Articles about Spirituality
Destiny implies that we have come to earth with a mission or a focus for the soul. And although there is always danger in pinning a definition on something as numinous and awesome as the divine, for purposes of this article let's look at soul as that divine part of us which experiences life in human form. To forge ahead spiritually without reflecting on the unique, personal nature of an experience, the feelings it arouses and how those feelings expand our conscious awareness is to observe the divine, rather than engage it. In other words, when we engage soul, we are communing with the divine.
While it is easy to imagine the hand of the Mystery or the divine in a blissful moment, what about those times when we experience pain, conflict or ongoing challenges? Medical Intuitive Caroline Myss speaks to this in her book, SACRED CONTRACTS. Her understanding, which I share as well, is that before the soul incarnates it determines what it needs for growth. As this is, in a sense, programming our own destiny, we then choose which "teachers" can best help us achieve our life purpose. Though we all lose memory of these "contracts" at birth, we all agree to play roles for one another which present us with maximum soul growth opportunities. In many cases, our best teachers are our greatest adversaries. From parents to partners, we often discover, once life has brought us to a certain level of maturity, that pain and adversity met through our encounters with these chosen ones are necessary contributions to emerging consciousness. It is well known in Buddhist traditions, for example, that suffering deepens our understanding of what it is to be human. Suffering has the potential to open our hearts. Thus, liking or not liking pain and struggle are less important, for challenges enlarge our experience of life, opening us to more compassion for ourselves and others.
Accepting that life can be painful paradoxically allows us the potential to experience bliss. Although this concept can be difficult to grasp when we are steeped in adversity, we can continually remind ourselves that the nature of life is cyclical. This can give us hope that we will emerge from our current situation with more strength and wisdom. Once the tension created from our resistance to pain abates, we may well experience joy or even bliss, as our senses have been piqued by the painful encounter. This is presuming, of course, that we do not mask or medicate pain, but rather feel and experience it deeply, as one with an open heart will do.
This open-eyed living can be extremely challenging in the modern world, where, from a very young age, we are drawn into parallel realities by our highly creative media. If we are not vigilant, we might confuse the mythic Hero or Heroine's journey, depicted in such beautifully crafted films as SPIRITED AWAY and WHALE RIDER, with less evolved plots designed merely to heighten our senses or escalate our fears while making producers and studio magnates millions of dollars.
Living in today's society means that many of us have been moving too quickly to take time to honor rites of passage, observe sacred ritual, or to live our lives with deep, mythic significance. Popular media offers what appears to be a quick fix, for it may borrow the fantasy-like images and rapturous feelings from myth and project them onto the screen. This sets us up for longing, but much of this longing has an external object of desire. These fantasy projections are often cast onto other human beings, where they are found to be lacking or at the very least fleeting. What everyday Hero or Heroine can match the strength of Rocky, or the physical beauty of a (Charlie's) Angel? It becomes unfair for us to expect another person to carry these projections, the source of which is deeply personal and symbolic in nature. When our all-important life's journey seems insignificant in comparison to a superbeing saving the world, we are left with disappointment and feelings of failure. On the other hand, when media can inspire us to acknowledge our part in the current awakening of human consciousness, when we can observe characters working through situations which parallel our own life challenges, we can accept a more grounded version of reality permeated with the magic of the Mystery. Many consider this nourishment for the soul.
Making time to nourish the soul includes reflective time where we allow the deeper parts of ourselves to integrate experience. When we find ourselves trying to reduce life to something rational or logical, when we measure the soul's journey by a yardstick borrowed from our work ethic, we might expect life to give us a fairy tale, happily-ever-after existence in exchange for all the hard self-improvement work we have been doing. It is then helpful to remind ourselves that LIFE IS WHAT IT IS, that as surely as the sun rises, night will fall. Challenges will present themselves, and we can meet and move through them. They are key to us meeting our destiny with as little resistance as possible. As we emerge from each challenge, hopefully wiser, we can more fully appreciate life's little gifts, like the perfection of an unfolding flower or the grace of a hawk in flight. A deep attention to what is always around us can elicit profound gratitude and even bliss.
If we embrace life's journey with attentiveness to the symbolic meaning inherent in all things, we become more discerning and more self empowered as a heightened awareness begins to permeate our daily living. The appreciation of small miracles and indeed the miracle of life itself moves us more willingly toward the soul's inevitable destiny as it manifests through us as vehicles for divine expression. The attachment to our personal agenda becomes less overriding as we open ourselves to what is placed before us. We both actively make choices in life and let life come as it will. It is in holding this balance that we may discover greater levels of inner peace. Some equate inner peace with a state of bliss. Deepening this sense of inner peace or following our bliss then facilitates the unfolding of our life path. We become more trusting that whatever we are meant to experience and learn will come, along the way. We become more open to truly living our lives. We are less guarded by our fears of what is unknown, for we realize we are not in control of what lies ahead. In essence, we move into our destiny with openness and acceptance of what will be.
Perhaps it is helpful to imagine destiny as a river, flowing through the core of our lives. On the banks of this river are structures, houses, farms and businesses, which inevitably will crumble and turn to dust, as do all man-made creations. We keep ourselves busy throughout our lives, building, remodeling, tearing down, rebuilding. And still the river flows on. We might move downstream, upstream, or further from this Source, yet it continues along, throughout time and eternity, unchanged but for humans trying to alter its course or its nature.
Eventually though, even dams will disintegrate, and on and on the river flows. We might distract ourselves, yet even in this process of diversion, we deepen our experience of the river. Though we might not touch onto its banks for years at a time, when we do, we perceive it differently. We notice things about it that were not obvious before. In this way, we have not lost track of our destiny. It is foundational. Our peripheral experiences, whether painful or blissful, contribute to our perception of the river. And perhaps that is how it is meant to be.