“You are beautiful.” “You are love.” “You are light.” “Whatever you can imagine can be yours.” I am fed up of reading these feelgood assertions, offered as a placebo and generously sprinkled with glitter and fairydust. There is nothing wrong with the words themselves, but I grow increasingly frustrated by the way they are often used.
They have become buzzwords that frequently appear in articles designed only to reassure and placate, to stroke the ego. They often come with a promise of enlightenment to the reader while implicitly asserting the spiritual superiority of the writer. They are understandably popular concepts and they are everywhere.
Such articles can be demoralising, having the opposite effect of how they appear to be intended. Reading many of them, you could be forgiven for thinking that you are at fault for not having already realised your full potential. All too often, they seem to portray the goal of the spiritual quest as a treasure you should already be holding in your hand and yet what do they do to help you find your way?
Such articles often suggest that you need only follow the words of a particular leader to reach your own, private Nirvana where all the treasures of the universe are yours…and a good many such leaders have grown rich on the aspirations of their followers. All you need to do is believe…
If it were that simple, we would all have attained…well, everything already.
Map created by Robert Louis Stevenson for Treasure Island
The problem is, I happen to believe that all those assertions are true. That ultimately, it is that simple. But simple and easy are not always the same thing and the idea of hard work and commitment does not make a great selling point.
Imagine that you are given the key and the deeds to a vast building. You are told that whatever you find within its walls is yours to keep forever…and that scattered around inside is the greatest treasure ever known. It is yours, there for the taking. You put the key in the lock and open the door… and find the dark interior of the building to be a bewildering maze of passages, piled floor to ceiling with junk, cobwebs and dark, scary shadows.
Technically, you are already rich beyond your wildest dreams. You now own the building, because you hold the deeds and the key. You also own everything within it, including that fabled jewel. But it won’t do you much good until you sort through the rubbish, banish the shadows and actually find the treasure. The only way to do that is to roll up your sleeves and get to work.
Wading through decades of junk is never going to be a pleasant job, nor an easy one. You don’t know what you might find… and there are always the lurking, disquieting shadows. You cannot even let the light stream in to help your search until you have cleared a path to the window. Trying to locate any single object, let alone a unique jewel, in such an environment, is worse than looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. It will take time, effort and dedication to have the slightest hope of success. It could take a lifetime to make enough room to see your way.
Unfortunately, for most of us, this is the reality we face when we choose to begin walking the paths of spirit. Whatever path we choose, be it magical, mystical, or religious, there needs to be a dedicated clearing of the accumulated detritus of a lifetime… a sifting through all that mind, heart and memory holds in order to find the treasure that has been ours all along. For most of us, this is a long, hard task. But, the more junk we clear, the easier it becomes to see where we are and to find the reflected glimmer of gold as the light seeps in.
Simple…but not easy.
That is what bothers me with the placebo assertions. They are all true… but they are not the whole story.
Few indeed are blessed with the Grace of revelation. Most will have to plough onwards steadily, though the job would be much easier if you knew where to begin. If you had the proper tools and a little friendly help. An extra pair of hands, a torch…or even a treasure map… all would help the work along, making it easier and less of a lonely task. That is where genuine teachers, guides and systems, can make a difference. Not to do the work for you, but to show you how and where to look, lend you a hand and equip you with the tools for the search. Even a map.
But whether you choose to accept that helping hand or choose to work on your own, you are never alone. There is help for the dedicated seeker; like Tolkein’s Ring, the treasure wants to be found. As soon as you start looking, it begins to call to you, guiding you in quiet whispers to where it may be found.