By CrisTina Leiner
We all have a natural urge to know the secrets of the universe, to understand the mystery and meaning of life. To live in the flow, in the awe and wonder of our world. Too often, these natural urges we're born with recede as we grow up and learn to make our way through the world. We forget our experience of how alive the world is, of how we delight in simple things, unexpected things.
"Practical" matters take precedence. As adults, we must take charge, set goals, and come up with a plan for our life. We must earn a living, raise our children, get an education, establish a career, then eventually, perhaps when we retire, we'll return to exploring this inkling that there's magic in our world. If our spark isn't extinguished by then.
This feeling of wonder, of mystery, is our spirit's voice, its way of letting us know that it exists, that life is more than physical bodies and chemical actions. Nothing is more practical, more pragmatic, than remembering and learning to follow the knowledge of the spirit we were born with. Our spirit knows where we came from and where we will go when we leave this world. It knows why we're here and how to navigate in both the spiritual and physical worlds. If we allow it, our spirit will guide us on our journey. If we refuse, we travel alone, without a compass or a map, stumbling and crashing, blindly making what we hope are corrections or steadily steering along a perhaps smooth, but meaningless road.
I refer to the practice of following our spirit's guidance as "natural spirituality." I think of it as "natural" because insights spring directly from our own spiritual experiences, and often from the natural world. By spirituality I mean simply, of the spirit —- the core, the life force, the essence of who we are, our power source. It connects us to all life and allows us to transcend the boundaries of our own skin and ego. Natural spirituality is not the province of any one of us, not the domain of a special few. Spirit is in each of us. We can deny its existence and ignore it, or allow it to open us to the mystery and revelations in even the mundane processes of daily life.
My spirit has never allowed me to ignore it. I've tried. Especially when it wanted me to face realities I didn't want to see. Or when it badgered me to make decisions that required personal sacrifice. In other words, when I couldn't just do what I wanted to do or take the easy way out.
There have been times when I couldn't feel my spirit's presence. When suddenly, I seemed to be alone. These were testing periods so I could find out if I truly learned, if I was willing and able to apply my spiritual knowledge to my actions in the physical world. Had I gained wisdom?
Sometimes, when I'm not getting the message or I'm too far off my path, my spirit insists that I pay attention and change course. It gets as loud as it needs to. If I ignore a nudge, my inner guide shoves me. If I stay on my feet but refuse to sidestep, it may pull a curtain down or shut a door, making it impossible for me to continue determinedly marching in the same direction. That's how my spirit got me to write this book.
For as long as I can remember, I've kept my connection to the spiritual world to myself. I've spoken about it with only my closest friends, yet even then I left out some of the experiences I believed they'd never understand or accept. I was trying to protect myself from derision, from being dismissed, or considered deluded, out of touch with "the real world."
Not only did I believe people might hurt me, I believed spiritual truths are precious and fragile and so can be damaged as well. Spirituality is the driving force in my life. It's my solace, my joy, my strength, and my guide. My respect and reverence for the spiritual process and its revelations was so intense that I didn't want to share my awareness and run the risk that others would destroy these workings and truths, distort or pervert them, or use them in some self-serving way, and in the process, maybe destroy me too. I wanted to protect the sacred knowledge and keep my life on an even keel. To do that, I believed I had to keep my spirituality to myself.
I resisted too because I doubted that what I knew was real, that my spiritual experiences were anything beyond the workings of a mind that spent too much time inside itself. I'm a scientist from the "Show Me" state. I was born asking "why" and "how do you know." I want to see evidence and hold reality in my hand. I want data, testing and logic. I want proof. Even when I get proof, I want to test it just one more time before I believe it. My childhood Sunday school teachers, exasperated with my questioning, sat me in the hall. Faith, they told me, is simply to be accepted, not scrutinized.
Yet, with my inquisitive, analytical nature, I couldn't help but question. The Bible stories and tenets didn't match my deepest sense of spiritual knowing or spark the elation of connectedness with all life that I felt in the woods, fields and creeks and occasionally in church. Nor did these tenets correspond with my observations of the world. Little else in my external environment validated my inner nature or experiences either. So, I doubted that I knew what I know.
Doubts and fears poisoned clear communication with my spirit. That poison produced beliefs that were in direct contradiction to my spiritual wisdom. Truth is to be shared, not hoarded. And it doesn't need my protection. Spiritual truths can stand on their own, shining beneath the mud, always available to seekers who are willing to dig. As for protecting myself, I can't live in fear. I can no longer push back such a crucial, vital part of who I am and my reason for being. Accepting and trusting my spirit's guidance brings me inner peace and a strong sense that life is proceeding as it should.
I've known for most of my adult years that my purpose involves communicating about spiritual matters, but I've been reluctant to accept that mantle. Fifteen years ago, I wrote a book about spiritual consciousness but when a publisher expressed interest, I backed off. I put the manuscript away and never looked at it again. I don't know where it is, or if it even still exists.
Nearly two years ago, my spirit forced me to return to my calling by shutting down my desire to read and ability to comprehend. I grew irritated with conversations and media voices, just didn't want to hear them. I had difficulty swallowing food without choking. I couldn't drink without water running down my chin or coughing. The theme, the message in this experiential metaphor, was that I'd taken in as much as I could or should. Now it was time to put things out, to express, to give my insights to others.
My ego produces the doubt and fear that cages me. When I send this jailer away, I can stand on my own, strong in my spirit's guidance, secure in the knowledge that I'm doing what I was born to do, and free to let my spirit sing.
I know I'm not alone. Many of us today have a long history of being attacked for trying to bring truth to the world. We remember these experiences, usually unconsciously, and respond to our fear. But now human consciousness is on the cusp of change. A critical mass of people are ready for transformation, longing to understand the glimmers they're experiencing, poised to evolve and grow spiritually. Many facilitators, in various roles, are receiving a call to remember and sharpen their talents and many have been off the starting block for years to help this personal-social-cultural transformation take place.
This book is one of those means of facilitation.