There is a heroism that we don’t hear much about in our modern world focused as it so often is on achievement, appearances and externals. In this overt world the hero is the one who achieves and conquers on the outer plane. But as a spiritual person I firmly believe there is a far deeper quest that can take place within the quiet, dark chamber of our own inner being and hearts. It is here where many of us are led on a far deeper battle that has more infinite value than all the riches and achievements of the outer world that at times can get in the way.
Negotiating this battle means that we begin to value our interior world and self in a loving way and set our standards on an inner level rather than set them by what is dictated to us by the outside world.
By no means do I devalue achievement in the outer world, but my true belief is that until we find and possess true inner peace and self love within our own inner world outer pursuits can often involve a running away from that which truly needs to be met and honoured and valued and known in silence.
Many of us carry deep pains in our hearts. These pains can take the form or wounds or so called deficiencies that often a result of lack of presence and attention to who we truly were in the deepest core of ourselves as children. Raised by parents who put their value elsewhere many of us began to be conditioned to seek our value outside of ourselves by changing ourselves. We can carry a deep lack of self acceptance into our teenage and early adult years as we push ourselves out of shape to fit into ideas or an ideal self that was dictated to us by others including our parents, school teachers and wider culture.
Progressively losing touch with our true self we begin to feel emptier inside. We begin to reach for things outside of ourselves that our culture tells us will make us feel better, a relationship, substance, clothes, make up, possessions, careers. Some of us who are aligned with ourselves will find contentment within these things. But those of us who have been driven out of deep alignment with our true, deeper selves will not.
The pain of this dissonance or deeper inner disconnection will drive us on to eventually crash and burn or to feeling suicidal, loaded with addictions or trapped in relationships where we get devalued, dismissed or hurt. The resultant pain we end up feeling is the inner wake up call of our soul which may have had to go into hiding many years before.
This soul in us will set up all kinds of storms and tempests in its quest to be known. It will make is presence and needs known in dreams if we can pay attention. It may make its hunger and emptiness felt when we pursue the wrong things that end up making us feel emptier. We can and must for the purposes of our recovery and healing learn to establish contact with this underground soul within us and begin to trust its small, quiet voice.
What I now believe to be a state of heaven is to my mind a way of existing wherein on any day we are in touch with those things that feed our soul. What I now believe to be a state of hell is to my mind a state of being in which we are divided and separated from the truth of our needs, feelings, sensitivities and feelings. The more we can learn to listen to and honour these the more we will find ourselves restored from the state of hell to the state of heaven within.
Many of us may have to travel down some very dark roads in our quest for contact with the true aspect of our soul. We may have an ocean of tears inside of us that we need to grieve, we may have tons of stored up garbage that we have absorbed that needs to be set alight with the fire of our anger which is the only means through which we can burn clean through to soul freedom. We should not stop until we have done this work, for if our true spirit was born for anything, it was born to shine. Our true spirits may have been dulled by so many influences in our childhoods.
As a child of the 1960s I now know just how much my own spirit was dampened by all the killing messages of a Catholic education in which self sacrifice and self negation were proposed as ideals to be striven for. Its laughable now for me to see many of the messages I received. Firstly that I was born with original sin as an innocent baby?? WTF? Second that my sins made me a bad person rather than realising that the true meaning of sin is to “miss the mark” rather than a result of any innate selfish, evil inner drive. That God was a God of punishment who was constantly keeping a tally on me to see where I fell short in order to punish me.
Writing this now I see that this kind of thinking also set me up to get into recovery in a group where I was told to inventory all my so called ‘defects of character’. The consistent focus in these groups was less on what was right with me than with a list of all the things that were wrong. My own low self esteem took to this kind of programme like a duck to water. I can almost now see the metaphorical cat of nine tails I began to lash myself with. Its really only in the last 6 or so months that I am seriously learning to put down the whip and treat my true soul with the mercy, empathy and compassion it truly deserves. What has helped me most have been the loving consistent gaze of a therapist who can mirror my true self and guide me when I lose my way on the path of self care and self value. Also those here in the cyber world who share their own deep truths and pain and consistently and lovingly validate my own. From the depths of my heart thank you.
I now see that for me lack of heroism was not about failing to achieve in the outer world, but more about continuing to remorselessly judge myself by inappropriate standards, standards dictated externally rather than internally. After so many years of darkness and struggle I am finally beginning to see my own goodness and value and innocence.
Somewhere along the way I lost touch with my soul, what it was, what it needed. In later months I feel that deep soul in me waking up and returning me to a life filled with hope, light and love, a life in which I can bear the pain of grief and in bearing it allow it to restore me to my true self. For that opportunity I am now able to feel a gratitude beyond words. I feel a peace in my soul and a deeper awakening to a powerful voice inside that loves me unc0nditionally and is learning through that love to risk and open more to a life of value that is dictated by a stronger inner compass. This for me is the true heroism.