If there were no limitations, such as time or money, where would you choose to travel? How long would you be gone? What route would you take? Would you go alone or with someone else?
While our chosen destinations and itineraries may be as variable as our personalities, I think there would be some fairly common themes in what we want to achieve on our dream vacation. Some may select a leisurely excursion to the most beautiful beaches in the world, while others would line up a cycling tour of the great castles of Europe. But I believe we would all seek to be revitalized and renewed by our experience. We want an adventure that will transform our lives in whatever way we most need it to be transformed.
Perhaps you want to calm your stressed psyche, restore balance to your life, or re-ignite the passion in your romance. There may be a sight you've always wanted to see or a trek you've always wanted to make that you know will help define your vision and purpose in life. You may be searching for the one thing that will fill the emptiness inside you or answer a question that has rattled around inside your soul for years.
If any of these sound like purposes you would want your dream vacation to meet, then you are reading the right book. Making a journey to the River of Truth -- the source of universal wisdom -- will do all those things and more. You might be headed to a different geographic point along the river from other travelers or use a different mode of transportation from others who make the voyage. Yet because we are all seeking essentially the same things, the process will be similar.
Deepening Our Connection with Spirit
We want to deepen and broaden our connection with Spirit, others, and ourselves through the creation of a sacred text that reflects our unique relationship with her. Capturing our story is important because we know there never has been, and never will be, another one exactly like it. We know that if we avoid this journey we cheat ourselves, Spirit, and the universe out of a richer experience. So, after careful consideration, you have decided that the River of Truth is your ideal vacation destination.
Having a solid grounding in the concepts involved in creating your personal sacred text from your journey to the River of Truth is very important. It will help you stay focused through the lengthy process and prevent you from getting lost along the way. It's hard to prepare for a journey if you do not know its nature. Therefore, we'll stop here and take a few moments to define exactly what a personal sacred text is.
According to most dictionary definitions, "personal" means individual, private, and having to do with characteristics of being a human being. For our purposes we won't stray too far from these definitions. In the context of creating a sacred text, the word "personal" has three meanings: individual, unique, and dynamic.
Personal Spiritual Beliefs and Experiences
Compiling a volume of work that reflects your spiritual beliefs and experiences is a very individual undertaking. Although you may be used to a faith tradition that values the collective experience and process, reflected in community worship services and governed by dogma and doctrine, this particular process is about your own differentiated values, beliefs, and ideas.
It is not about what anyone else thinks or feels unless that is germane to your arriving at a particular thought of your own. It is not about the blind recitation of catechism or the mindless regurgitation of facts and stories you learned as a child. When you hold your sacred text up to a mirror, you want to see your own reflection, not the "should," "ought," or "must" interpretations of anyone else.
This process is about you and your journey. It is your story of the explorations and discoveries you have made, and still want to make, about Spirit and yourself. If, in the process, you decide to own someone else's beliefs because they adequately reflect your own, that's great! The goal is to avoid adopting ideals incongruent with who you are.
Although this is a sacred text you are making solely for yourself, there may be a time, during or after its creation, that you decide to share some or all of it with a trusted friend or family member. The decision is entirely up to you.
Despite the deeply personal nature of their texts, all of my clients and workshop participants have chosen to share at least small pieces of them with others or to leave their entire texts to loved ones after their deaths. For this reason, it is important to consider potential readers when you are creating your text. It need not be a primary or significant focus, but if you wish to share your story with anyone in the world, you should consider whether it will be understood clearly.
You Are Unique
Creating a sacred text is also a unique process. There never has been, and there never will be, another human being exactly like you. Your thoughts, personality, ideas, and behaviors will go unduplicated for all of time. Consequently, no one has or ever will again have the understanding of and relationship with Spirit that you do. Your work will have a value unequal to anything else that will ever be done.
In making your selections and writing your scripture, seek to reveal your uniqueness. Boldly declare what makes you who you are, how you are different from everyone else, and what transpired in your life to create your unparalleled relationship with Spirit. Celebrate your separateness from the rest of humanity! Give the universe the gift of knowing who you are so we can all learn from your experience.
Your personal sacred text should reflect the dynamic quality of your human life. None of us is stagnant. Even if we choose to dig our heels into the dirt as hard as we can, circumstances eventually will dislodge us, dragging us into growth and change. We can embrace this or fight it, but we cannot avoid it.
Over the years as you grow and change, your sacred text, whether you intend it or not, will reflect the dynamic nature of your evolving beliefs and spiritual ideals. You may wish to make your evolution a conscious part of the story you tell. Or you may simply prefer to let it unfold on its own, an ever-flowing undercurrent in your journey to the River of Truth. The choice is yours. My only suggestion is that you welcome the evolution as a part of the process rather than choose rigidity or constancy.
Excerpted by permission of Broadway, a division of Random House, Inc.
All rights reserved. ©1999. No part of this excerpt
may be reproduced or reprinted without permission.
Create Your Personal Sacred Text
by Bobbi Parish.
About the Author
Bobbi L. Parish is currently a marriage and family therapist. A member of many professional organizations, including the American Counseling Association, she lives in Gresham, Oregon.