Despite hours of workshops, meditation, reading the right books and doing our best, troubles still surface in life. Of course, this is how it is, but how we deal with it can make a very big difference to the speed, ease and grace with which we move through these things. Sometimes the same old garbage that we thought we had dealt with rears its Hydra-like ugly head again!
In the past, the recurrence of chronic behaviour patterns (wounds) would cause me to spiral into a curve of negative thinking and self-admonishment, and I would get angry, defeated and dispirited. The ego gets scared and says, ‘See I told you this stuff was stupid; get real!’
My self-esteem would plummet. Now, however, I understand that certain things exist to see whether we have learnt and integrated spiritual skills that we can use whenever they are required. To learn the theory of a lesson, and understand it from a mental perspective is not sufficient. Until you get it with your whole body and heart as well, it won’t work for you.
When we embark upon the spiritual path, usually it is because we are compelled by some altogether unpleasant circumstance to do so. It is as if we grow up and say, ‘I want to know God.’
Divine oneness is hardly a modern world aspiration. What is it, then, that drives us to continue along a spiritual path, to make choices and lifestyle decisions which may not seem altogether logical, so far as our old acquaintances are concerned?
For most of us, there is some kind of challenge that our upbringing and beliefs do not have a solution for. This eventually forces us to search for another way, and that original challenge may be the stick that keeps us going. The temptation is to want to excise a person, personal characteristic, addiction or circumstance, and believe that ‘if only that (insert name of person, problem, part of self) would magically vanish from my life, everything would be okay’. To me this is dysfunctional thinking, although it used to be how I thought. My seven favourite forms of dysfunction in dealing with problems are listed below (and I obtained a Masters degree in all of them…).
- Pretend it is not happening and it will go away (never did)
- Blame the other person 100% (and give them 100% of my power in the process; also messy)
- Dissociate from my unhappiness by either getting depressed, or focusing on some unrelated small issue, knowing all the while that this minor issue really has nothing to do with the root problem
- Receive really clear guidance, doubt it, refuse to follow it, and dig a bigger hole
- Act confused / dumb / incompetent / helpless so someone else would fix it
- Have a series of really good excuses for why the person / situation is the way that it is
- Continue (against all rational evidence) to believe that the other person will change, and then everything will be okay.
Years of trying all of the above clearly taught me that none of these works, even though they seem to be the socially accepted methods of dealing with things. Thus I was propelled onto my spiritual journey, and thank God I was. Nevertheless, the experience of big nasty potholes in the spiritual path is not uncommon, and myth and legend give us insight into large-picture solutions to problems that have beset mankind since the dawn of consciousness itself.
The heads of the Hydra
The Hydra was a many-headed snake monster that had poisonous blood. One drop on your skin would kill you. The monster could not be killed, because every time you cut its head off, nine more grew in its place. Cut one of them off, nine more grew, etc.
The heads of the Hydra represent the things we don’t like about ourselves or others. They are things we dissociate from, things that we reject as simply not acceptable. Our tendency is to deny or try to eradicate these things. Every time we try to ‘lop them off’, they come back, nine times worse. Why does this happen?
In my view, this is because we are frightened that ‘the thing’ we don’t like really IS part of who we are, and we know we could not love ourselves if we were like this ‘thing’. The ‘thing’ might be: violence, lack of responsibility, addiction, unfairness, controlling behaviour, stuttering, or any of a thousand other ‘things’. Whatever we cannot accept tends to become glued to us as if by magnetic force, until we find a way to understand that we are one with everything in creation, including this.
One of the labours Hercules was asked to perform was to kill the Hydra. Of course, in his initial battle to kill the Hydra, each time Hercules cut off one of the terrible heads, nine more grew in its place.
When we add our energy to ‘the thing’ by resisting it, we lock it in place. What we resist we get to keep. By accidentally feeding ‘the thing’ we don’t want to experience, we are constantly in battle with it. On the other hand if we accept that we are one with God and God is everything and everyone, then ‘the thing’ is part of God too. So if we are one with God, we are one with ‘the thing’. We cannot be one with everything except ‘the thing’!
By continued fighting and hacking away at the horrible heads of the Hydra, Hercules caused more and more heads to be formed. He rapidly came to the conclusion that his strategy was not working.
Ultimately, Hercules was able to defeat the Hydra by stopping, looking at the Hydra, kneeling before it (acknowledging and respecting it) and then lifting it upon high. He honoured it, and in so doing it had no power over him any longer. He no longer feared it, and was thus able to dispose of it.
Similarly, when we get aggressive with ourselves, or when we seek to eradicate or repress our own self, or lop off and disown our problems (‘it’s YOU – not me’) our own nine-headed demon simply feeds on the energy we poke at it and ‘the thing’ gets bigger. Even the energy of running away from a monster will feed it.
To stop, face, honour, respect and love your own personal nemesis, is the most effective way of dealing with anything, even a Hydra that is trying to eat you.
‘The thing’ will always have a message for you that you really need to hear. ‘The thing’ will actually be your friend, when you understand it. Then you will see its beauty hidden amongst its outer ugliness. All things exist in the physical plane in polarity; so it is impossible to see the gift until we look the ugliness right in the eye.
Shakti Durga is the founder, spiritual head and inspirational leader of Shanti Mission (Peace Mission), with its head office based in Australia. Her teachings focus on the development of spiritual, mental, emotional and physical health and well-being with the goal of igniting the divine spark within everyone. Shakti Durga was previously known as Kim Fraser, with a successful career as a barrister, prior to her awakening as a guru.
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