If you’re on the spiritual path, you know that this intense journey through the veils of the ego into the essence of the Divine within you is not for the faint of heart. If you have a spiritual teacher, mentor, or therapist, your spiritual guide will probably dole out one blow to your ego after another, and it can be hard on the human to endure these blows. If you don’t have a guide, if Life is your teacher, then your circumstances are probably bringing you face to face with all the ways you’re consciously or unconsciously harming yourself and others. What is revealed can sting. It’s not easy to have the courage to stick with it.
Dressed in rain gear, prepared for a downpour that never came, I gathered with 60,000 of my sisters (and the men who stand with us) to choose love. I started crying from the first moment I encountered the crowd. I was so touched—by the beauty, the passion, the fear, the anger, the love, the frustration, the intimacy, the humor, creativity, the raw, pure humanness of 60,000 of us gathered together in our messy, human glory.
I have a dream, that all men and women of all colors and creeds, all social classes and castes, all political affiliations and beliefs, are equal children of an invisible force of love that you might call God, had the name not been so abused as a way to discriminate, murder, manipulate, torment, incite fear, cast judgment, and disempower millions of innocent beings. God/Goddess would be horrified to see how Her children have used Her name to separate from each other, to torture, to abuse, to commit egregious acts of self-righteousness in the name of religion and spirituality. God/Goddess would cry heartbroken tears if She was not so infinitely capable of seeing the Divine perfection in all things, including the mess we’ve made in Her name.
I’ve admittedly led a sheltered, privileged life, so I’m aware that my perspective is skewed, but it’s still true that never in my 47 years of life have I felt so strongly the impact of the level of collective fear on this planet. Fear seems to be making headline news every day right now. Terrorist attacks are becoming a daily occurrence on every continent. Climate change that can lead to mass ecocide is escalating right when we’re swearing in powerful politicians who don’t believe in climate change. The Dakota pipeline is threatening not just the sacred, life-giving water, but the very essence of the seeds of planetary healing that the indigenous people of all nations have been holding through the horrors of colonialism for many centuries. The U.S. election has polarized our people against each other, not just in the U.S., but all the way in Bali, where I just spent two months. At this pivotal time in the evolution (and questionable survival) of our species, we are more divided than ever, right when we need to unify, to acknowledge the Oneness that links us, not just as humans, but the Oneness that links us to the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, the trees, the endangered and extinct animals, the Oneness that acknowledges that everything is sacred and conscious, that we cannot perceive mountains as dead rocks or rivers as unconscious water, that everything is spirit and everything is connected and everything is God/Goddess, so we cannot harm the water or judge our neighbor or even demonize the terrorists without inflicting harm upon ourselves. Just as an aspen tree appears to be separate but is connected at its roots to a community of aspen trees, we are inextricably linked to All That Is. We have forgotten (bless our innocent hearts). We have attached to the story of the separate self, and this forgetting has allowed us to commit atrocities against nature and one another. But we are remembering. Let us forgive ourselves for the forgetting and gently and humbly come back to the remembering.
As the sun is rising on the small Indonesian reef island of Gili Meno, off the coast of Lombok, I wade over the shallow coral until it is deep enough to submerge myself. Once I do, I am transported into another world. Nemo-esque clown fish with wavy, floaty, fanlike fins, like the most elegant couture. Tiny electric blue schools of moon fusiliers, long nosed silvery needlefish, brain-shaped coral formations, sunfish that swim on their sides, eyeballs facing up! It’s like a candy shop down there, with all these brilliant colors and shapes. It’s also like a meditation—the only sound is the sound of my own breath—in and out, in and out.
But then OUCH! What is that? My arm is burning. Ouch! Again! What is it? I can’t see anything, but the stinging subsides quickly. I pause, still looking for the cause of the pain, but I see nothing. So I keep swimming.