There was a time in my life when I felt like the world was against me. Nothing ever seemed to work out. When I wanted something, I’d work towards it, but would inevitably fail, destiny cruelly imposing all sorts of environmental factors upon me to prevent me from achieving my desire. Not only did the world impose these factors upon me, but God also cruelly provided me with a genetic makeup that left me shrouded in fear and anxiety, trembling at the thought of rejection and failure. I was a helpless victim, constantly toyed with by the hands of fate or lack thereof. Was I immersed in a world purposely organized to torment me, or was it just a chaotic reality, where one either received the luck of the draw or did not? Which was worse I could not say.
My spinal cord injury was just another blow from the cruel world I had come to know all too well, but I quickly realized, I could not accept this premise any longer. I could not accept that the world was against me in this matter. It simply was not an option. And thus, I entered the spiritual journey, seeking out the answers to this mysterious existence which had confused me for so long. The answers I found were empowering, but debilitating as well. God was not the reason for my failures, environmental factors were not the reason, luck or lack thereof was not the reason…I was the reason. This brought up a great deal of anger, but now I was angry at myself. Angry that I did not have the strength to choose courage over fear, to choose peace over anxiety. Time and time again I allowed my fear to control me, to dictate the outcomes of my endeavors. And once again I felt helpless, helpless in the face of my own inability to overcome the inner negativity that created failure in my life.
To recognize that I was creating my own life with my thoughts and emotions was difficult to accept. Once a victim of external factors, now a victim of internal factors, factors that seemed impossible to change. For the first time I was looking at all the negativity stored within, and it was terrifying. No wonder I had suppressed the feelings all those years, no wonder I looked to blame others instead of myself. It was simply too much to handle. But I had no choice. I had to make an effort to connect with the peaceful place within, to cast aside negativity and embrace the light, the light that would bring me peace and heal my body. And so I did everything I could to embody the true self, my infinite spirit. Slowly but surely I made progress, and all the tools necessary to bring about my healing flowed into my life.
Since beginning this journey, I have come a long way. I feel lighter and more empowered, but I’m not there yet. This became evident shortly after Francis left Austin, and moved to California. I thought it would be an easy hurdle to cross, but I was wrong. All kinds of fear emerged. Fear of abandonment, fear of a future of paralysis, and utter confusion of what I was supposed to do next. Speaking to a friend about my struggles, she recommended a book. Being that I have recently focused on the path of spiritual devotion and practice, I’ve not paid much attention to the path of knowledge, but I knew I was struggling, so I remained open. The book she recommended was called “Letting Go: The Pathway of Surrender”, by David R. Hawkins. There was no doubt that I was currently drowning in my attachment to my physical recovery, and needed some help in the surrender department, so I bought the book.
It seemed like a typical book I had read in the past, explaining the power of surrender, the power of identifying with the spirit rather than the ego. But then the author made a statement contradictory to what I had come to believe. He said that it was not thoughts which caused our suffering, but the feelings associated with the thoughts. It was an interesting concept, but I didn’t buy it. Thoughts caused suffering. Byron Katie taught me that, author and creator of the four questions. The Buddha taught me that as well. So I put the book down, unsure of if I would read further. Still it did make an impact. It reminded me of surrender, the power of this act, and my current failure to do it.
Those who have been reading this blog and know me well, can probably guess what I did next. I sat in front of Amma’s picture, my guru. There I realized that I was not only attached to my recovery, I was also very much attached to Francis. I had subconsciously come to believe that I needed him in my life, and his absence was causing me pain, causing me to doubt my path, my internal truth about my life. So I sat in front of Amma, and told her, “You are now in charge of my healing”. And I sat, and I sat, and I sat. An unmoving fixture I became. The results were more than profound. A flood of energy overwhelmed me, building and building the longer I stayed. Negative emotions began to rise to the surface. They bubbled to the peak of my awareness, then popped, and disappeared. She was all I needed. She would provide. Francis would play his role of course, but he was no longer the central cog in my healing. And then, practically all my fear over Francis leaving, faded away.
Realizing that it was the book that provoked my newfound surrender, I went back to it, opening my mind to what this new perspective had to say. Maybe it was in part because I could sense what the author was describing occurring as I sat in meditation. I was not focused on the thoughts causing my suffering, I was simply observing my fears and their dissolution. The author explained that while it may seem that a thought is causing your suffering, it is really feelings that we have suppressed and repressed over many years, feelings that in turn create thousands and thousands of thoughts that run in loops inside our minds. I did not have to go and dissect every thought, I could simply let go of the fear and feel the expansion of consciousness which follows. This was very different than what Byron Katie had taught me many years ago. Her tactics of questioning one thought at a time was very beneficial to me, but at different moments in our lives, different approaches are required. But while the approaches may be different, the main catalyst for spiritual evolution remains. The letting go of negativity, of the attachment to the small and selfish ego, and surrendering to the peaceful presence of the divine, infinite spirit. The spiritual aspirant cannot avoid this task.
There is no doubt that it is scary to look within, to uncover the demons that are lying dormant. We think they are not causing damage in their suppressed state, but in fact these demons within are constantly affecting our lives in one way or another, whether it be in our relationships, the health of our bodies, or the brick walls that are impeding us at every turn. To ignore the suffering within, to push it down or ignore it, is only hindering us and our purpose in life. To uncover these demons is not as bad as you may think, in fact it is the most liberating feeling you will ever experience. To let go of negativity, is to free ourselves into becoming who we truly are.
So many of us feel like victims, but the truth is that we are never a victim in life. I was not a victim before my accident, and I was not a victim afterwards. I was never a victim of the world, and I was never a victim of my own thoughts. To claim oneself as a victim would be to doubt the perfection of creation. We were meant to go through this process, we were meant to feel this pain, and work towards the expansion of light and truth. I am not a victim, I am blessed.
One of the reasons I have gotten away from the path of knowledge, is that sometimes the knowledge can work against me. The knowledge that surrender can cause me to get things, can be a negative attachment in itself, and hinder the process. Also, gaining spiritual knowledge is like diving into the rabbit hole, pieces of knowledge tend to contradict one another, creating a cycle of confusion. Therefore, I believe it is best to learn about these universal laws, and then surrender them, embodying the process, but not attaching yourself to it. Ironically, this will likely make the process more effective, removing the obstacles in life, while increasing prosperity and abundance. However, it is best to take part in this process of evolution not because it will bring us our desires, but because it is fulfilling our infinite purpose, brings us into the joy of who we are, and allows us to become more loving and compassionate beings.