Week 9 at-home reading

Week 9: Path and Purpose

 

 

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Each person’s life is like a mandala – a vast, limitless circle. We stand in the center of our own circle, and everything we see, hear and think forms the mandala of our life…everything that shows up in your mandala is a vehicle for your awakening. 

—Pema Chodron

 

 

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Mini-lecture from Thea on Path and Purpose:

 

 

On the MACRO level:

On the “macro” or collective level, the Guides tell us we all have the same purpose: to evolve as souls. This process happens over lifetimes, and it means:

 

 

  • To work with the lower self or Ego by acknowledging, moving through, and releasing feelings and experiences. This is our own “inner work” or path of growth that is spurred along by our particular choice of parents, families, life experiences, relationships, etc.
  • To gradually move from that lower self and its sense of separation into the Higher self or the Godself, what the Guides call “the path into Oneness.” This is the work of the “spiritual path” or self-realization.
  • To begin to experience ourselves and know ourselves as Who We Really Are, which is an aspect of the Divine.
  • To BE that as consistently as possibly, which means radiating that energetically into the world.
  • To consciously choose Light over darkness in how we are Being in the world and how we perceive and treat others.
  • In all those ways, we contribute to the awakening of humanity and the planet.

 

[Many if not all of my clients, when asked what they should be doing, are given an answer that has more to do with energy than anything else. “Anchoring in the Light” is a real, legitimate and very high purpose.]

 

 

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On the MICRO or individual level:

 

On the “micro” level, that collective purpose gets expressed in its own unique way through each of us. We each bring something unique. Our individual path encompasses our particular set of desires, gifts, and interests that incline us toward certain choices. This is our authentic self as expressed as a human being, including what might be termed our “calling,” and it dovetails with the larger journey we’re on as souls and as a collective. Our unique path represents our own particular way of moving through the world toward that larger goal of Oneness. (Metaphors that help us understand this are: we are many pieces of a broken mirror, or we represent the many or infinite aspects of the Divine.)

 

This process of self-knowledge, individuation, is the goal of psychology, in a sense. It is similar, in my teaching of writing, to identifying the unique “voice,” the creative fingerprint of the writer or artist. In terms of personality, there are many tools to help with this: the Myers-Briggs system, the Enneagram, etc. And these touch on the soul level, but may not go quite deep enough to encompass all of who we are.

 

 

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The Guides tell us there’s no way to miss the destination, but there are easier or harder ways to get there (or faster or slower).

 

This is where intuition comes in, the sense that if we listen and follow the dictates of   the heart, we will have a smoother and more joyful ride.

 

We sometimes make the mistake of thinking that our “path” is the same as our “job,” when it may be broader than that, or differently expressed. According to the Guides, there are qualities of Spirit we each have that need to be expressed. It’s about who and how are we Being, more than what we are doing. The doing is an avenue for the Being in the world.

 

 

 

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We’ll start with some Guide passages I may have shared before, but I share them again here since they relate to this week’s topic as well and bear re-reading.

 

 

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The soul knows the purpose of the person and of itself on earth. The soul is not confused. It has an agenda. Its agenda is to clear out the lower self and to make way for the upper Self to make itself known. The Godself.

 

 

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Listening to your self—the self that longs for growth, not the false self that demands outward attention—is listening to God. Following its longings is fulfilling your purpose. And that is the least selfish thing you can do.

 

 

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Every human person is on a journey, same as you. Every human person is on a path that is different from your path. A path of their own, with its own lessons and challenges, some of which you may in no way understand, others of which you may only have glimpses.

 

The reality is, their path is not your business. Even if that person is your closest loved one. Your mother, your father, your lover or spouse, even your child. We repeat, even your child. Yes, you have a role to play in the paths of these people. And they have a role to play in yours.

 

But you do not “belong” to each other—not in the sense that your “need” for that person trumps the requirements of that person’s own path.

 

 

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[Trust] the circumstances of your life as meaningful and appropriate—however difficult—and fully engaging with them as your right path, the path that will take you, over time and without fail, to the place you need to go as a soul. This is assured.

 

 

 

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Q and A with the Guides

Here is some guidance on a related topic I wanted to include before we wrap up class: the issue of power and control.

 

 

Q: How much power do we have in our lives? How much control? How do we figure out what we have control over and what we don’t, and how to live accordingly?

 

You ask a very important question and one not easily understood. The two words you chose are telling—power and control. From our vantage point, they mean two very different things, and give rise to two different answers.

 

How much power do you have? Infinite, or nearly so.

How much control? Not so much. More than you sometimes think, though less than you would like. Let me explain.

 

Power, from our perspective, is the extent to which you are plugged in to the Infinite. The connection you have to That from whence you came. To Source, if you will. This is the force that gives you life, and the source of All That Is. You are all plugged into that Source, all drawn from and drawing from it, all part of it, inseparable from it, if you will. Indistinguishable from it, in your essence. The power in that, the power of life, is unimaginably great, and it is in you and you are of it.

 

So yes, you have great power, and you can use that power in any number of ways. But to understand how, we must discuss control, and the limits of it.

 

What is control? If power is essence, control is its opposite. Form. The externals. The extent to which you can make your power felt in a particular way. In a particular form. In a particular shape, size, outcome, result, etc.

 

And this entirely depends on the Will of Heaven. That is to say, if you harness your power in a particular way toward a certain outcome, and it is in line with the Will of Heaven for that outcome to be fulfilled—and it does not violate the Divine Plan for any other person for that outcome to be fulfilled—then it may indeed happen. All those requirements must be fulfilled, however. And that is the limit of your “control.”

 

Shall we say that again? In order to bring about certain outcomes, a specific set of criteria must be in place.

 

  1. You must apply yourself, physically and mentally and even emotionally toward that certain end. You must do the “work.”
  2. It (the outcome you wish) must be in the Will of Heaven.
  3. It must not violate the Divine Plan for you or any other person.
  4. It must correspond to the existing Reality in which you live and in which your soul has agreed to live and participate in order to learn the appropriate life lessons for the this particular incarnation. In other words, you live in a certain milieu for a reason, and while you may shift that milieu, you may not transcend it completely without learning the lessons for which it was prescribed. Once you have done so, you are free to shift that milieu for another more appropriate for the next set of lessons you will incur/inspire.

 

So why are your prayers not answered at times? Or why is the answer (often) “no”?

 

Because it is not time.

Or you have not done your part.

Or it is not the Will of Heaven.

Or it is not the path of another.

 

If you have done your part and the answer is no, let it go. As painful as it is to do so. As much as you may grieve. And do not believe we are blind to your sufferings, to your longings. We are not. Our hearts grieve for you. We share your pain. And yet we cannot say “yes” when the answer is “no,” cannot circumvent the strictures of Divine Law, no matter how much we may want to, may want to ease your pain. And remember, we have an altogether different sense of time. We know that in the end, all wishes are met, all answers are fulfilled. All is well and all is well, even when it does not appear so. We are not troubled.

 

So these are the limits on your control.

You may not control another.

You may not control what is not yours to control.

You may not control what is not in its proper time.

 

You may control yourself, your choices and your actions, your attitudes and your beliefs. And sometimes that control—or should we say, that power—is enough to bring you what you want.

 

Which brings us back to power and the notion of power.

 

You are all-powerful, in the sense that you have ultimate control—in the end—over Who You Are and how you are Being and how you choose to live that Being in the world.

 

How are you going to Be? What are you going to radiate into the world?

 

The quality of these choices will absolutely determine the quality of your experience. Not the particulars of your experience, exactly. Not the externals to every degree. But the flavor, the essence, the Beauty, the heart.

 

This is your Power.

 

Not the power to manifest this or that—which is nice but not essential.

 

But the Power to live in Beauty. The power to draw to yourself experiences that are beautiful, regardless of their content. The Power to See and Feel and Be the Beauty that you Are and the Source from which you came, in all moments, at all times.

 

THAT is power.

 

And when there is that level of power, that level of mastery, that level of beauty, there is no need for control.

 

Control implies that something is wrong and must be fixed.

Power knows that All is Well—in every moment—despite the abundant (seeming) evidence to the contrary.

 

Despite the discomfort.

Despite the duality.

Despite the pain and suffering that are an inevitable part of the human path.

 

Power says YES. Power says, I see through this to what is truly true.

 

That All are One.

That nothing is wrong.

That love is all there is.

That there are no mistakes.

That Beauty is all around us.

 

That God and I—God and All That Is and all creation down to the smallest creature—that All Are One and One and One.

 

And I am part of that.

That I Am That.

And so it is.

Amen.

 

 

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Q: So what you are saying, if I have this correct, is that our power comes from our attitudes and beliefs, or as you put it, how we choose to Be in the world?

 

 

Yes. You always have a choice, in every situation. You can see darkness, or you can see Light. You can open your heart or close it. You can connect with others or turn away. You can choose hope or give in to despair.

 

Do not make light of such choices. They are not easy. This is not Pollyanna, not a cliché. This is genuine, difficult work that goes to the core of who we are and who we choose to be. It takes courage to choose the Light. It takes courage to see another person as an extension of ourselves, in the sense that we are One.

 

There can be a kind of satisfaction in darkness, a kind of pleasure in hate or anger or despair. Here I am not talking about feelings but habitual attitudes. We all feel hate or anger or despair in certain situations at certain times. But we have a choice. Do we fall into those feelings and let them take over, or do we let them run their course and then choose Light? This determines everything: this one choice. This is strength. This is courage. This is the hero’s journey of the soul.

 

Who do you choose to Be? Not, how do you feel. But who do you choose to Be?

This is the test. It is the chance for the soul to know itself and to claim itself in the human world. If you know yourself as a Being of Light, you will choose light. If you choose light, you will be rushed along the path of growth and incarnation to the realms of Truth, because you have shown that you know Who You Are.

 

If you choose darkness, you have chosen more growth. You have shown you have more growing to do. That is all. It is not punishment. It is an opportunity to try again, in this or another lifetime, to make the choice that defines us all, in the end. And in the end there is only one choice to make. But you are each given the freedom to choose it, in your own time. That is the nature of the human realm. It is not a trick. It is an experience.

 

 

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Q: Earlier you said, “If you have done your part (in terms of seeking a certain outcome in your life) and the answer is ‘no,’ let it go.” But what if the desire for that particular outcome doesn’t go away? What is the value in perseverance?

 

 

There is nuance here that may go beyond the scope of this discussion. But the short answer is—as it always is—the heart will know. Not the grasping heart. Not the part of us that does not want to take no for an answer and grieve a loss. But the steady heart, the inner heart, the voice of God within us that keeps on speaking, quietly and insistently, regardless of outer circumstances. That is your guide, always.

 

Which brings us back to the beginning, to the importance of silence and the inner path. When you turn inward—truly turn inward, with patience and forbearance for the turbulence that can arise at first—you will begin to hear, if you don’t already, the voice of God within. This voice may sound like nothing much, at first. It may sound like silence. It may sound like an urgency you don’t understand, impulses that don’t make sense from your rational mind. Sleep, it may say. Rest. Or cry. Or talk to this person. Or forgive that wrong. Or go to this place. Or do that thing.

 

Your mind will argue. It will say, that doesn’t make sense. Or, that is not the plan. Or, what about money? Or, or, or. The mind loves to argue. It wants to be in control. But the heart, the deep heart, has other plans. The plans of your soul. And those are the ones to follow, to the extent that you can, even if you don’t understand. Chances are, you won’t. Not until much later.

 

So, yes, if you keep hearing the same thing over and over again, if your soul will not rest, then pursue that goal. But have patience and trust the unfolding of events. Allow redirections. Keep an open mind. Do not let yourself become fixed on a certain course, for that means your mind has taken over and hijacked the proceedings, and that causes you to suffer.

 

Allow that you don’t know what your soul has in mind. Allow that there is more, much more, going on than meets the human eye. Allow that your plans, your small human plans, are just that—plans made with the human mind, in a human timeframe, without regard to the much larger story that is being written and of which you are an essential part.

 

We realize this is a frustration. To live within such limits of perception is understandably difficult, and that is why we encourage you to go within, to begin to encounter the Divine mind within yourself. You will not understand the Will of God perfectly. That is impossible from a human perspective. But you will begin to sense the rightness of What Is, regardless of circumstance. You will begin to feel the “peace that passes all understanding” within yourself, underneath the turbulence, underneath the outrage or disappointment or frustration or egoic grasping that characterizes the human life. You will begin to feel yourself as a part of something much greater, more ineffable, more compassionate, more Eternal, than you ever thought possible. And that will give you Peace beyond what you can imagine.

 

 

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