The central message of the many spiritual teachings I have studied over the years has consistently said accidents, disease and the like, are created in the mind first and then become manifest in the body and in our lives. Applying logic to this idea, I assumed if I followed the practices and techniques of these spiritual teachings, I would release the unconscious need to create such problems in the first place. I believed the difficulties I experienced with money, with relationships and with life in general were all the result of my attachment to ego, not spirit.
Yet despite years of practice, success seemed limited or temporary. My ego seemed to find ways to slip past the guards and wreak havoc, or it would disguise itself as spiritual guidance, only to reveal itself as sabotage when it was seemingly too late to do anything about it.
I attempted to follow inner guidance, but how could I know which voice I was following: was it the ego, or was it God? There were many times I was utterly convinced I was following God’s guidance and I would ignore all nagging doubts and label them as ‘fear’. I would override my fear instinct, seeing this as a big challenge and the ‘reward’ would follow.
In one scenario, I met someone and I was utterly convinced beyond all doubt we were meant to be together. The relationship stalled and I was sure the only thing that was preventing us being together was my fear of it happening (an example of me creating problems in my mind first, which then became a reality). This was a test of my faith and I did not want fear to make choices about my future happiness.
So I persisted, even though the outcome looked doubtful and they did not seem to believe as I did. Indeed they seemed to be losing interest in me, to not want to become more involved. I knew I could not force the situation; instead I needed to be very patient and when any opportunity arose, to press home my belief.
The waiting became drawn out and the longing grew stronger. I prayed and prayed some more. It seemed at times my prayers got through, but at other times they didn’t, yet I couldn’t understand the reason for the inconsistency. One side of me was telling me the times we met were random, and the other told me if I believed it was random I would always be subject to a random world without rhyme or reason: in other words, there was no God, and I knew such a thing would be impossible to live with.
Yet my patience seemed to bring us no closer. Reluctantly, I came to the conclusion I needed to be more overt. It seemed the problem was that we were both afraid of it happening. I couldn’t do anything about their fear or lack of faith, but I could do something about mine. I decided to be bolder than I had ever been. I decided I needed to tell them that they had to stop listening to fear and open their heart, as I was willing to do. At the risk of alienating them further, I had to let them know how much I believed we were meant to be together. Without my willingness to risk failure, I was not really showing true faith.
My intentions backfired spectacularly. I created more of a rift between us. In fact, I think they were a bit afraid of me, not to mention incredibly angry at my apparent arrogance. I knew in my heart that I only loved them and I did not want to make them sad, angry or afraid, but I also knew that unless I was willing to expose myself to such risks and criticisms, I was going nowhere. I knew they would possibly interpret my approach as arrogance, but I knew that was not the intention in my heart.
So I failed, for whatever reason. Yet the belief we were meant to be together persisted in spite of all logic or reason. I tried to ignore this belief. I wanted to put the experience down to a lesson teaching me to apply reason when necessary and to temper intangible faith with reliable logic. I did not know exactly where to draw the line, but it had to be there somewhere.
Having realized my mistake, I wanted to be left alone to get on with my life and forget about that person: lesson learned! Unfortunately, each day when I woke I immediately thought about them. I would think about them all day and when I was ready for sleep, they would still be in my head. I began to resent their presence and their dominance in my daily life. I was having a far more intimate relationship with them than I could have ever imagined, but it was not a pleasant experience. I just wanted to get over them and move on.
Unexpectedly, I would meet them and we would have a guarded conversation. I suspected they knew on some level that what happened between us was unfortunate, rather than malevolent. A misunderstanding had got out of hand, but that was all. It seemed they knew I was a good person, if a little misguided and that I meant well.
Just those rare times of being together fuelled my desire and longing. I was exhausted by it, but it was not done with me yet. I wanted to break free, but there seemed to be no escape. I was no longer a happy person. I was slave to something impossible and intangible. My life was being ruined by indelible thoughts of this person. It eventually became too much for me. I found myself standing on a chair with a rope around my neck because I just wanted out. I wanted those thoughts to be permanently silenced.
What I did, although alarming, was a gesture and symbolic only. I needed to act out how I felt. Thankfully, I did not have what was needed to end my life, but I had to demonstrate to myself just how unhappy the situation made me. I did not have the power to let go it seemed.
I was able to call a friend once I got down from the chair and tell him how unhappy I was. There was a big relief in doing this and a tense and desperate moment passed. I would love to say the obsessive thoughts ended on that day, but they didn’t. However they didn’t seem to have such a tight grip on my mind. They were annoying and exhausting thoughts, but they couldn’t get to me in quite the same way any more.
Time passed. I forget how much time, but it seemed to be long time looking back. I no longer saw the object of my affection. Although I was not able to completely let go, the demands of my life occupied the void left by my obsession.
Then one night in a club we met again. He smiled and hugged me. He was not guarded or cautious. He was genuinely pleased to see me. We had a wonderful night in each other’s company. He told me that he understood things from my perspective and was completely forgiving of my behavior. That night I went home with a wonderful memory of the evening we had together, which was just like the first few times we met. Yet I also knew that whatever tension between us had been released by the forgiveness and was gone.
All that effort, all my dreams and desires, all my bravery and persistence, all my unhappiness and obsession: what was it all for in the end? Finally, I was able to completely let him go and wish him happiness and freedom. I would never get the dreamed-for relationship, which I believed to be our destiny. In that moment my heart began to tear apart and soon it was in pieces. It was the most exquisite pain I had ever felt. I was literally being torn to shreds but I did not want to stop what was happening, even if I could.
Then just as suddenly, my heart mended, but my new heart was much bigger than the old one. It was stronger and was able to demonstrate compassion and understanding beyond anything I had ever known. My heart had compassion for myself beyond anything I thought I deserved. My heart forgave me unconditionally, just as unconditionally as I forgave him for not being the person I wanted him to be.
I was aware of just how far reaching and sincere was his forgiveness. He didn’t have to forgive me, as I doubt his life was ever as blighted with thoughts of me as my life was blighted with thoughts of him. It wasn’t whether he thought I was important to him or not that mattered, but the decision to forgive was.
My deepest instinct told me that this person truly loved me as I loved them. More than anything I needed this to be acknowledged. When he forgave my behavior, even though there was perhaps no need or justification for doing so, he was finally giving me the acknowledgement and love I longed for.
I thought I meant nothing to him, but the fact that of his own volition, without coercion or persuasion on my behalf, he decided to forgive me, was the love I needed from him. It did not come in the form I wished for, or expected, but it did not matter. It did not make the love less significant by not being ‘a relationship’ and only my willingness to accept it would have affected my awareness of its sincerity, but not the sincerity itself.
All this happened a long time ago and yet it still affects my life now by remembering it. I used to think following spiritual principles would give me immunity from the events of life and empower me. I thought I would be able to magically avoid having accidents, illnesses or other misfortunes and achieve the things I desired. Of course I now realize this would make me appear somehow superhuman to other people. If they saw my belief in God protected me from having a life like everyone else then they would feel they probably have no choice but to believe in God, unless they wanted to continue to experience misfortune and denial of happiness.
How could God be a loving God under the threat of suffering? How could Love be an all-encompassing and all-powerful force, if threat, or denial of its benefits was required for it to be effective and accepted?
My strong faith does not give me immunity to the ordinary events and dangers of life: quite the opposite in fact. I am now more willing to put myself ‘at risk’; by that, I mean I do not to allow myself to be held in check by tyrannous fear, dictating my choices for me. I do not escape the consequences of my decisions, but what I think those consequences are for is quite different. If I had never taken the risk to push beyond my fear with him, the opportunity to expand my heart would not occurred and I would remain bounded by the power of fear.
None of my experiences serve as punishment to keep me in line and to admonish me for taking risks with hidebound moral guidelines. Behind everything stands Love, for Love has no opposite, but I can chose to keep it from my awareness. If I think I deserve punishment for my choices, I will interpret experience to suit my needs. Yet punishment serves only itself, whereas Love serves everyone.
Sometimes punishment for another or myself seems justified and yet who is helped by this choice? Punishment needs justification to exist; otherwise it will cease to be, to be replaced by the inevitability of Love.
I have experienced the Love that is the background on which all the phenomena of experience plays out like the shadow of leaves on a wall, be they joyful or sad. If it comes to my mind, I will let go of something or someone, even if the hurt seems small or unimportant. Hidden within the seemingly insignificant are rewards beyond imagining, the value of which can only be known by a willingness to give them the attention they need. Someone whom I thought loved me taught me that.
Run into Flowers (Jackson Midnight Fuck remix) - M83