Even though I consider spirituality to be an essential part of life, I find some of the quotes I come across on inspirational pages very problematic. Which ones? Well, the ones that tell us that the highest and happiest purpose of our lives is to basically live ‘outside’ our lives.
I get the general idea here is to help us get in touch with our ‘essence’, remind us to examine and curb our more extreme materialistic goals, to seek a genuine connection with all that surrounds us. Yes, it’s about living with authenticity, about the greater good and the widening of our perspective. But that’s not the message we end up with. Many of the quotes I’m referring to (and I’m sure you’ve also come across enough examples) seem to be about providing comfort by encouraging us to constantly escape who we are and our circumstances. In other words, shed the world.
Personally, I do not wish to shed the world. It seems to me we are here to do the exact opposite and embrace not only the world, but ourselves in it as well!
Think about it. These luminous entities we call our souls could have remained, well, soul-like in a blissful state. But they did not. They chose bodies and this world to live in. They wanted to be HERE.
True, this is a hazardous and difficult place, but it’s also full of amazing things and endless potential. Here we can explore, discover, know joy, wonder, sorrow and gratitude. Here we can learn how to appreciate mystery, paradox and revelation in equal measure. Here, we can smile, cry, love, argue, get lost, forgive, get confused, start over, continue, get angry, laugh, evolve. Here we can know the usefulness of kindness and the full, terrible power of cruelty and injustice. Here we can be surprised and delighted, scared and forlorn. Here we can fight for things with compassion and determination, be deliberate about whatever we do. Here we can be vulnerable and filled with tenderness. And so many other things.
HERE we get to choose, and by choice, freely create who we are.
How amazing is that?!
So yes, I find the suggestion that this amazing place and state of being are somehow flawed by physicality to be absurd and also, rather offensive. Especially if it comes from a perspective that idealizes the spiritual realm(s), claiming each of us is a soul that chose both a body and a world for it to live in. Whether by divine intention or cosmic accident (is there really a difference?), we are here so that we can be here. What we are and where we are allow for a unique level of experience which can not be achieved otherwise. Our human-ness and this world are so very special.
There’s a book by Eric Weiner I’ve mentioned in my posts before, “The Geography of Bliss“. From it, I learned that on Europe‘s tallest peak accessible by cable car, in Switzerland, there is a crucifix, and below it, these words: “Be more human.”
At first, these struck me as strange words to find when one travels, metaphorically speaking, to heights that suggest a closer proximity to the heavens. But they are not strange words. They make perfect sense. Because that is the point: to live in the world and learn to live fully and well. We are already divine. What we’re here to learn is how to be human.
I suppose some people believe that embracing our human-ness and worldly context means running on a superficial autopilot or becoming a proverbial sheep. I couldn’t disagree more. Being here, fully here, demands thinking outside the box, stepping outside our comfort zone, being in touch with our divinity while learning how to navigate beautifully in a tangible world. It means being creative and brave, it means finding and experiencing joy and passion in ALL our challenges.
It seems to me what we need to overcome is not our human-ness, but some of the elements that are part of being wholly human: our prejudices, selfishness, greed, cruelty, laziness, indifference, fear. When we choose to allow any of them to dominate, they become obstacles that chain and suffocate.
So yes, we have work to do while we are here playing and creating. But all of it so as to become more human…so as to find a balance between our darkness and light…so as to fully and beautifully integrate our luminous souls into the exciting miracle of this life and this world.