Yesterday I taught a class inspired by a passage from the Dhammapada, the sayings of the Buddha, and it brought so much up for me that I wanted to share my insights with you. The passage was called "Yourself," and offered the following wisdom:
To straighten the crooked, you must first do a harder thing - straighten yourself.
You are the source of all purity and all impurity. No one purifies another.
Never neglect your work for another's, however great his need.
Your work is to discover your work, and then with all your heart to give yourself to it.
This really got me thinking. In light of the world's recent events, I have been feeling stressed by the idea that I am not doing enough to "fix" society's ills. Then I caught myself in something that I am always pointing out to my clients - it is NOT my job to fix anyone else. It is not my responsibility to do the work of others, and in fact that's impossible. It is not my responsibility to heal another person, a population, a societal construct, an economy, a political system, etc. And yet, it actually IS my job to facilitate healing for other people - that's what my soul purpose is and that's what I've dedicated my life to.
So how do we find a balance between doing our own work and assisting the work of humanity? How do we manage individual healing and healing of the collective? Sometimes it feels like these two goals can be at odds, but the truth is that it's both more simple and more complex than that.
The only work you can do is your own, and you are the only one who can do your work. You are the single person who truly knows what you need and the only one who can make it happen. I have literally hundreds of different tools, exercises, book recommendations, skills, etc. that I offer my students and clients, but if they don't actually use them and do the work when they are on their own, the likelihood of radical change and sustainable transformation is pretty slim.
It's easy to get distracted from our inner work when there is so much going on out there, whether in our families, our work environments or in the world at large, that seems to be screaming for our help. But it is an illusion that our efforts are better spent out there rather than in here, in our own inner world. If we don't heal the fear, guilt, shame, anger, disconnection, prejudice, and violence in our own hearts and minds, it will never be eradicated out there.
So, our responsibility is to do our own work. That might lead you to think that you are all alone. Nope, that's where the paradox is. No one else can do our work, it's true, and yet there's no way we can do it alone. Luckily we don't have to!
Remember when I said that you are the single person who truly knows what you need and the only one who can make it happen? This is absolute truth, and yet it's also true that all humans have psychological blindspots and maladaptive patterning that gets in the way of seeing that wisdom. Your highest self knows the work you have to do (and by that I mean what issues you need to clear in yourself, and what your soul purpose on this Earth is), but sometimes we need guidance in clearing away the muck that has covered up this inner knowing. However, if you don't take the responsibility to go out and find the right guide, if you put the responsibility of your healing on them, if you don't put into action what they offer you, well, as I said, change can't happen.
In the past I have definitely struggled with the desire to have someone else figure things out for me, fix my problems, predict my future, and tell me what to do with my life. I get it, and putting blame and responsibility on others for our problems has been mirrored in the collective experience as well. But that's a childish and immature perspective, and now it's time to grow up and take responsibility for our own evolution. That's the personal work I'm doing right now. And while I'm very grounded in the acceptance of responsibility for my own healing, I also know that there is no need for me to walk this path totally alone. I have a team of wellness and mastery all-stars that support me, including TWO chiropractors (one for my skeletal system, one that specializes in balancing my nervous system), an acupuncturist, a massage therapist, a breathwork healer, my favorite inspiring yoga teachers, shamanic elders, a Reiki master, a mastermind group, and OF COURSE a transpersonal hypnotherapist trained in the same modality I am :)
WE ARE ALL IN THIS WORK TOGETHER.
When we all, collectively, focus on clearing and upleveling our individual conscoiusnesses, the collective consciousness shifts. We are all on a parallel process. We all have different gifts and insights, and it's imperative to share them with eachother. The part about doing the work yourself comes with the responsibility of deciding what actions you are going to take. Are you going to seek out guidance and support for the places your inner wisdom has already let you know need some extra attention? Are you going to offer up your gifts in the service of helping others to uncover their own personal greatness? Are you going to choose not to take responsbility for things that are out of your control (like someone else's reactions), so that you have more energy to focus on what is in your control - your own personal evolution and mastery?
This is an epic journey we are on. The work we do on our own body, mind, emotions, and spirit ripples out in incredible ways. Don't doubt the importance of your own self-care. It's like when you are on an airplane and the flight attendant instructs that in case of an emergency you must put your own oxygen mask on before helping anyone else with theirs. If you don't take care of your own needs, your life force is extinguished, literally or metaphorically, and then you will definitely not be able to serve the world as you are meant to. And boy does this world need you.
So go and do your work! The world needs you. I need you. And I'm right there beside you.
In service and love,
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