2017 was the year my desire disappeared and came back different.
I was lying in bed, listening to a Rupert Spira recording* before going to sleep, when something he said caused tears to bubble up through my eyes and seep in a warm, contented trickle down my cheeks.
Someone had posed Rupert a question that had been on my lips for months. It was a question around the whole concept of 'create your own reality' and if and how that idea fit into an understanding of our true nature.
Here's a transcription of the man's initial question:
"We know that thoughts create, so does this sort of technique and this ability to 'create our reality' with a small r, fit into this kind of a system, this kind of a practice, where we're really trying to awaken from the dream rather than just improve upon it, which is what it seems to me so much of this 'create your reality', The Secret, and things like that, are about - making the dream better, but not really awakening from the sense of separation that requires us to improve the dream in the first place. Do you have any thoughts about that?"
Let me backtrack a little with you:
You might remember this post in which I wrote about the time my friend asked me, "What would make your life even better?"
In response, I burst into tears and told her, "Nothing. There isn't anything I want. Everything is perfect. Life is perfect. There isn't anything that could make this any better."
I think they may have been the happiest tears I've ever shed. There was such a sense of wanting nothing. A deep contentment with everything just as it was and a true knowing inside that my absolute happiness depended on nothing outside of myself.
We were on holiday at the time. There were the three of us who'd met on an apprenticeship programme in our early days of building our coaching businesses. The holiday cottage we were staying in had an art studio next door and we had free access to use the space and all the materials that were available. The plan since before the holiday had been to use the studio to do some dreaming and craft our vision boards for what we wanted to create in our lives.
Sitting down to start, I already sensed this wasn't going to work and sure enough, I gave up shortly afterwards, unable to bring myself to put anything down on the sheet of paper in front of me. Everything I came up with felt forced, superficial and just kind of meaningless.
I'd been in a sort of tango with this lack of wanting for a while. It had been a slippery slope of declining desire since the summer of 2016, when I first awakened to the illusion of separation.
I'd spoken with my friend about it frequently, since she was experiencing much of the same. I found myself stuck between these two narratives. On the one hand, there was such contentment in wanting nothing and on the other, the old patterns of operating were having a hard time accepting what was going on and letting go. After all, the foundation for most of the coaching and personal development world is centred around questions like:
What do you want?
What do you want to create?
What's missing in your life?
What would make your life even better?
I felt a little lost at sea when these questions no longer made sense and I repeatedly tried to go back to what I knew, hoping, perhaps, that I could override or forget the deeper truth that now lived inside my heart. But I found that was an impossibility. The disconnect was too great.
Over the course of 2017, everything relating to desire and what I wanted to create in my life continued to shift and whilst the changing landscape wasn't neatly segmented over time, I could put it something like this:
- A period of internal discomfort as my old understanding of desire and creating the life I wanted bumped up against the new feeling of not wanting any of the things I'd previously wanted.
- A period of deep contentment and feeling that there was nothing at all to do and just kind of floating around in the beauty of life.
- The re-emergence of desire and a strong feeling of there actually being much to do but with a decidedly different quality.
Which leads me to the part of Rupert's response that brought tears of recognition and relief to my eyes. We all know that feeling when someone puts something into words that you've been thinking and feeling but haven't heard articulated out loud:
"Yes. Waking up to your true nature is just - if you were to write a book and let's say the book had twelve chapters in it - waking up to your true nature comes at the end of chapter one, or let's say chapter two. It comes early on in the story. There's so much more to be done after. Waking up to our true nature is just the beginning. The beginning of a new life in which we still think and feel and act and perceive and relate. We still have desires but our thoughts and feelings and subsequent activities and relationships are now no longer in the service of the sense of separation, always seeking happiness for itself and trying to protect itself. The thoughts and feelings and subsequent activities and relationships of a mind that is becoming free of the sense of separation, are now in the service of intelligence, love, justice, peace etc.
Rupert's words, so closely describing my own experience, were such a comfort to hear. As the heart and mind awaken, becoming free of the sense of separation, there seems to be such a profound and unshakeable calling to serve the whole in new and deeper ways.
Of course, there was always a desire to serve. I think that's true for all of us. We all want to feel we're helping and contributing to something larger than ourselves. But whilst it's not easy to explain, this new quality of desire is very different.
It has no stress attached to it. I always found the desires that came from asking questions like, "What do I want?", contained some amount of stress or a feeling or urgency. That's because, in the illusion of separation, there's something I need to get, do or achieve in order to improve my life or feel better. But once the illusion of separation is seen through and the understanding that your absolute happiness doesn't rely on anything outside of yourself, desire is more like a lifelong call to service.
It only knows how to give. There's a recognition that your happiness is my happiness. That your peace is my peace. That your end to suffering is my end to suffering. And because of that, the desire that arises wants to give, endlessly. There's an understanding that I can't just create and take for myself and experience true happiness.
It arises from the heart and not the head. Desires arise spontaneously from the heart rather than coming from head-constructed wanting. The desires that arise might not make sense. They may call us to things that are outside our usual sphere of knowledge and perceived ability.
So as we go into 2018, I'm not asking, "What do I want for my life?" but, "How am I being called to serve?" and then I'm doing my current best to follow the nudges, callings and whispers that arise from that place inside my heart.
So from me to you today, at the beginning of this new year...
How are you being called to serve?
Love and courage,
* Rupert Spira's, Free Will is the Echo of Absolute Freedom.
P.S. If you'd like more resources for the awakening heart, download 17 of my favourite here.