Thursday, January 08, 2009

Laying Down Arms....

Cecilieaux left an interesting comment yesterday. He said:

It occurs to me, from this post and the previous one and the new title to you blog that you may be -- we may all be -- closer to "home" than any of us think. We're always counting the cars on the New Jersey Turnpike and thinking they're all going to look for America ... but they (and we) are all in America already.

He's right. We are closer to home than we might imagine. It is not about Thailand or America or Canada or any physical place. It's about a process.

In a metaphoric way, he defined some of the changes I've been experiencing lately. If anyone has noticed a difference here, yes, it's real. It's not your imagination.

When I said it was time for reconciliation, that comes as a result of a year's worth of internal work. In some ways, it has been like the crumbling of barriers. It has tested and challenged me at some levels I didn't feel capable of reaching.

I no longer feel at war with "the West". It's just gone. While I still have my preferences and my beliefs, I no longer feel so angry. It has taken a lot to get me to this point. Looking back, every bit of it has been worth it. For so long, I couldn't let go of my own wounds, the ones inflicted by an ideology and way of life that neither fed nor nourished me. I was spiritually starving to death. I felt so completely alone in the world. There have been people who have witnessed my pain and stepped forward to help or even just acknowledge.

It is said that to let things go, we need someone to witness our pain three times. Then we have to release it. If we don't, we're choosing to live in the past. We're choosing to live our woundedness.

I don't choose that.

Caroline Myss talks about the three stages of spiritual evolution we all go through. We go through the tribal phase, the individual phase and finally the symbolic phase. That is very consistent with many spiritual teachers, east and west.

My tribal phase was finding Thailand and Thai culture. I needed a group to identify with, a group who shared values and taught me new ones. The tribe provides us with us with a foundation for not only discovering who we are, but who will support us in finding what we need to make our lives whole. I feel firm and secure in my "tribal" identity. My trip there at the beginning of last year confirmed it. I was indeed "at home".

I've learned that common beliefs matter most of all. Ethnicity and heritage are really secondary. There are those of us who can't identify with the ethnic or cultural heritage we were born into. Nothing wrong with that at all as long as we're willing to find something that does. I firmly believe we all need a tribal identity to feel whole. It is the earth beneath our feet.

The second phase, the individual phase, comes when we feel safe enough in our tribal identity to recognize our individual traits. We begin to question.. to pick and choose. We think more critically. I've been doing this with eastern/Thai culture for some time now, looking at the things that resonate for me and the things that don't. I've grown enough to know that my tribe doesn't need to be perfect.

I'd been off-balance most of my life because the individual phase is all I experienced, skipping the tribal phase altogether. There was no foundation, nothing to balance against. Nothing to compare. So I floundered for years and years. If I wanted to allow regret into my life, it would be the years wasted that would bring it.

Finally, we reach the symbolic phase which is where I find myself now, toes barely in the water. I'm learning. And testing. This is the phase during which we are able to identify symbols, to look at them objectively and glean their meaning. We find the root principles there, root principles that are true for everyone in the world, for all cultures and all individuals. Native American culture calls this "the shamanic journey".

We find the freedom to find truth in all traditions. We don't need to discriminate. We don't need to take everything personally. We understand the things that are really about us and the things that are not.

We no longer need to be "right".

There are basic truths that fit for eastern culture, western culture or any culture. That is that we all want to love and be loved. We all want to have meaning, however we define that. We all want to have purpose. We all want to "belong" somewhere... and to some thing.

And the symbols are the same for most of us, even though we might express them differently.

This is just beginning for me so I will try to write something here when a phase begins or ends. For now, I'm basking in the peace of it all.



heartinsanfrancisco said...

Caroline Myss is a very wise woman who has helped me immeasurably to understand the truly important issues.

I'm happy to hear that you are no longer angry because I think that while anger does serve a purpose, holding onto it once that purpose has been accomplished keeps us stuck. It's also a crutch, so letting go of it requires courage as well as wisdom.

When we no longer need to be right, we are.

Anvilcloud said...

It's so hard not to need to be right. Maybe I'm getting there too -- toes in like you, although my voyage is very different.

Ruth Hull Chatlien said...

I see some similarities with my own path. Thanks for writing about Caroline Myss. I hadn't heard of her before.

Olivia said...

This sounds like a resting place, a calm time, yet a time of continued growth. Good for you, Chani. I enjoy every step of your journey. Love, O

Carla said...

Releasing anger can be such a tough thing. I struggled with that for awhile. But I feel so much more at peace since releasing it. I hope it stays that way.

hele said...

Oh, Chani, your last posts are so peaceful and beautiful. Thank you for sharing your journey with us*

Brandi Reynolds said...

honoring this shift for you.

Woman in a Window said...

Many moons ago I took part in a cross-Canadian adventure called the Peace Bus. It was a group of diverse religious people (and me) travelling across Canada and spending time with Native communities along the way. I learned very quickly that there is a common thread in all religions. I've learned the same of many other belief systems. If we allow it, we're more the same, than different.

I can only imagine where you'll go from here.

Anonymous said...

Very cool Chani.

blooming desertpea said...

I'm very glad for you, Chani. After all the pain, it's a reward to find peace.

Leann said...

I am glad to hear you are at peace.

Anonymous said...

It is so valuable to witness the journey of another. In it we find strength for our own. Thank you for expressing it so eloquently.

Rebecca said...

How completely profound. Chani, I am in awe of your process and where it has brought you. A year ago you were in a place that, from the outside, looked very dark and uninviting. Today, it looks as if you have stepped outside into the sunlight. Knowing you can and have done this will help countless others to have the courage to pursue their own enlightenment.

Blessings to you, dear friend.

Fran said...

Oh Chani, I have not been around much and was delighted to get here.

No longer be right -that is a place of peace, I even stop by there every now and then. It is where I long to settle.

I hear a difference in your tone that is very placid and beautiful, I like that.

How I always think of you and wish you peace, even when I am not here.

Anonymous said...

It's all metaphor.

I'm so glad to here you are basking in peace.

molly said...

The difference is palpable....the anger and the vehemence are gone! Sounds like a good place to be in at the start of a new year!

dmmgmfm said...

Peace...what a beautiful feeling.

Anonymous said...

Seems that you're trying to convince yourself: swansong

Angela said...

This is an incredible post, Chani, and your relief is palpable. There is something to be said for acceptance, eh? At least that's what I think I'm hearing here. Take care and much love.

painted maypole said...

i'm so glad for you.

I'm struck by what you said about needing someone to witness our pain 3 times, and then we must let it go. Where does that come from? It really rings true to me that you have to recognize the hurt before you can move on. Like the lightbulb that went off when I read that you must be willing to blame in order to forgive... you can't forgive someone if you don't acknowledge that they did something that hurt you. It's not glossing over it. It's recognizing it, even grieving it, in order to move past it.

LittlePea said...

My grandma once told me that choosing everyday not to hold to anger makes a person freer. I thought of this as I read your post. I really relate to the phases you wrote about here. I feel myself moving from one to another. Not in the order you describe but I imagine it doesn't really matter. From individual to tribal. It's a journey path that makes more sense for me because I am alwayy protecting myself from being hurt. And now I am seeking community. Actually I found one, a wonderful spiritual community where I feel freer, more comfortable than places where I sought spirituality in the past. A place where I am encouraged to question, excersise free thought and be contrary if it brings me closer to truth. And, yes, it is absolutely refreshing. And for the first time in a long time, I feel "at home."

It is as if you looked into my diary and wrote this post for me Chani, for the gazillionth time. I'm happy for you. I have noticed a tranquil wave over here lately. BTW you still have the right to get upset when need be. It's all about balance. But from the looks of things, I don't think I need to tell YOU that. You already get it.