Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 9)

Try as we might, we cannot create these experiences of flow by imposing our will on the present moment. The spirit, as the source of our freedom, must be allowed to take hold through the process of surrendering what we might desire, for that which the infinite intelligence wants for us.

Succeeding in our vocation requires us to be vulnerable and to trust in the life of the spirit and the journey that it will take us on. Taking these steps in faith, we become leaders in a world that accommodates too many followers. Instead of making the choice to bravely live their calling, too many of us play it safe by routinely adhering to the societal rules that have been unconsciously agreed upon. Conditioned in tribal consciousness, which says that it is dangerous to challenge the status quo and risk what that society perceives as valuable, these people spend their lives colouring between the lines that to their mind represent the safe boundaries of the human experience.

Not searching for and perceiving a life beyond these limited boundaries, they are blind conformists who stifle their own freedom and happiness. Suspicious of the heretic who goes against the grain, they hastily condemn them without realising that the heretic in this context is the suppressed spirit that longs to speak its truth and fulfil an enduring purpose in form. Historically, the heretic was positioned as a villain. Burned at the stake for what they believed in, the price that they paid is seldom a threat in the modern world, yet we remain enslaved by the memory of their fate.

Frozen by the fear of being scorned by the tribe, those who deny their calling do not speak the truth that burns in their breast. Strangers to the spiritual life, they have not learned that the heretic is in reality the hero that they secretly long to be. A hero steps out with courage, and steps up with an intense focus and fierce determination to succeed despite all difficulty. So it is with the heretic who must overcome the same challenges, and stand for something at the end of the arduous journey.

It is ironic that what once would have gotten us excommunicated or killed, now earns us the admiration of the masses. Look at someone like Steve Jobs, who continually pushed the boundaries of innovation in the tech industry, or Andy Warhol, who through his artistry redefined the way that a generation perceived the world. These disrupters, and many others like them, open our eyes to what is possible for humanity, and inspire us as they stand and deliver their vision or message.

It is impossible to hide while we are making a difference in the world, so we need to make peace with that reality. For sure, some people prefer to remain anonymous in their contributions, and while it may appear that they are hiding, they are not really because they succeed in adding something meaningful to the experience of others’ lives. Just like the oak whose beauty is appreciated as it emerges into sight, our true beauty is best on display when we serve from our heart, and have our unique contributions move the world forward in a way that manifests spirit in form.

The world is waiting for your spiritual unfoldment, so what are you waiting for? Dreams can become reality, if you give yourself to that dream wholeheartedly. No one but yourself is holding you back from setting foot on that authentic path. Give yourself the freedom that you know you deserve. Honour love in your efforts, and have those efforts reflect the essence of spirit that you are. The oak tree doesn’t live forever, but it stands tall while it is here, and leaves a legacy that lasts centuries. Be as the oak, and allow your acorn to flourish in the fertile ground of spirit that is your very nature in this eternal moment.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 8)

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Regardless of how old you are, you still have the opportunity to live your calling. Age is no excuse. Neither is aptitude, or the lack of it, for this is to be developed on the journey. Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t want to start something unless they are already good at it. A nonsensical view that is often adopted to mask a deep seated fear of failure, it goes against the established process of mastery which recognises that incompetent doing must always precede masterful being.

Humility is such a key virtue to embody here, for without it we cannot grow to become masters in the domain of our calling. Wherever we are on the path of life, we must remember that we are students who have more to learn each day. Learning about that which we love is immensely enjoyable. An investment of our time, energy and very being, the rewards that we receive from this engaged exploration are so much greater than just the learning alone.

Involving the heart in the process, the love that we have for what we do, teaches us about the love that we are. Opening us up to the unexplored parts of ourselves, wisdom is allowed to flourish as one with knowledge. Harmonized in this growth process, the mind and spirit add strength to each other with the effect that our learning is integrated into our life. While we may think that this happens automatically, evidence proves that our learning is nowhere near as strong when we have no passion for the subject matter of that learning.

If I were to ask you here what you remember about trigonometry at school, you would probably go blank, unless of course you have a passion for mathematics. Having love for the subject matter of our calling increases its stickiness, to use marketing language. Resonating with who we are at the deep spiritual level, we take more in with an enhanced capacity, just as a hungry person is likely to do when presented with a bowl of food that they love. While having an insatiable appetite for food may get us into trouble with our health goals, having an insatiable appetite for learning about that which we love, will pave the way for continuous improvement, while exponentially increasing our level of fulfilment.

Digressing from this point, it has always amazed me how when we get on the vocational path, and allow inspiration to speak to us, forces beyond our conscious control come to assist us in our mission. Frequently, when I engage in the process of writing, what emerges in form is so much greater than my mind’s ability to hold. Knowing what I want to say and a bit about how to express it, I feel a force more powerful than my limited conception of self, assisting with the process. Being the spirit within that has given me the ability to write, it continually nudges me forward in my destined unfolding, while supplementing my knowledge with its innate wisdom.

Trying to explain this synchronicity, it mightn’t make much sense to you, unless you have experienced it yourself. Doubting initially my own perspective on this experience of flow, I have since had it validated by many other people who have reported similar experiences when engaged in tasks or activities that they profoundly loved to do. The basketball great Larry Bird once said that often when he had the ball in a game, he intuitively knew the best play to make in the circumstances. But how did he know? Because in those moments of play, he was fully present in what he loved to do and had an incredible talent for. Allowing his inner spiritual guide to speak to him in these moments about the rhythm of the game, Bird was able to perform at a higher level than his contemporaries, who were more focused on imposing their own personal will on the game.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 6)

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How does it make you feel when something you have done positively impacts the life of another? Attuned to their being as they offered sincere words of gratitude, the emotions that arose within you would have allowed you to understand the relationship that exists between joy and being of service to others. When we serve ourselves in a self-indulgent way, genuine joy is not present in that experience. While we may feel pleasure or some level of satisfaction as a result of those actions, these fleeting feelings are not spiritually affirming responses to the question of ‘what makes for a meaningful life?’

For me, meaning is everything, and I seek not to waste my time doing things that take me away from my calling. Being quite definitive in this respect, I find it difficult to justify applying my energy to those things that do not matter to me on a deep level. While taking this position has sometimes got me into trouble with certain people, it has more frequently allowed me to achieve more meaningful success that I otherwise would not have enjoyed.

Over the journey, I have been presented with different opportunities that would have advanced me materially, but I refused to travel down those roads because what they represented did not speak to my heart. I have seen enough people who have frittered away their lives by chasing money to know that real happiness is not to be found at the end of that rainbow. If you spend your life making money doing something that you despise, what is the real value of that money?

Too often, we are willing to devalue our experience of life, to gain in material terms. Making this compromise, we surrender our potential to a lie that is unworthy of being told. Money, like everything else in the physical world, is transient, and we will still have to live with ourselves after it comes and goes from our grasp. Therefore, we must honour what is forever constant within ourselves. This is the spirit which speaks to us of our purpose.

To reconnect with your spiritual voice and attune yourself to its intuition, take some time out in solitude. This will help to clarify what your purpose is in every moment that you experience confusion. Sometimes we may know what our purpose is, but be unsure of what we are meant to be doing at a particular point in time. Getting back to nature, or being at one with our essential self without distractions, allows us to cut through the clutter that clouds our judgment and fuels our apprehension. Free of this meddling influence, the light from within can emerge to reveal the next step of our individual and collective unfolding.

Prayer is also very profound in this respect. In prayer we ask for answers to life’s deeper questions. Aligned spiritually with our asking, we are guided through the answers that we will receive. Humbling ourselves to submit our personal will to the higher good, our function will be clarified in the context of that higher good. Seeing where we fit in the bigger picture of life, our efforts in service will be more effectual in bringing forth a worthwhile legacy.

With a vision comes the power to make it a reality. This is why we must be able to see who we innately are and what our calling is, because without this spiritual insight, we are bound to chase after the wrong things in the world. By failing to preserve our connection to the infinite, we will come to see our role too narrowly and in purely physical terms. Perceiving this world through the distorted lens of the ego identity, our spiritual vision will be indecipherable, and this will give rise to more questions than answers. Confusing our divided mind, the questions that we ask of life will be shallow and insignificant. Producing answers that are inconsequential when acted upon, we will not advance much further than the person who in ignorance refuses to ask any questions at all. Against this backdrop of unconsciousness, we must be open, engaged and wise with the questions that we ask. We don’t want to come to the end of our life regretting that we never did what we were put on this earth to do. Having to occupy such an unenviable position is easily avoided by proactively questioning, introspectively learning and resolutely acting together with spirit to create something of lasting significance in the world.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 5)

This explains why we experience such high levels of enthusiasm and energy when we are engaged in a form of task or activity that we love. In flow with the depth of purpose in our heart, we avoid much of the fatigue that comes to the mind and body when we are consumed with rowing our boat against the tide. Weakened by the choice to entangle ourselves in this struggle, we then encounter the pressure of having to measure up to those forces which constitute the weight of that tide. Suppressing the fullness of our being, we are starved of enthusiasm and the will to engage with what we come to label as ‘work’.

Living our calling shouldn’t be viewed as work in the traditional sense. Better is it understood as purposeful and passionate play. As much as a child enjoys playing with their favourite toy, so should we enjoy doing what we have been called to do to the same extent. Granted, the adult world is more complex than that of a child, and there are going to be challenges encountered in this process of engagement. These are an unavoidable part of the journey. Whilst these occurrences may temporarily disrupt our flow, they need not diminish our joy and harmony. Having a genuine love for that which we do, and how it relates to who we are, we will be inoculated from much of the suffering that stems from a spiritually unbalanced life.

It is often said that to succeed we must persist in the face of opposition. This, I couldn’t agree with more, but what is it that allows us to demonstrate and sustain this quality? The answer to this is the loving essence of spirit, out of which courage, determination and resilience also spring. When we partner with genuine love in the pursuit of a purpose, we find ourselves unattached to the outcomes that lay ahead. Immersed in the life enhancing experience of joy and growth, there is nothing more that we need gain. Achieving results by our efforts in the physical world, these are secondary benefits that mean very little in and of themselves. Flowing from our devotion to the spiritual inclination to love, it is this that means more in absolute terms.

Achievements are fleeting, but joy is impactful. Infusing our present moments with richness, it is the degree to which we experience and perpetuate joy that is the true measure of success. How different would the world be if we came to define ourselves in these terms? When we learn to cultivate joy in what we do, and allow this to guide our service, we diminish the need to define ourselves by such things as money, power and material possessions.

In the unconsciousness of our habitat, the success score is assessed by these dysfunctional metrics, despite our intrinsic knowing that they fail to deliver what we most want in life. Of them, there is never enough, especially for vultures who have become slaves of this world. Continually wanting more of these addictive lures, their hunger remains strong, with their discontent in the present moment. We cannot be joyful in the same moment that we are discontented. Mired in the negativity of fruitless striving, joy will not arise from within, when we need something more than we want to be fulfilled.

Similarly, we cannot truly be living life if our attention is continually being focused on the future and what we can gain from it. The future does not hold any joy that is not first present in our heart. To experience joy in any moment, we must bring it there. Manifested through our connection to life, this joy is not dependent on us gaining at the expense of others, despite what the world with a scarcity orientation would have us believe.

At the spiritual level, a form of life is entwined with all other forms of life, so when we seek to take something away from another person, we are also taking something away from ourselves. Depriving ourselves and others in this way, joy is obstructed and our clarity is contaminated. Perpetuating ego consciousness with these life depleting movements, it is the illusion of duality that we must consciously overcome to understand that we can only ever flourish in the fullness of an integrity that no one single mind can claim on or as its own.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 4)

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Having the love for what we do, we will have to trust that one thing will lead to another. Being faithful to that which we know to be aligned with the intention of our heart, we will find the courage to follow the path, even if we do not know exactly where it will lead. What holds a lot of people back from following their passion is the need to know the port of destination before they commence the voyage. Fearing the unknown or wanting a promised return on the investment of their time and energy, these individuals resist the spiritual essence of the journey that thrives on faith, and the majesty that flows from the mystery of how the path will unfold. Like a great movie, the most enthralling journey has its unforeseen twists and turns that add richness and depth to the scenes of our experience. With this I ask you, ‘how extraordinary can a journey really be, if we know beforehand how it will unfold?’

The journey of connecting with our vocation, is one with the journey of discovering the spiritual self. The more clarity that we get on who we are at the core level of being, the greater is our power to serve authentically in the world. What has progressed the world forward is the conscious application of our unique gifts and abilities that was not motivated by the ego’s desire for gain and recognition. For me, this is a key component which separates a career from a calling. We pursue a career to make something of and for ourselves. We live a calling in order to reconcile the fullness of who we are with the longings of the world.

With a career, we might strive to arrive at a place of fulfilment, only to find ourselves empty and burdened by the weight of inner tension. Strained by the wedge that we have allowed to be driven between our purpose and the means of its accomplishment, our spirit is numbed to the point where we come to believe that this type of mediocre existence is the best to be hoped for. Many of us have had the experience of working in establishments where the work to be performed did not evoke the gifts of our heart, along with the talents of our mind. Meaning very little to us, there was no joy or authentic expression to be found in that work, but only a meagre pay-check that in its accumulation and expenditure failed to deliver anything of lasting substance.

While many people would have been willing to settle for this life once upon a time, a shift is presently being effected in society that is seeing a growing number of individuals leave their career to live their calling. Craving purpose and meaning to their existence, these courageous travellers are forgoing higher compensation and an assortment of other perks in some instances, for the experience of doing on a daily basis what they love and value most in life.

Not too long ago, I was watching the grand finale of Masterchef Australia. This show, which pits a number of amateur chefs against each other for the opportunity to realise their culinary dream, has played its part in bringing many people in touch with the love that they have for cooking. For those who appeared on the show, they were inspired and driven to do what they were previously afraid to attempt. Such is the power of having a purpose that allows us to express our fullness in being.

What was interesting to me as I watched the show was observing how many of the contestants described the life that they led before deciding to follow their passion. Stuck in jobs that stifled their spiritual freedom and precluded their joy from arising, the absence of meaning and engagement could be felt through the television screen. Coming alive when they were asked what cooking means to them, they almost become different people with their tone, body language and facial expressions aligning to convey the sense of integrity that they had found on that journey.

Who we are at the spiritual level must match what we do at the physical level of being. Without finding this fit, we cannot truly know what it means to be joy-filled. The greater the disparity between who we are and what we do, the harder we must search for happiness and fulfilment. When we are doing what we love in the moment that is now, we can be said to have arrived. Not having any other place to go to express the fullness of who we are, this love naturally arises to infuse our work, like a sweet fragrance imbues the skin with a fresh and rejuvenating essence.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 2)

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We cannot truly prosper if we are lying to ourselves about who we essentially are. Wearing this false facade, our divine purpose will be prevented from rising to the surface of our being. With this purpose being trapped in the realm of the heart, we will experience great tension and uncertainty, until we find the courage to reconcile the fractured aspects of our being with that source of wholeness that is otherwise known as spirit.

This I know from personal experience. It wasn’t until I gave up my career practicing law that my love and talent for writing and teaching was able to shine through. Holding onto my inauthentic identity, I deprived myself of the opportunity to reveal to the world the essence of who I am. With the tension of my incongruity becoming too much to bear, I effected the shift from a career to a calling within myself. Travelling down the unique path that is mine to walk, I now enjoy a quality of life that far surpasses the drudgery that my previous life represented.

Doing what I love and loving what I do, I sometimes can’t believe the journey that I have been on, and the transitions that with the benefit of hindsight, were not made soon enough. This, I don’t regret however, for I have come to learn that every shift is made in perfect time. Not having previously been ready to bring forth my greatest gifts, I was really no different than the many people who let fear get in the way of the love that they have for what they really want to do.

Everyone has something that they genuinely love to do. Whether it is dancing, cooking, mentoring, caring for animals or raising children, your vocation is the cherished endeavour that you could easily spend your time doing, even if you weren’t getting paid for it. Capturing your attention and awakening your passion, your calling is what brings meaning to your efforts and fulfilment to your heart. Making you feel alive, it is what provokes the state of flow which allows you to perform to the best of your present moment ability. Stimulating wildly your curiosity and imagination, this call to actualise the best version of yourself, powerfully motivates you to evolve and pursue a vision that makes a positive impact on the course of human history.

When I contemplate this aspect of a vocation, my mind turns to the remarkable legacies left by Nelson Mandela, Mother Theresa and Václav Havel. Prophetic figures who wholeheartedly gave themselves to a vision and brought it about, they fulfilled in life their highest potential, and died without experiencing the regrets of the half-lived life. Doing what they knew they were put on earth to do, the impact that they had was vast, and the commitment that they had for their cause still resonates powerfully in the world today.

With this I ask you, how intense is the love that you have for that which you spend the majority of your time doing? If you have no love for, or derive no meaning from, what you do for work, then I can guarantee you that you are not living in alignment with your calling. If you wake up every day dreading what is ahead, then I would recommend doing something different that allows you to express the light that you have within. If this can’t be done now for legitimate reasons, then I would suggest taking small steps towards your calling, so that the stage can be set for more intimately engaging with it in the future. It is not always realistic or wise to dramatically change course, especially when others are dependent on us to provide for them, but we should not let this of itself, deter us from doing what we know in our heart is the right thing to do.

What is right for us at the spiritual level, will always be right for those whom we love. In this, we must not harbour the fear that living our vocation will negatively impact our loved ones. Harmoniously pursued and balanced with other responsibilities, their reasonable concerns should be allayed, and their support won by our willingness to include them on the journey. So much of the resistance that is encountered in this respect, stems from our ego based tendency to single-mindedly pursue one thing to the exclusion of all else.

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Enabling the Acorn to Flourish (Part 1)

The greatest achievement was at first and for a time a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn, the bird waits in the egg, and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs. Dreams are the seedlings of realities ~ James Allen.

An acorn is truly an amazing component of nature. The seed that an oak tree starts out as, it carries in it such power and potentiality for realisation. Fitting comfortably in the palm of a human hand, it takes on a life of its own when planted, and in time sprouts to a size that is much greater than the person who once held it. Growing into the world through this process, the form that the oak takes above the surface is beautiful and awe-inspiring.

I mention the acorn here because very recently I was reviewing one of my favourite books, The Soul’s Code by James Hillman, in which he explores the metaphor of the acorn. Mythologically, the acorn represents the seed of our vocation that was planted in us before we entered the physical world. Holding our highest potentiality and the gifts that will facilitate our self-actualisation, it is both our task, and the responsibility of the world, to honour and nurture these seeds (in ourselves and in others). As we do this by participating in the collective dance of evolution, we enable each other to flourish as oaks do, and stand out in the landscape of life to indicate something that is profound and meaningful.

While it often appears that the world is not complicit in our efforts to actualise the best version of ourselves, we cannot abdicate our responsibility to give a voice to our calling. The Latin interpretation of the word ‘vocation’ is vocare, that when translated means ‘voice’. Extensions of the divine creator that many call God, we have within us this same source of being, that is continually prompting us to fulfil our function/s and manifest the qualities of spirit in everything that we do. With these qualities of love, creativity and authenticity (among others) representing our highest potential, they are what we are called to express through our thoughts, words and actions, at home, in the workplace and in the other spheres of our lives.

I think that when most people hear the word ‘vocation’, their mind turns to the formalities of religion, where priests and nuns are held up to be favoured by God because of the devoted service that they are rendering to the church. A mistakenly narrow perception, it doesn’t accord with the spiritual wisdom which teaches that we all have a purpose/s in our hearts that we have been given life to relate with and fulfil. Even Martin Luther and John Calvin, in challenging the edicts of the church, came to the conclusion that a vocation is so expansive in its substance that it cannot be reserved for members of the church, or any other religious instrumentality.

Finding its foundation within us, a vocation is something that is inescapable. What this means is that we cannot not have one, even if in our unconsciousness we may think that we have been created without it. Many people believe that they don’t have a vocation, simply because they haven’t found it yet. What they don’t understand however is that just because they can’t see something doesn’t mean that it is not there. In these cases that I have encountered personally and through my research work, I have identified a variety of fears and other barriers that in one way or another prevents these individuals from looking deeply into themselves and discovering what their vocation is.

Thinking that this revelation should present itself at their whim, they are naive in their expectations because that which delivers the richest rewards, must be given to and worked hard for. When I say worked hard for, I am not referring to frenetic activity in the outside world, but rather the process of engaging in spiritual exploration, and the price that it asks us to pay for internal freedom and clarity.

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