It is the last day of the year and time for reflection. Contemplation. Comparison. It is a good opportunity to consider any needed course change - adjusting for local conditions as I like to call it. When I was a young woman there were many times I needed to make significant adjustments - in relationships, employment, locale. Those were gross adjustments. As I look back, the mature years of life have been mostly quiet - internal adjustments - fine tuning.
I gave the Christian religion a serious run but it simply did not hold up to the wear and tear of real life. The Christian arrogance of the "true believers" chased me out of adult Sunday school when a young man confidently concluded that my best friend was condemned to hell for being homosexual. With the full weight of all the generations of imperious Christian fascism, he concluded the "debate" with the church's ace in the hole: "It's scriptural!" His tightly sealed lips drawn into a self-righteous frown of stern finality, as if he had just won a debate with Satan himself, showed me most clearly that I was wasting my time with such bullshit. Of course, I did not and do not paint all Christians with that particularly distasteful brush. There are true Christians in this world, and they are gentle, loving people who do not bludgeon others with scriptural hate and intolerance. They are the true followers of Jesus.
Leaving organized religion behind for good was a fundamental course adjustment. The beginning, middle and end of significant relationships were course-altering events. Jobs and friends and neighborhoods and other such details all influenced my journey. When I turned forty, an enormous dissonance plainly revealed itself. I had been living unaware on the very mountain I had been searching for most of my life. It was when I made the conscious decision to locate the mountain that everything changed, though I did not know it for many, many years. It was a simple decision - a mere thought, actually. It was a brief moment I had while sitting on the floor praying. I only recognize that moment in hindsight. It was the merest fraction of a degree course correction that brought me to my current place all these decades later.
Sometimes I imagine my course extending far ahead into future lives, though I cannot imagine what a single one of those lives might be. The Tibetans say it is not an individual, central soul that extends through all lifetimes but that reincarnation is more like "dice, stacked loosely atop one another". I admit I felt faint when I first experienced that statement. It took a couple of years of chewing on that idea, worrying it around like a dog with an old bone until I felt comfortable with it. If that is true, my understanding of it as I sit here today is that our physical lives as we know them are simply small manifestations welling up from an infinite sea of life force and consciousness, loosely bounded by karmic forces and chance. There is so much more!
Knowing something intellectually is a far cry from being able to practically use the knowledge, but knowing something intellectually is also the first step of any journey, even an infinite journey toward understanding. The concept that there may not be a Chief Engineer carefully attending to every, single, minute detail in my life as I once imagined literally blasts my carefully structured "understanding" into infinity. It is almost more than I can safely imagine.
The sacred mountain is within every single human being. It is surely within every single living being, and within things we in the West consider inanimate. It is our true nature. We have forgotten it. It takes a lifetime - maybe many lifetimes - to remember.
The times I have drawn nearest to that knowing, in both spirit and in the flesh, I have been in the sweat lodge. It is in that sacred space, that incredibly hot, claustrophobic, pitch black moment when it is impossible to avoid myself. There I am - every single thing I do not like about myself - what I am ashamed of, embarrassed for, and disappointed in. All the pain and anger I have brought on myself and others - the injustices that have been inflicted on me - it is all there, revealed in the dark as if illuminated by the brightest light. If I may quote myself, that is truly a "well, hell" moment. It is ugly and feels terrible. I eventually realized the point of that moment is to clearly see myself, to find what needs attending. It is also a chance to look beyond - far beyond. It is the easiest of all impossible things.
As is customary: Wishing peace on earth and goodwill toward (some) men - from the Crazy Woman, the Supreme Beings, and Jake the Bad Dog here at Spiritcreek.