by Flynn Johnson, MA, LCMHC
If you are finding it difficult to make your way through the chaos and confusion that prevails in the world today as we teeter on the threshold of a major cultural shift in awareness, it may be helpful to take to heart the following tips:
1) Finding the sacred today. As the major traditional religions lose their relevancy and moral authority, many folks are exploring the pathless path between these traditions. In many cases, they are borrowing pieces from here and there that resonate with their needs and longings. As they create a mosaic of sacred practice, they are freeing themselves from the narrowness of a particular dogma and at the same time opening themselves to the core central to any spiritual quest – the direct, unmediated experience of the sacred.
2) Remembering the heart of the spiritual quest is to be who and what you truly are. It is not to become Buddha or Christ or some famous guru or spiritual teacher. The quest is not about being someone who you are not, but about being yourself. The spiritual journey is about untangling your unique thread of destiny from the threads of fate that include family and cultural circumstances. The song of creation becomes more vibrant as each person sings his or her own unique song. If you try to sound like someone else, you will only fail.
3) Understanding that as you draw nearer to the door of your destiny fears and wounds from the past will become activated. To truly embrace the power and beauty of one’s unique calling can be frightening. The dogs of conformity and mediocrity will wake up and snarl as we approach the depths of our true self. Do not run from the shadows cast by our fears, instead go more deeply into them. The only way to transmute them is to bring more light to them.
4) Following the longing of your heart. Your longing is the arrow of passion that will bring you home. The mind will always find a thousand and one reasons for not setting out on the great quest. It takes courage, which is derived from the Latin word cor, meaning heart. The quest is a marriage of effort and surrender as our ardor drives us forward and then at the foothills to the Sacred Mountains we surrender to the winds of Spirit. Trust the longing of your heart to guide you to the fullness of what you are.
5) Accepting the limitations of your soul. Each of us comes into the world with our own set of limitations and wounds. Do not reject your shadow for that will only strengthen it. Our limitations and wounds provide the prima material upon which our souls will give shape and texture to their unique gifts. As countless folktales recount, the gold of our authentic self lies buried in the compost heap in the back of our house. We have to dig through the muck to uncover it. And it is always from the very beginning located very close by.
6) Polishing the gold of your true self. The alchemical process of transformation demands that we find ways to honor and polish the gold of our soul’s destiny. Often this involves a practice of some kind, so that we do not forget that each of us carries a spark of the divine within us. Through practice, we fan the spark, allowing more and more of our inner beauty to shine in the world. As the Toltecs said, we are all children of the sun and meant to shine.
7) Practicing the spirit of the Give-Away. Among the American Indians of the Plains, the Give-Away was the North Star of their spirituality. The Give-Away motivates each person to place their self-serving ego on the altar of community. The genuine elder, a designation not based on age but rather on a demonstrated integrity and wisdom, is the person who places Care for the well-being of the whole above his or her own personal needs and ambitions. Without care for others, the community will disintegrate into isolated individuals. The Give-Away calls to us to use our soul gifts in service to others.
8) Tending to the anima mundi, the soul of the world. The quest into our true nature brings us into deeper communion with the soul of the world. The soul of the world flows through each of us like the waters from a great medicine lake. We may drink from this lake and be healed. But we must also feed it with our prayers of gratitude and our tears. In these difficult times of ecological and social crisis, the anima mundi cries out in sorrow and we must listen and respond with love and care.
9) Honoring our young people on the threshold of adulthood. Our youth are crying out in pain and longing as the world around them reels from its imbalances and excesses. They are calling to us to recognize and honor the quest they are on to discover who they are and what gifts they have to give to the world. We must honor the momentous significance of the passage from childhood to adulthood, as indigenous peoples around the world have done for thousands upon thousands of years.
10) Revering Mother Earth. Our inescapable unity and interdependence with the Earth signifies her as our original home. She is literally the ground upon which we stand and spiritually the sacred landscape that mirrors our souls and reveals the divine. Without her we are lost; in communion with her we are rooted and whole; in prayer and gratitude to her we are holy.
Flynn Johnson, MA, LCMHC, is the founding director of The School of Natural Wonder, which has been offering Vision Quests and nature-based workshops for the past 17 years. He has a shamanic healing practice and is the author of Journey to the Sacred Mountains, Awakening Your Soul in Nature. To visit his website go to www.questvision.org; for an excerpt from his book go to www.findhornpress.com