Our journey through life takes many turns, but our initial exposures, in infancy
and childhood, strongly mold our self-concept and expectations about how life will be.
These patterns are both self limiting and blind us to our true nature, because all-too-few
parents either see who we truly are or encourage us to embody our true radiant nature.
In alignment with many spiritual traditions, I see people as having two "parts": one
eternal, called the essence or soul, and one transitory, called the ego. Our task is to
learn how to heal, tame, and disidentify with the ego and all of its attitudes, habits,
moods, and beliefs, and to move the center of our being to our essential Self.
While the small self (or ego) is always struggling, grabbing, needing, wanting,
restless, reactive, and defensive; as we learn to be in our essence, we discover that we
are already peaceful, creative, perceptive, clear, wise, in touch, and whole. In other
words, I believe that the purpose of the transformational/spiritual path is to disconnect
from the small self and embody the greater self.
Along the way, we may have to face a myriad of blind spots, false beliefs, and
self-destructive habits and attitudes in ourselves, and release pent-up emotions and
personal attachments. Nevertheless, each storm we pass through brings us closer to our
An excellent image for this process is to imagine being a fish who can either
spend their time near the surface of the ocean, and experience the storms, changes of
weather, and the turbulence of the waves, or learn to reside in a deeper part of the
ocean, with abiding calm, clarity, and safety.
Life, of course, will test us, presenting us with situations that tempt us to react and
re-attach. It is in our closest interactions that we get most stirred up. But if we
avoid getting close to others, we won't learn what we need to. In other words, even
though relationships are difficult and bring out our shadows, they also provide us with
the greatest opportunities for our redemption, i.e. our release from the bondage of our
own personal stuck places.
"To the extent that we can get close to another person, to that extent can we get
close to God." This quote, from my Guide, reveals an important truth: that we must open
our hearts to others, if we are to open our hearts at all. It is all too easy to reject another
and disown our part in any interaction, but to instead face what we bring to each situation,
that brings growth.
It is also important to emphasize that we are not here to judge either ourselves or
others, but instead to bear witness, as clearly as we can, to what goes on within us and
between us. Whether we meditate, jog, dance, play music, create art, or do any other
process to return to our center, it is the return that is important.
Our goal is simple. To value and work towards residing in clarity and truth. To live a life
that maintains our freedom from the enslavement of our egos. By staying conscious of our
own biases and opinions, and clearing the reactions we give birth to, we can remain
connected to our highest selves.
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Copyright © 1998 Hank Friedman.