Sunday, August 12, 2018

Finding Purpose in a World that Demands Perfection

I have been deeply engaged in between worlds lately and though this is not unusual for me as I've straddled two cultures my entire life being bi-racial, in this case the world I've been engaged with is the spirit world. This may seem like an odd statement, but with the passing of my mother-in-law I have been reflecting a lot on how the spirit shows up in this world.

My mother-in-law was from a people with a profound history of struggle, spiritual triumph and
Grandma Davis with her mother, son and grandchildren
Grandma Davis standing behind her mother
steadfastness. She was from the African-American people of Louisiana, the Cherokee and also European-American. When you come from a people that have undergone such strong oppression and have demonstrated such clear resistance through their acts of courage and faith, you cannot help but express this courage and faith through a heart that is strong with an almost boundless kindness that gives constantly. This was my experience of her from the moment I met her, she had boundless energy and was in constant motion, usually helping and serving others. And her strength was a characteristic I will never forget, she carried it with her in every word and every stance she took in the world. So as she began her transition to the spirit world I began to see less movement, a stillness took over and a quietness unlike her nature.
The day we went to the hospital and her transition had taken place I saw what an elder from the Mohican Nation meant by our body being an earthsuit. Our earthsuit, it is the body we were given upon our soul's entrance into this world. Our earthsuit, it is the way our soul travels this world and is animated by our soul's expression. The many different shapes, colors, sizes and atrributes of earthsuits is a reflection of the Creator's love for and desire to see diversity in all things. So on this day, I saw my mother-in-law's earthsuit clearly absent of it's animating force...the strength, the steadfastness of faith and the constant motion of the heart to lean towards kindness...all these attributes of the spirit were no longer present and what was left behind was the beautiful earthsuit who had with constant devotion carried her soul through this world.

What then is our purpose in this life if that which is the essence of who we are is invisible and leaves upon our earthly life's completion of it's mission?

I also think of the role suffering and sacrifice carry in developing this purpose. After all, so many of us experience both suffering and sacrifice during this lifetime and some groups experience this more than others. In thinking of these elements of life and how they showed up in my mother-in-law's life, I am deeply moved by the service that followed her transition. The focus of the preacher and all of those who spoke, was not of the mountains of physical wealth she may or may not have accumulated, but what she did to serve others, to uplift those in need, to keep her children and grand-children close to Spirit and even the joy she took in getting lost!

This journey of a life made me think of the following quote...
" a certain gratitude and respect in the hearts of children for those who have given them life and sent their souls out on the eternal journey towards their Creator." - Shoghi Effendi
This made me reflect on the role parents have to play and that after the age of maturity the role changes to guide, not direct mentor. So then my task as the daughter, is one of gratitude for what my parents were able to do and then to carry forward in developing the capacities of my spirit. This movement to gratitude is exactly that, a movement. We so often want to jump right to gratitude and ignore the pain, anger and sometimes even trauma that might reside in our earthsuit from poor choices made by the adults in our lives as children. As someone who understands the walk of healing and the work, time and attention it demands, I completely believe this is a process and not an end result. This does not mean you do not arrive a new sense of self, free of burdening thoughts and just means new areas demanding growth is uncovered demanding even greater focus and attention. Growth is a way of walking, very different than the insistence of perfection.

This brought my thoughts to another reflection: how does our purpose develop?

In a material world we strive for perfection, it is almost demanded of us as we build our buildings and ensure they are to code for failure of this could prove disastrous or surgical procedures demand exactness for the failure to a precise surgical procedure could reek havoc on the body. When we try to apply this same demand on the world of spirit it becomes much more difficult, almost impossible. The spirit world is a world of growth, not immediate perfection...we strive for perfection, but we cannot demand perfection as an immediate response, we must create conditions that allow us to move closer to perfection. For example, we cannot take a seed and demand it be a plant, we must create the conditions and nurture this plant to fulfill it's greatest potential and expression of perfection - which for each plant is unique - even among the same species. Forcing perfection of a seed will only lead to its destruction and forever crippling it reaching its true potential.

How then do we demand perfection of spirit beings?

I know this may sound like "new age" talk to call us spirit beings, but watch anyone transition out of this life and you know the animating force of our earthsuit comes from some invisible power we carry. How then can we demand of this force immediate perfection in its expression? Just like the seed that holds its inherent power and capacity within, the expression of this power and capacity comes with time and nurturing.

We must then instead focus our time and energy on nurturing within us and others the potential of their true nature, which lies deep within their soul and even they themselves may not be aware of its true capacity. How to do this then? I follow the cues of those who have suffered greatly and have risen with boundless joy. I also follow the cues of the world of nature as an example of growth and development.

How does suffering and sacrifice create conditions for growth? In the world of nature these are the necessary conditions for any growth to take place: A plant sacrifices the seed for the shoot to break out and begin to grow, muscles rip and stretch with every workout to sacrifice its current state in search of a stronger and more powerful state. We see this same expression of growth in those who have suffered greatly: In the Americas indigenous people have been recipients of grave injustices, displacement from their traditional lands, disruption in their ceremonial practices that understood the delicate balance between the spirit and the material world and all but complete obliteration of their scientific discoveries. How do they respond? Resistance shows up in their ceremonies continuing underground which develops a deep faith in these practices of their ancestors. Resistance shows up in the way in which they continue to teach their children to maintain their noble practices of communal and collaborative living, the sharing of their resources and knowledge freely because wisdom is not a commodity that should be bought or sold, and an understanding of the power of storytelling encased
in humility and joy to carry forward an ever-advancing civilization. Organizing using 21st Century
Picture of logo for white bison a non-profit organization
Non-Profit organization offering healing
tools, like White Bison, to share the knowledge and wisdom for healing. These, just some of the ways a people have resisted total annihilation through colonization and its attempted destruction of their cultures and assimilation. These practices require a deep faith in the potential of their people and a sacrifice of how things were to the creation of something new with the qualities and attributes of their former civilizations blending and shaping a new world. Like the seed always carried inherent within itself the qualities of its true potential, what was sacrificed was the shell of the seed, not the qualities and potential. This is the gift of those who have suffered and sacrificed: they sacrifice the former state of expression, without sacrificing the noble qualities that were held inherently within them as a people.

This new expression of the inherent nobility of indigenous people does not come immediately, it comes with nurturing and the creation of conditions that allow their inherent qualities of a people to arise to the forefront. One of the dominant qualities I think of that is often held within indigenous cultures, mine included, is that of humility. We take joy in the accomplishments of the group and not that of the individual. There is recognition in the web of interdependence among all living beings and this interdependence is to be celebrated knowing we play a role within this web. There is a time where an individual member might shine, always this is with an acknowledgment of the group that holds them up. How this beautiful quality within this noble people will show up in the 21st century we are yet to see fully expressed, but when it does it will play a dynamic role in the reshaping of society to reflect its more honorable qualities.

What then is my purpose?

To play my part in developing and cultivating these noble qualities within me and allow them to show up through my chosen craft, my highest desire, what I am curious about, what calls to me that allows the expression of these distinguished qualities I carry within. And this, this is not something that happens immediately nor with is something that happens overtime with focused attention and my creating conditions to support their development. Anytime I demand perfection of myself or others, I am in danger of disrupting this tender process of growth by damaging the conditions of growth with my impatience that is often triggered by fear leaving a lasting impact on the expression of my gifts.

When I transition from this earthly life, I too will carry with me all the beauty and grace I chose to cultivate and develop...I hope to not leave behind a legacy of perfection, but that of a constant and humble effort.