mixed media collage on pressed board
Sometimes at home or in my personal life this is much harder. While I am very loving, compassionate and forgiving, I can also be harsh, intolerant and impatient. I have a very hard time balancing the needs of others with my own and I behave in ways that are not in alignment with my values when I am having trouble with balance. I have, in my lifetime, often erred on the side of going with someone’s else’s flow, responding to their needs, making them happy at my own expense. I was highly affirmed for “good behavior”, ass kissing, and being everyone’s “sunshine”. When I awakened to the fact that all of that was killing my own spirit and stopped, it was hard on the people in my life. It still is.
I find myself still sensing the needs of others for attention, for example, and want to just push them away or run away and hide so that I can do my art, meditate, take a walk, tune in, etc. When kindness or compassion for others gets in the way of me being kind to myself, it’s not healthy. I am learning to face things, work through them and see how it all fits together rather than running away, escaping into fantasy or letting some minor situation fester into a wound that won’t heal. I am healing rapidly as a result. I believe this is my biggest spiritual lesson in this lifetime.
In the Winter 2006 volume of Parabola magazine, Elizabeth Napp writes about Gandhi and “The Way of the Householder”. She says, “While he could be quite gentle with his satyagrahis in the ashram, he could be particularly demanding of his own wife and sons.” She goes on to say that “he could be quite hard on his immediate family” and “Gandhi’s greatest challenge to his wish to approach humanity nonviolently and with love can be found not in his campaigns against the British but in his dealings with his own family.” Boy, can I relate to that!
Napp finally asks the question, “Would Gandhi have become a Mahatma without his life as a householder?” I don’t know the answer to this question for Gandhi. As for me, I know that my path involves the messy, bloody, sometimes chaotic and often tear-soaked path of a mother, daughter, sister, friend, lover who doesn’t always know how to “do it right”. I muddle through and try to find the place where I feel peaceful. Not bury-my-head-in-the-sand-become-a-hermit peaceful but the peace of transcendence. The place mentioned here in the Bhagavad-Gita:
To him who sees me in everything, and everything in me, I am never lost, and he is not lost to me. The devotee who worships me abiding in all beings, holding that all is one, lives in me, however he may be living.
I once took an online test that said I was a “visionary leader” like Gandhi, MLK or Oprah. I remember thinking, “Right! Sure I am! I can’t even get through the morning with my kids without getting embroiled in a conflict.” I guess I have more in common with them than I thought. They were/are human afterall, eh?
So today I embrace my humanity. I embrace the blood and the chaos, the pain and the tears. I allow pleasure and love to flow and transform me. I embrace all of it equally. I am learning to recognize the transcendent BEINGNESS in every action, that which lies beyond my current circumstances and roles.
It is with this awareness that I move past my fate and into my destiny.
It is here that I DISCOVER true freedom.