To Live Unencumbered
Fresh Thinking, Inspiration, and Vision on the Process of Spiritual Transformation
It is likely that we all know the experience of being tested in these days. My experience currently is intense and challenging. Perhaps the quality of character that’s required most of all is courage—I believe that word relates to the heart—courage to make the right choices.
It seems that we need heroes in this time, and through the opportunities that we have in our own circumstances we can be heroes. I think there are heroes gathered on this teleconference today.
I’ve been thinking about being unencumbered. A few days ago I had an experience while driving along the freeway, the short distance from our home to the center in Cape Town. As I was driving, I realized that what’s required of me in these days is to be able to move lightly, to be unencumbered, free. I had a whole series of revelations.
As some of you may be aware, my husband, Phil, and I are in the process of making home, of unpacking boxes, opening cases and arranging furniture. Out of those boxes and cases comes stuff—stuff I haven’t seen for two years because it’s been in storage; stuff that comes with associations, with connections to people, with relationships; reminders of times past. In some instances they remind me of other incarnations—it doesn’t seem possible that I could ever have been involved with these things; they’re so unrelated to my current experience. All this in just the space of two years!
And even while I am making home here in Cape Town, I realize that I don’t reside any more in Cape Town than I do in the UK when I am there, or at Sunrise Ranch when I visit. Home is not stuff or place, but carried within me wherever I am.
This is not a new idea, but what struck me as I was driving was that I have a lot of concepts and ideas attached to making home, which are related to my background and upbringing: “When I have a home of my own I’ll have a sewing machine and a food processer, and I’ll bake bread and do everything properly.” I realized this isn’t what is required of me right now. Yes, I can bake bread; I can do these things. But if I am carrying forward something that is no longer fitting for me, these are encumbrances. All the forms and structures, beliefs and concepts that we have right now—do they fit? I believe I have some letting go to do around my ideas of what constitutes “home.”
I’ll give you some examples in the current world situation. I’ve been reading various articles; this one is on the economic trend. It was written by the chief economist of HSBC:
After the biggest meltdown since the Great Depression, economic theory tells us that world commodity prices should not be this high. But they are—and the West quickly needs to wake up to this new economic reality. Commodity prices are now permanently higher.
(Stephen King, “Perils and Pain of Ever-Rising Prices,” Financial Times)
The point I’m trying to make is that what used to be the pattern for the world, and perhaps the pattern for my earlier life, is no longer accurate for these days. You cannot carry forward from the past, regardless. To be able to move lightly and be unencumbered is the best way to move into whatever forms present themselves now.
I have another interesting quote. This one is a psychological comment:
The fears stirred up by discussions of planetary change and fundamental shifts in time and space are rooted in our physical bodies’ ego-based survivalist programming. Some anthropologists say the ego evolved primarily out of our need to survive in a hostile environment, and it still operates largely in this mode. The ego actually wants you to think you are your body, and that the preservation of that body should be your primary concern.
(David Ian Cowan, Navigating the Collapse of Time)
I’m reminded of a very basic spiritual tenet: “I am not my body; I am not my mind; I am not my emotions.” But there is programming in our human-nature structure that would have us stay in old patterns. When we can acknowledge and understand this, then we can drop those patterns, move beyond ego, and find ourselves in a larger space.
I was talking earlier about the intensity of these times, the rapid change that’s being asked of everybody—you can see it all around the world. It’s happening in Greece—people on the streets over austerity measures; in Syria, over regime reform; I believe in Vancouver, over education; and in London, they’re on the streets about pensions. It’s not what people are on the streets for, or what they think they’re on the streets for. The fact is they are on the streets. People are now willing to move out of their comfort zone and ask for, demand, change. This is also being asked of us individually—I know it is of me. As I create a foundation for my living in Cape Town, I’m being asked not to live in Cape Town the way I did ten years ago, nor to live the way I did yesterday, but to find what works right now in my relationships and in the circumstances in which I find myself.
We do have choices—sometimes difficult choices. You can let the ego in; you can stay under the covers for another five minutes; you can put off what needs to be done. That’s a choice. Or you can move with it, lean into it, learn to give up, let go, and drop emotions, concepts and opinions, including the way you were yesterday. It seems to me that with the intense energy moving these days—and it’s demonstrated by those on the streets in various countries—something in human nature is hitting a wall. And something will have to give.
I am reminded of a line from a Yeats poem: “At stroke of midnight God shall win.” (from “The Four Ages of Man”) And I think that’s it: When we hit the wall hard enough—whether it’s in our financial situations or in our understanding of our own psychology—something has to give way. And if, at the stroke of midnight, we stand unencumbered, God does win in our experience.
July 26th, 2011