This time of the year, as some of us celebrate Christmas, others Yule, others Hanukkah, others Winter or Summer solstices, and others just Holidays or no holidays, is a beautiful opportunity to go deep into the sacredness of the present moment, within or beyond a particular religious attachment while honoring each and every one of us.
Embracing a spiritual path is first and foremost committing to our self-healing, the healing of our soul, to open to the infinite potential of Love in its highest form: unconditional love.
For me, on the shamanic path, and coming from a Christian culture, it means not only honoring my ancestors and my birth land but also all my relations and the land I am the actual caretaker. It is something I can only do with ease if I detach from trying to be “right” and instead aim to be open to the very freeing unjudging potential of my heart.
Often people get quite passionate (which is fine) yet tighten their heart over what a particular holy day means to them and their tradition. I see this in religious people, in pagans, in spiritual people, and in atheists. Each and everyone criticizing the “others” by reminding them how “better” is their belief, their traditions, their culture. We attack the Christmas tree, debating it is not Christian but an old Siberian Shamanic symbol. We attack “Christ” by explaining how Christianity is evil. We attack atheists who refuse to believe there is a God. We attack Pagan in mocking them to honor Nature.
We attack because we somehow believe that our belief needs approval from others or that we have a mission to make others believe as we do (because we have the truth and they don’t…).
Yet, wherever we stand, religious faith, spiritual belief, atheism, agnosticism, I believe and have experienced that we will never access Truth about the Self, and the Divine if we limit ourselves to a box unless that box is framed in infinite unconditional love and acceptance of our differences.
There is ultimately no right or wrong when it comes to our relationship with the creator. Each and every one of us needs to find meaning in a form that makes sense to us. For some it is in a forest, for others, it is in a church or a temple, and for others, it is in serving or loving the unlovable.
I have received lifesaving wisdom from Elders, from Pastors, from Rabbi, from Atheist, from the Fire, from the Rivers, from Sacred Medicines, from my wounds, and from my car mechanics!
This does not mean that anyone is immune to separation, fear, anger, pain and attacking others because they are not as we think they should. Walking the Spiritual path, in any form or shape, is our commitment to eradicate the ignorance. That is the real enemy. The falseness of separation. The demons of the Ego. The addiction to fame, wealth, and power. Anything that separates us from an all creating God, from the great Mystery.
The wars between religions have definitely created deep trauma and horrific events in our communities. Some to tremendous scale. As well as the wars between the faithful and the unfaithful, and between unfaithful over resources and lands. This is a story as old as humanity. Thousands of years before the big religions were born, humans were already fighting each other over which Gods to worship, which worshipping places or ways were “right” and what the definition of sacred should be. This happened over each continent bringing wars and conflict over resources and power. It is a human trait more than a specific “other” race/faith/culture issue. Those conflicts even if often of a very much smaller scale, have happened even in the depth of the Amazon forest between tribes.
So, what can bring us together on those holy days? On each and every day of our lives?
I believe it is the very hard work to witness and work on all the ways we embody that separate us from “the others”. Every attempt of the Ego to judge the others in order to create a sense of powerful self. Every feeling inside of us that pushes us to want to judge other people's behaviors.
We need first to find that place of unconditional love for ourselves. A place that can shine through our words, actions, and ways, into the whole world. We need to choose love over and over again. We need to remember Love over and over again.
It is the work of a lifetime. Of many lifetimes. As for sure many things will come our way to test our embodiment of that prayer. someone will criticize us. Will we still feel unconditional love for that person? A traumatic life event will create pain, anger, and resentment. Will we still feel unconditional love for all there is?
So, this work starts here & now. Beyond our religion, faith or belief. At the very moment, that very breath, that keeps us alive. Being deeply in tune and aware of our body sensations. Of all the ways we have to numb ourselves. Of all the ways we have to bypass spiritually, emotionally and physically the discomfort of the inner confused fighting Ego. Of all the ways we are looking for approval either in dimming our voice or in trying to have our words be the ultimate truth.
The Heart will keep whispering. Will we keep listening?
The Ego will keep being triggered. Will we keep softening?
Softening, Listening, Opening, Loving, are not owned by any religion, any spiritual belief system, any individuals or groups. It is a human superpower, embedded in our Spirit, wired in our nervous system. We can consciously tap into it, or unconsciously avoid it.
We can argue about the meaning of Christmas, the better-ness of our ways, the purity of our practices, but we cannot argue that we have work to do when it comes to loving all our relations unconditionally. It is something we have to keep working on. As a Lakota Elder told me this past summer “We have to learn to be good relatives”. And then he added, “And it is hard to be a good relative”.
I pray that whatever the Trees or Rivers, Gurus or Idols, Prophets or Buddhas, Gods or no-God, Angels or Unicorns you and I will be praying to today, that we will all aim towards that home. That Love. That coming together beyond all forms and all ways. That coming together for ALL our relations.
Because ultimately, we will only experience liberation when we will have perfected this beautiful prayer alone within and all together.