I recently had a conversation with a friend about the messages that different spiritual teachers use – the catch phrases that are repeated again and again until they stick. I notice familiar themes in many of these at the moment. I keep reading in A Course in Miracles, “let go,” “free your mind,” “give up false beliefs,” “leave the past behind.” I go back to traditional 12-step basics, “one day at a time,” “if you do what you always did, you’ll get what you always got,” “change is a process not an event,” “feelings are not facts.”
As a recovering over-achiever and perfectionist, I can become overwhelmed with the challenge of these lessons. But is that where the wisdom lies? Must I integrate everything at once? Must I think beyond this present moment? No, and I am grateful for the gift of the helpful sound bytes in my mind that I get to return to when negative thoughts enter in this present moment.
The Dalai Lama says:
“We must understand and appreciate the complexity of the task we are facing. Buddhist scriptures mention eighty-four thousand types of negative and destructive thoughts, which have eighty-four thousand corresponding approaches or antidotes. It is important not to have the unrealistic expectation that somehow, somewhere, we will find a single magic key that will help us eradicate all of these negativities. We need to apply many different methods over a long period of time in order to bring lasting results. Therefore, we need great determination and patience.”
Before I jumped yesterday I sought out a magic solution, a one-shot elixir with a quick fix. I landed on this patient, constantly-moving-forward, slow train. As my Course lesson today tells me, “today we leave the past behind us, nevermore to be remembered. And we raise our eyes upon a different present, where a future dawns unlike the past in every attribute.” Our work is cut out for us. For today, I’m ready for the journey and I offer myself completely to the unknowns of where it will take me.