I heard Ram Dass once tell a wonderful story. I’m hazy on the details of country and religion, but it goes along these lines. Ram Dass is in a monastery on a mountain in Asia, meditating and undertaking spiritual work with fierce dedication. Many months he receives a telegram and his stepmother is incredibly ill and his father needs him at home. He goes to the head monk and explains he needs to leave. The monk says he cannot, and he is so close to enlightenment that he must stay. Ram Dass argues that he needs to help his family. The monk responds that if he can reach enlightenment imagine how many beings he can help? And the monk reminds him that as he is a Westerner he is free to leave, but were he native, the monk would actually forbid it and hold him there.
It’s at that moment that Ram Dass comes to terms with the fact that yes, he is indeed a Westerner, and was not born here, into this. That he has a Jewish father and is American and this is his karma and dharma. He returns right away to his family.
I love the story as I think anyone interested in spirituality has at one point thought, hmmm, maybe I need to live in a monastery, get away from all this ‘modern living’ and find my true path. And my god eschewing all responsibilities especially family and work sounds mighty tempting at times. And we can create such a huge story around it, to build a case as to why this is so vital for us.
But it would be at the cost of ignoring where we are right now.
To fully acknowledge what we have created in our lives, and work with what has brought us to this exact moment is spirituality. To embrace our lives fully, to be fully present to our responsibilities and be courageous and not resentful is the path to higher understanding. To not care simply for our own spiritual progress at the cost of others, and to fully reconcile all areas of our lives and the karmic binds we are creating for our parents, partners, children and various others in our lineage is one of the most spiritual processes we can work with.
To not turn away when life gets ugly but to bravely show up not attached to the outcome. To not retreat into meditation when life is challenging and use it only as a bandaid, and instead work with meditation as our foundation for expansion. To not use yoga and eastern practices as another ego trip, but to understand them wholly and integrate them fully. To resist the temptation to escape, and indulge in thinking about ‘if only I were a monk then I would find peace’ and in the hot mess of our daily lives find our inner centre. This is the work we can set out to embrace. For me, this is the important, modern work we do as spiritual people having a human experience.
Sent with love,