Walking a Sacred Path in our Material World
Throughout history sages and spiritual teachers have told us that there is a ‘Sacred Path’ that one can follow through life. A path that is in harmony with the Earth and all of its creatures, and one that will lead to lasting happiness.
But in a world full of concerns about global financial crises, climate change, interest rates, budget deficits and stock market indices, what would it look like? And more importantly – how would you live it?
Walking a Sacred Path through life begins with honour. Honour for ourselves, all other beings, Mother Earth and Spirit.
Let’s take a look at each of these areas individually beginning with the Self. If we fail to honour ourselves we can be sure that we will be unable to honour anyone else or anything else. Love, compassion and empathy all arise from within and it is only by cultivating these qualities in ourselves that we are then able to radiate them out into the world.
We can be our own worst enemies though! Within ourselves we can be conflicted by our base desires and our higher aspirations which can result in an inner dialogue that sounds more like a brutal disciplinarian than our best friend. Buddhist teachings exhort us to still the mind, stop the dialogue and break the cycle of samsara. Shamanic teachings tell us that the world is an illusion and that we create it through our beliefs and stories. Interestingly Quantum Physics mirrors this by telling us that like attracts like and therefore we are what we believe.
But what would it mean to step beyond our limiting stories and shift into a space of existential alignment?
In Hamlet, William Shakespeare advised,
“This above all. To thine own self be true”
Honouring the Self is about finding your true purpose in this life and then living in alignment with that purpose and with a set of universal values. Key to this is to live it pro-actively, always with one foot moving in front of the other and not re-acting to what fear based stuff might be going on around you…
So where to start? How about with unconditional love? Finding a way of breaking the perpetual cycle begins with loving who you are right now regardless of what you are doing or how you are being. Unconditional love truly must be unconditional if it is to be empowering. If you think of your most loved person in the world – be it your child, lover, friend or parent – and imagine a time when they have done something that they are not proud of or happy with, then you will know that the story they tell themselves is far worse than any story any other person might tell them – and – what you say to them is completely forgiving and unconditional.
Now the challenge is – can you hold that space for yourself? Can you choose to consciously love yourself regardless of what you do or how you are being? If you can then you have found a space from which to dare to walk between the worlds and step into the future. In the future you can plant seeds by asking – what do I want? And how do I want to be, physically, mentally, emotionally, materially and spiritually?
Importantly you also need to ask – what is most important in my life? What values do I hold most dear to me?
“We plant the seeds of possibility and pray for the rain of grace”
With a picture in your mind you return to the Present and honour yourself by aligning your actions to your vision. The critic in us, the parent, tells us off when we are out of alignment with our stated intentions. To follow a Sacred Path is to have the awareness to know what our highest vision is and then to have the courage and presence of mind to live it. Physically that means eating, sleeping and moving well – honouring your body as a temple.
Mentally – by stimulating and expanding your mind – knowing that new findings in neuroscience tell us that we really do use it or lose it. Emotionally – by allowing yourself to have a full range of emotional expression – to live life deeply and graciously. Materially – by releasing worry and concern and being in flow AND ensuring that the way in which you interact with the financial system is aligned to your deepest held values.
That means every time you buy something, every time you invest money be it in the bank or in shares, and every time you work for another person or organisation you ensure that you are not supporting any other person or organisation that has different values to you. So if you believe in peace make sure that your superannuation is not invested in companies that make ammunition or any type of war making machinery or equipment.
Last but not least we must honour ourselves spiritually – by acknowledging the existence of a world beyond what we can see, touch, smell, hear and taste. For each of us this will be different but for all of us it will form the centre of the circle. Some may be nurtured by walking the dog or running, whilst others will pray, meditate, sing or dance – whatever it takes to create space for the divine in our lives.
To nurture Self Honour you can put two simple practices into your daily routine. First thing in the morning – walk between the worlds to the future and set your intention for what you want to do and how you want to be – then last thing at night simply ask – what did I do right today? And acknowledge yourself for it.
By choosing to love yourself unconditionally, being kindler and gentler to yourself and being careful to manage your focus by asking – what did I do right? – you can honour yourself and create fertile ground for the growth of love, compassion and empathy.
With an open and loving heart you are in a good space to honour others. Living in the Past confines us to being who we always have been according to our collection of stories about our self. It also confines us to a fixed view of the world and by definition this means that we believe that we know something about the way the world works and what is right and wrong. Now this is a comfortable and safe place to be except for the fact that by definition it can put us into conflict with other people because at times, we know we are right – or at least we believe we are.
Honouring others begins with recognising that we are all linked together in a kind of quantum soup. Because of this whatever vibration or energy we send out into the world simply stays in the world. As Martin Luther King Jr said,
“Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that”
Honouring others must begin with a recognition that we are all ‘brothers and sisters’ and as such everyone has a right to a particular perspective on life. Being able to ‘live and let live’ and to see others points of view is key.
However, honouring ourselves and others must also be done in the space of truth – the greatest gift we can give to others is our whole selves in love and truth. This means not holding back from our truth out of fear of the consequences but rather having the courage to speak in truth with empathy and compassion.
Balanced with this is the ability to hold space for others around a higher possibility. So instead of going into judgement when others act in a way that is out of alignment with love and compassion being able to see a higher possibility for them and hold this space for them to move into. Judgement is only a mask for fear. Opening our hearts to others moves us beyond this.
With honour for ourselves and others we move to honouring the earth. Recognising that Mother Earth is the cradle that holds us and that we are the bridge between Heaven and Earth. It is our task as this bridge to be the vehicle to bring universal light and love onto the Earth. We do this through our actions and our being.
To honour the Earth through actions is to ensure we do not defile or pollute the Earth in any way. The practicalities of this relate again to our mode of social organisation. Every time you buy something, invest in something or work for someone you have an opportunity to ensure you honour the Earth. Bottom line is – take the time to ensure you are not implicitly supporting activities that defile our cradle.
The ‘being’ part of honouring Earth is to be conscious of our role as the bringers of light. In every moment we have the opportunity to be in a space of love and to radiate that love into the world. With every moment we spend in nature we have the opportunity to give back to the Earth with gratitude and grace. Mindfulness, reverence, honour.
And finally to honour spirit. To acknowledge that there is more to life than what we can see, hear, feel, smell and touch. Honouring the self, others and the Earth takes us a long way towards living in honour with spirit. The last part is to release our fear of inadequacy and to have faith in ourselves and the notion of a sacred path. This is a leap that can never be made by the rational mind. There will never be enough evidence to support a rational argument for doing this. This is beyond thinking. This is connecting to source and shifting our way of being.
A Sacred Path opens before us at this point. One that requires us to be believe. One that requires us to release our fears, have the courage to act boldly and to walk at one with spirit in light and love. May you walk bravely on this path.