When I was tasked with writing a column on spirituality, mysticism, and all things Divine and Cosmic, my mind reeled. I found a way to quiet that critical part of my ego that never fails to tell me what I can and can’t do, and methodologically set about on the task ahead. How would I explain to a sophisticated and rational mind that our relationship with the Cosmic and Divine are the most important things we can cultivate for ourselves, and for others? I wanted these answers to be without excessive explanations. I needed to show that it is of a visceral nature, pure, and wholly ethereal - like the way the sun and the moon hang across from one another every day and every night, in a perfect balance.
This type of introspective work isn’t for everyone, but on the other hand when I give someone this safe and accepting place to reveal their ‘self’, they usually respond by immediately dropping their guard and showing me their most vulnerable side, and actually they most desperately want and need to talk about the agony, and ecstasy, of living. Five years ago, with some encouragement and a lot of practice, I began to use my empathic abilities to heal the emotional pain of others. Now that I have hundreds of these sessions under my belt, I feel more confident talking about my relationship with the Cosmic and my ability to help others discover spiritual realms. But that doesn’t mean I don’t feel doubt or conflict. I sometimes have to walk the line between delivering an objective message, and the desire to please others by telling them what they want to hear.
I’ve often heard that there are two kinds of work we are here to do during our short time on this Earth: work with our inner self, and our work with others, which represents our families, professional life, community, and the world at large. The thought of going deep into our psyche can trigger our fear of the emotional abyss, especially if we have buried past hurts. But by staying in shallow waters, we potentially lose out on conversations or experiences that could us help us delve far beneath the surface of just ordinary but into exactly the extraordinary, the mysterious, and the bliss, that is often described as Nirvana.
When we finally relent and dive deep the fear is exposed for what it truly is: a shadow that we ourselves have cast. How many times has it been said that if you are afraid of something, you must just dive into the fear with total abandon? I tested this idea in my real life by overcoming my lifelong fear of the sea by simply joining a scuba course and becoming a certified diver, And I’ve since been a lifelong ocean enthusiast ever since. We must somehow learn a strategy for approaching the proverbial deep waters of life if we’re going to survive. The panic and self-doubt will come back, and it will linger. Its then I realize that its time to turn to levity, my best friend. The ability to make wise cracks at myself and the world at large has proved to be a solid coping mechanism for my survival, and usually the absurdity of life never fails to give me things worthy of my dark sense of humor. Its not always appropriate, but I don’t always care, either. I will try to expertly write about things I am not an expert in, but if you are actually are looking for someone uh, bon- a-fide in such things, please look up Mr. Deepak Chopra. Unfortunately, our only connection is that we are both Indian and enjoy meditation.
If you are willing to humor a novice, a mere mortal however, then I’ll share my own trials and tribulations, and even allow myself to be vulnerable. If ‘to err, is human’, then to doubt thyself must also be human in equal parts. Perhaps the precursor to the error, but which is actually worse- the fear of or the actual happening? In my experience it has been the incessant worrying and the talking down to myself. I remind myself that while my contribution might not be ground breaking news, it is important to share stories and ideas because they had the potential to educate, to encourage, and to empower others. When I feel afraid to tell my story, I always remember something I once read about the bravery of what Anne Frank had done: what if that twelve year old had decided that keeping a diary was foolish? We will feel the magic of humanity through her words forever now.
I wanted to be dedicated student, and I wanted some answers, I set upon the task of becoming a scholar of Lao Tzu’s classic manual, a treatise on the art of living: The Dao de Jing, or translated simply, The Path, throughout this study, Divine Will is touched upon often. One of the universal truths of any spirituality is that we have the willpower to overcome our fears through Divine Will. Divine Will, also implies that destiny is actually only one simple part of it. Our character is the reflection of choices we make when we our spirits are truly tested. In Steinbeck’s East of Eden, the classic biblical tale of good and evil, Divine Will is described as Timshel, ‘Thou Mayest’. The story’s credibility lies on our ability to accept human’s potential for both, in admitting that indeed both of the two exist inside of us, but so does the Divine and we have a choice. This Divine Will, Timshel, is what makes us human and our faith in humanity helps us to choose to do the right thing. But still, I wanted to know what Timshel really meant.
I meditated by listening to a spoken English translation of The Dao de Jing, read by the Daoist scholar Stephen Mitchell. I listened and meditated, and then listened some more to the Dao de Jing until finally, many years began to pass and I could recite all eighty-one chapters by heart, and I felt it infused in my Soul. I had found something that could be my Teacher, my Master showing me the ‘way’. More importantly I had discovered something Sacred that I could hold in reverence.
The Dao De Jing is broken into two parts: one is for the pupil to listen and encompass, and the other half is meant as platform for moral debate and critical thinking. I broke apart sections of the Dao tried to understand what this scholar, this Chinese mystic from the 12th century BCE had to give to the world.
Lao Tzu wrote of the Great Masters who had achieved ‘wei wu wei’, or “doing, not doing”, a main tenet of Daoism. – it is said to be the strongest, the most powerful action we can take: to do nothing at all, and simply wait for the answer to manifest on its own.
But it was not enough. I was searching for something else – more than just a written manual. I needed to experience it. I wanted to actually come face to face with the Divine. This led me to move to a small community in the mountains and of Brazil to a small town called what else, - High Paradise. There was a community there that called themselves Sanyassins and they followed the teachings of the mystic guru, Osho.
I also began to understand more about plant medicines such as ayauhuasca and peyote and I learned that indigenous tribes throughout Brazil used these types of experiences in a spiritual setting to heal emotional sickness, and to connect with the Divine. The time I spent there taking these medicines became a formative part of my inner work, and how I am today. Living in this small town also instilled in me the importance having a supportive community that you could engage with. I was going through an ‘awakening’, and I needed to be around others who felt the same way I did.
I chose Divine Will as a potent and all encompassing theme of this first column because I come across this concept the most in my study and practice of all things mystical, including the Daodejing. In filmmaking, there is a concept of ‘suspension of disbelief’, which allows us to continue to produce and sit through films such as Mission Impossible: 4 and pretend that Tom Cruise really does have as much strength as ten men. So literally, Divine Will is this: we must let go of what we think is impossible.
But Divine Will is not all. The Hero’s Journey is one of struggle survival, and ultimately deliverance. At a crucial point we will be faced with difficult choices that test morality We must make our decisions with conviction, and with courage we must accept what is and isn’t in our control. In life, its mostly good to go with the flow, but when it comes to our convictions we must stand firm like a rock. Most of all, if we are willing to fight for our convictions, and our will is so great, so empowering - we can do the impossible: slay dragons and effortlessly move mountains, we can be even more powerful than fate itself.
There is no real definition of it I can provide to you, only ideas or concepts. However, I do believe that somewhere inside every reader there will be a moment of knowing exactly. If you are interested in learning more about inner voyages, then I invite you along as I continue to ask more questions and seek out answers.
One thing becoming “spiritual” has given me is a new compassion for others, a reminder to be kind, wherever and whenever the chance should appear. Rumi, the Mystic Sufi poet wrote: ‘..Be a light to others, be a ladder, walk out of your house as if you were a shepherd.’ This is new and important gift for me, and I know I must also pass this on. I have come to find that some part of my existence is now devoted to asking questions and finding answers, as a process, over and over. Okay, the idea of the shepherd watching over others is also a common theme in spirituality, but how does look in 2018? What did it mean to be alive now and compassionate? How does one navigate through this life with intention so as to leave a meaningful legacy, and not a scar? Let’s find out.