Ouch. Life hurts. Do you ever have days where you feel like you are the universe’s pet punching bag? The spiritual path offers so much, the seductive inner delights tantalise, but the inner path is not for the fainthearted.
After years of self-flagellation dressed up as self-enquiry and spiritual practice, I had a pretty good idea of how I had screwed up my life; I could also tell you about the great promise of the spiritual life. I was diligent in my efforts towards self-realisation, my days were filled with meditation, service, prayers and chanting, yet life seemed to mock my efforts. My intimate relationships were a war of attrition, socially I was easily upset, quick to anger. I desperately wanted a better life. Then one day, I gave up. It was the best thing I ever did.
My life has changed. I feel I know something important about myself, and the universe. The air I breathe now has a sweetness to it. My step is lighter. I recently went on a retreat. For five weeks I was immersed in a state of inner silence and tranquility ushered into a realm of such tender beauty and serenity I thought I must be in heaven. Again and again I was ushered into the sacred halls of silence, until it finally dawned on me, ”I am in heaven, I have always been in heaven, I just hadn’t noticed it”, and then the most surprising realisation occurred that filled my heart with such love and gratitude: we are all in heaven.
What is it like in heaven? Silent. Peaceful. Such a deep and tender peace, and in this silence a sense I am with one who sees my life in its entirety, and loves me so deeply, cares for me so completely; my heart had ached to receive such love. This presence upholds the workings of the universe, and yet has all the time in the world to attend to every murmur my heart makes, cooing comfort and soft embraces.
The bursting open of the heart is the key: being able to receive is paramount. ‘I’ had to stop ‘meditating’, ‘serving’, ‘praying’, ‘studying’, ‘honouring’, and ‘contemplating’ and allow heaven to move deeply within me. So after 35 years of spiritual pursuit I finally gave up. I bowed my head, “God, do with me as you please.”
The response was instantaneous, a silent presence whispered, “I want you to receive everything I have to offer”. I spent the entire five weeks learning to receive. Wave after wave of unending bliss would arise. A mountain of blessings was delivered to my door. All I had to do was to sign the acceptance paperwork. I did. All the books I had ever read about the inner glory, peace, and tranquility were all true.
It is not easy to receive. Questions arose. Am I worthy? Are you sure you’ve got the right address? Is this really happening? Will it last? I saw my life anew. I was never more aware of my upbringing and its destructive legacy, and counter-pointed to this was this extraordinary sense of the magnificence at the core of the human heart. My heart, your heart, all the One Heart. I was being offered a more compassionate and deeper perspective. This inner presence dissolved my concerns, and deeper and deeper into heaven I went. Dark, silky silence caressing, gentle waves of compassion arising. Again and again I would think, ”Gees, it is all true – enlightenment is real, true peace and love exists and is available for all of us.”
I was totally humbled to be on the spiritual path. Again and again I asked myself, “Wow, what did I do to deserve this?” A quiet answer always arose, “You turned up; you did what was asked of you.”
It’s true, I did my best, meditating, enquiring, self-study ‘doing’ spiritual practice to the very best of my ability, in retrospect I now see that for 34 years I had romanced pain, thinking that my capacity to deal with a painful past was how I’d become more ‘aware’ and ‘transformed’.
All the while I was screaming for silence.
On the way to silence I had to experience the noisiness of my mind: all that I have avoided, pushed down, swallowed, all the disparate parts of me had to be attended to. I cannot walk the hallowed halls of silence with an attachment to my clattering, banging mind and emotions. In the end I just had to give up; I had to hand over control to a deeper part of myself. It was the best thing I ever did.
Julian Noel, Founder of Shine and Shine Entrepreneurs, is a speaker, facilitator, coach and trainer. His focus is life purpose, intuition and how we can bring the best of ourselves to life.
You can contact Julian at: Julian@shineglobal.com.au
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