I have embarked on a path of spiritual ambiguity, a path filled with more questions and uncertainties than dogmatic pronouncements carved in stone. Spiritual ambiguity allows for a fluidity and freedom of human expression and sustains an unconditional heart empowered by empathy and connection, despite our differences. It allows me to juggle multiple perspectives and knows only the eternal movement of now.
There are no hard doctrines on the path of spiritual ambiguity. But there are some worthy suggestions and guidelines. One suggestion comes in two parts. The first part is that it’s a good idea not be an a**hole towards others, and the second is like unto it: it’s a good idea not be an a**hole to yourself.
When I am able to live by those guidelines my life is smooth. It becomes the ground for deep and loving interactions and juicy experiences. Reality is whatever we can get away with, as Robert Anton Wilson pointed out, so why not try to get away with a high-quality life filled with high-quality relationships with others and a high-quality relationship with ourselves? Unlike the closed, contracted fist of dogma, judgment, and guilt, spiritual ambiguity is all about expansion, openness, and love.
One of the most important understandings that I have uncovered since walking the path of spiritual ambiguity is that belief systems are ultimately malleable, like wet clay. I have become open to tweaking my belief systems as different situations arise and new information comes in, and, in the process, have learned that belief systems are not as mandatory as I was first led to believe; though they can be useful, like a good map.
At the end of the day I am seeking to live as skillfully and joyfully as possible, or at least to ease the pain of life as much as possible. This is a temporary earth-walk and not a single one of us has definitive knowledge of what, if anything, comes after that mysterious, final breath at the end. So, I want to do the best I can while I’m here, to strive for the happiness that is possible for us domesticated primates.
One of the activities suggested by my path is becoming aware of how I think, becoming mindful of the workings of my mind. As Socrates reminded us, “The unexamined life is not worth living.” I think that’s a pretty good guideline, so I spent a lot of time coming to know the patterns of thought repeating over and over like a skipping record inside my head. Those patterns of habitual thought inform my experience of the world and my place in it. And when I began discovering the destructive nature of many of those patterns, it answered a lot about why I struggled so much in life.
One recurring theme in my pattern of thinking centered around the idea that I’m basically a piece of crap and not worthy of any happiness, love, or juiciness of any kind. How incredibly sad that I allowed that voice in my head to be such a powerful bastard. I’m apparently not alone in having the habit of negative self-talk. Many of us tell ourselves that we’re unworthy.
Here’s a good story that demonstrates how those destructive, habitual beliefs about myself really kept me down:
Our story began in 1994 when a buffalo calf was born on the Heider farm in Sothern Wisconsin. This calf was unique, born the shimmering white color of her momma’s milk. The Heiders soon learned from some indigenous elders that the birth of this particular calf was more than some strange fluke of nature or a random coloring alteration in the buffalo’s DNA. There was a prophecy in the stories of the First People, primarily the Lakota, about the birth of a white buffalo calf and what its spiritual significance would be, not only for those living on tribal lands but for all of humanity.
The elders shared their stories about the prophecies with the Heiders and the farming family listened. They gladly opened up their farm for people from all over the world to bear witness to this fulfillment of an ancient promise of the rising energy of peace on the planet. They named the calf Miracle.
Countless people traveled from across the world to see Miracle. One was a respected healer from Flagstaff, Arizona. He considered it a sacred pilgrimage. The Heiders met with him and took a liking to his genuine and easy-going manner. As he was preparing to leave, they offered him a tuft of Miracle’s fur, a most precious gift. He brought the tuft of fur back to his home in the shadow of the San Francisco Peaks and combined it with his own particular alchemical knowledge. The result was an essential oil made from the DNA of one of the most revered and spiritually potent beings known to the First People at that time.
This is where I come in. That healer had treated me a couple times and I was scheduled for a third appointment shortly after he made the white buffalo calf oil. He was helping me with a bout of insomnia and some pervasive anxiety I was experiencing. It was a “family affair” with a group of us seeing him together, supporting each other in our own particular healing. The healer seemed to enjoy the group energy that we carried into his clinic that day and offered to share the oil, applying a bit to everyone’s forehead at their third eye.
The healer turned to me and I realized that I just couldn’t do it. “No, thank you,” I said, “I’m good.” He and my friends were all a little shocked. How could I reject such a rare and powerful gift?
My refusal at that moment was never a question for me. The reason for my choice was clear: I didn’t believe I was worthy of such a gift, I wasn’t spiritual enough, lacking the meritorious energy required for such a profound anointing. The oil would be wasted on me; simple as that. And without time to think about a response, my spontaneous reaction to the offered oiling came from the worthlessness I deeply felt.
As I left the clinic that day, I buried the episode in the dark, lower compartments of my mind. Back then, I didn’t realize that beliefs are malleable and can be changed to suit one’s evolutionary arc. How many of us uselessly hold on to destructive thoughts about ourselves because we believe they are solid things that reflect who we actually are? Of course, most of us are not pieces of crap. We are just humans, learning as we go. A thought can change in an instant. What a tragedy so many don’t understand this!
It’s funny how that non-anointing seemed to work. That day in that healer’s clinic, I was given the perfect memory to recall as an example of how those self-defeating patterns of thinking are a toxic corruption to my experience of life, how they keep me from welcoming the joy of living at its best.
It was a gift to discover that it was my own thinking that was the cause of much of my internal misery. And thoughts are changeable, like poop-filled diapers. Thought is the most powerful force in the universe, and the miracle of Miracle was learning that this powerful force can be consciously wielded with great skill by introducing the practice of awareness or mindfulness. There is far too much negativity floating around today, like turds that won’t flush. It’s time to clean the telepathic toilet bowl that we all share and take responsibility for our thoughts, changing them as needed! The world wants this from us more than anything!
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