Life is not some beast to be tamed,
a project to be mastered,
or your b$*%h to be controlled.
Life is a gift.
The gift of Grace.
And with this recognition
I bow to the feet of life
Grace courses through us
in everything we touch,
in everything we experience.
There is nothing that isn’t Grace.
“It’s all by Grace”
For me is the most powerful and humbling recognition.
The acknowledgement that I have no control.
That I am here,
all of me,
all of my experiencing
And so in this
it’s all seen as a gift.
Some call it God.
Some call it Consciousness.
Some call it fate.
There are many names
all pointing to that ineffable impersonal activity of life.
I call it Grace.
The infinite actions and endless possibilities
of life playing life
in the ocean of life.
Wild and unpredictable.
Plenty of variation,
but no separation.
Just as the sun shines on all,
Grace is in all.
There are no distinctions of good or bad,
no questions of right or wrong.
Everything that happens,
everything that doesn’t,
all by Grace.
Every whisper of a thought,
every flash of a memory,
every definitive decision,
every decisive action,
every palpable desire,
every subtle feeling,
every wave of emotion,
every happening of life,
all by Grace.
And so life is lived,
In my life journey thus far I’ve had to transgress two* major spiritual paths/groups/movements that were both whole-life encompassing – Guru, lifestyle, friends and family, home, job, it felt like a lot could and would be lost. It’s was for sure a very difficult thing to navigate but I feel it’s important to share and talk about as I see a lot of people dealing with this, particularly in the realm of spiritual organisations.
Over time I’ve actually come to see that it’s a totally normal and healthy part of ‘spiritual’ development (I say spiritual lightly as I actually believe it’s not spiritual, it’s LIFE). Moving beyond our seemingly secure boundaries of experience, paradigms and conditioning – the known. It’s a hugely vulnerable place to be – the unchartered territory of our life, where we let go of the known and step forth into the openness of the unknown.
“You’re losing your way”, “you’re falling off the path” these were ideas that were offered up and I became fearful of, that I would ‘miss my chance’ for enlightenment and make a wrong turn/decision. Choose the wrong door, and therefore closing the other doors forever. Take an irreversible action. Being judged for that. That my life would fall apart, my source of income and/or home (which was tied in) would be gone forever or that my support network would reject me. That I would be left all alone with no support and no stability. These are touching on fundamental human fears and it’s terrifying to be faced with them.
It seems like a lot of groups (not just spiritually orientated ones – but that’s what I’m focused on here) like to have partisan loyalty in addition to claiming proprietary ownership of spiritual ideas, techniques, sadhana. “My way is the best”, “my way is the only way”. And the sanghas around them seem to naturally enforce this with the tribal pressure to be part of the group – after all we love to have this feeling of “I belong.”
So when we are faced with the reality that we find life moving in a different direction (path) or moving beyond what we have got already going on, what then? When our inner light and intuition is calling us somewhere else.
The Guru/organisation/technique/practice that we have held so dear, that has changed our life, that has provided a sense of comfort and belonging, or has given us huge amounts of growth and insight – what do we do when our loyalty to this is at odds with what is now showing up? Maybe a new Guru or technique has caught our attention. Or it maybe in our heart we see that we need to drop the prescribed practice or orthodoxy given to us in favour of something else, or even… dare I say… to drop it all! But in doing so we are going against our Guru, our Sangha, our community. Then it feels like a decision needs to be made: Do I stay within this current paradigm, or move out of the comfort and follow this new thing, transgressing the status quo, risking stability and everything I hold dear and drop it all?
There are no answers that someone else can tell you what you should or shouldn’t be doing in the face of this – there is no right or wrong.
But anything – person (Guru), organisation or otherwise, that is trying to limit your expression and experience of life (especially by fear and/or control) will cause you to hit up against the ‘wall’ or boundary of that doctrine at some point – it’s for you to see what happens, does that wall crumble or does it stay intact… either way there are no wrong answers.
There are no mistakes in life, we are presented with exactly what we need to learn, grow and expand – no exceptions. The mind can argue either side of an argument that it’s presented with in apparently logical ways – so no help and comfort can be found there.
What actual actions/decisions get taken are a choice-less choice, it’s all a happening – any ‘choice’ is a commentary or story of the mind. And while there’s nothing wrong with that, it can feel disempowering, confusing and sometimes at odds (heart vs head stuff – all is fickle). But yes, choices appear, our life moves on regardless of those choices. We have to accept our reality as it happens, (talk about real-time updates!!) and have no loyalty to the fear of the future or to the past/past ways of thinking.
For me it was about ‘the next obvious thing’, it wasn’t about analysing it (although it would have been all too easy to go there). Life presented the next obvious thing and it was a leap of faith and trust that this was what was meant to happen and that it was for the good. That ‘next obvious thing’ for me turned out to be following my own light and transgressing, transcending and to some extent including, each group/teaching that I encountered. It wasn’t about surrendering to the fearful projections of what might be, it was about what was happening right here, right now. Looking back, those transgressions were absolutely necessary for me (and I would argue most other people too).
So what am I saying…Transgressing prescribed spiritual paths is part and parcel of growth: we use the raft to cross the river but then abandon the raft at the other bank. But it doesn’t mean it’s not hard. Group dynamics instill a sense of stability, duty and fear, offering pressure that it’s “this way or none” and that you’ll miss your chance at the promised land. But when a natural growth beyond these boundaries occurs then it’s nothing to be fearful of. What happens is what is meant to happen. We don’t know what the future holds (unfortunately this gives no comfort to a mind that wants guarantees and plans). But this to me is where trust, surrender, courage and humility come in.
Open your heart and have the courage to be a light unto yourself, shake off the shackles of shoulds and step forth into the unknown and trust yourself, trust your inner truth, surrender to what is unfolding.
*[Addendum: Little did I know that a matter of weeks after writing this that I would be faced with a 3 for 3 scenario and we would be parting ways with another spiritual Guru/organisation/teaching. Like I said nature throws up the next obvious step, the next unfoldment. So we are at the start of our next chapter, hopefully that is it for us and spiritual organisations…. but who knows what the future will hold ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Watch this space……! ~ Imogen 8/8/18]
This exploration of life requires great vulnerability, earnestness, openness, radical honest and deep inquiry. It’s a truly destructive process, one that burns everything that you are not with such a fire that not even a whisper of the false is left. But what this can mean is that which we hold so dearly, so tightly, for so long doesn’t fit into this new paradigm that is tenderly cracking open. Our once core beliefs and truths don’t feel like ours any more and so we’re required to drop them, to move on, to take a leap of faith into the unknown.
It’s this continuous release into the unknown where freedom lies. It’s not a position to take but a