By Dr. Stew Bittman
In speaking with many of you in the last few weeks, a common theme emerged. We embark on a spiritual path, and at first, perhaps for a long time, things seem worse. We gain awareness, and become aware that we still often make the same bad choices, and as a result feel guilty and beat ourselves up. We struggle with finding a balance, determining our priorities, keeping our focus, detaching from what we know in our hearts is not important.
As we bounce back and forth between our past conditioning and our newfound awareness, our practices bounce up and down. We exult in our up weeks, and mourn our down ones. Our thoughts still get wrapped up in our external environment, and we find ourselves saying, "cancel-cancel" constantly. We still look to the world for our joy, and are often disappointed. We still bring our old selves along. My message to you is "keep the faith and be gentle with yourself."
We went to visit Sig (Sigafoose) last weekend. He's doing great and it was well worth the trip. My cheeks are still sore from all the grinning and laughing. It was about midnight on Saturday night, and the alarm was set for 4 a.m. so we could make our 5:30 flight back home. We had gotten only a couple of hours sleep on the plane the night before. My mind was racing, as I lay in bed, wide-awake.
I began to repeat my mantra: "Creator, open and fill my heart. I see you in every face. I choose love and know your grace." Nearly immediately, I sank into the most intense spiritual experience of my life. There was no past or future, no good or bad, no me, no time, no separation, no duality. There was only Spirit, Love. Everything was one thing, not really connected, just one seamless whole. It was all a cosmic, divine soup of energy. I knew that my senses, my thoughts, and my experience merely shaped the soup into my idea of reality.
I knew that none of it was real. I knew that I could manifest anything I wanted from the soup. Tears began to stream down my cheeks. I opened my eyes, and to my surprise, nothing changed. I looked around the room and saw God. Part of my mind still wanted to label God as different things like lamps and telephones and pictures on the wall. But I had no attachment to these illusions. Then I looked over at my sleeping wife and daughter, and again saw God. I realized that Hillary and Ari and I were aspects of Spirit, manifested by Spirit in order to express and to experience. I was Spirit looking at Spirit. I knew that we as a family had been sharing our little corner of the soup for eons.
I'm not sure how long I laid there, but at some point a little voice, coming from what seemed like very far away, suggested, "maybe you better get some sleep". I was very reluctant to do that, or anything else for that matter, not wanting to interrupt my pure state of being. I consciously made a choice to "return" to my body, my identity, my me-ness.
The next thing I knew, "I've Gotta Be Me" was playing on the alarm clock radio. No, I thought to myself, I don't have to be me, but I choose to be. I choose to be me. I choose to express my gifts and talents and mission and purpose. I choose to give myself away. I choose to love everyone and everything. I choose to serve, knowing that's why I'm here. I choose to remember what I learned last night, to be diligent to that experience, and to never look at myself or at anything in the same way again.
Enlightenment is a matter of grace. And doing the work. It's a matter of remembering, and forgetting. It's a journey, and a blessing. We're all on different paths, and they're all "right." Let's not become attached to the path or to the view from it. Let's keep our hearts and our eyes peeled for Spirit. And walk in faith, knowing that as chiropractors, we make the soup more delicious for all.