Every person’s inward journey towards self-discovery or enlightenment is unique. That’s what makes each journey so precious and important. And yet, all paths more or less lead to the same destination. Although entirely individual, there are similarities in our journeys towards this calling … this longing to come ‘home’ … each and every one of us who travel these roads have some shared inner experiences. It appears that many start out with the same feeling of disconnection, discontent or dissatisfaction.
Do not look for a sanctuary in anyone except yourself. – Buddha
Perhaps, you realised that not all was as it seemed. There were gaps in the narrative that you had been given your whole life by parents, school, the News … and now with social media and fake news, your head is spinning and your heart is sore. Even as a child there were two nagging voices – one from your head and one from your heart – they rarely agreed and often distracted you from another voice. This other voice was persistent, benevolent, but called to you continually. Sometimes it was louder and clearer than others. It was a trustworthy voice that appeared to come from deep within you and it also felt so much more like your true voice, an authentic you.
Over the years, you conformed as much as you could. You often felt alien, on the outside looking in. You watched the theatre around you with fascination and incredulity. Sometimes there was a tiny scream that you shut out for fear of deafening your whole town.
Then you began to see signs. A friend gave you a copy of Buddhist sayings, you resonated with this one in particular; ‘Three things that cannot hide for long: the Moon, the Sun and the Truth.’ You felt a sense of relief when you heard it but you couldn’t grasp just how big the word Truth was. It was the same with the words ‘Light’ and ‘Love’ and ‘Oneness’ and the ‘Absolute’. You were told you had started your ‘Spiritual Quest’ and you felt both invigorated and like an imposter.
All journeys meet crossroads. Where the river ends, the ocean begins. We must have the courage to embark on these journeys, to choose our paths, and to let go of the boat once we are across the river. ― Thomas Lloyd Qualls
You started your journey to clear the distractions and distortions so that you could truly tune into what your inner wisdom was saying. More and more you began hearing these Truths. You started yoga, meditation, self-help and personal growth workshops. You found more and more of your tribe. The voice was getting louder and stronger. You skirted on the edge of joyous courage and old habitual fear. After each profound realisation, after the loss of one more veil of illusion, you were propelled deeper and deeper on the path of self-discovery, self-enquiry and this unquenching thirst or longing for the mysterious home-coming.
You put your hand up for this. Asked for more. You said emphatically: “I want in. This is who I am meant to be. This is my divine purpose.” You didn’t read the small print that said, ‘Once you put your hand up for this you can never take it down’. Slowly it dawned on you that you cannot resign from knowing your true-self — especially when you’ve already set sail. There’s simply no turning back. You made a commitment that you cannot break. This is thrilling and daunting.
Suddenly you are out at sea. No land in sight. No way of knowing how far away from your home-coming you are. You realise that your whole identity is based on a lie. It feels scary. The boat might capsize. It’s sink or swim. You sign up for life-changing retreats. You spend a week grappling with your ego and revealing more and more of your essence. It’s painful … you’re told to find the cracks because that’s where the light gets in. You want in as much as you want out. Then the crescendo break-through. You reach a moment of bliss and understanding. You see you are One with every single component of the universe, seen or invisible. You laugh at the universal joke. You got there … you’ve arrived. Your home-coming is like nothing you imagined. It’s beyond human description. You feast on bliss. Nothing will be the same again.
You have wrung yourself inside out. You’ve chipped at every rough surface until that diamond shone through. You are born again into a world of LOVE. There is only Love. You are floating. But it’s time to leave the sanctuary of the retreat. You arrive home eager to share what you have discovered. Give yourself to your life fully. No more compromise. No more inauthentic you. You burst through the door and your family say, “How was it … was the food okay? … did you lose any weight?” Nobody looks up from their phones. The last words of the group leader are coming back into sharp focus;
“If you think you are enlightened spend a week with your family.”
You’re like a punctured balloon. The deflate is fast.
And then that inner voice, your wise and trusted guardian pipes up. You’re not sure if there’s an empathetic tone or a slightly mocking tone;
“Now your real work begins … Living Love.”
Ecstasy and Laundry
There’s a sigh and a recognition that after the ecstasy, there is the laundry. You put your dirty clothes in the machine. You’re half in your old life and half mesmerised by the miracle of washing machines. You’re smiling. It’s sinking in. To hold onto that high is ‘attachment’. It’s a fool’s trap. Attachment is the enemy of living Love in this moment and this moment and this moment. Someone shouts, ‘What’s for dinner?’ Back on familiar ground, terra firma, you muster a reply, “Give me a moment … I’ll be out soon.”
You take that moment to consolidate all that you experienced on this last life-changing retreat. You bask in the afterglow. You lean into prayer … that tender way to explore intentions. You remind yourself of your promise of how to end each of your prayers …
“I pray for this (insert request) or something better (give it to God).”
You feel relieved that you have found the ladder … you acutely recognise that you’ve yet to find the first rung. You smile at your particular version of snakes and ladders. You appreciate that your path to enlightenment is not linear. You’re in a complex three-dimensional board game. Your soul-challenges are literally all around you — perfectly and cryptically interlinked. And only you, through direct experience, have the wisdom-keys.
You stand up. Dust yourself off. And put your hand up for the next adventure. How to continue living Love … living from a place of authenticity and never abandoning the recognition that Love is the container and the contained. The invitation is to commit to more and more sophisticated self-enquiry. To quietly move into more practise-based workshops and contemplation on how to engage in the world from that place of Unity, Peace and Love. It’s the awareness of how to be in relationship with people, jobs, and even things, from that place of Oneness. As you walk back into the living room, back into your life, with the people and the things you love, you are aware of a new quality within yourself. It’s sweet, compassionate, humble and is quietly witnessing … witnessing ‘you’. And then a tremendous surge of courage floods your awareness when you realise … that you can never be alone.
If one speaks or acts with a pure mind, happiness follows him like a shadow that never leaves him. – Buddha
We’d love to hear about your journey of remembrance — Remembering who you truly are. Do you resonate with this article? Maybe your journey is very different. Please share in the comments below and let’s keep learning from each other as we share stories of Love.
Travel safe beloveds,
Joyous courage… one of the many gems I will take from this, Paul. It’s beautiful to read and drink in. Like a soul balm. A love letter delivered inside. Thank you, thank you…
Christ, Buddha, Mohammed, and many seers and sages down through the ages taught Oneness. I and my Father are One, Christ said, All that the Father hath is mine, we lack nothing, this Presence, this Spirit, is All-Powerful, All Wise, and Always Present, here and now. This Self, capital S, is who I AM, who each of us IS, when we understand Oneness, iT IS an experience, the fruits of which are love, joy, peace, long suffering, goodness, meekness, temperance, faith, so when I interact with Life, I see this Spirit everywhere, so when I see you, I see my true Self and I love you. Yes, out purpose in Life is to let go, surrender our little self, and allow our Higher Self to express IT’s Self, IT IS a gift, Grace, and one experiences a peace that passes understanding. Thank you for helping “this world,” understand the truth of Being One. ❤️✌️
Beautiful article, you are telling my story, my journey right here, right now in this very moment.
Amazing ….. it is as if this message is directed specially to me at this point in my life …… thank you so much !
These words speak my truth ! Thank you for sharing and articulating with such grace .
Singing my pain with his song….
… what a beautiful article and perfect timing for it to come to me today!
Looking back I see the little shove, the pushes, the bumps that led me down a path of curiosity. A knowing that there just had to be a little more to the journey.
So true that once started, (while they may be rest stops sidetracks), there is no turning back.
The journey has changed in flavor over the many years. From religious to mystical and now to practical.
I have a practical practice a forgiving kind nonjudgemental compassionate practice… I practice every day. Because it feels better to do so 🙂
Amazing article on spiritual homecoming .
Such a wonderful article! I think you nailed it, Paul! Thank you for putting my thoughts into words:)
Beautiful, wonderful, thank you!
I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons.
Knocking on a door, it opens.
I’ve been knocking from the inside! Rumi
How fortunate are you and I; we who have wandered down from fragrant mountains of eternal now, to frolic in such mysteries as birth and death, a day, or maybe even less. ee cummimgs
Behind an open door, their lie a thousand more, follow me as we wind our way. America
And now I see, I have been always coming home, to a place I never left.
Wow! Profoundly descriptive! And so humanly offered, too! Thanks for this! My own journey experience was dramatic, with a day…,a moment…where I felt opened up and poured full of pure love! And I’ve held on to the memory of this through many physical struggles…so I could keep “enlarging” and see beyond my inability to function like I “used to”! I can honestly say I am “more” today than I was then…and I am definitely enough!! Life amazes me and blesses me, despite my pain and my limits…and often BECAUSE of my pain and my limits, too!! I’ve peeled off enough layers to just be myself…and I know being myself is really being the best of me! Then I can offer the best to others, too…and receive their best in return! How cool is that!!?
I think back with love and gratitude to those who have represented the Truth of Elder-hood to me
loved this 🙂 it had me smiling and laughing ,.. soooo on point !!! thnks for sharing and NOW I will do the same ,.. up the ladder I go 🙂 xxoo
These words and experiences resonate with me deeply and profoundly. Once I felt I was truly embraced by my authentic self, my ego led me far from the shore on a ship with no anchor. My journey became finding my way back to me. The “I” was the “I” in “I Am.”. I lost me, the “I” along the path of believing I needed to be like others who appeared to have found their true purpose. I became disillusioned with my spiritual practice of meditation, yoga, writing inspirational messages and spreading my love and light. Unknowingly, I entered a dark world where my communication, connection and thirst to continue on my journey to being my authentic self and live my soul’s purpose dissipated.
Over the course of 18 months, my soul-searching experience evolved to guide me to a much deeper and meaningful self. I embrace being perfectly imperfect in a way that I couldn’t understand until I allowed myself to let go, truly let go, and trust that I Am safe. I Am able to let go and let Love. I Am able to let go. After being in the muted and withdrawn days of feeling lost and disconnected to all people and things outside myself, I began to realize that this part of my journey truly deepened my awareness of my authenticity and strengthened my alignment with my Soul’s Purpose. Now, out to sea on a large ship cruising the vast ocean of knowledge,love, compassion ,kindness respect and peace, Love and Light are who I Am.
Very relevant . thank you very much. “Give yourself to life fully. No more compromise, No more inauthentic”
Resonates, indeed. Resonates with the week in the family, too. So very true. The roads are different, as you say but fortunately, love is love.