Life is a sacred adventure. When we are born, it lies open to us like a 360-degree vista, waiting to be explored. As we grow up, much of what we encounter conspires to shrink this sacred circle into a tight little system that we call ourselves. As we grow older, this circle tightens and tightens until it seems that we are at the center of a very small world, a kingdom that we control and rule.
We call ourselves plumber, parent, homeowner, student, teacher, churchgoer--more than likely a combination of things--and after a while we don't venture past the limits of whatever our identity may be. We defend our territory. We let precious few people inside our circle. Yet, fortunately, throughout our lives possibilities present themselves for re-opening our circle into the bright, grand vista that was available to us as children. These opportunities often come as cataclysmic events such as illness, change, and loss, but they're also available in other ways. It is my intention in this book to show you how this transformation is available in every single moment of our lives.
At conception, we enter a material plane from some unknown realm. At birth, we establish our bodily presence in this material world. When we die, we dissolve back into thatmysterious place from which we came. When we consider that unknown place--as we are forced to do when confronted with birth or death (even when it's not our own)--we may edge back in fear. Yet there is something appealing about its vastness, light, and unique openness. If we are willing to explore it, we can discover that the space exists as a liberating place in the core of our being.
That sacred space is available to us on an ongoing basis in this world, where we can feel it as vast and bright on an inner and outer level. My own experience has taught me that to reconnect with the infinite mystery and openness at the source is to meet ourselves. It is to heal by reconnecting with what is truly ours.
What does the word "sacred" conjure up for most of us? Images of cathedrals, churches, and shrines? Words spoken at baptisms, weddings, and funerals? We may recognize "the sacred" from the light cast by translucent yellow leaves framed against a gray sky in autumn. At special moments we may glimpse "the sacred" in the eyes of our beloved. Almost all of us recognize its presence at the birth of our children and at the death of our parents.
It is our birthright to open our eyes and the rest of our senses to genuinely connect with the sacred. We can do this at any time we choose, if we dare. What lies in every present moment awaiting our rediscovery is an unending universe of open, joyous, creative possibility. We are born with the means to experience it fully. This greatest and most remarkable of adventures is always available to us--if we choose to make ourselves available to it.
My own life has been an incredible journey of remembrance and recovery of the sacred. As a small boy I had unusual (or perhaps not so unusual, if you'll take a moment to mine your own memory) experiences that served to remind me of the open, energetic world from which we all arise. For example, after my beloved grandfather died when I was nine years old, he came to me in a dream to reassure me that he was all right in another place and that the rest of us in the family would be all right without him in this one. As I grew up, particular coincidences seemed to continually draw me beyond my everyday concerns into this world from which I came, from which we all come, and in which we even now reside. My work as a psychiatrist has allowed me to realize and engage this energy, and to understand how helpful it can be.
The world of which I speak is the world of eternal soul, a world of raw spiritual power and healing.
We think of "healing" as something to seek when we are physically or mentally ill. Some spiritual teachings would have it that we are perpetually ill--that we have committed some grave original sin from which we cannot recover. Yet I am here to tell you that on the contrary, we are perpetually, unconditionally well.
For many of us on earth, the primary task is to remember how well we really are. This bookwill offer you tools for healing yourself--and helping others heal themselves--to regain that place of unconditional wellness and light.
Like birth and death, essential, unconditional wellness in spite of everything is a rather frightening prospect. Imagine considering ourselves fundamentally well even while we are dying of some dread disease. Imagine assuming--no matter what is happening to us, no matter where we are--that we are all right.
We have been conditioned to believe that we are all wrong--and that we must do something to "fix" what is inherently "broken" in us. If only we had more money, if only we ate the right foods, if only we jogged every morning, if only we had the perfect relationship, if only we had the right job, if only we were not so selfish . . . everything would be all right. And we feel guilty that it isn't.
In a variety of ways our materialistic culture, popular psychology, and (to some extent) organized religion reinforce the notion that we are "broken" from the start. We're told that we need help. So we're always trying to find a way to "fix" ourselves. We've come to accept a tacit expectation that lasting happiness is possible through the realization of our dreams of becoming rich, powerful, thin, spiritual, or better in any way whatsoever.
Imagine that on the conditional level, everything is all right. Let's say we've won the lottery. We're on the perfect diet and it shows. We raise our endorphin level every morning by jogging. We are blissfully, madly in love with our spouse, children, dog, and house. Even though we don't have to earn money (we won the lottery, remember?), we have meaningful work that we do because we love it and it creates benefit for everyone. Beyond that, we embody every value ever valued.
So what? In the background of the perfect life, illness and death--or maybe just death--are lurking. That's the bottom line: our lives on this material plane are going to end. We can count on it. So far, nothing in the realm of surgery or medical miracle has evolved to prevent it. If we don't want to think that far ahead, we can at least assume that our lives are going to change, whether we want them to or not. For example, we might spend that lottery money more quickly than we expected to, so we have to manage it carefully. We might pull a hamstring, and that's the end of the morning jog.
What happens to our endorphin level then? Our spouse falls in love with someone else, we desire the seashore instead of the city, our children grow up, and the dog--well, his lifespan was shorter than ours anyway, wasn't it? Moreover, we feel bored with our meaningful work and we want something else to do. On top of it all, we might discover that our values aren't our values at all, but ones we derived from Mom and Dad, church and state, or the so-called New Age. Then we're on our own.Regardless of how these changes manifest themselves, some of them we will welcome, some we will not.
The fact is, we create worlds--and these worlds fall apart. No matter how hard we try to hold together our perfect or imperfect world, it changes. If we are attached to our world, if we identify with it, it's going to cause us grief when it disintegrates, because even if it isn't perfect, it's familiar and comforting. We try to fix our bodies and minds in a place that seems wholesome, nourishing, and happy. But everything we're talking about in this dimension--our bodies, our minds, and the environment around them--is dependent on outer conditions, like flowers are dependent on water and soil and sunlight. It's all matter. It's all material.
Excerpted from Who Do You Think You Are? by Carlos Warter. . Excerpted by permission of Bantam, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.