This piece was another of my assignments from the spiritual writing course I attended. The topic was thought and how it can keep us tied to the stories of our life, like never-ending narratives playing on a loop, grinding us down, so that we forget the shimmering being we truly are. What I have discovered is that beneath incessant thinking lies mystery, a peace beyond words, a knowing that everything is just fine, a healing salve that soothes all that requires it. I hope you enjoy it, and maybe recognise yourself within these words.
Here it is:
I want to be perfect. I need to be perfect. I want to let everyone know that I am the best. I just have to be the best. That way, no-one will see my imperfections, the deep scars that betray the angelic face in the photos on the mantlepiece. I just have to be the best. That way I can relax knowing that I will be safe and secure. And at last I will be accepted, and loved and respected. And people will say, “that David is so special”
From the traumatic experiences of my childhood, I have created so many roles for myself. So many lines to remember. So many scenes I must perfect. If God is giving out spiritual oscars, I want one. In fact, I want them all. I have to feel loved, accepted and respected, and so I carry on, recreating myself in the image of my desires. I have to feel loved, because there is such a deep wound of shame that I can never face . I must have deserved it. I must be so bad because bad things only happen to bad people. And so I carry on with these thought processes, perfecting the image of the wounded child, the spiritual seeker, the perfect avoider never allowing myself to truly feel the pain. My thoughts hijack me. I am a prisoner. I am being hunted and my thoughts are the predators.
But I so want to be loved, because I deserve it. Because, everything is love. God is love, and I am an expression of this divinity. So how could I ever be unlovable? And so on it goes, ad finitum. I feel exhausted. I can’t stop thinking. But I must. My thoughts swing, like a pendulum, from the sublime to the profane, from the pure to the putrid, and I follow that eternal swing, allowing these thoughts to define me. It’s like I’m made of velcro, a sticky little spot on the planet, a beacon for every thought. Will it ever stop? Will the pendulum ever stop swinging so that I can at last find some peace. Will I ever be at peace? Will this ever stop? I am so tired. God, please help me.
It’s a beautiful sunny weekend in August, 2013. I have the weekend off work, and it’s a great opportunity to perfect my website. It’s really not that good - pretty amateur to be honest - and who wants to work with an amateur, right? I waste the hours Saturday graces me with, easily finding something to distract my mind. This is so bitter-sweet for the wounded little boy within me. All these distractions. No-one will see how mediocre and unworthy I really am. So many thoughts. So many self-judgements and opinions. But I can keep myself safe while I am invisible.
Sunday morning has arrived, and I wake up feeling like this is the day I can really shine. I can finally get something creative and worthy out there. But very quickly thoughts and feelings of insecurity take up residence in my mind. And then it happens. A voice, an instruction, guidance.
STOP! TODAY, JUST STOP AND DO NOTHING!
For some reason, I know I must pay attention to this voice. It is the same voice that saved my life a few years before (but this is another story). I recognise the voice and I trust it, and so I stop. Actually, I apply the brakes, and stop slowly. I go onto YouTube and I find my favourite meditation, and for ten minutes I relax, but it’s just not giving me the relief it normally does. I have an internal itch impossible to find, never mind scratch. I then glance to the left of the page, and I find videos of Gangaji, a wonderful spiritual teacher from the States. I have heard about this woman before but never really experienced her work. And so I begin to watch. And listen. And fixate on everything she’s saying. Her teaching is nothing knew to me. But this time it’s different. Maybe I’m different somehow. I watch, listen and absorb her transmission for five hours, and I feel so relaxed. I hear that her teacher, Papaji, told her to STOP, and DO NOTHING. I shiver at this, knowing that I have been guided to this same message. I feel different. I notice that my mind has quietened all by itself. I am fully aware of a palpable stillness all around me, and within me. I feel joy, a peace so beautiful that all I can do is laugh and smile. I have had beautiful spiritual experiences before, but they never last. Oh, how I want this to last.
The week passes by so beautifully. I am wrapped in a blanket of love. The world is soft, and all I feel is joy. Unconditional, not desired or begged for. Somehow I recognise that this unspeakable peace has always been there, and I realise that I have been hiding from it, barricaded behind the incessant activity of my seeking mind. I am aware of thoughts coming to me thick and fast, and I have emotional eruptions all over the place, but I am untouched by them all. I am experiencing the witness consciousness that I have read about. My work colleagues joke that I am losing my mind. I laugh, because it feels true. Even the ground I walk on feels soft. Life has become a haven of velvety soft richness. This is me. This is who I am. I float through the week, wanting nothing, my mind at peace, my heart so full of joy. I have arrived.
And then it happens. My destination disappears, and I feel lost. I try to recreate the velvety soft richness from memory, but it is lost to me. I try to create the role of the arrived peaceful soul. But it’s all in vain. What a beautiful graceful week. What a teaching.
Today, my thoughts still swing from the profane to the sublime, from the putrid to the pure and yet I know that it is all okay. Behind, between and within the thoughts I know that I am free and I am loved and I can access these familiar states of grace almost at will. When the waves of life come crashing on my shores, I can take comfort in the knowing that I am enough to receive them all, no matter what they are. And this is enough for the little boy who thought he wasn’t enough.