Dark Side

Religious, spiritual, and mystic allegory is replete with images of the hero — the seeker after truth, love, and kindness — being challenged by dark forces, intent on destroying the hero’s noble pursuit.

It all makes for entertaining storytelling until, tag — you’re it, you’re the hero or heroine under siege.

You will be brought into the spiritual battlefield at the ordained time — or, when all of your hard-earned preparatory training has been satisfactorily completed.

The assault you will inevitably have to suffer is necessary for the final stage of self-mastery. Something has to stress test your values, your understanding, as well as your practices.

Under fire, you come to the terrifying realization that backup isn’t coming — either you fight and live, or you perish. You alone determine this outcome, though many will be waiting for you on the other side.

The forces of light prepare the hero.

The forces of darkness make the hero.

Welcome the Chaos

Sometimes, perhaps more often than not, the person you thought you were needs to be taken away from you so that you can realize that you were not that person.

It is a thoroughly unpleasant experience. Nobody, not even the most evolved among us, would choose for it with a smile.

We choose for it for the same reason we go to a dentist to have a cavity filled — we know the procedure is necessary to prevent further damage and that we will be better off for it, despite the momentary discomfort.

It is an unfortunate truism in spiritual practice that the more you care about truth, love, and kindness is the degree that you will be challenged to realize that you already are truth, love, and kindness. No doing or adoption of identity is required.

If we are doing or adopting identities, we have “slipped” into a personal sense of self, and believe the ego’s “I-thought.” If the being’s underlying intention is to be rid of this thought or false identity, then she actively invites disruptive forces to dislodge it.

Her experience of life becomes chronically difficult. However, what she very often fails to see — particularly in acute flare ups — is the beautiful polishing that is occurring, veiled beneath the waking experience of reality.

You might look at others, with seemingly less struggle, and yearn for a more normal, stable experience.

The fact is: the less struggle, the less turmoil… the less polishing that is occurring and, in many ways — as it would be to remove a piano from Mozart’s gifted hands — that’s a pity.

Some do not wish to polish. They wish to take it easy in this life. That is OK.

The important thing for the seeker after truth is to know that the grass is not usually greener on the other side. Many householders with full bank accounts, stable careers, and grown children still inwardly harbor feelings of incompleteness.

We are here to learn to shed layers of attachment and ignorance so that the innate, natural expression of who we are can effortlessly shine forth.

It is this sublime, freeing experience each and every one of us yearns for and, eventually, seeks. Some faster than others.

Welcome the chaos.

To Learn is to Love

What are you learning?

Without exception, the deepest, truest learning points us in the direction of kindness, justice, equality, generosity, peace, humility, and so many other similar qualities — or, in short, love.

The deepest, truest learning does not occur sipping an exotic fruit juice on the beach while watching the sun set (some, to be fair). It occurs in the belly of the beast — when the lights are off, we are scared, and can’t see the way through to safety.

In such times, if we are wise, we question everything. Particularly, we investigate what got us in the predicament we find ourselves in now. If we are really paying attention, painful though it may be to contemplate, inevitably we will find volunteerism for the part — not victimization.

Somewhere — you may have to go the subtlest of levels to find it — there was a choice, conscious or not, to have the experience you are having right now.

And thank goodness for that. If we were purely the victims of unfortunate circumstances, we are powerless to change them and so doom ourselves to further misfortunes.

Finding the flaw in our decision making, even the most egregious and obvious, by no means makes us bad and unworthy people. It just means we took a left turn when we should have turned right, and wound up in a strange town — lost and in need of directions.

There is no way to discover the flaw unless we experience its, what you might call, “harmful” effects.

Once it’s out, we can make the needed adjustment and get back on our way.

That is how we learn. Through trial and tribulation.

The more you learn, the more you can experience what you really want.

The more trial and tribulation… that means you know what.