Shards of The Shattered Ego Reflecting Countless Arms of Compassion
posted by Roman Hanis on August 20th, 2016
We recently completed another Embodying True Nature Retreat cycle and we’re inspired to share some reflections on the retreat process while they’re fresh in our hearts and minds.
The purpose of the indigenous transformation retreat is not to instantly solve life's problems for us, but to change our relationship with those situations we consider to be problematic. In this way, obstacles can be recognized as essential elements in one's life that hold the solution and the key for deeper illumination and sustainable happiness.
Thus the breakdowns that can happen when facing these struggles head-on become vital occurrences for major personal breakthroughs. The retreat itself is a journey into the spirit realm that’s considered by the teachers of our lineage as a map of life. It’s an express miniature version of life presenting in a recognizable way the various stimuli, triggers, reactions and habitual patterns of the conditioned identity. Facing the flimsy conditioning in a disciplined way exposes it as illusion of smoke and mirrors and offers a glimpse of the incredible enlightened potential of the true self beyond the egocentric veils - and what a difference that way of being can make in daily existence!
The comfort zone ends here
The difficult, irritating or "unbearable" situations that inevitably arise during the retreat have the potential of humbling the conditioned ego; an essential prerequisite in all ancient traditions for the union-mystica, or evolutionary metamorphosis to take place.
With this great pressure and spiritual propulsion enhanced by the alchemical environment of a mountain sanctuary away from home, powerful realizations are possible. The conditioned ego, responsible for many of these blockages can be liberated from the narrow, narcissistic limitation of viewing the whole world as revolving around itself. It stops taking everything that happens so personally, and obstacles that previously held such sway over one’s life dissolve as the heart instantaneously finds an unlimited capacity of openness, forgiveness, love, and compassion.
Usually however, this does not happen instantly. The ego must first exhaust the projectile blame of personal misery on the outside and with ever-deepening humbleness take full responsibility for all the garbage it’s accumulated over the years.
This garbage (such as emotional baggage, personal hang-ups, unhealthy habits or patterns of thought) can then gradually compost into the fertile soil out of which the maturation of consciousness nurtures the heart flower into full bloom; hence the expression "no mud, no lotus". Taking full responsibility means that one can no longer dwell in the victim mentality of circumstance, and while still experiencing some of that misery, start to make peace with it.
A new chapter in your life
This type of practice is instrumental to removing the judgment of oneself and others, in addition helping find true forgiveness in a way that creates effortless compassion. Seeing how “obstacles” are fertile ground for growth, and making peace with one's past, the ego suddenly becomes a humble servant of the true nature inherent in all existence. It recognizes that it’s been living in denial and actually revolving around the true nature all along, and with that recognition the transformation process truly begins.
As a practice, it’s natural that life won’t be perfect right away after any retreat, no matter how powerful the insights into one’s life are. Yet through intentional, continuous effort to apply these newly discovered ways of being, the detrimental momentum of habit that’s so easy to build up over time can finally be reversed.
This is the nature of the integration process. When the spiritual rite of passage that these indigenous retreats represent is crossed, the lessons learned must be consciously applied in life, each and every day. It’s not a quick fix, but rather a deep insight into how to live like a human being. And that’s something that requires perseverance and commitment within a lifelong journey with a fascinating, perpetual destination.
But is all the work really worth it?
There are several common questions that arise in our modern collective, a good example of which might be: well, is it really worth all this effort? The mind is very stubborn and continues to fall back into its old habits. So if that’s true, what does it actually mean to be liberated? Can that help to maintain the center of love and compassion to all sentient beings under all circumstances? What if all these views are not even true and, after the death of the physical body, everything will be not as we've imagined it?
I can only speak from personal experience. And what I’ve realized so far in my life is that total liberation entails a continuously deepening understanding that each moment is a manifestation of will power to the highest purpose and fulfillment of the most profound heart wishes; a recognition that’s so deep, it burns through to the marrow of one’s bones.
In this way, the only reality that makes my life worth living is the essence of the impartial, unending and pure love that’s cultivated through inner peace, reconciliation and acceptance of oneself for the sake of everyone. And this can only come from an acknowledgement of one’s life not as a personal possession, but a gift of Mother Nature to the whole Universe, inside and out.
The fulfillment, gratitude and joy experienced as a result of this way of being overflows to such a degree that it naturally ripples outwards into the world. And when I can see the positive effects not only on myself, but also the people in my life who in turn share their well being, all the work is most certainly more than worth it. A labor of love that's a result of divine mystical union between complementary forces of wisdom and compassion inseparable.