The surfer learns to ride the waves – not by controlling the ocean but being as One with their crest and their fall – in total mindfulness.
I smile to myself as a long awaited opportunity has finally arrived. I say opportunity perhaps inappropriately, but the chronic illness that challenged my life for so many years gifted me with an understanding of life that would help me make sense of the rest of it.
My own suffering has provided not only the greatest driving force on my spiritual journey but also become my greatest teacher. Life has taught me that the only one who can change our path is the one who treads it. We may be blessed with people who love and support us, but it is for our feet to experience the terrain, alone – as willing as they may be, or as much as we may wish for them to share it.
Much of my journey and its lessons has been learnt through the guise of ill health and disability. That alone has taught me that we only learn by living life, rather than – resisting it. We all have disabilities in life, both great and small. Of all the issues that have seemingly disabled me – not all are visible to others.
Accepting The Choices We Make
My journey has been a lone one but whilst no two reflections can ever be the same, I know that I am not alone in my quest to discover its truth, or indeed, to regret some of its ‘mistakes’. The greatest wisdom of my journey is revealed through my acceptance of its truth but so too must I accept, without regret – the choices that led me to it. My belief that we choose, before birth, a path that will offer the perfect challenges for our spiritual advancement has perhaps eased the pain on the way.
Deep within us all is a sense of knowing that constantly waits in the ‘wings’, ready to be called. Sadly, only too often it is our ego that takes center stage once more, when the power of its own deceptiveness overwhelms us all.
Most of us are hesitant to believe that anything other than our self steers our ship, but few of us are ready to question – who is that self? Whilst we may be ready to accept that our unruly minds are at times in overdrive, we are reluctant to acknowledge the imposter behind the wheel.
As someone who believed herself to be devoid of such an entity, this was the hardest part of the mountain to climb, as my oblivion repeatedly fed its survival. If we are truly committed to revealing our truth we must prepare ourselves to wholly experience its own nakedness, as will be revealed by the crumbling walls of our illusionary castle. The walls of illusion can only be demolished by the awakening from our dream; having once awoken, the truth of our sleeping hours becomes but a fading memory.
Lessons Learned and Truths Revealed
When we review a passage of our life in earnest, we will begin to understand and marvel at the lessons learnt and the truths revealed by some of our most challenging experiences. We will begin to question, as I have so frequently, the divine planning of some of these experiences and their role in our awakening.
But perhaps for me, one of the most wondrous lessons of all is to know that enlightenment isn’t a state achieved by the few, but rarely attained in a lifetime. Enlightenment is an ongoing process of exposure to truth’s own illumination, the intensity of which would hurt our eyes unless we absorb it in potency, consistent with our own progress and thus, toleration of its beam.
Reflection on one’s life can only be experienced through the eyes of the beholder, yet in its telling – may kindle the spark of wakefulness in others on their journey. When I was a child, my father used to take me to ‘Speakers’ Corner’ in London’s Hyde Park. Those opportunities stirred something in me, as I saw myself in the most unlikely situation for a shy child – on a Soapbox. I spent a good part of my early life intrigued by this repeated vision, but it is only now that I understand both its meaning and the nature of my soapbox.
Being Receptive to Life's Lessons
More than twenty-five years have elapsed since major surgery heralded the beginning of a new life for me. You could be forgiven for making assumptions about my interpretation of the word new and, I hasten to say, it was not the start of effortless living and dearest dreams come true. No – for me, it was an era of awakening, prompted by the hardest lessons that would be repeated over and over again, until I finally took the message to heart and remembered its teachings.
So often I hear people glibly suggesting that the so-called negative events in our lives are but lessons offered. What a wonderful thought that is; so wonderful in fact, that if I’d known it before perhaps I would be relating a very different story now.
Life does have the potential to be our greatest teacher, but learning only takes place in the receptive student. Without honest and diligent heart searching, our lessons teach us nothing and we repeat them over and over again, along with our suffering. We learn no more than the nation that repeatedly believes the only way to freedom is by going to war – eventually, to annihilate itself in the process. Truth comes from our heart – not as words from our mouth.
Seeking Proof or Seeking Truth?
When we seek for truth in any domain in life, the academic may well adopt a much more sophisticated approach to the rest of us in order to find it – or do they? If a doctor is attempting to diagnose his patient’s condition, the common approach is by elimination. A scientist attempting to prove the efficacy of a drug or perhaps the genetic influences on certain diseases also uses sophisticated processes of elimination. These processes consist of removing, one by one, all the unwanted, superfluous data that clouds the evidence they are looking for.
When we are seeking spiritual truth – don’t we need to use a similar process? It all seems so familiar doesn’t it, but if we continue to take our inquiry solely on the path of the scientist, we may never be satisfied with our findings. So what is different about the scientist and the spiritual seeker?
Indeed, the scientist may be a spiritual seeker and he may apply the same scientific methodology to his inquiry, but the one thing he may not consider is whether he looks for truth or proof. There are many ways of proving a theory or hypothesis and that proof will also constitute its truth (which will satisfy the scientist), but as hard as we try, we will never prove spiritual truth.
We can wire people up to elaborate equipment and record all sorts of data whilst perhaps they receive healing; experience psychic phenomena; enter a meditative state and so forth. We may be able to persuade a doctor or scientist to substantiate the effects of any kind of ‘energy healing’ on the human body; these changes having been observed and documented in various parts of the world using technical imagery.
As a healer, I know only too well how satisfying it is when a person’s recovery from a life-threatening cancer has been attributed to healing. I also know the doubt that lurks in the minds of some without the relevant proof. It’s true that the disappearance of a cancer (or any other disease) concurrent with healing doesn’t prove anything, but doesn’t the disappearance of this cancer demonstrate the natural ability of our body to heal itself – unless, of course, it was wrongly diagnosed in the first place?
Shouldn’t the beauty of our physical encasement and its absolute perfection of design be at the very core of our inquiry? The more earnestly we seek, the more effectively we eliminate the unwanted data that clouds our path, until we finally unveil something that only its beholder can recognize – our Truth.
Opening Your Eyes to Your Spiritual Essence
Seeking spiritual truth and trying to make sense of life and the world therein has been an ongoing inquiry for me as long as I can remember. Even as a young child I knew there was more to life than that which I witnessed around me; our progression to a life beyond the physical body was a natural acceptance.
Once we commit ourselves to our spiritual quest, in our enthusiasm we need to guard against losing touch with the very reality that we hoped to discover. This may seem a strange thing to say but the tendency to overindulge in all things ‘spiritual’ misplaces the reality of our spiritual, physical and mental balance in life. It should be our goal to discover the beauty of that balance, even when we are subjected to the harsher challenges of life. It is so easy to sense the presence of our own spiritual essence when we are experiencing times of joy, but few of us will stop to acknowledge our presence within; except, perhaps, when we question its apparent ever-changing mood.
Our spiritual essence doesn’t of course change at all. It is constant and supporting but will always give us the free will to either experience its constant joy or – the undulant nature of our mind. It’s our unhappiness that accompanies the latter, persuading us to search more deeply as we try to liberate ourselves from the suffering it brings, thus reminding us of the perpetual wheel we are on. But we do need to accept the changes and challenges rather than believing that living a spiritual life will solve all our problems and put us in a permanent state of bliss.
We don’t have to speak of ourselves as being spiritual, which is almost like saying we are being human. Our essence is our spirit, our life force, and its purpose is to experience itself on the physical plane. To decline that opportunity is like the child who desperately wants to learn to swim. After all the brave excitement he is finally too fearful to jump in, not realizing that his water wings would save him from drowning.
Unfortunately, so many of us start off with these misconceptions and it often takes us years of experiencing, questioning and repeated disappointments before awakening to that truth. Attending meditation classes, lengthy spiritual retreats or any other kind of spiritual instruction will never make us enlightened, however painful or lengthy the process may be.
The passage to enlightenment is so simple and yet so difficult for us to attain. All that is asked of us to achieve this enviable state is to – open our eyes and wake up.
©2013 Susan Sosbe. All Rights Reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the author. Published by O Books,
an imprint of John Hunt Publishing Ltd. www.o-books.com
Reflections - Beyond Thought: The Journey of a Lifetime
by Susan Sosbe.
About the Author
Susan Sosbe is a spiritual healer, counselor and a trained nurse and teacher. She teaches meditation and facilitates self-inquiry. Through her healing clinics, talks and as guest speaker to other spiritual groups, Susan has inspired many in England and abroad to realize their own potential and discover their own path. Now living in Eastleach, UK, her commitment to the humble role as messenger of hope and peace continues. Visit her website at www.reflectionsbeyondthought.com