A spiritual ride on the human road
“no one saves us but ourselves.No one can and no one may,we ourselves must walk the path.”
In November 1998 when I came back from working as a registered nurse in the emergency department at a military hospital smacked in the middle of a desert of Saudi Arabia after only 3 months there.I came back to Vancouver,Canada, a broken being.I realised that I had lost everything literally,I saw myself broken into so many pieces,like a messed up jigsaw puzzle.
All the pieces were there but the only thing that I had to do was to painstakingly find each and every single piece and fit them back together to make it into a beautiful whole picture of that persona named Celestine(my given birth name).
From seeing this truth of my brokenness and intense unnecessary suffering which I felt was like being driven to the darkness of insanity,I strove to find the truth of my life and my spiritual walk in this human realm……………I had no idea what to do at first but slowly,as I spent many many hours of quiet time in earnest seeking and asking to lead me the way and show me what I should do,doors began to open one by one. I knew very strongly within my being that I will do all that I needed to do to put an end to all my self-created miseries!
The spiritual path of reconciliation had began to open up for me……as I looked into my past faults, mistakes and transgressions,buckets of tears poured from my being…the beginning of my heart tenderizing.loosening and softening,being made pliable and I slowly began to feel a deep compassion for myself and for others……how have I been hurt so much and how have I been capable of hurting others so much too……..
Thus began the urgent,desperate and dire need to seek spiritual knowledge and guidance.The slow transformation process of my inner being was quietly developing while I walked on the human road facing harsh and subtle realities of life as I experienced each one and opened myself in awareness to learn lessons from all of it,to gently move on and let go……………………..
What is this journey we most often term and hear as‘the spiritual journey’?
This term spiritual is mostly associated with a religious affliation and its various devotional practises eg.Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism Islam,Hinduism,Sikhism,etc.etc………
Well what happens to those who are not related or who do not practice or belong to any one religious sect/group…are they classified as not having or practising any spiritual values?So what becomes of them?Are they doomed to not reach enlightenment or find that kingdom of heaven?
In truth, whether we have any association with a particular religious belief or none at all,we are all on this spiritual journey,on this human road together,we are all spiritual beings of light…..the only thing is that the light(love) we are within is obscured by the barriers/walls we have created out of fear,attachments,desires, addictions,grasping/clinging and ego-centredness(selfishness and greed).
13th century Persian poet and Sufi mystic Jalal-adin Rumi says………”your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
We are all on this journey into our hearts,to open fully its door to love,wisdom,forgiveness,compassion,kindly actions and to live wisely in order to benefit all of creation.
The whole of creation,this earth,this world we live in,our given parents,children,spouses,families,friends,social,religious,political and work environment as well as strangers are our spiritual teachers….as we traverse closely with each and every human being,are we being aware that we are affected by each one to a certain extend that we could end up experiencing some kind of mental,emotional or physical entanglements that maybe pleasant or unpleasant.We too will be their spiritual teachers as we react,interact with each one,as we learn or not learn from all our encounters.There is the tendency to blame,look negatively and not take responsibility for unpleasant actions,there is also the tendency to take pleasant encounters for granted and the grasping for more of it………..
Why do we need to practise some sort of spiritual discipline?
The purpose of spiritual practises such as praying,reflection, keeping quiet times/retreats,listening/reading soulful and spiritual messages and teachings,watching our thoughts, feelings, actions and speech,doing kindly actions,practising benevolent speech,intentions and acts, charitable deeds(volunteering for the needy,perhaps animal shelters),spending time in nature,outdoors(gardening,enjoying the company of birds and animals),being grateful and gracious,meditation and conscious breathing,perhaps yoga and joining a local spiritual group,joining the local library for free access to self-help/spiritual books,writing ,seeking counselling,healthy lifestyle of simple exercises and diet,etc,etc……..all these help us do away with ignorance and spending our inner spiritual energies wastefully and carelessly,which brings on more stress,fatigue and restlessness within ourself and to others.We need to harness these innate spiritual energy centers in us(the chakras)in order that we can see all living phenomena within ourselves and humanity with clarity,with precise truth and clearly in such a wisdom-filled and understanding way where we can be in harmony and at peace and our hearts can be used for whats its meant to be…..to Love!When we can honestly care for ourselves,we can truly care for another being………
Prior to working in Saudi Arabia, I had always felt a‘sick’feeling, a sense of emptiness and wastefulness of my life hence the term”running around like a chicken without its head”…….aimless and meaningless!
We practise spiritually healthy living to be wise,prudent and to put on the light within us in order to be able to see where we are treading on instead of living in darkness where we get knocked around,falling constantly and unnecessarily, fumbling our way on the human road,hurting ourselves and others causing suffering over and over again.
It is true that as we journey along the spiritual path as well as on the road of human interactions,we will constantly face numerous challenges,difficulties,uncalled for circumstances,tragedies,losses(griefs),so called failures,dissappoinments and betrayals as well as triumphs, joyful/peaceful states, happiness and blesssings…….
We cannot be selective and guarded(putting up boundaries) or choose only the good and discard what is not in favour for our benefits………we can learn to be like the willow in the wind,to be humble and flexible….to bend and accept and understand that all phenomena is passing just like the wind………there are no enemies,the Buddha said the only enemy we have is our monkey mind which we need to tame!
We are walking on the path whereby we are purifying/cleansing out our inner/outer negative energies and learning to grow towards higher conscious states with each happy/unhappy life situation we experience.
When we can find a little time ,make a little effort,we can start making the space for us to know our true selves.We can learn to love ourselves and not be deluded(fooled) by the stories the external illusory(opinionated) world tells us to belief and conjure whats good for us and how we are suppose to live our lives(and this I might be bold to say includes dogmatic and indoctrinated religious beliefs)…………..the answer we seek is buried deep within each being…….only in that deep sacred space within…….can we truly come to know ourselves and be freed of ideologies we have been so conditioned all our lives and have set limitations upon ourselves to go about our lives wastefully…………
We can sit and ponder and reflect and meditate and start the divine romance with ourselves…..that which we so much are looking for in someone else or something else to fulfill in us………we can scan our being for the goodness we have done,or capable of doing,as well as be truthful for all the mistakes, faults,regrets and unhealthy living we chose to pick up along the way of our lives.How easy it gets to not be responsible for our own emotional, mental,physical and spiritual confusions,turmoils and discomforts in our lives and simply inflict blames upon others,situations and things in order to exonerate ourselves from guilts and fears, shames and feeling vulnerable to be hurt and to hurt.
We can sit by ourselves for a while and see that how beautiful,noble and courageous we would feel if we were to make that journey inward to look for the truth instead of depending on the world,the opinion of others and situations to try and make us happy and fulfilled and bring peace of mind……..fulfillment and happiness come from within(as attested by most enlightened spiritual beings)………we need to make a radical self effort.…
Yes,we can go to church or the mosque or any place of religious worship and pray and practise our tradional religious beliefs and rituals and teachings but what good do we do for ourselves, when we come out of that place of worship, we soon find that we fall back into our mundane activities again and carry our disturbed and troubled state of mind and remain unchanged to bettering ourselves spiritually,we soon forget the reverence and sacredness of our religious teachings/practises.
As a young schoolgirl,I had a great love for sitting in a quiet church and praying in a simple way,lighting a candle when I could as an act of having light for myself and all those I pray for.I still enjoy sitting in the quietude of a church and lighting a candle till today….I have always thought it to be a time being alone and quiet with my ‘God’ in a sacred space,now I sit in a church to meditate,to still the mind,to be away for a while alone in loving presence……
Being born and raised Catholic,yes I have attended all religious services most of my life,quite devotedly, but there is a but…….while attending and performing these practises dilligently,I was somehow constantly confused and felt divided internally and have secretly questioned my belief, where was it bringing me to,why was I still unhappy,not at peace,after going to confession to a priest,why did I come out to repeat my mistakes over and over,why was there so much suffering still in the world if people were faithfully practising their various religions,how could I be like the saints and love like they did,most importantly, I wanted to know the truth of my existence and all these practises,why was I committing the same ‘sickness’over and over….I wanted all these to end!
There was a continuous inner conflict battling within my tormented being, I knew that I was a wreck,messed up,broken and lost….. yet I knew that I had a precious soul inside of my being and that nobody could take it away from me,that there was another part of me that could be manifested,the good side,that beautiful part was intact,wanting to emerge…….the good and bad were at war within me…how was I going to continue in my life,what will be of me? I soon realised that by questioning and needing answers for the truth,by acknowledging our discontents,we on the spiritual path of seeking……as Jesus said…..”seek and you will find,ask and it shall be given,knock and the door will be opened”
Praying and attending religious activities and instructions must evoke a sense of awareness and reverence.It is the seeking of truth of the spiritual teachings and how it applies to our lives and what can we do to bring about peace within ourselves and to others,its not about thinking or trying to be good,pious and doing our religious duty.Religiousity can also be a sort of obsession and addiction if it becomes too rigid and obligatory and following blindly.In truth, I believe there should be one universal religion….the religion of the Heart,the religion of Love!
Jesus did not practise Christianity,he shared his teachings on love(compassion) and forgiveness and pointed the way to look within ourselves for the kingdom of heaven,Buddha was not Buddhist,he taught and shared the noble truths of sufferings and the way out of it.They were great enlightened beings,wise enough to look for the truth and love within themselves and shared their teachings to help humanity find the way,the light and the truth to end all un-necessary pain and suffering…………
How long have we gone unattended,unaware and allowed the ego(lower self centred entity) to drain our minds, being and psyche(spiritual self) to such a wasted state of merely existing to how the world(others) wants us to act, to be, to live?Its no wonder the world is full of varying uncontrollable addictions that cannot be contained and not easy to be eradicated….its worsening by the minute…people are becoming uncommunicative/unresponsive to kindness and love and peace for each other…its all about what ‘makes me happy’in the materialistic and selfish,egoistic way……people frown upon or are disturbed and feel defensive about spiritual messages and teachings…. for there is the only fear that it may be against their way of living and the wanting to continue living the way according to the illusory world(the way of suffering).I myself at some point in my life prior to being spiritually awake felt defensive and resentful about listening to spiritual lessons and teachings…….I felt it made me afraid of seeing the truth about myself in a guilty,shameful way.While I was in Saudi Arabia,I will use the harse word hate, I hated to hear and felt resentful about listening to the Muslim prayer call 5 times a day wherever I was…in the bus, in the hospital, in the apartment,the call seemed everywhere,I was literally disturbed and annoyed by it,it felt like a hard nudge calling me to face the truth and I wanted to ignore it so badly.Now I I think those calls are so beautiful,so meaningful,to me it feels like the divine(God is callling us in a personal way).I have great reverence for it and all religious traditions as I realise my one-ness with the whole of creation!
So what do we do,we can ponder…..we can take courage and honesty to reflect, about how we are being affected and plagued by unhappiness and suffering and how we too are making others suffer because of our selfishness and our own suffering…we can go way back to our childhood,our adulthood,back to any period of our time and see how we have been affected………we can use the power of forgiveness to change and make peace and let go and start anew!
I have come to learn on the spiritual journey there is no state or prize to receive or achieve,there is only the full attention and awareness of Being Present to everything that is happening in the moment…..be it happiness and sadness, praise and blame,loss and gain…I am simply being here and now to deal with everything as it is………I become Human and Humane,understanding, respecting and accepting everything and everyone as it is with no judgements or conditions.I now live in a seniors independent facility with 30 other residents with different temperaments and characters of their own……I deal with them with respect and kindness and understanding of their nature,to some I am playful and loving,holding their hands,giving a hug, laughing and singing as they will be,there are some who I don’t speak to as they wish so…….I have learned to become simple and content and quietly living my life…………….
The spiritual journey is about having a gentle approach of ourselves,of looking within our being instead of having a misconception that one must turn to some form of rigid religious practise and beliefs whereby we try to be good,holy or become pious. It is not being hard-pressed with ourselves or desirous to reach a goal or state of enlightenment but a slow gradual transformation process whereby we open the gates of our hearts,trying to find an understanding of the restless and sometimes tormented mind and its creation of suffering.We thus can start manifesting our full potential to be of help and benefit ourselves and others on this human journey together.