Choice, Action, Balance, Cycles, Process, Integrity, Compassion, Expectation, Surrender, Presence: these are the words and concepts James Dickson gave me to reflect on to help me find my authentic self. They are his Powerful Words Needed for Spiritual Fulfillment. You can read much more about each of them in previous posts on this blog. Each concept points to my need for radical change of perspective and attitude.
The next concept he offers as the eleventh Powerful Word Needed for Spiritual Fulfillment: Unity. A primary goal in my life has always been to experience a world of unity, oneness, completion, and harmony. This hunger for unity has motivated me in just about everything. My desire to become a priest was prompted by this central idea. I saw in the teachings of Jesus the ultimate call to unity among all people and with God. I thought I would make it happen through parish ministry, constantly trying to realize this ideal.
The real issue ended up being much more finite and, at the same time, infinitely less manageable than what I expected. Unity must begin with me. I am the most important focus for unity and also the biggest obstacle to unity. The work I did in ministry was easy compared with the work I need to do within myself. Paradoxically I yearn to be one with everyone but build defensive walls to protect me from those who make me feel uncomfortable.
I find myself constantly in the perspective of being pitted against. That’s another way of saying I’ve got attitude….a lot of it. I don’t show it because I learned long ago to make nice as much as possible, but at a moment’s notice I can have attitude.
Here’s a juicy example with details of how my mind works. Just today I parked at the gym and next to me a young lady got out of her red car and walked to the next-door courthouse for business. I noticed my reaction:
1. Disdain: how dare she park in a private lot?
2. Anger: why should she get away with this?
3. Judgment: she should be called to task for this.
4. Wonder: why am I upset?
5. Truth 1: it’s something that I’ve done and might do again.
6. Lying: I can never get away with that kind of behavior!
7. Truth 2: The fact is I do sometimes bend rules and get away with it.
8. Saboteur: I feel “less than”, ashamed, and a victim.
9. Truth 2: she’s no different than I am, and I’m no different than she.
10. Self-talk: “Let it go and rise to your higher self; send both you and her peace and good will and have a giggle over how you make your life difficult and put blocks to unity and inner tranquility.”
11. Resolution: write about it!
I hope this sounds familiar because frankly, I don’t like feeling as if I’m the only one in the world who can be so petty. Yet embedded in this inner conversation is the fact that I sabotage unity by my own thoughts and actions. I end up living with a lack of ease and openness and therefore of peace and mindfulness.
Unity comes at a high personal price. To achieve unity I have to give up control and expectation of how the other is “supposed” to act. I must counteract a lifetime of unconscious conditioning.
Where do I find the strength to do this? Strangely I will find it by being more aware and appreciative of the limitations, weaknesses, and fragility of those around me. As I open my empathy and intuition I might perceive how similar I am to all humanity. So it is that our weaknesses and our personal suffering bring us the oneness we seek, the realization that we are in this life together and that there are no qualitative differences among us. Each person’s greatest strength, and therefore a true motivation to love, is acceptance of being as flawed as the next person.