Monday, July 4, 2011

Independence Day

It's Independence Day here in the U.S., and I've been reflecting
all day on both the beauty and the limitations of the fierce
independence so deeply rooted in our culture.
The call to independence is, in its essence, a call to freedom, and
has been responsible for profound cultural advances from the ending
of publicly condoned slavery to the steady advancement of human
Where our spirituality is concerned, however, our attachment to
independence may be one of the greatest obstacles on our path.
As a spiritual guide and teacher, I've worked with thousands of
people aspiring to realize their spiritual potential. And, if I've
learned anything in the process, it is that to evolve on the
spiritual path, we need each other.
To truly realize our highest potentials, we need to engage in
transformative interactions with other people who share our
aspiration to evolve.
It's a simple idea. But it's implications run deep.
Notice the complexity of how it lands for you, and perhaps you'll
see what I mean.
For instance, this notion that we can't walk the spiritual path
alone may resonate with the part of you that longs for connection
and support on your journey.
But you might also notice that another part of you finds it
difficult to swallow.
In our modern world, in which independence has become almost a
religion, the notion that we need other people for anything seems
like heresy. Indeed, if we were to embrace such an idea, wouldn't
we be giving away our power, and our freedom?
When we think about traditional depictions of the spiritual path,
the picture that often comes to mind is also of a solitary,
independent journey. The lone sage on the mountaintop. The yogi
alone in the cave. The hermit in a hut. The wandering pilgrim.
Even if we attend church services or classes or meditation groups,
most of us still tend to think of our spiritual path as a private,
internal, solo quest in which we are the sole determining factor of
our own spiritual destiny.
But how independent are we really?
If you've ever attended a personal growth workshop or spiritual
retreat, you've probably noticed that in an environment where
everyone is focused on our higher evolutionary potentials, it's
relatively easy to experience a spiritual "high" or to break
through to new ground within ourselves.
But what happens when you come home from such an event, and find
yourself again surrounded by people who don't share your higher
values and aspirations?
For most of us, in the absence of a supportive social container for
our awakening, we find ourselves quickly losing touch with the new
potentials that had seemed so accessible in the retreat or workshop
Although we like to think of ourselves as independent, the reality
is that we are social creatures. Our ability to co-exist with one
another depends on our willingness to abide within a matrix of
shared values, assumptions and agreements about what is real, what
is important, and most importantly, what is acceptable behavior.
So, unless we surround ourselves with others who share our highest
spiritual values and aspirations, we will almost inevitably find
ourselves fighting against a kind of invisible but powerful "social
gravity" pulling us back into the unenlightened, unevolved "world
mind" we're trying to break free from.
It's not impossible to generate "escape velocity" on one's own.
But, for most of us, a sustained context of "evolutionary
partnership" with kindred spirits becomes essential.
Where and how do we begin to create such an environment?
Begin by asking yourself some important questions:
-Of everyone I know, who can I truly be my highest self with?
-Among my friends, family and colleagues, who truly shares my
deepest values and highest spiritual aspirations?
-Do I have any social structures in my life in which I feel free to
stretch myself--and my relationships--beyond my and our comfort
zones? To reach into new territory without being concerned that
I'll "rock the boat" or scare others off in my efforts to awaken
and evolve?
If a number of people come to mind, count yourself among the
fortunate, and then arrange a meeting with your newly identified
"evolutionary partners" to begin to create a conscious container
for ongoing evolutionary partnership.
In that meeting, make your shared agreements and values explicit.
As a starting point, I invite you to discuss with them one of the
Principles of Evolutionary Relationship I teach in my courses:
Evolutionary Relationship Principle #5:
We agree that the context for our relationship will be leaning into
our evolutionary edges. Rather than meeting in our limitations and
problems, fears anddoubts, we take a stand for meeting in the
expression of our highest potential. We take up the challenge of
showing up and engaging from that place, stretching to manifest
that potential now, and explore that potential with each other.
This is one of seven Principles of Evolutionary Relationship we explore
in my online course, but even on its own, if engaged with
sincerity, it can serve as a powerful foundation for deepening into
evolutionary partnership.
However, if your relationship inventory does not immediately reveal
a core group of potential evolutionary partners, you may need to
begin searching for a new group of kindred spirits with whom you
resonate at the deepest level.
You can do that in your local area, and thanks to the
ever-expanding power of the internet, you can also now find
community online. More and more opportunities are emerging all the
time for us to not only find loosely knit spiritual community, but
to find true kindred souls whose aspiration and focus is deeply
aligned with our own.
To our interdependence,

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