The Journey to Acceptance

Posted: June 3, 2015 in Doing Good Works

About seven and a half months ago I experienced a very real spiritual awakening. Two months ago I became homeless on purpose. What a roller coaster ride my life has been – and I wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world. I’ve learned so much about myself, about others, and about God. It’s been the most challenging, but amazing experience of my life.

Yesterday I was speaking with a woman who works as an emergency room sociologist. We were having a lovely conversation about spiritual matters over at the Baha’i museum. When we began talking about my experiences with alcoholics, drug addicts, and the mentally ill while living on the streets, I told her “imagine if your patients could visit you in your living room day or night”.

Don’t get me wrong – I truly do love everyone I come into contact with. I work very diligently to keep my heart open to them and embrace them with compassion and understanding. It does not matter who they are or how confused they may be. But I’ve gotten to a point in my journey now where the primary lesson pertaining to my homelessness has now been absorbed – I can’t help anyone but myself.

When I moved into my apartment back in November, I’d pretty much started going out and spending time with the homeless right away. I began to learn who people were, gave them food, clothing, blankets, gear, etc. I spent my nights sitting with them and listening to their stories – just being there, just being present with them. I learned so much.  I thought this was just the beginning.

When I set out to become homeless, there I was with this wonderful thought ‘I’m going to save these people!’ I honestly thought that I’d be able to round people up, teach them meditation, lead large homeless meditation groups, enlighten everyone, establish a collective community that took in unused food and picked up trash throughout the neighborhood. My fantasy was quite elaborate.

I’ve been honest and transparent throughout my journey, so there’s no point in holding back on why I thought this. I was suffering from an enlightened ego, or a messiah complex. Trying to explain why this occurred, or how it reinforced itself would be difficult. Synchronicity kept pointing me in the direction of a divine mission. However, life kept telling me the truth of things.

After two months on the streets, what I know now is that I cannot help anyone that does not want to be helped, and – sadly, most people do not want to be helped. Over the past week or so I’ve finally gotten myself to a place of acceptance. I’ve learned to accept that the world is exactly as it is supposed to be and that I’m not here to do anything or save anyone – I’m here to just be.

All I can do is work on me; continuing to challenge myself and deepening into my experience ever further. In doing so I am creating spaciousness around myself and within myself that can be used to hold others in a compassionate soul embrace. But this is a one-on-one or small group dynamic, in person. I cannot enfold the world in my embrace – I can only influence what is in my field of now.

Even then, it is up to each person to decide for themselves if they have the will to press into themselves in a manner similar to what I went through – and what so many other awakened beings have been through when it was their suffering that jettisoned them into the sphere of greater conscious awareness. I can point in the direction of the journey and describe what to expect, but that’s it.

I tend to talk to about 3 to 5 people each day. Some of these conversations are very in depth and some are very high level – some people have come back again several times. Only a small handful have actually taken what I say to heart – for the most part the rest just continue to intellectualize everything, or use some of what I share as a rationalization for bad behavior.

Then there are the people that are drunk, high, insane, or all three at once. There’s the overwhelming drama of street life. The constant threat of theft and violence. I’d say that individually none of this bothers me – in fact I just breathe my way through most of it without issue. But after two months of this, I’ve gotten to the point where I can no longer handle the combined weight of it all.

It’s lovely to engage for hours with a deeply aware human being about their journey as I help them step through things that were still confusing to them – and I watch as their eyes light up and they get clarity in terms of the direction they want to move in next. But for every one of them there’s also one person who is completely life draining to engage with.

Again, as one offs this is no big deal, but as a whole, continually, day to day? As I told the ER socialist “imagine if your patients could visit you in your living room day or night”. And when they come to seek me out? It gets even more challenging. Through it all I simply breathe and keep my heart open to them, taking it all in and doing the best that I can guide them toward their own spiritual journeys.

But after two months of this it’s become clear to me that all I can do is be present in my own life. There’s no need for me to continue to subject myself to this life. As I said, I thought I was saving the world – as it turns out, the world was saving me. By surrendering myself to the homeless life I opened myself up to a level of growth that was incredible. Within it, I’ve learned true acceptance.

With this in mind, I’m beginning to restructure things in a way that will take me off the street and into a new chapter of my journey. I am not sure what I will do next, but I think it will include an effort to reintegrate into my profession and work to earn a living again. I may save up and go back to school some more, or travel, or – anything really. I just know that it’s time to get off the streets.

I’ll tell you again though – choosing to become homeless for two months has taught me life lessons that I could never have imagined – or encountered – or learned, any other way. As much as the street has been challenging, it has also be a profoundly eye-opening experience and taught me so much about what compassion really is, what it really means, and how to hold onto it amidst the darkness.

I now accept the darkness for what it is – it’s supposed to be there. It’s for them. I had my darkness. I carried it with me for most of my life. They are still carrying theirs. But my karmic journey is one filled with many blessings. In fact I realize now that my entire life has been blessed – even within the darkness. Whatever I did in my past lives to earn these blessings – who knows.

So as I look forward to this next chapter I will be reaching out in multiple directions to figure out how to live an authentic life filled with love, compassion, wisdom, honesty, integrity, and hard work – with every moment of my life dedicated to the glory of God. Whatever is next, I am open to it and I welcome what ever new lessons will arise from it.

If there’s anything you can take away from this and use within your own journey – it’s to never let fear prevent you from moving forward. Not fear of the darkness, or difficulty, or making mistakes. Just do what feels right on your heart, trying always to move in the direction of love and kindness for yourself, for others, and for the world. Do this and you can’t go wrong. It starts with loving yourself though 😉

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