life is only really crappy when there is no felt connection with love.
By love, I’m not referring to romantic love, but simply—love. We can have all the money, education, lovers or whatever external things the world can offer, or none at all. But it is our experience with love that makes or breaks us.
What do I mean by love?
Love is a state of being; the inner marriage and intimate connection with Self and all that is that releases us from want, fear and grasping. Love is oneness, compassion, a sense of purpose and belonging, the acceptance of our unique journey and challenges. Love is ahimsa; do no harm to ourselves—nor to anyone else.
Without love, life is crappy indeed. Still, it serves no one to dwell on victimization or bitterness, no matter how wronged or justified we might feel. For every life, no matter how wrong or unfair it may seem at the time, is part of a grand design which has purpose and meaning.
At least, that was the thread that I followed all the way from the beginnings of my profoundly crappy life to where I stand now; living in ways that I’d considered reserved only for the wealthy or otherwise gifted.
Not for people like me…
Like the runaway kid at fifteen, who was a blackout drinker, addicted to ecstasy and cocaine for over a decade, broke with no career, no safety nets, no support, nowhere to go. The entire time, I thought myself the worst of victims, an alien in the world—entirely on my own.
How did I change things around?
To use an old cliché: if life hands us lemons, eventually we must learn to make lemonade. However, it’s important not to cut corners with the new age, artificially flavored, instant gratification sugar-packet stuff. The quick fixes that get us high, off balance and nervous with that weird, pasted on smile and lots of talk with little depth or substance? Yes, I went here too. It’s a long story.
After years of being the victim, I finally came to realize that the challenges we face are our own personal (some might say karmic) school of life. The teacher is the energy: the fear, pain, obsession or judgment that requests our presence and attention. The ups and downs, ins and outs and all arounds form the thesis of our unique, respective educations.
If we remain curious and open, willing to investigate each angle with care and precision while remaining in integrity with our truth, inner knowing and intuitions, it is here that we learn to exercise and develop our spiritual muscles. Eventually, we complete our first thesis, which begins the process of defining our contribution and service to the world.
Then, we refine and deepen.
Remember, our discomforts are the lens from which we can gain access into the fuller spectrum of humanity, for as far as the roots of the tree grows down deep into the mud, so are the heights that it’s branches may rise. As above, so below.
Just because life may be crappy now does not mean that we have been especially picked out and chosen or that we are meant to live in some miserable life destiny. Rather, our challenges can be the very cocoon from which we transform from the caterpillar to the butterfly. All we have to do is look inside and decide.
Another thing I realized: when life was really crappy, I’d become well acquainted with the energies that did not serve my well-being or contentedness. But after years of sobriety, first from substances, then working through the layers of fear, pain and judgment, those energies would ultimately transform into gifts. My ‘bullshit meters,’ per se, which would prove quite useful for navigation through the illusions of Maya. Armed with an arsenal of inner awareness, one can untangle entrapments, and lasso rope the shadows, to pull them into the light.
So here’s the bad news:
Things can indeed get pretty hairy before we’re willing to step in front of the mirror and take the humbling, honest look at ourselves necessary to create deep, lasting improvement. Honesty takes immense courage, self-compassion, and willingness to dig down to the very roots of our ingrained fears, judgments and patterns, enough to gain the insights necessary to see things clearly, traverse through the valleys of shadow and projection and embody deep wisdom and discernment.
The good news, although it doesn’t feel good at the time, is that eventually we all reach a breaking point. Some call it ‘mid-life crisis,’ others say it is ‘spiritual awakening.’ Whenever it is for each of us, and whatever the name, our day to step off the cliff eventually arrives, usually in abhorrent timing. Nevertheless, the fire is burning, our signal to freedom, and something will soon be changing.
This is when many of us, if we’re wise and avoid directing this energy further into the traps of our social conditioning, become determined to find the truth because without love, what else is there? We realize that so much of what we have seen and known is upside down and backwards.
Ghandi said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
With nothing to lose, we can find the gift of freedom. Our troubles can be just the catalyst to take the risks necessary to step into the vast and wild unknown; a world of new horizons awaits, all we have to do is begin. Within surrender and trust, we find our purpose.
Those who walk this journey are the dreamers, the warriors and the wise ones. They are the poets who speak the truths of our heart’s desires, the artists, writers and musicians, who sing the hymns of our souls. They are the Buddhas and seers who journeyed to the bottom of the well, broken and shattered, before arising to share their power and wisdom. Each one of us who stands for love, truth and integrity creates a leap for humanity; each story and song, an inspiration pointing towards the kingdom of Heaven.
Remember, The Buddha is inside of everyone.
May we use our broken hearts and shattered souls to build our temples of heaven within. Allow our lotus hearts to blossom open and shine for all, for it is now more than ever, that we need the profound strength and the power of deep love, care and compassion.
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Assistant Ed: Kristina Peterson/Ed: Bryonie Wise