We could add a little more depth and texture to our lives by adding the sacred to the stories we tell ourselves.
We’re all storytellers, all Homers, but we spend most of our time telling ourselves a tale of woe; we’re still at Troy, rather than telling the story of the return, of redemption.
In all epics, there’s the call, the adventure and the return. Many people, because of the noise in their mind, never hear the call; some refuse it out of fear; some go and get lost; some refuse to return.
While all are important, it’s the return that’s helpful for society because it’s then we impart what we have learned to help others, to raise them up. We could spend our lives lost as sea, or finally, like Odysseus, get our bearing and find our way home.
While Homer wrote the Odyssey a long time ago, it is a modern story personal to all of us. The people we meet on our way to the coffee shop, gas station or grocery store are living that epic tale.
Where they are often depends on the expectations they have of themselves because expectations become our reality.
“The student will rise to the level of the expectations of the teacher,” said James Escalante, a Los Angeles teacher who taught calculus to troubled students who had a reputation as difficult to teach. Under his tutelage, they blossomed.
He also said: “When you know who you are you will have the answer to every challenge that life poses. When you do not remember who you are, all of life is a problem.
“Close your eyes, quiet your mind and delve into your source. Deep within you is the awareness that you are a spiritual being, perfect, whole and one with the Great Mind that created you. Herein lies the source of all healing. It is the way out of your difficulty into peace.”
That’s also the Bodhisattva path of Buddhism. When an enlightened being awakens and becomes a Buddha, he/she vows to stay on the wheel of life, death and rebirth until all people are liberated.
If a saint is willing to give up the end product of realization to help others, we should least be at willing to make that sacrifice for ourselves. We don’t have to forgo eternity, we just have to change our story and accept that we’re doing the best we can, that every day we’re getting better, better and better.
There is a certain nobility in accepting ourselves as we are and building from there, in accepting the call and going on the adventure. We might not be the smartest or the brightest, the fastest or the strongest, but we’re better today than we were yesterday.
We could, if we wish, speed up the bettering, or the unfolding, process if we added another plot line into our story and accepted that everything is sacred, every act, every thought — even the ones that seem the most profane.
That’s not easy for many of us. It takes discipline and an open mind to see the sacred in the things we loathe and fear, in the cat’s present of a dead bird on the bedroom floor at 3 a.m., the whiplash from being rear-ended, blowing the big presentation, losing a job, a spouse, a child.
But if we can make that parallax shift, it will cause a paradigm shift in how we see ourselves and the world. Remember those little box camera from a generation or more ago that had the viewfinder to the right of the lens?
If we aimed with the viewfinder rather than the lens, we only got half the picture.
There are a lot of old pictures telling half the story because we were seeing with partial sight. We don’t have to worry about taking bad pictures any more because cameras that allow us to take good near professional work are available to anyone who can point and shoot.
If we can make a switch that’s the equivalent to the change in camera technology, if we shift the mental focus of our vision, we get the big picture; we see with our whole sight, we see the sacred in the profane.
Western civilization tends to see one spot as sacred; our holy land is thousands of miles away.
Israel is a holy land, but so are India, China, Iraq, Afghanistan and the very spot that we stand on. Every spot is sacred because every piece of rock, dirt and soil is made from the building blocks that make us.
We are outcroppings of infinity, islands in the cosmic sea; we come from it, from out of its depths and to its depths we will return.
Infinity is in our blood, our DNA. Just as the drop has all the constituent parts of the ocean – although not as big or as powerful or as deep — we are a constituent part of life, all part of the whole, which is greater than the sum of its parts.
That picture comes into focus when we see with whole sight.
“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived,” wrote Henry David Thoreau.
This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.