Gratitude, Joy, Oneness, Service, Purpose and Meaning (Day 1046 – Day 1074)
In the Vedic tradition, it is the mendicant who burns away all worldly attachments in the fire – they renounce all their possessions, their family and friends and even give up their identity, in order to take the most direct route to enlightenment. Nothing is spared and all goes into the fire to purify the soul. In the Vedic tradition all who die are burned so that all that is left is ash. In the Christian tradition this concept of ashes to ashes prevails, recognizing that when all is said and done, we are all just dust in the wind. In the mystic tradition to which I belong, one must die before dying – to give up all worldly attachments because it is all our worldly attachments that anchor us here and keep us from being able to reach the spiritual consciousness that a mystic seeks.
In many cultures, then, there is the idea of a fire ritual. We can walk on fire to prove that we are able to overcome any obstacle. Or, we can throw into a fire all the attachments to things that hold us back. Most of us, however, if we are asked to pick and choose, will only throw into the fire those things that we no longer want to hold us back.
And it is the task of many spiritual teachers to help those on the path to throw not only the things we believe hold us back but also all those things we hold dear.
Two months ago I attended a fire ritual of purification. It was a noble idea. What I had neglected, however, was to consider that I have a mystic as a teacher.
I haven’t written much lately because I have been going through at the hands of the energetic transmission of the teacher is the first phase of a tranformation at the soul level and these experiences are ineffable. I have been destroyed, from within. Trying to describe this may sound very weird, so I turn to symbolic language because it is at that collective unconsciousness from which our symbols come, that we can feel as One.
In the past 8 weeks, it has not only been the things that I feel are in my way that have fallen out of my life – sometimes quietly and sometimes spectacularly – but my most cherished dreams, my deepest love, and my hopes for my identity.
All have been burned, and I am ash.
I had a dream about a woman who was covered by her teacher in ash. It was only after the fire that she could have access to the magical forest that awaited her and there she found strange and mysterious fruit.
What will be my strange and mysterious fruit?
I don’t know what is going to come after the fire. This time in my life – since I committed to the fire ritual last October – has been one of the greatest times of loss in my life. I have had to watch it all burn, whether I wanted it to go or not.
When life falls apart, I think it is human nature to rely on the ego: I can fix this, I can work this out, how come this happened? What can I do to make this work? And it is in this rush of ego, the drive to return to normality that some of the deepest grief occurs.
It is holding on that hurts us.
The Phoenix is a symbol for resurrection from the ash. I don’t feel like a Phoenix. Spirituality takes us upward, like the Phoenix, to the heavens and to the bliss of Oneness of Creation. The work of the soul, the work of the mystic, is first to walk through the fire and die.
The two month window I mentioned in my last post has passed with the full moon lunar eclipse, yesterday. I feel like ash…or perhaps more acurately, like the disparate collection of empty spaces between the ashes that once held me together.
I am incredibly vulnerable and I feel like I have 3rd degree burns all over my body. I am sensitive to everything. And so, I continue to keep myself secluded, and I tend to my tomatoes, with love, and I sing to the forest, and I go out and kayak to keep me from losing all hope.
And, in the quiet hours, I pray and I listen. And I wait. This is where faith gets tested.
It’s easy to be grateful for the blessings in life. Its easy to love someone who loves us back. It is easy to have faith when we get all we want in life. But it is when we can find a way to love those who cannot or will not love us, when we can surrender our will to that of the Divine and when we can see the Grace in death – it is then that our heart and soul are truly engaged.
I am grateful for my cohort along the way who shared this road with me. We lost a few along the way and I am grateful for their presence and wish them well as they move to rebuild their life, now that it has burned away. Mostly, I am grateful for my teacher and for the Divine.
The work of the soul is not an easy path.
My relationship, along with my dreams, and now, my identity, were not things I wanted to release, but they were all beloved attachments. I am not through the transformation…Death is complete. Grief follows, and rebirth is yet to come.
I have been through a deep let go and I feel there are still tears to cry and babies to bury.
There is no joy in this death although I know that this lies on the other side of the process.
The last 24 hours, I feel as though I have been like Ashoka walked through the smokey fields of battle. Like the King, I am overwhelmed with grief at what I have done and what I have not done. And like Asoka, my heart is turning.
For some time now, I have had the growing sense that the next and final chapter of my life (whether it be 5 or 50 years) will be one of surrender to complete service to something far greater than myself. And so, if there is any meaning in this suffering that I have faced in the fire, it is for that purpose.