These were questions I yelled out during prayers one day. When I finally quieted my tirade and heaved a sigh and watched the scenery fly by, the answer came back to me, “If I gave you the truth, you would not have the journey.”
In that one sentence, it summed up what has been a fascinating journey. One in which each time I thought I found an answer, I came away with ten more questions. I laughingly refer to it as falling down the rabbit hole with Alice.
As many of you who have followed my journey know, I was raised Catholic. I followed a path given to me by others and even came close to becoming a priest. People noted my spiritual nature and because most everyone was Catholic, a priest seemed a good fit. Oh, I was a Youth Minister for a couple of years, but the closest I came to the full commitment was sitting in the Diocesan offices having an interview. The Monsignor was please with my answers until he came to the one, “How do you feel towards women?” Well, now, being Irish, the wit took over before I could catch it, and that old Tommy Tune song from Finian’s Rainbow came to mind and out I blurted, “If I can’t be with the one I love, I’ll love the one I’m with.” Bzzzzzt, wrong answer. Thank you for playing, try again another time. Next!
Maybe it was a good thing as I ended up not being locked into a singular dogma that constrained thought to only what came out of the Holy See. Of course, the more I learned about the Catholic Church and its dark underbelly, the more I was happy not to have walked down that path, though I think I would have made one heck of a priest.
Well, my life after that was spent in spiritual fits and starts. The place where I felt most comfortable and at home was in the woods. So it was there that I would talk to God. My personal life had many ups and downs too. Two failed marriages later, I found myself having a breakdown and serious identity issues. I spent five years in counseling only to find that it was okay to believe as I did. My spiritual path was my own and now that I owned it, I had to find out what IT was. I knew from experience that being Catholic was not a fit. So I set out to find out just what I believed and what I could learn. I left my heart open to other paths and investigated at will. Eventually settling down to learn about indigenous healing or as anthrosociologists like to call, shamanism. (Please understand that I know that Native Americans are not shaman, neither are Curanderos or Laikas, it is an eastern European that unfortunately, anthrosociologists like to use to classify all indigneous healers in one lump.) .I investigated many aspects of healing from reading various books about Native American tribes. I read some of the American Shaman writers like Sandra Ingerman, Alberto Villoldo, and many, many others. I read about the sacred drum medicine of the Manianka of Mali. I also took time to read spiriitual writings from Black Elk, Fools Crow, and the Dali Lama. I also learned from Native American friends who were healers.
Let me back track one moment. You may ask why I chose this path. Ever since I was in high school, I have always acted as a “counselor” to others. My school counselor noted this and wanted me to switch my career path from Food Service to psychology. Well, I was going to a regional school and if I switched from Food Service to psychology, I would have had to return to my own school system. So I stayed in Food Service and just continued to do what ever I could to listen and try to help others. This has continued all through my life, and even now I wish I had the time and resources to return to school to take up psychology as my next career. It wasn’t just my words and listening that helped to heal. When I was a Youth Minister, one thing people noted was that when I gave the kids back massages after having to sit for long periods, they would say that my hands would get hot and they could feel it go through them. They would soon fall asleep and when they awoke they said it felt like they had slept all night and were The thing is, that when I ran away from Youth Ministry, in part because I feared I was being called to be a priest again, I kind of renounced all my gifts. So part of my journey has been to try to reclaim these gifts so that I may help others. But beyond words and healing hands, I wish to learn about herbal medicine and healing the spirit.
On this path, I have read from many different sources. One of the first books that helped me to open my heart to many paths was a book called Seven Masters One Path by John Selby. John brings together teaching from seven great masters, Krishnamurti, Lao-tzu, Buddha, Jesus, Mohammed, Gurdjieff, and Patanjali in one book to help people to find ways to meditate. I thought at the time, what a concept. Here was a book that actually took these seven teachers from different philosophies and brought them together as equals. No one was saying, you have to believe this, or that, just a collection of great wisdom. So I opened my learning to include Buddhist wisdom, Native American teachings, and even some Hindu teachings. One particular one, I often quote:
“There are hundreds of paths up the mountain,
all leading in the same direction,
so it doesn’t matter which path you take.
The only one wasting time is the one
who runs around and around the mountain,
telling everyone else that their path is wrong.”
I found such profound wisdom in this that I have reposted it on my many blog sites. Another that I found profound came from the Buddha, Siddhartha Gautama:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
How many of us follow a path simply because those who have come before us have done so? We may feel a calling to walk this way or that, but because of tradition, dogma, or just simple peer pressure we follow the path others dictate for us. I offer another quote:
“Leaders don’t force people to follow –they invite them on a journey.” – Charles S. Lauer
So I invite you on a journey. A journey of discovery of your own path, your own destiny. I pray that you will step back and look at your beliefs, your dogmas, and reread the quote above from the Buddha. Ask if this truth that you have been following is your truth.
Of course, this isn’t always as easy as saying it. One thing on my journey that I have had to attempt to overcome is the societal and religious constraints put on us. When it comes to things spiritual we are told what to believe and what not. If we are to open our hearts and explore our own spiritual path, we have to quell the feelings of disbelief and open ourselves up to the great possibility that we may experience things beyond wonder. The problem I have had is that from a very young age, I was hit with “There is no such things as ghosts”, “I believe in one God, the Father, the Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. I believe in one Holy Roman and Apostolic church…”. How can one overcome a lifetime of being told that there is just one way and supernatural things don’t exist? It has been a lot to overcome, but I have seen and heard things that have slowly whittled away at those old beliefs. But they still are there in the shadows ready to jump out and say, this isn’t real, I was thinking about this the other day as I was reading a collection of essays in the book, Toward 2012: Perspectives on the Next Age by Daniel Pinchbeck and Ken Jordan
Let me preface before I continue that I have suffered back problems for a while now. I have some arthritis in my back as well as scoliosis and slight whiplash from an accident about six years ago. One of the spots that I have a lot of trouble with is right between the shoulder blades. it feels like someone takes an ice pick and plunges it right into my spine. I see a chiro who fixes me up, but given the amount I drive and moving disk arrays and servers, it doesn’t take long to get out of whack again. Of course, the insurance company in their infinite wisdom limits me to twelve visits a year, so the rest of the time, I have to live with the pain. That being said…..
I was reading one of the essays and it introduced a new phenomenon that I had not quite heard of yet, WingMakers. In the essay, the author talks about their experience in “getting their wings”. There are some that believe that the approach of 2012 signals the entering into the fifth world and an evolution of man into Homo Luminous. As part of this, some surmise that we will “sprout wings” and take on a more angelic appearance. Of course, as I stated before I have a lot of old dogma to overcome and first impression was to scoff. Right at that moment, as that thought was entering my mind, that stabbing right between the shoulder blades happens. Was it Carl Jung that said there is no such thing as synchronicity? Let me tell you, when you are reading such a thing and then get hit with excruciating pain right in the place where the person is saying that their wings were budding, you really begin to wonder. One of the thoughts that flashed in my head was a memory of my Air Force days. I had been upstairs in Bubba Brown’s room with some of the guys playing cards. Of course, being servicemen, with poker, there is drinking. At one point, one of the guys lunged across the table and grabbed Bubba around the throat. He said the devil was inside of Bubba and he had to kill him. Three guys tried to pull him off but couldn’t make him budge. I placed a hand on his shoulder and his whole continence changed and he relaxed and released. As soon as I let go, he was back at Bubba. I was not restraining him. I merely touched him. I touched his shoulder again and he released Bubba. I told the guys to get Bubba in the other room and I told his attacker that I was going to take him back to his dorm. He looked at me and smiled. He told me, “I see an angel in you”. I kept my hand on his shoulder all the way back to the dorm and when I got him in his room, he just flopped on his bed and passed out. I tell you, it made me start to question.
Of course, wouldn’t the next essay in that book be from a former Evangelical who spoke about how we need to relook at Christianity. I think the title was that we had to get Christ out of Christianity. I think it is more like we have to get him back in as he had some great teachings.
I think in the end encountering things like this that make you question and help us to throw off the bonds. As we move from NO WAY, to do you think it is possible? We begin to open our minds and hearts to greater possibilities. Some say that all this hoopla about 2012 and ascension or new worlds, is just a bunch of hoo hah, but what if? What if we stand on the brink of a great jump in the evolution in man and the only thing holding us back is that voice from the past saying, “There’s no such thing as ghosts”? What if we free our minds as many indigenous cultures do and open our hearts to the spirits that walk the earth, that may just help and guide us. What if?