The Path

I see life as a path.

It curves up and down mountains, through forests, over rivers,

onto beautiful sand beaches

and weaves it way through lush meadows, filled with flowers.

Then in the next moment,

you are struggling to make it through the desert or over a rocky field,

 looking down a long, deserted road with nothing in sight;

or

trying not to drown in an angry sea.

The road is easy in spots and painfully difficult in others.

You will see and experience everything there is.

That is why we are here.

To experience it all.

The only requirement is that we keep going until  we are done –

at the end of this life.

We are all on that path

but at different locations.

I could be on the mountaintop, just as someone else is suffering in the desert.

We rely on those in front of us to look back and extend a hand when we need it

and those behind us count on us to do the same..

This insight came to me after I began my work with Hospice

 and after seeing a simple quote from Ram Dass:

“We are all just walking each other home.”

It was a moment of true clarity.

 

In college, I had a semester of Eastern Religions, which covered

Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Sikkism, Hinduism, Jainism.

I read the book, Siddhartha by Herman Hesse- which I found truly enlightening.

But….at that time in my life,

I was interested in religion only philosophically,

So, I went for a decade with no religion,  no beliefs.

Busy with my life in the material world, I felt no need for spiritual pursuits. 

 

In my early 30’s I started reading books by the Dalai Lama, Ram Dass, Thich Nhat Hanh,

 Surya Das, Soygal Rinpoche and others.

I realized I needed something- some philosophy, a compass of sorts

and a bit of wisdom for the journey

I needed some spiritual comfort.

Their teachings showed me there was another way to live…

A way that didn’t necessarily include organized religion

but the principles that every religion is built upon:

Love, Compassion, Forgiveness, Enlightenment.

This resonated with me.

Basically all religions are based upon these principles.

They are the precepts taught by every major teacher:

 Jesus, Muhammad, Buddha, Krishna.

I avoided organized religion 

but I knew I needed a compass by which to chart my course.

That is when I saw the path for the first time

and realized it was there for all of us. 

I needed a way to decompress from all the insanity in the world and so I began to meditate.

At first, for just a few minutes .

I have  a monkey mind- always jumping and it can only be quieted for so long.

But I felt a change from it.

Even 20 minutes or 30 minutes made a difference

I started with guided meditation tapes.

That is the easiest way.

Listening to calm words and the sounds of water helped me let go,

helped me put my mind in neutral-

when we are more receptive to whatever wisdom comes.

It is the only state in which I can pray,

unless I am sitting in nature and then

 every thought is a prayer.

 

In the past 35 years, I have continued to seek guidance and struggled with feelings of unworthiness.

But I believe I have finally crossed the Rubicon,

into a land of acceptance

of everything…..

me, the world, life, death, pain, imperfection, loss  

and ultimately the acceptance of others, exactly as they are.

I have somehow managed to cast off my need for the approval of others.

I don’t know if that is because I’ve worked on it for decades or

 because I have finally reached the age where I just don’t care what anything thinks of me-

except me.

So how do you get there?

The first thing you must do is eliminate the voices in your life that are telling you:

“you’re not good enough”.

When those people go, it’s easier to hear your inner voice.

You replace those old tapes with new thoughts

new beliefs and new wisdom.

You find people who are ahead of you on the path-

people who have things to teach you,

those who set an example that make you want to be a better person.

And eventually, you settle into a place on the path.

People are always changing places.

Some go ahead, some fall behind, but there are always others to take their place.

Sometimes when they have taught you what you need to learn from them,

they disappear from your view-

for a while or forever.

The point is: you can learn from everyone who crosses your path.

you can learn what you don’t want to be or

you can learn from someone you consider a role model.

 Don’t stop looking around to see the lessons in where you are .

Never cease to be grateful for being in this life.

and….

Don’t ever think you’re done.

Because honestly, I don’t think the path ever ends…

not even in death.

 

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