I once had a friend who was a great performer. He sang, he played the guitar, the piano, the drums, and did just about anything associated with music. He had actually been a professional singer in the 50s. He sang a lot of music by people like the Silver Platters and the Ink Spots. He did a lot of Raggae and a lot of Calypso. He was talented enough to do just about anything.
One day he found God and became a very religions person. He quickly left his musical career and began to study all types of esoteric documents wanting to enlightened the people who lived in darkness to “the way of and to God. " He had been at it for almost forty years when I met him. One day he just threw his hands up and cried out, " Forty years! What happened to the last forty years!" He was devastated as he realized that had put his life on hold waiting for God to come back and take him out of the world. He was living with the expectation that the world would end any minute for forty years. This man had given up everything, because his spiritual leaders told him he should. He had given up his first love, music and singing, and now he was left with nothing. He had the gift and the talent, but he didn't use it, because he wasn't supposed to, according to them.
I don't know what happened to him. He moved to another city and then disappeared. I haven't seen him since. One thing that I do know is that he learned a hard lesson from the whole episode, but it was a painful lesson. The lesson was to live in the present and to trust in one's own spiritual experiences. He had been putting off living in the present. He had ignored all of the good things about the world, like the ability to create beauty through his music and performing. That wasn't part of their spirituality.
He was constantly living for the future and only bearing the present. He was waiting to be taken away into paradise. During the few times I saw him sing and heard him play, he was living in the past. He was never living in the now. Only the realization that he had wasted his life for the last forty years brought him to the present and gave him the opportunity to let go and start over. He hadn't really wasted his time, but is terrible that he couldn't find this truth some other way. I think that the important thing for human beings who are seeking to grow mentally, physically, and spiritually, is to make sure they don't have to go through as much as he did to find truth.
It is very important to be able to find it using our heads. We can learn from other people's mistakes without having to make them ourselves. If we are intelligent and observant we can figure what results our actions are going to bring. We have a brain so that we can visualize things. We can imagine various scenarios sometimes and figure out exactly how a course of action will turn out if we pursue it. We will still make mistakes, of course. It is only human to do so, but taking forty years to learn is horrible. I think, therefor, that it is good for the human being to work on how to learn faster.
How do we learn faster? By being willing to let go of belief systems that don't work. We learn faster by washing away the false, the ideas that feel good to us, or support our egos, so that we can begin to live in reality, no matter how frightening or painful it may be. The Taoist speak of this as shaking off false ideas and illusions like panning for gold or jade. While looking for jade or gold we run the water over the pan slowly and shake it lightly. We shake off the stone and the loose gravel carefully and purposefully, and then all that is left is the gold, or the jade. Where did it come from? It has been there all the time, but hidden by the dirt and gravel.
If we purposefully use our energy on the inside we can shake off greed, shake off misunderstanding, shake off wrong ideas about people, and the way the world is. We can shake off the false identity, the false beliefs that we have about who we are and then we will be left with just the gold, or the jade. Where does it come from? It was there all the time.
It is there, but we need to work to find it. We need to work in order to learn faster. One has to be in a deep rut to take forty years to learn something isn't working. Some people even take longer. Some people have lived their whole lives and have died believing what wasn't true. It is important, therefor, to work to smooth out the ruts and live with our minds still, and smooth like the reflection of the moon floating on a dark smooth lake. Even if the lake becomes troubled and waves rise up, the reflection of the moon is still and at peace. Even so, the human being can calm his mind, so that it will be still. In the midst of turmoil, the midst of struggle, and the fight to hold on to our real identities, we can be still. We can live in reality with our feet firmly planted on the earth, our heads the heavens, and our hearts and heads melded together so we are whole individuals. We will then ever learn the truth and will someday realize that we, and the lives that we live when we live them fully, are the truth that sets us free.
Dr. John W. Gilmore is a writer, a spiritual director, a certified healer, a martial arts instructor, and an ordained minister. To read more articles like this visit this ezine or our free Practical Spirituality Journal at http://www.dswellness.com . There you can explore our website in detail and our absolutely free Circle of Creation Spirituality and Stress Reduction 101 at our cyber school.
Reunion of Souls, Dr. John W. Gilmore. A book of deep spirituality in Sci-fi form.