The image of the lone yogi in the cave—austere, solitary—is a fantasy.
Nobody awakens in a vacuum. Even in the cave, we bring all of our history and relationships with us.
But, most us don’t live in caves. We live in community; at least we need to. Yes, community is essential to awakening, especially in an interconnected, interdependent world.
But, leaning—really opening—into community can stir up emotions, concerns and vulnerabilities. Even if there’s a deep yearning for community, there can also be hesitancy. So, let’s not rush. Let’s take our time.
When vulnerability arises, it’s wise to slow down.
The vulnerability, the doubts, the concerns make sense.
We’ve seen the madness that can arise when people with shared beliefs gather together; especially when that gathering is based on firmly held beliefs, whether religious or political.
Such collective certainty tends to:
>>> Reinforce existing assumptions
>>> Strengthen a fixed sense of identity
>>> Promote violence and suffering
It makes sense to be concerned, even wary of falling into these kinds of groups.
But, simply not joining doesn’t honor your authentic intuition that there is nourishment, healing and profound goodness that comes from being in community with others. So, while avoiding membership makes some sense, it doesn’t fill the heart.
What to do?
The spiritual marketplace offers an alternative.
In the market place, you don’t have to be part of a community. You can be a consumer.
As a consumer you can pick and choose. You can sample the wares. As a consumer, you can dip your toe into the water but, you don’t have to dive into the deep end. You don’t have to get your hair wet. You can maintain a safe distance and keep your hair neat.
Being a consumer is useful.
It makes sense to check out teachers and teachings. To try on different methods. To find what resonates and what doesn’t.
But, at a certain point, being a consumer stops working.
Because, your soul isn’t designed to be a consumer. It wants—needs—more than a transactional relationship. Your soul wants—needs—a sacred transmission. Not merely an exchange of money for goods and services rendered.
Your soul wants to dive in.
To be soaked to the bone in sacred waters.
To burn. To soar. To dive deep.
When you’ve had your fill of spiritual consumerism—and this may take some time—you start to home in on what it takes to receive that sacred transmission. This is when you begin to look for a community, a teacher, and a safe, sane place to go deeper. And this is when the emotions, concerns and vulnerabilities intensify.
They always do whenever you approach the threshold of awakening.
What is the threshold of awakening?
The threshold is a moment of choice that arises when you are in touch with your soul’s deep longing. It’s a sacred position in time and space when you find yourself suspended…still.
In that stillness all the vulnerabilities arise, and you become aware of the urge for self-protection and the desire for self-improvement.
But, this is the time to stay still. And see, really see, that these two impulses are strategies for distancing yourself from the vulnerability and from your deep authentic longing.
It’s clear—neither of these options are calling you.
You see how self-protection and self-improvement are really two sides of the same coin and no matter which way you flip it—heads, tails—it’s not what you’re really after.
This opens the way to a third path.
Not self-protection or self-improvement. This third path takes you in a total different direction. It frees you from having a transactional relationship with the teachings so you can receive their life-revealing transmission. It’s not self-protection or self-improvement. It’s not a solution to all your problems.
This third path reveals something that cannot be promised or predicted.
That’s why following this path is a choice, perhaps the most profound choice you will ever make.
But, don’t worry.
There’s no pressure. You will be offered the opportunity to make this choice again and again…with every breath.
This is what can be said: As you choose to walk this third path, you will enter a new world. A world that is both absolutely amazing and totally ordinary.
It’s the world of your true life, not the idea of what your life should be. Not the hope of what if might be. Not the thought of what it could be. Just your true life.
The one that is arising at this very moment and calling you, calling you to choose.
Author: Eric Klein
Editor: Catherine Monkman
Photos: Author’s Own