image credit: paras
My experience of asking myself the question, “What ails you?” is a common one for many at some stage in life, but the way I went about seeking the answer and living it was unique to me, as it is for everyone who ventures into this avenue on their life’s journey. In Crossing To Avalon by Jean Shinoda Bolen MD, she mentioned pregnancy and childbirth as a rite of passage. I was able to relate to that in the light of my own experience.
It was shortly after I gave birth to my daughter that I went through an inner turmoil that may have been what in medical jargon is called postpartum depression. Pregnancy and child-birth is a form of initiation into the mystery of life. Our culture focuses on the baby; what sex it will be, and the usual stories that mothers swap about motherhood and child-rearing. What people don’t talk about or are not aware of, is the major changes that a woman experiences through this rite of passage from maidenhood to motherhood. I knew that there was a lot more that happened to me on a soul level than just suddenly being responsible for another being’s life. I had no reference for it, but I knew that the stirrings that were occurring were not just bio-chemical changes due to having given birth.
My story was similar to the typical seeker’s lament at the start of the spiritual healing journey. On the outside, my life was perfect, but my inner world was like a cataclysmic event; a flood-gate was opened to confused emotions. Things that brought me pleasure in the past, failed to assuage my disappointment, but disappointment in what? It is probably at this point that most people turn to medication to bring things back into balance. I knew that was just a band-aid treatment, I needed to find out what this was about. I took a trip on my own, back to my birth place, thinking because I was happy there, I would be able to get some of that feeling back. What I got from my trip was not the old pieces of me that I thought I could somehow gather up and put me back together again.
As in so many narratives of the spiritual seeker’s journey, what happened was a number of synchronistic events that led to my meeting people who led me to books, to teachers, to kindred souls; the usual pointers that one gets at the beginning of the journey.
My initiation through pregnancy and childbirth quickened a spiritual awakening that was seeking expression, and was hankering for my conscious awareness through the inner turmoil in my mind. That was almost thirty years ago and though I have been a diligent seeker, with an intense passion more than average I think, I am still here, unenlightened as many imagine it. I am convinced that the journey is the destination. It is the letting go of judgment of myself and others, the acceptance of my imperfection, the offering of loving-kindness to myself and others for being human. I have many enlightened moments and I live with a contentment in my soul, an appreciation for my life and my experiences. I have given up striving for enlightenment, instead I look for the love and the truth in my daily experience. If there is such a thing as enlightenment where one is continuously established in that state, then if that is my destiny it will happen.
The question, “What ails you?” is the beginning of the soul’s journey, the return path to wholeness. The return path takes us in many directions, each according to our inclinations. I do not believe that there is any one right way, but we do have to be aware of the illusion of spirituality. Many people hang out in the world of magic, the occult, communicating with the spirit world etc. thinking that this is spirituality. The test of whether what you are engaged in is the truth, is that it changes how you feel about yourself and others. Does it open your heart, do you feel a quiet peace and inner joy that is independent of outer circumstances, do you see the world with a perspective of the manifestation of divinity, are you able to feel a sense of connection that is your own strong center? You will not have this experience all the time, of course, especially in the beginning when the ego is putting forth much resistance to change, but you do get glimpses of it as you start the process of letting go of all that is not truth.
What ails you is the wound that is caused by your feeling of separation from your divine aspect. It is the question and the answer. When you continue to explore the question, you come to know that the joy, the peace and the beauty of life that is missing is what ails you and it is also the answer you seek. When you come to ask yourself, “Who am I?” the journey takes you further along on the path to finding out that truth.