A Christmas Blessing from Tinderbox Being Who we are
Our changing nature IN A FLASH of cosmic confluence desire, will, egg, sperm, earth, moon, sun and stars concoct the specialised creation that is each one of us. Ancient spiritual wisdom teachings point out that it is precisely at this juncture of elemental alchemy that our karmic fate is mapped out for our individual soul journey. This is embodiment with a bespoke genetic blueprint now in place for life to inflict its inevitable changes upon every soul and keep it in an ongoing state of flux until death. For a species destined to participate in the constant current of change, why is it that humans tend to feel so much resistance to it, in a universe where if one thing changes, everything changes? Recently astrologers have collectively conveyed how the important transit of Saturn in Scorpio for two and half years is bestowing intense and heavy energy that has been pressuring everyone, with times of challenging, emotional turmoil, or worrisome roller-coaster rides of life-changing events and indeed this is happening on both a global and personal level. This period of painful upheaval can be significantly transformative with the lessons it brings. Change is the inevitable, ephemeral nature of life and embodiment; it sweeps us up, and we may resist it to survive or choose to ride it out and thrive because it is in the waves of change that we find our direction.
The world is a stage Universal social structures are transposing from one form to another, while individuals shift through a myriad of identities, reaching for an integrated, multifaceted self. As a culture we are continually reinventing ourselves, changing our image; faces, shapes and behaviour morphing to the myriad forms drawn from a mosaic of sexual, ethnic, political and social design. If change is the default human behavioural pattern, what how can we make it actually transformative? Interestingly, W.H. Auden pointed out that human beings are inherently actors by nature who need to pretend to be something before they can become it. In the modern, freethinking world we teach our children to believe that they can be anything and anyone they choose to be. So it is somewhat disconcerting to read in the Bhagavad-Gita, the 700-verse Holy Scripture that is part of the Hindu epic Mahabharata, that Krishna says: “we cannot be anyone we want to be. We can only authentically be who we are”.
Dropping the Masks that shield our light So whom is it that really exists at the centre of this shifting mirage of identities posing as being human. Is the false ‘self’ just a collection of ideas, parading in a charade of what our minds think about who we ‘should’ be, or how we want others to see us? Maybe Krishna did ‘hit the nail on the head’. Being our self, whoever that is, is our one and only shot at fulfilling our optimal potential to lead an inspired life. This might encourage us to look a little deeper into how we could live up to the promise of being the best version of our self. It would seem that spiritual transformation points towards the shedding, not the donning of the veils that occlude this mystical hidden being; the one who is clearly immune to the ever-changing façade of drama that surrounds our personality or public persona. In the early stages of self-discovery we might try the ‘fake it until you make it’ survival mechanism that humans often adopt. Or we might even emulate those who inspire and mentor us with their particular virtuosity in following their life path, because we see in them the full flower of the bud beckoning to blossom within ourselves. We needn’t feel fraudulent because this is a valid and distinctly human practice; to hone our inborn skills and abilities and try on the feel and fit of who we are to become. We can look at our former selves, as friends who have helped us evolve, rather than the aspects of our self that we perceive to be fictitious or lost.
Bringing forth what is in us This inner possibility needs to be embraced and fully explored because it is only by approaching our unconscious that we can get a truer sense of whom we are, only then can we have a chance to become conscious, self-aware and whole human beings. A key to unlock the mystery of who we might be is to follow our longing; the inner yearning that is too often mistaken for the externalised desire for something or someone. The great mystics understood that every expression of this longing is really disguised as longing for the same thing: union with the divine, self- realisation or God, however you like to describe it. To follow this path is to circumnavigate the mind and immerse fully in the aching feelings of the ripening and softening heart that summons us to dive deep into the very nucleus of sentience. This can be confronting, but when we are brave enough to explore even our darkness, we are able to discover the infinite power of our light.
The Guru Within Lama Yeshe Wangmo said that enlightenment is not about noble ideals or final destinations; it is about our own true nature and its momentary expressions in this life. As seekers, we tend to look externally to a ‘Guru’ to help show us the nature of our true selves; ironically the meaning of Guru is translated as ‘remover of darkness’. We each have the ability to ignite the inner light to dispel our own darkness, that which overrides our capacity to see who we really are; the innate light that is the true self; our own guru - our voice of conscience. Great things are possible if what we do aligns with our heart-felt purpose and vision. Transformation comes from within; it is about choice and inner commitment; it teaches us how this physical life is really an opportunity to improve and elevate our soul. Have you ever noticed how every positive change, every leap to a higher level of awareness, somehow involves a rite of passage? Each time we ascend to a higher rung on the ladder of personal evolution, it would seem that we must go through a sort of “tempering”, period of discomfort, or initiation.
Finding our Dharma Dharma can be translated as our sacred duty. The great spiritual masters taught that it is our responsibility to completely embody our own idiosyncratic dharma with profound engagement. To find our Dharma or soul purpose means to explore what makes our eyes shine and our heart sing. Our unique gifts and talents are so close to the ‘kernel’ of our being; indeed the most divine kind of doing is really a perfect expression of authentic being. Kahlil Gilbran expresses this perfectly when he poetically wrote: “Work is love made visible”. There are those magical times when we just know that we are following our own true adventure, because everything miraculously aligns, people and things appear to guide and assist us forward. Interestingly, others are drawn to the authentic expression of true being; the transparency and honesty of dharma in action beautifully emanates into the outer world, affecting others positively in both subtle and seismic ways.
Digging deep into our inner world Jack Kornfield said: “Within each of us is a secret longing to remember the light, to step out in time in this dancing world. It’s where we began and where we return.” Still close to source, children tend to think less about how they feel, rather than just feeling what they feel and as a consequence are able to connect to the subtle magnetism in Nature and unconsciously yield to it. If you secretly observe a child at play when no one else is around, witness how very often he or she will be completely absorbed and enthralled in an activity that commands all of their focus and passion; we start to see the unmistakable signs of their innate gift being expressed that signifies their unique talents. Should that child be fortunate enough to grow in a nurturing environment where this gift is not squelched, but encouraged and fostered, an inspired future and fulfilling life is likely assured.
Can I hear the song of my soul? Certain exceptional people discover their true life-path relatively early; others frustratingly face a blank page each day or keep changing the game plan. For some, the real thing is so close and perhaps staring them in the face unrecognised, or denied through lack of trust. There are times when we are all neurotic and full of every doubt and fear; and upon closer introspection it is such feelings can give us clues to the truths we are evading. Thomas Merton said that what we fear is an indication of what we seek. The chink of inherent genius that we are looking for is only a small part of the equation. It is the ardency of our dedication, focus and sustained effort that will allow this ‘chink’ to grow and eventually dictate the unfolding sacred role. What might appear as failure will teach us more than supposed success, building character and resilience. When we identify with our gift, we don’t dwell on our flaws and imperfections, we accept them and move on.
Making big of small things We need not seek a remote retreat to follow our true calling; we will feel more effective and fulfilled when we meet the challenges of our dharma in the real world. Everyday real-life is the most potent venue for transformation, which means that the workplace, the family home or even the business world, can all be our arena for spiritual development. Inevitably each ordinary day will provide ample opportunity for us to transform negative thoughts into something positive and beautiful; we notice that beautiful things happen when we distance our self from negativity. On any normal day we might ask our self: what did I do for my mind, my body, my spirit, my relationships, my creativity and my passion?
Relinquishing the Fruits We will know when we are following the impassioned path of our dharma because the rewards or credit of our endeavours are no longer what drives us; so immersed in the process are we. Our efforts that once served our own individuated ego become so focussed and effortless that others benefit greatly; and we notice that it is simple service to others that is more joyful to us than the end goal or prize. It is only by letting go of the desired outcome that our innate passions can be freed to assert themselves so that our sense of Dharma can mature. How affirming to find the resulting new energy and creativity as we tap into the spiritual power source that is always there, to provide strength and courage. The more connected with Source we become, and allow it to flow through us unhindered by our own egoistic patterns, the more we realise that it is Source who is the real “doer” of our actions.
Fearlessly living our own true nature We humans are ordained to always be on the trail of our deepest nature, that which connects us to the divine. In yoga there is the term Jiva Mukta that means a Soul awake in this lifetime; this is such a wonderful inspiration turning the old paradigm of the paradisiacal afterlife on its head; our life now can be heaven on earth.
‘Are you God’ they asked the Buddha. ‘No,’ he replied. ‘Are you an angel then?’ ‘No.’ ‘Then what are you?’ ‘I am awake,’ replied the Buddha
Your gift may not win you a Nobel or Pulitzer Prize, but more importantly, if your heart warms winningly when you selflessly use it to spread comfort and cheer to those who need it in your world; living your dharma is your reward.
Tinderbox’s Dharma The seed of intent that gave birth to Tinderbox has blossomed into its own intrinsic DNA; with a unique dharma of its very own. The potent mix of shared giftedness with sustained, intensive effort has gathered momentum over 32 years; accumulating an extraordinary positive energy. Each caring product that we continue to send forth is a sincere and fragrant blessing of goodwill that we hope will assist people with their own transformation. If you are one of those who are already living their dharma, may your light burn more strongly; if you are one who is still seeking: have faith, look within and may 2015 shed new light on a path ahead that has your name on it.
I wish you each a very happy Christmastime and inspiring new year.
- Cassandra Menard, Tinderbox creator and creative.