Once upon a time there was a woman named Mary who ventured out into the world to find her Self. Now Mary did not know that this Self was lost until, one day, an angel came to call and announced, "You, madam, are incomplete. You have need of your Self in this world and then your Soul."
"But, sir angel," Mary protested, "why do I have need of this Self when I feel so blissful and content?"
"That may be the case now," the angel responded, "but the day will come when a feeling of emptiness will throb inside you."
Mary continued with her journey through life, enjoying all that she could, blissfully unaware that something was missing. She had no concern over what the angel had said. All her needs were duly met and her life seemed no different than that of others. The day did come, however, when her apparently peaceful existence collapsed. She was left shocked and bewildered. How could this happen to her?
"I have done all that I was supposed to do," she said to herself. "I have conducted myself as others before me. To what do I owe this tragedy?"And the angel came to call again. "My dear Mary, would you like to speak with me now? I have news that can help you find your way again."
"Not now," Mary replied, "I am weary and have no energy for other pursuits at this time. Come to me later perhaps, but not now. I am grieving my losses and uncertain of what I want for the future."
So the angel departed, making note that Mary was not yet ready for the pursuit of true happiness. She had lessons to learn, feelings to feel and losses to grieve. And, she was not yet ready to receive.
Mary fumbled along, working through her pain as best she could. Eventually she did recover some of her former zest. But tragedy struck again and down she went into the depths of despair, much as she had done previously. Mary was quite sad now, unable to raise her head, even on a sunny day. It was she who called the angel this time, asking him to come forward in her time of need.
"My dear angel," she cried plaintively, "I have come to that point where I can no longer move ahead and I have need of your Heart and Soul. Please help me move forward again so I can find my way to the Light."
And the angel arrived instantly, happy and all aglow, looking Mary over and taking note of her unrelenting discomfort.
"My dear woman," he began, "you have certainly let yourself fall hard this time. I can see that you are in quite a state."
"That I am," replied Mary. "As true as you say, I have fallen as low as I can. I am stuck in this place and unable to move forward without your guiding hand."
So the angel reached over, took Mary by the hand and helped her to her feet.
"Thank you, dear angel, for your help," Mary stated. "I believe I can go on from here."
"But wait," the angel pleaded, "I have more to offer. Are you sure that is all you require right now?
"I see no point," Mary continued, "in burdening you further. I'll carry on from here on my own."
"Very well," the angel conceded and disappeared as Mary set off once again on her own.
Back in the world, moving forward again, Mary began to realize that there would be many more struggles in front of her. Then she thought: "If I asked for more, would it be there for me? I feel so selfish in asking for help. Is it possible to easily receive all that I may need?"
Back the angel came and looked at her warmly: "All you need do is ask, dear woman, and I, with all the angels in Heaven, will be there for you."
"Then perhaps you could do more for me," Mary replied rather sheepishly. "I do find this journey quite burdensome now. I seem to be having a lot of trouble moving forward on my own. Would you please join me for a time?"
"Certainly," the angel answered, "I will accompany you as far as you like."
And the two of them proceeded on Mary's path, living life and learning as they went along. Mary very often didn't know what to expect and had to be instructed on how to handle certain situations. She learned to identify her needs and express herself more effectively. She knew about choices now, how to ask for what she wanted and refuse that which could cause her grievance. Mary was learning many valuable lessons that helped her along in life, and she grew stronger with each choice and encounter. And then the thought came, "Where is my Self? Where is my Soul?"
"You mentioned these to me earlier, sir angel, did you not?"
"Yes, indeed," the angel answered. "Your Self and your Soul are important companions in life, worthy parts of you to discover and actualize in order to make yourself complete."
"Yes, yes, these I want, too," Mary asserted.
"And these you will have," the angel continued, "as soon as you take hold."
"Take hold of what?" Mary repeated.
"Take hold of your life," the angel continued. "You cannot have all that you need unless you claim it; and your Self has to be there to do the claiming."
"How do I accomplish that?" Mary asked again.
"By doing more of what you have been learning to do; that is, asserting how you feel and addressing your needs from within."
"From within?" she repeated.
"Yes, within," the angel went on. That is where you will find your Self, and then your Soul."
"You mean my Self and my Soul are within my feelings?"
"Yes," the angel replied. Your Self is your center on this plane. It is who you are, what you experience, what you express, which leads back to who you are once again."
"You mean," Mary continued, "I am me from the inside out and not the other way around?"
"That is correct," the angel went on. "What you are is inside of you. What you express is what you show of your Self. This Self resides within you and you know it through your 'Heart.' Your heart, or passion, tells you what's important to you, informs all your feelings and experiences, pointing you toward the Self within, which then points you to your Soul."
"My Soul, you say?"
"Yes, your Soul. This is your connection to the Divine and where you join with all other Souls in enjoying and expressing the wealth of Life. You are here to grow, to exchange with others as you evolve and, collectively, you express Life."
"Do I have my Soul now?" Mary wanted to know
"You always have a Soul. What you are striving for is being connected with your Soul, and that can take a lifetime. But you are close, for your Self is near at hand. Express that Self by expressing your 'being,' that is your passions, loves and desires. Then you will see that your Soul is not far away."
"Will I be complete then?" Mary continued.
"As complete as any lover of Life can be," was the reply. "As complete as one becomes after finding their way Home and having learned to give and receive love."
"And the Love in my Heart will be forever?"
"Yes," the angel replied. "And that, my dear friend, is what makes you whole and complete."
And so Mary felt she understood the entire picture now. It was her Self and her Soul that she required to be complete. And these were to be uncovered through her own Heart and feeling state, not through that of another, not even an angel. And it was her life she was salvaging when she undertook to seek help. The angel's function, she now realized, was to serve her and help with her lessons. Only she could negotiate her path, learn to give and receive and grow as a function of all her experiences. With those thoughts she felt blessed and reassured, realizing that all was well in her world.
Conscious evolution is now a fact of life. No one can deny that. All around us there is evidence of this new reality in every aspect of our lives. Barbara Marx Hubbard*, along with many other thought leaders such as Eckhart Tolle and Mark Allen, has been pointing toward the social context of this revolution. In our school systems, for example, we have seen drastic changes. What was once unheard of is now common place. Sex education, conflict resolution, emotional literacy have risen to the forefront. Child preparedness for unseen dangers and greater awareness of one's environment are daily staples. The three R's remain the same, but the social context of a child's life has been expanded and broadened to meet our growing understanding of their needs.
Young children know where babies come from. Adults share their life experiences to help children better understand their own. Police officers and fireman are not the only attraction at school assemblies. Speakers from Al-Anon and other twelve step programs have made much appreciated appearances. So have representatives from other groups such as Parents Without Partners, Public Health and drug and alcohol educators have offered valuable information to help students see their lives in a larger context.
Children are asked how they feel now, not just what they think. They are receiving instruction on how to handle their emotions and on how to express themselves without violence. We have clearly traveled some distance from that generation who grew up in silence, who was not allowed to feel and was seriously condemned when they did. Conscious Evolution is here and has taken root in today's culture. We don't have to look far to see it in all of our lives, not just those of our children.
What does this mean for ourselves as individuals? How does one engage in this process? We begin with a scenario, one that is all too common these days. A woman comes to a therapist's office to discuss sexual abuse. She thinks it happened during childhood, but she's not sure. All her life, as far back as she can remember, she's had a recurring dream. A man comes to her and asks her for a favor. He wants her to hold a stick for him while he massages her feet. She wakes up in a sweat, her mind whirling with the images. What does this dream mean? Why does she fear it? Why, for so many years, has it kept recurring? Lately a few twists have been added to the dream. The man has an eerie smile. He looks at her as if he wants to devour her. She feels helpless and frozen. She fears the massage and the stick. As she slowly becomes untangled she realizes what these symbols mean. He wants to touch her genitals. He wants her to touch him in the same way. "It's alright," he says, "no one will ever know." She feels sick to her stomach and wants to throw up. She can't stand the dream anymore. She's feeling panic. She suspects sexual abuse but can't believe that it is possible. But it is!
She hears one expert after another, on television, radio and in the press, discuss this very topic with themes that are already too familiar. They reveal that one in three women and one in four boys have been victims of childhood sexual abuse. She also hears that many incidents of abuse have never been reported. She realizes the odds are high and sinks into a depression. She begins to seriously consider that this may be true for her.
Her girlfriend suggests she see a therapist which our she reluctantly agrees to do. The therapist helps her address her worst fears. All the signs are there. She is urged to check within and ask herself "does it feel true?" "Yes," she asserts and then breaks into tears, looking totally bewildered and devastated. Her body shakes with the realization. Her defenses crack and crumble. "What do I do now?", she asks. "You work it through," is the reply. "I will help you. Here are some books to read that will lay out the path we can follow together. You will get through this. I will be right there beside you every step of the way and for as long as you need me."
The devastating realization sinks in. "I am a victim of childhood sexual abuse. Oh my God, what am I going to do?" "Breathe," the therapist urges. "Don't forget to breathe." And here we have the beginnings of a process which repeats itself thousands of times a day as men and women everywhere come to grips with childhood sexual abuse or the great variety of similar traumas that have left an indelible mark on the psyche.
Throughout history there has never been a shortage of such travesties, abuses and traumas. The difference is that today people are willing and wanting to confront these issues, and there's plenty of help available for them. Victims no longer hide in shame and hope the traumatic images and memories will just go away. Too many people are now aware that will never happen and they are willing to share their stories with others. That is what we are seeing around us, on television, radio talk shows and autobiographical stories. People are opening up and revealing their truth. One's woundedness is completely acceptable as a topic for discussion. Once an individual has embarked on that path, we know they have taken conscious evolution into their own hands. And that's the way it goes, this conscious pursuit of self-forgiveness and acceptance, this devotion to the truth and pursuit of true freedom is undertaken no matter what the cost.
You don't have to know everything to make Life work. What you have to know is where to get what you need. Once you know this, you can manage any eventuality. The conspiracy of silence that has so dominated our culture for many generations goes the way of the dinosaur. This pattern is relegated to a dark past of our history, the last vestiges of the 'era of sleep' that we are now about to exit. Conscious evolution has staked its claim and is being accepted as the new wave. Our god nature is at work moving us into conscious evolution and preparing us for the changes ahead. Those who would bemoan the new era in favor of the silence of the past only aid in its acceleration. Every era has had its proponents and its holdouts and both groups ultimately contribute to the changes taking a firm hold.
Now we move to another subject. One that affects us all and leaves us bewildered at the same. I am speaking of our relationship to God, the Great Creator, the Energy that animates us all. If the process of evolution is becoming more conscious then how does God fit into the picture? It might seem absurd to us that God would actually ever lose sight of Himself. But that is precisely what has happened to us as God in a human body. We started out as God wanting to experiment in one of the Universe's many playgrounds, but we lost sight of our origin during the unfolding of our earthly drama. Now, we are seeking to retrieve ourselves. This was not part of the original plan as I understand it, but our going to sleep happened, nevertheless. We are now proceeding on a course that requires us to participate consciously as masters of our own fate.
If God were lost how would He find Himself? By going inward! If I am the Source of all my greatness and abundance, then there is only one place to look for that which I misplaced. That is what the woman unveiling sexual abuse is doing. She is looking inward. Not for her God Self at first glance. But eventually that is what she will find. Her woundedness will lead her to that lost treasure. The original wound and her subsequent repression closed her off from that reality when it became cloaked in defenses. But the wound in need of healing will take her back to that rupture. She will retrieve what was lost as long as she remains on her healing journey. Recovery books of every stripe tell us so. All the 12 step programs are imbued with this very premise.
God works in mysterious ways. Well yes, maybe. But what is so mysterious about looking inward? Whenever anything malfunctions we look inside to see what is happening within. We need to understand how it works to understand the malfunction. Our human psychology and emotional functioning can be understood through the intent to move inward. That which animates us is completely fathomable if we pursue that avenue of inquiry. It's addictions and similar defensive strategies that keep us from asking these questions. Defenses fail once they are challenged.
It would appear that we live in one of the most addictive times in human history. It begs the question, what are we so afraid of? I believe it is psychic and emotional pain mainly. Dealing with this pain keeps many wounded people away from the help they need. Governments make millions of dollars offering products and services that help keep us numb. They supply us with major distractions and keep us coming back for more. Alcohol, coffee, cigarettes, gambling, all government controlled and subsidized. Ironically, these revenues are used to assist the very population that they first sought to seduce. Here we have a vicious circle We have the choice, we know that. But many of us still fall prey to one or more of these addictions along the way, especially during times when our wounds are causing distress.
We better understand this process of addiction and numbing out through these many distractions that are socially sanctioned government supported. The vicious cycle turns again and now we have wars on drugs and all their toxic counterparts. We focus on everything except the real problem in these situations which include our hungry hearts and our souls yearning for nourishment. Such a war should never be on the substance or process of addiction. There will always be more of these substances as history has shown, and we imbue them with too much power. Illegal drugs aside, socially sanctioned prescription medications and gambling facilities can take us into their grip and enslave us. They are not the culprit, nor are the governments, big business or organized crime who are capitalizing on these weaknesses. The problem lies within us, our woundedness and our separation from the Self and our Divine aspect.
A state of grace does not have to be legislated or purchased. It is free! Look inward. Look inward and find your true Self waiting to be rescued. This is the message consistently depicted in every hero myth; the quest, the struggle and the enlightenment.
We are preparing for a major leap forward in our evolution, one that requires our conscious participation. There is no doubt of that. As we look forward to this emerging millennium, we must ask ourselves: "what is it that we hope for?". Will it be more of the same denial, addiction and unconscious fumbling through the shoals life? Or will it be something different this time, something radically different?
I hope for the latter. Not a utopia, but a conscious pilgrimage to the center of our being, a well worn path to God. No frills, no extras, no fancy affairs. I want a full fledged embrace of the Divine within us and all the healing that this choice can muster. We desperately need this now. We need to go forward and this is the path to follow. We cannot fail when guided by the Divine that lives within each of us. God's neighborhood is the human heart which is our feeling center. We will not find this center at a church, synagogue or temple. We will find it in our heart, at the center of our being. That Divine aspect is ours to retrieve. And I believe that is why we are here.
We are at the threshold of a new era, one that requires our conscious participation. We can no longer afford to be pushed and prodded by life in a seemingly random and aimless fashion. By taking hold of ourselves, we can change the course of our destiny, and that of the planet. Imagine being on a bus and not knowing where it is going. That would be unacceptable. We need to know where we are going and have some say in how the journey is to proceed. The journey is the destination.