The Journey Toward Simplicity
Marianne Williamson is one of the great spiritual leaders of our time and is known for having the spiritual pulse on today’s generation. She states;
“The spiritual path is not a matter of growing more metaphysically complicated; it’s a process where we actually grow simpler and simpler, as we apply certain basic principles to everything we go through. We don’t learn love, which is already etched on our hearts; we do, however, begin to unlearn fear. And with every change we make from blame to blessing, we pierce the veil of illusion that separates us from the world we want.”
Marianne also states;
“The only way to gain power in a world that is moving too fast is to learn to slow down. And the only way to spread one’s influence wide is to learn to go deep. The world we want for ourselves and our children will not emerge from electronic speed but rather from a spiritual stillness that takes root in our souls. Then, and only then, will we create a world that reflects the heart instead of shattering it.” — from her new book The Gift of Change
The Journey Toward Simplicity
Belief in a Higher Power is world-wide and is known by many names while holding just as many interpretations. Yet, for the sake of simplicity, I use “God” in this commentary.
Growing up in America and being spiritual has different meanings for lots of folks. There are many spiritual paths and just as many definitions of what it means to be spiritual.
One thing seems certain: one’s connection to God is a personal one.
As different as we are to one another is as different as one’s personal relationship to God can be. It has little to do with what you find in organized religion, spiritual literature, or workshops and classes - although, such activities can become the catalyst that leads one to a personal relationship with God. Regardless of which activity you pursue, ultimately your relationship with God is a one-on-one experience that no other person or source can define for you.
The complexity of religious and spiritual teachings have always puzzled me. Time and again, I have often wondered why spirituality is presented within these venues in a difficult to understand style which has led to distortion, contradiction and misinterpretation of the truth (and lots of disagreement about who’s interpretation is correct!).
Achieving a relationship with God ought to be simple and easy enough to understand. Perhaps the complexity of certain spiritual teachings attracts those who still perceive the world through the intellect and believe that they must work very hard to earn their relationship to God. You know - sort of like penance!
However, penance is a human-made idea that arose out of guilt. In the same manner, guilt is also a human-made state of mind originally perpetuated by those who sought to enforce control over others.
Now … some of you might say that instilling guilt is necessary to keep people in line so that folks don’t run amok more often than they do. Nevertheless, guilt is born out of shame … and who shames us? God? Some other Higher Power?
Shame is a life-sapping state of mind that is also a human creation. And when anyone runs their life based upon shame and guilt, then you have the basic ingredients for low self-esteem and a mind-set that is easily controlled and manipulated by others - and in due course - cuts one of from their personal unity with God.
Its a different setup altogether when one lives their life run by self-acceptance, healthy self-esteem and is led through life by inspiration. To be inspired literally means “to be filled with Spirit” - being in the flow of moment-to-moment heart-mind unity with an Everlasting Pervading Creative Power (whom some call God).
Based upon my own experiences as a spiritual teacher for over fifteen years and listening to many, many seekers, I found that without exception the deeper spiritual truths that have stood the test of time are always those that are surprisingly simple and of few words … or no words at all. Such truths are absolute and liberating - they unite ones heart, mind and soul with an omnipresent creative presence - call it God, Holy Spirit, Allah, The Almighty, Great Spirit, Jehovah, Jah or whatever.
When personal unity with God is achieved, it is unquestionable, undeniable and completely unshakable. One simply knows it is always there - like the air we breathe - and needs no further validation nor approval for it - not in the written words of books; not in the holy statuary of shrines; not in the sermons heard in churches; not in the lectures spoken in workshops; and not in the opinions from others. Even though these forms may carry ideas and symbols that may help us remember what it is we are seeking and may serve to get us back on track if we loose our way - ultimately, genuine unity with God is very deep and completely satisfying on a personal soul level - and any other form carries far less meaning, far less inspiration and is far more peripheral.
Some may choose to gather in churches, temples, workshops and groups for the sake of social interaction - to share spiritual aspirations, visions and experiences. Consequently, a lot of folks hang out at this stage of their spiritual growth for a long time: for to achieve an even deeper unity with God calls forth even greater courage and a willingness to shove off from the comfort of familiar harbors and set sail for far more mysterious waters. In beckoning the initiate further and further into the unknown, a natural progression of needing more solitude and stillness always surfaces as one closes the gap of separation.
That is why highly creative people - be they artists, writers, inventors, innovators, actors, gifted orators, spiritual messengers, etc. - often require a great deal of solitude or alone time: for it is within this creative field of quiet and undisturbed incubation that the greatest ideas and creativity are conceived and birthed.
And once that deeper connection is made with God, one’s direction, perception and intention changes, too. A fork appears in the road and one is no longer fearful of choosing the more remote and less traveled path - leaving behind the comfort of familiarity and walking away from the cacophony of trendy, superficial spiritual dialog. After that, confidence in one’s personal relationship with God deepens and strengthens. The spiritual journey becomes a much simpler one … as does one’s lifestyle, needs and wants.
Simpler - yet far deeper and richer in regards to the essential matters of the human spirit. One finds greater enjoyment in the simplest of pleasures and finds less interest in striving for monetary success or accumulating ownership. One may also lose both desire and the ability to play “the games” of the material world. In fact, a person at this stage often drops out of secular society and may become defined by others as a maverick in lifestyle, viewpoint and behavior.
The further one travels within this place of deeper unity, the more it becomes difficult to find inspiration through religion - or studying spiritual literature - since those forms become dull and lifeless in comparison to the real thing.
Even though the rewards of deeper unity with God are certain and guaranteed to be the most satisfying of all experiences, most folks seem unwilling to go that far. Maybe they think that a deeper relationship with God means they have to be perfect, pure, flawless and boring - and that they wouldn’t have fun any more.
Well … if only they knew! Definitions of fun and pleasure changes greatly once one reaches more expanded levels of consciousness and deeper levels of unity. Earth and its inhabitants become increasingly more beautiful and interesting while living life becomes more like an adventure complete with its difficulties and triumphs.
And finally, one grasps the joy in their own eternal nature and embraces their personal relationship with God.
Marianne Williamson is also the author of this, one of my very favorite quotes, which is nearly always attributed to Nelson Mandela since he used it in a speech in 1994.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, and fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people will not feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It is not in just some of us; it is in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” __________________