The Crooked Path
The Path is not straight.
If it were, our fate would only be a matter of time. We could simply relax and walk forth, casually. There would be no need for consternation, wringing our hands at every crossroads or unexpected detour.
No, the path is not straight.
But our fate is only a matter of time. We can simply relax and walk forth, casually. There is no need for handwringing or consternation when we feel stuck.
Feeling lost or like we’ve gone backward on our path is golden. An apparent delay is but the opportunity that propels us forward. It is a shortcut through the thicket. Yes, there’s slashing and chopping involved. We may receive a few cuts and bruises and stubbed toes; but all the pain ultimately saves time.
So be grateful. Be grateful for the crossroads, the pause on your plans, and difficulties that make you feel off track. Be grateful for the crooked path, which is the greatest of teachers. Celebrate the understanding it brings. Realize that our preference for a smooth journey has little to do with our happiness or joy and even less correlation to what is in our highest good.
Last month, there was no blog post. Or, that is to say, there was a blog but I didn’t post it.
I cannot remember why.
It was all about “responsibility,” and, somehow, petticoats. And today, I had a clear idea for a straightforward blog.
I can’t remember what that was either.
The spiritual path is like this.
We forget what we’re doing half the time and sometimes why. There’s only a vague sense of a place we want to arrive or values by which we want to live, propelling us onward. It doesn’t always make sense, the things we do or how we feel. Actions and circumstances don’t always seem to be driving us forward.
Yet, it’s nearly impossible to turn off the path once we’ve boarded the proverbial wagon of a spiritually-centered life. The wheels keep turning beneath us, even in times of uncertainty. We can only hope and trust that we boarded the right cart and that someone wiser than us is driving.
But when things are not going well, it’s easy to get a little nervous.
The way back to God can be frustrating. Because it feels like such an important endeavor, we tend to take setbacks very seriously. We might feel a need to perpetually see the progress we are making, all around us and through our actions.
If we are headed toward Enlightenment, shouldn’t it look and feel like we are constantly getting closer with each step?
It is easy to slip into a sense of accomplishment when we feel in flow. We attract supportive, high-vibrational people into our lives. Abundance and opportunities seem to lay themselves at our feet. It is natural to accept such external gifts as a reward, an indication from the Universe that we’re “getting closer” or “doing it right.”
But flow and abundance are subjective states. The good feelings they bring are a byproduct of the extent to which they meet our predetermined preferences and expectations for a certain type of experience. When we say we are “out of alignment,” it is generally only to parameters for alignment that we’ve invented or adopted. Our external context changes far less than we might perceive.
Any appearances to the contrary, we are always moving down the Path, whether we are conscious of it or not. There is no distinction between diving deeply into spiritual practices and two or three months spent doing other, more worldly things. Each has its place, and each is essential. The flow never stops, it just doesn’t necessarily take the direction we expect or prefer.
From a spiritual perspective, feeling out of flow is not a bad thing. It is likely necessary to arrive where we ultimately want to be. At a minimum it encourages us, through its unpleasantness, to break our attachment to some specific way of being. A lack of flow is in no way an indication of spiritual failure.
We might be happier when progress is obvious. It feels more “pleasant” to clearly see ourselves expanding from a place of alignment to certain expectations and values. But such feelings are the result of preferences that we’ve created, not an indication of doing things “right.”
If we shift our inner awareness to the incontrovertible permanence of love and abundance in each moment, we can let go of the need for our experience to look a certain way. Instead of only feeling rewarded by the Universe when life is easy and aligned to our expectations, we can accept the value of every state and circumstance. By recognizing the availability of spiritual gold in each moment, we can ease into life and attract more of what we need and desire.
Once we understand that all moments serve us, we will be freer to always attract that which is in our highest good – even if it is not clear how it is supportive or whether it feels pleasant. Dropping preferences for one type of experience opens us to the constant and fruitful growth present in all experiences.
Bringing awareness to the continual spiritual flow will not ensure that only good things happen to us. But it will smooth the rough edges of our work in this life. It will ensure that any unpleasant detours off the path are but shortcuts on our journey back to God.
Did you know that the ostrich does not stick its head in the sand when it faces danger? This is a myth. I’m not sure how it got started. Probably some traveler from Europe that went to Africa, misunderstood what he saw, and wrote about it. Everyone else accepted it as truth or found it funny enough to repeat.
One person misunderstood what he saw, his error seeped into the culture and became a common belief that is incontrovertibly wrong. A couple hundred years later, we have limitless information at our fingertips. Yet, most still believe that ostriches are dumb birds with a strange way of reacting to danger.
This is what being human is like sometimes – feeling smart and superior based on a false belief and nobody around us questioning it. We believe something is one way, it certainly appears to be, and everyone confirms it to be true. It helps shape or validate an understanding of our existence. Then, one day, we discover we were wrong. The way the thing looks has not changed. No one around us has shifted their opinion. But suddenly we are burdened with a truth that forces us to reevaluate how we perceive reality, at least a portion of it.
Most people have never seen an ostrich but will still flippantly toss out the occasional cliché of “sticking his head in the sand.” We evoke it as an insult to people unwilling to face reality. Oh, the irony!
What the ostrich really does is quite purposeful… and apropos. I’m paraphrasing but, if it perceives a threat, an ostrich will stick its head low and pause. Doing so helps it blend with its environment and gives it the opportunity to plot the best escape route. From this position, it is also primed to most effectively fight with its powerful kicks.
The ostrich does not “give up” and pray for danger to pass. It only looks like that to the uninitiated. When the ostrich seems like it has surrendered, it is at its most action ready.
Let’s all be ostriches.
Even if it looks like you’re making no progress or you feel caught in old patterns of behavior and thought, what if you shift the story? What if you were actually ready to make your most dramatic move? What if you acknowledge that even if it looks like you’ve buried your head in the sand, you are in fact highly aware, alert, and prepared for the next step?
How would this change your experience of the unpleasant, the lack of flow?
Maybe you’re struggling and it feels like you’re lost or that everything is difficult. Perhaps you dropped your spiritual practices or got a little lazy. Maybe life threw something unexpected at you and you froze.
Set aside, for the moment, any belief you have that your current troubles are an indication that you’ve made a mistake. Instead, consider that you might simply be chopping through the thicket of a sweet shortcut that your soul found on its way to God. You might not be able to see the whole picture. It might feel like you’re simply stuck at the mercy of life’s dangers and need to get moving. But what you think you see is not necessarily reality, (just ask the guy that first reported on the Ostrich’s defense mechanism).
Instead of giving in to frustration, be an ostrich. The freeze was you scouting out a shortcut. Now you are on it. The difficulties and struggles are simply the chopping, the slogging through untread thicket. It’s not pleasant but you are about to come out way ahead of where you would have been otherwise.
Lots of Love Lovers,
- Winged Bard