by Sandra Bray
Going on means going far. Going far means returning. – Lao Tsu in the Tao Te Ching.
Confucius said, ‘Our greatest glory is not in never falling but in rising every time we fall’. But just how do we rise? We all have our own stories of bad luck, of unfortunate decisions and having the stuffing knocked out of us for one reason or another. And these experiences range from teacup storms to tumultuous crises, leaving us pondering when the light at the end of the tunnel is ever going to appear so that our spirits can start lifting. However, what if we can use our own inner light as that beacon to lift ourselves? What if we no longer look for the light at the end of a tunnel and instead seek changes in our inner selves?
Sir Thomas Brown, a philosopher and physician, said, ‘We carry within us the wonders we seek without us’. Seeking those wonders can take us on a rollercoaster ride but it is achievable, whether we have just lost our usual sparkle or whether we are overcoming a major life event.
Our inner selves recognise that sometimes falling in the first place could be considered a life lesson; after all, the tide cannot flow into the shore unless it has ebbed out first. Perhaps it is useful for us to experience badness in our lives occasionally so that we can appreciate goodness. Time can reveal that a fall has been a blessing in disguise for, if we have not been listening well to the universe and our part in it, we can be thrown off-balance with the rug pulled from under us. What we thought was a perfectly acceptable way of living can suddenly become destabilised, bringing about great change. At such times we may be reminded that we have held on too long to baggage and the general jetsam of life, which has bogged us down and kept us stagnating. Once we work through or clear this baggage, it is possible for us to become freer and shift our trajectory to a brighter and lighter way of living.
We may have a jaundiced view of our predicament initially and it can take a while for us to transform our perceptions. But if we strive each day in seeking our true inner selves then it is certainly possible to find a new path. Finding this new path does not necessarily mean becoming ‘the new celebrity on the block’! It does mean living our lives as the best that we can be, living each day as true human beings, caring, sharing and loving. Yes, relationships may have changed and we may no longer be in our once familiar home. But home is within us, love is within us and compassion is within us; when we recognise these powerful energetic qualities and genuinely express our gratitude for life, then the new path can shine brightly and we shall attract brightness in turn.
We might also consider the effects of karma: maybe in another time we planned this current life deliberately with the intention of experiencing a different role, in order to understand the varied rhythms of being human. We may have led a life of ease and prosperity in a previous life, for example, but this time around such things evade us until we have worked through our karmic issues.
It is not easy! We may have to dig deep in pulling ourselves away from a defeatist mind-set and setting course for our strong inner core. But consider the sailor who requires rough seas in order to hone seamanship skills; so also do we require choppy waters in which to learn and to grow. If life were a continuous bowl of cherries, how could we grow? How could we expand our minds and learn all that living on this wonderful planet has to offer if we did not experience testing times? We may make errors along the way, of course, but as the American diplomat Edward John Phelps said, “The man who makes no mistakes does not usually make anything.” In our pursuit of a wonderful life and making things happen, mistakes will occur – but we can learn from these.
Even when a chasm opens up, or a war of attrition with others leaves us floundering in emotional turbulence, our lives do not cease. At such times it is even more important to become aware of ourselves as loving energy capable of rewriting our previous rules and releasing ourselves from concrete thinking. We can live and work in tandem with others, with Mother Earth and with the universe. We can update our blueprint to one of self-honouring and of honouring others, having self-respect and respecting others. We can find our joy in life again, find our passion again, align ourselves anew with what gets us rocking and rolling. Becoming a beacon ourselves, rising after a fall, naturally encourages others too. The energetic vibration from our rising sends a pulse of love, kindness, gratitude and compassion out to the universe – and the universe could do with more of that. This energy radiates out and touches Mother Earth, the creatures and plant life and the very air we breathe.
So how do we rise to this state of being after having fallen? We must actively seek out and embrace life-affirming patterns of spiritual behaviour: practices, activities, rituals, meditations, work with crystals, connections with others and connections with nature that empower new beginnings. Trying these things may lead to new beginnings we had never considered before, to practices and people that transform us, returning us to our true selves.
About the author: Having herself suffered life crises, Sandra Bray followed her own advice and her debut book offers nearly two hundred suggestions of spiritual activities that can help us reconnect with our inner selves and discover new paths.