Here is my ponder today:
Why do we seek external ‘permission’ to follow our deepest internal longings?
I see this pattern everywhere, and especially in myself and my dearest loved ones. The pattern is a dance between external, internal, and oneness with truth.
What I mean by ‘external’ are the details of body, location, people, rules and systems. The internal is the stuff I do in my heart, mind, ego as thoughts feelings and actions. Internal is all about my choice to lean in or out, give or take, contribute or disrupt what is going on externally. Ah, so then oneness is destiny, harmony, God, calling— choose whatever label works for you to understand this unnamable thing of becoming who we were meant to be. ‘Enlightenment’ feels too audacious a term for me, so I like the word ‘oneness.’
Lately, in both work, my personal life, and my family life, I have been feeling the edge between what has happened (external), what desires have emerged as patterns over and over in my life (internal), and how I am called to offer my gifts to serve the collective (oneness). I’ve been exploring this in a parallel meditative practice (Blog bow to Adyashanti) in which I let everything be as it is (external), let go of trying to manipulate and control (internal), and openly inquire about deep questions (oneness).
And what keeps coming up is this forehead slapping “aha” of how we overlook the most obvious messages the universe is sending us because we focus so narrowly on a small subset of the universe in which that thing the universe wants us to do/be/have appears to be discordant. Or, we are so busy trying to numb the discomfort that is here to show us our direction, that we miss our own point. Then, rather than using our precious time and effort to manifest, we use it to fight or avoid some system or belief structure.
Some concrete examples would help here.
Let’s say I’m hungry. I decide I must have a White Castle cheeseburger with a girlfriend who is no longer here, and it has to be at 5:07 pm (these are all external). Ah, such suffering when I believe that my life sucks and I never get what I want (internal). Let’s say I reframe my request as longings that aren’t so externally specific: I long for nourishment, loving connection, and a schedule today that has some room for flow and spaciousness (ha, also internal and a very different healthier choice for myself). Hot damn! I get everything I want (oneness).
Now, let’s say that in my self identity, I call myself a teacher, a solution designer and a curator. These things I know are true (tiny glimpse of oneness – yay!). I’m currently employed as a sales engineer, and therefore am not specifically invited within this role to contribute those skills (external) which most make my heart sing. Is the problem with my employer? Absolutely not, it is with my choices (internal). I haven’t figured out how to resolve this, but stay tuned (and isn’t this post a tiny manifestation of me being true to that oneness, curating ideas, designing a better solution even if just for me, and hoping it helps others?)
One more example: Let’s say I (umm, like all sentient beings?) have a longing for family, community, love, spiritual and sexual connection, and partnership. I believe that many long term monogamous relationships that aren’t happy aren’t so because we assign one person the job of fulfilling each and all of these needs. Is this a problem with monogamy itself? Not necessarily! What I know is that when I stopped trying to make myself relish monogamy (external), when I embraced alternative thought systems that felt more resonant with who I am (internal), I have found more harmony (yet another glimpse of oneness!). And also so much more joy and happiness with so much less suffering. Where I sit today, after what others might call a ‘failed’ marriage, I have an abundance of each and all of family, community, love, connection and partnership — all beautifully woven together in a tapestry of loving connections to so many beloveds. And I feel genuinely of service to these lovely people and that they “get” a much better version of me than my previous ‘monogamous’ partners got. I believe there is no choice in longing for connection, it is a universal truth for me. The choice is in how I acknowledged the infinitely interesting ways it can manifest, or fail to.
Seems easy. Let everything be as it is. Let go of manipulation and control. And listen to what humms. Become one with my purpose. Become Awake, Aware, Enlightened. So what is stopping me? Ah, that’s the work, the practice. I want to piss and moan and complain that there are so many external obstacles blocking my path, but I guess I can see now that the obstacles are just internal choices about which belief systems I chose to engage with.
So, what are the essential obstacles to achieving enlightenment? We tell ourselves these superficial stories about enough or not enough, right or wrong, worthy or not worthy. But I believe that the real suffering is in hooking our deepest longings to specific people or places or systems, in seeking external permission to be who the universe obviously wants us to be.