We are frequently confronted with the imperfection of this body which has been granted us for our life on earth. Particularly in these times when the genetics of most humans are considerably impoverished by our artificial, sterilized, civilized way of life, far from nature, as more and more people suffer from a variety of handicaps and permanent health problems.
Formerly, people who were different and who survived childhood were very appreciated by First Nations’ communities. It was said that they had uncommon gifts and they were invited to discover what these were and how to serve their community with these special talents. There is an example here, in the province of Quebec, of one of the most powerful shamans who existed on our territory. This lady having been born without legs was nevertheless well respected and loved in numerous First Nations’ communities for her extraordinary powers. Her husband transported her everywhere on his back with a special harness which he had made for her. Nobody ever heard the slightest complaint or criticism about her. On the contrary, she was respectfully welcomed everywhere and appreciated. Her specific gifts made her extremely precious to the community.
- The handicap experienced as a gift: the first necessary stage is accepting the handicap
Every handicap is, in fact, a gift, because it allows us to discover abilities and powers which, without our handicap, would pass unnoticed. The key word here is acceptance. As long as we did not completely accept to be as we are, these gifts and these powers which are the corollary of what seems to be a handicap are out of reach. Any form of revolt or rejection of what is, creates a blockage which prevents the energies of life from circulating.
When I was young, there was nobody in my circle of acquaintances to teach me the spiritual way on which I had to walk. Disease and suffering became my teachers. The discomfort of my body was such that I quickly learnt to travel in other spheres of knowledge and in other dimensions of being where my body did not weigh on me anymore. I also learnt to appreciate solitude, reflection, meditation and experienced the philosophy of acceptance, which came from an understanding of what others experience. I was frequently in hospital and would awake in the night and see that many were a lot worse than me. I saw people die and would reflect on that. Most shamans worldwide only became shamans after life threatening experiences or even “temporary” death.
It is sometimes very difficult to be grateful for a handicap. I shall always remember the group of Native prisoners which I accompanied when I worked as a spiritual elder in a maximum security prison. They had to learn to be grateful for being in prison. This was very difficult for them. It took them a long time approximately 5 to 6 months if my recollection is accurate, during which time, every week, I had to insist so that they could develop the feeling of gratitude to be where they were. As long as they had not acquired the ability to feel this gratitude, everything stayed the same. But as soon as several of them managed to cultivate this feeling everything changed. They suddenly became productive. They started doing traditional crafts. They began campaigns to finance the materials necessary for their handicraft. They worked hard to obtain permission to admit these materials into prison, a difficult matter in a maximum security establishment. They rekindled the Native Fraternity. We created in the prison yard a sacred space with sweat lodge, medicine wheel and sacred fire. We celebrated ceremonies and even managed to invite family to these ceremonies. Many things became possible the day they were able to accept and be grateful for their condition.
Some of them have become recognized healers who teach spirituality, meditation and guide their brothers towards another way of life. These are ex-career criminals for whom violence and crime were a way of life. They experienced a 180° shift, and the first step to this turnover was gratitude, acceptance for being where they were.
It’s the same for any handicap. The first stage is to accept and say thank you, and from there hidden treasures can be revealed.
- Transformation of difficulty into power and realization
When gratitude comes, it’s then time to generate energy to transform the handicap into an asset in one’s life. To do that, there are probably as many methods as individuals. I can offer you some ways to help transmute handicaps into power and realization.
First, it’s necessary to understand that we are co-creators of our fate. All men are creators, yet the technologies we create today are polluting the earth and their manufacturing is destroying many natural environments. That is because we are not creating in harmony with natures’ laws. If we create paradise on earth that is if we work with nature then we are co-creating. We were created in the image of the primordial intelligence that has created the universe. We are responsible for the situation we are in and need to take responsibility for this as we are imbued by a creative principle. Most of us know this. But many people today have lost the understanding of their divine nature. I remember the first time I met somebody who « did not believe in God ». The young teenager I was at the time was completely bewildered. I could not comprehend how a human being could move through life without the understanding of that divine spark and intelligence within, that same energy that creates the harmony of heavens and molecules. Today that surprise has been replaced by compassion. How to describe the absence of power and vision, the superficiality and fragility of one who does cannot rest on the confidence and knowing one gets from Great Spirit? I know that it’s possible to live without this understanding yet I would for nothing in the world be afflicted with such a handicap. I believe atheism is the ultimate handicap as the power, the strength, the un-manifested potential and resources that reside within our being are immense and incredible. In fact the power of spirit is unlimited, but they are only available when Man knows or feels within the Great Mystery, Great Spirit or whatever you wish to call that primordial intelligence that has created the universe and resides within every Man.
Thus, if we understand that we create our reality (and it is here that gratitude helps us), if we see with enlightened discrimination that we are the result of our thoughts, words and actions, we shall also understand that we can, in time, with creative thinking, skillful means and perseverance, lead our life where we wish it to go. We are an aspect of God, as She-He has created us in His-Her image. It is essential to understand this. We are the eyes and hands of Great Spirit in the world. Our foundation and reward is here on earth, not in the heavens. Thus, it’s in the material world that our spirituality must manifest. That’s why we have a body. And we also have all the necessary tools to co-create our reality according to our desires and wishes. Our spirit is eternal. Maybe what we desire today will only manifest in the next life, but that doesn’t matter, what really matters is understanding that we shall always obtain what we wish for. So be careful of your thoughts and desires!!
Secondly, it is necessary to understand that energy releases itself to manifest our potential for co-creation when there is energy. If we are moody, shy, depressed, down or discouraged, there is no energy. If, on the contrary, we know how to laugh, be amazed, thankful, sing and dance in joy then there is energy. There are numerous manners to find spirit and enthusiasm. Thus, notice what carries and uplifts you and what brings you down and know that you are free to choose. The skillful means, the tools of consciousness exist that will allow you to recreate the energies which uplift and bring joy.
With these 2 understandings, you have the foundation to transform any difficult situation into promises of happiness and freedom. As taught by Tibetan Buddhism, behind any negative emotion there is a pure, pristine, unaltered, spotless, intact essence of spirit. It’s the same understanding with different words. When difficult challenges come there is also huge potential to develop great gifts and formidable talents. If your eyes don’t see, the soul may be enlivened by great visions. If your legs do not work, maybe the spirit can learn to fly higher and farther than the most audacious imaginations. Take what seemed heavy and sad make it fly like an eagle on the winds of change.
- How to stimulate spirit and enthusiasm?
Spirit and enthusiasm are by-products of joy, love and peace. These essential states of being, these foundational sentiments*** are natural and exist spontaneously in the being that is not conditioned. The joy and love which give bliss and ecstasy are a natural state of being but they have been occluded by our modern way of life. The dark forces that govern the world at this time in history have persuaded us than we reach these states in precise circumstances that would be fame, wealth, expensive foods, exotic vacations or through austere spiritual practices, rituals, ceremonies, etc. …When in fact we are in these states of bliss, the quiet, constant joy full of love and peace, from birth. It’s our natural state of being. With time we move away from this pristine awareness as we are conditioned by our parents, relatives, friends, school, media, government, as our experience of life is coloured by unnatural conditions of life, surrounding polluted environments, violence, disregard of the individual typical of civilization, etc. One of the most prevailing and most powerful conditionings which interfere with joy, is to believe that we are less than what we are. (See my article on ” Education “.)
Finding the essential and natural state which gives spirit and enthusiasm is simply a question of finding internal unity. For that purpose, the first thing to be looked for is relaxation. It is good to understand that we have nothing to do to attain unity. Joy, peace and love are going to appear without any need to look for them, they are the natural state of our being. Attaining internal unity is simply to return to whom we really are, although many times we may need external circumstances to reignite the natural state of being.
It is important to learn to relax. Switch off the television, cut the radio, take the phone off the hook and give yourself one or two hours of off-time. Don’t speak with anyone, lie down, relax and let yourself be … Without these moments of solitude, one has nothing to share with others and one has more trouble getting one’s bearings! It may be useful in these moments to create a space of beauty, putting some natural elements (a bowl of water, a plant, a stone, a crystal, a candle) on a table where we recreate a mirror of our inner unity. This sacred space-time created with our happiest thoughts is a place where it’s easy to redefine our internal unity. By recreating a sacred space-time filled with beauty and diving back there regularly we create circumstances that can spontaneously summon our inner unity; our fundamental state of being which is made of peace, love and joy.
The more we learn to cleanse ourselves of the daily humdrum, to relax, to slow down, to maintain a natural rhythm to our lives, content to be simply ourselves without any self-judgment or inner criticism, the more we shall begin to be neutral. The internal ability to create spirit and enthusiasm are thus going to return.
It is sometimes necessary to use special tools to fool ourselves into taking life lightly and to stop dramatizing the mundane. It does happen all too frequently that our mind goes around in circles, that we find situations intolerable, our thoughts are too active and never stop. We sometimes feel we’ll become crazy when the mind juggles with morbid thoughts! How do we gain control over ourselves? There are many ways. One way consists of exaggerating to excess these thoughts, imagining everything at their very worst, to create a nightmare scenario in our heads, until we can laugh about it. Indigenous people in America survived for centuries despite constant genocidal governmental policies, when there seemed to be no hope, by still being able to laugh at it all. In this way they survived the worst situations and conditions by being able to laugh at it. With the noise of laughter and the movement of the stomach and organs it entails, there is an easier transformation of our perceptions and thoughts. Endorphins are produced in the brain and it’s easier to feel happy again.
When we laugh, if we can then get up and sing and dance, we can multiply tenfold the effect of this little personal magic.
Let’s give an example. I am battling against a person at work who makes my life miserable. This obsesses me and is stealing away my joy. So I sit in my sacred space-time and I imagine that I lose control at the office. I strike a powerful blow at this person who offends me. I am fired, lose my job, but my anger is such as I leave the office that I knock down a woman coming out of the building. She starts shouting and a policeman stops and arrests me. I am brought before the judge who happens to look like that despised person at the office so I can’t stand it and shout obscenities at him. He throws the book at me and I end up in prison. Like that, I continue until I cannot take it seriously anymore and break out laughing. That’s the moment to get up and dance, and let your wildest impulses loose, to shout and sing. Know that this magic can completely transform your experience at the office and that person may well become your best friend!
Another way to naturally create joy, it is to say thank you. By expressing our gratitude for life we enhance the life force and feed the universe. We may pray aloud, sing or make offerings like giving a little food from our plate outside to the spirits of nature. If we feel and express our gratitude, we shall feel joy in our hearts.
When we feel the gratitude, when the energy rises we can apply this energy to transform in our thoughts, emotions or circumstances of life which hinders our joy, love and peace. We dance, we laugh and we sing whatever is bothering us and this transmutes the energy through the power of our own co-creative potential. We all have this, but this has rarely been taught to us and we have seldom practised our spontaneous use of song, laughter and dance to transmute life challenges.
Another very powerful technique of transformation consists in giving oneself a new name. Very often, if we take a good look at ourselves, we will realize that we have created these difficult situations ourselves. If we then change our name to identify with a happy event of our lives, we can recreate the emotion and joy of that precise moment. For example, if we felt great joy when we rode a bicycle the first time, with the wind in our face and a feeling of liberty, we can, in a difficult situation, rename ourselves : « I am the one who flies on his bicycle ». We can also rename ourselves by identifying with what we see at the moment that we need this redirection of our thoughts: « I am the snow falling » or « I am the tree dancing in the wind. » By repeating or by singing this name in an absurd or serious way, we are going to redirect the energy and transmute our difficult thoughts. It’s the power of the word: the human verb is active; it participates in this capacity of the divine to influence the world on a creative frequency. Then, we can also dance that name, and sometimes, when we dance and when we manage to increase our energy to trance and/or feelings of bliss and ecstasy there can come a song or words or special sounds produced by our voice; and that is something very precious. Indeed, later, when a difficult similar situation represents itself, the simple fact of repeating these words, sounds or songs is going to reignite this energy to instantly transform the situation. These are very simple ways to activate your creative principle to change your life and that are available to all.
It’s good to remember happy and joyful moments of our lives. They are key moments, moments when we were in unity with our divine essence. Let us take time to revisit them in our sacred space-time. Also let us take time to find names that describe what we felt in these moments of our lives. These names can be used when needed.
Often people are not able to dance and to sing even when they are alone, they have been so conditioned by their upbringing and education. They have been taught that you should not be different from others, at the risk of being judged and that that will create problems. But this is a conditioning, a programming, we are really all unique and it is good to celebrate our uniqueness as it leads to realizing our internal unity which brings unlimited and abundant peace, joy and love.
It is sometimes easier to laugh and distance ourselves from our difficult circumstances by speaking about it in a circle, by sharing with others. Support groups of all kinds have been created and these can be very helpful. Do not allow others to colour your experiences by giving you uncalled for advice. The purpose of sharing is not to give power over to others but to put into the collective consciousness your plight that you may distance yourself from it to better understand and transform it. We all have enough inner wisdom to deal with our circumstances of life. That’s why the Native American circle teachings and healing circles are so powerful.
Today, we all need to find our power; our creativity and our autonomy to co-create paradise on earth. Our difficulties, our handicaps, our diseases are challenges, opportunities that can lead to greater power, love, joy, understanding and peace. They are keys towards finding our mission in life. Finding a goal to our lives in incredibly powerful as then nothing can stop us and difficult circumstances will only fuel more energy to overcome all obstacles.
There are many other ways to help surmount our difficulties and, especially, to transmute them into creative energy. There are multiple paths that lead to successfully finding our co-creative power. Feeling thankfulness and understanding that we are masters of our lives may lead to finding internal unity, the eternal source of joy, love and peace.
Be well and happy!!