For most of my life I’ve dreamed of being a monk and hiding out in a secluded monastery on a mountain top, far away from the insanity of this world—where I could simply rest undisturbed in the peace that comes from a life of meditation.
If any of us look deep within ourselves, we may find that we too have a similar desire to experience a peace that has no end, to have a life free of chaos, filled with the never ending experience of Love. Intuitively we know that this inner peace and love exists, that is why we seek it through so many different avenues from religion and spirituality, from vacations, from relationships, from drugs to meditation retreats.
For me, this seeking came in the form of meditation retreats. I always felt that if I could disappear on some never-ending meditation retreat that my life would be perfect, because I would no longer experience the pain of being human.
For much of my life, I tried to get rid of myself—my humanity through spirituality. I’ve gone on countless meditation retreats, aiming to transcend this world and the suffering that comes with it. I’ve always loved these retreats and the bliss and peace that came with them, but they were never quite long enough and at the end of the week, I always went home to my old self—with all of my confusion and pain.
I often found that I was a little kinder, a little more open and aware, yet I was never able to fully transcend myself and the suffering of this world. I was continually disappointed that at the end of the day that I was still fully human.
This practice of trying to transcend my very humanness and the experience of suffering went on and on for many years, until one day my teacher reminded me that all of life is Divine. Even though he had told me this hundreds of times in the past, this time I heard him.
So for the first time while I was consciously on the path, instead of focusing on transcending myself and this world, I began becoming friendly with my humanness, with my wounds, pains, and neurotic sense of self. With this new attitude, I again began to practice with the intention of walking toward those places that I wished did not exist. Instead of doing what I normally did, which was to try my hardest to escape life, escape my own mind and my very humanness, I focused on actually loving the places that scared me.
I can vividly remember the first time I fully embraced my teacher’s words and how my life changed dramatically when I shifted my attitude from seeking to escape, to embracing all of Life as it is. The power of his invitation became apparent on one retreat many years ago.
In the cool fall air, tucked away in the mountains, my teacher guided us to become friendly with our humanity—to fearlessly embrace the dark places within us. Ironically, what I discovered through this experience of embracing my pain was our absolute Beauty and the Beauty of all Creation. How paradoxical it was, to discover overwhelming Beauty in our humanity and in the very experience of suffering—the very places that most of us are trying so hard to get rid of. Yet our pain and suffering is one of the greatest doorways to our heart.
As we walk open heartedly walk toward our suffering, we become greater than what we previously knew ourselves to be.
The very act of fearlessly embracing our humanity is what the spiritual path is truly about….as we do so we become the very movement of love in human form.
This excerpt was taken from the book Fully Human Fully Divine.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise
Photo: elephant archives