Sue Tordoff

Self as Path

When the Path is not only the Way but also the Destination ...  

People often talk of 'being on the path' when they refer to 'spiritual journeying'.  Perhaps we have, over the years, come to believe the analogy and succeeded in distancing our self from our Self.  

Self with a capital letter refers here to the Soul, the guiding principle of our spiritual life on earth, while self with a lower case refers to the ego, the personality which clothes the Soul during this lifetime.  One of the tasks of reclaiming our inherent spirituality by acknowledging that we are spiritual beings on an earthly journey is to reunite the two selves which have so long been separated.  

The Path was originally a metaphor for Self.  We cannot separate Self from the journey it makes.  So speaking of 'falling off the path' during times of disillusionment, difficulties etc really means that ego-self has become disconnected from Soul-Self.  We have blocked our line of communication through which we receive nourishment from the spiritual source within, which is connected to the Eternal, or God.  What is more, polarisation has occurred between material and spiritual, personality and Soul, so that in our thinking today one is termed 'bad', the other 'good', adding to the blockage.  But as co-dwellers in the physical body, they need to live in harmony.  

Learning we acquire through personality-experiences in this lifetime is also transmitted via the Self-self link.  So when connection is blocked for whatever reason, we feel bereft, as if we have fallen off a familiar path.  Understanding what this really means enables us to do something about it, to find our own way of reconnecting, which may be through prayer, meditation, music, walking in the countryside, etc.  We open up to that part of us which knows the way forward, knows how to handle difficult situations. It enables us to add to the knowledge and experience stored in our spiritual repository, building up a resource of innate wisdom, accompanying us for many lifetimes.  'Finding the right path' is no longer a problem.  Anything we do is part of 'the path'.  The challenge therefore is to make the most of any opportunity, rather than to berate ourselves for 'falling off the path' temporarily, or despairing when we 'fail' to find the right one.  

Speaking of journeying along a path implies that there is a destination to be reached, giving us a misleading impression that there will be a time and place when we feel we have arrived.  Viewing the path as Self changes this.  Every moment becomes part of this exchange between self and Self.  The pressure is off to 'get there'.  We begin to live more truly in the moment, knowing we are doing what we most need to do, simply by being present at every opportunity, by participating in every experience to the best of our ability, in the knowledge that this in itself is progress.  We become more tolerant and compassionate towards others as we understand that their 'paths' are expressions not only of self but of Self.   

As long as we have basic ethics such as not harming others or ourselves, and as long as we process experience through the channel between the self and the Self, we will find we both give and receive more from life than ever before.  

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