Living Spirit, by Lynn Andrews
“We were all born wild like a mountain lion. To live in civilization we become sheep at a very young age. We become tame. But we are not house pets. We are fierce and wild by nature.”
Many years ago, very early in my work with the Sisterhood of the Shields, Twin Dreamers, one of my shaman teachers said to me, “Lynn, dream on these words. Consider what is left of your instinctual nature. When you see a horse, you become both happy and sad. That horse represents the wildness within yourself that you have never dared to become.”
I was stunned by her words, for they revealed an essential truth in my search for a higher understanding of life that I had never dared to voice.
I had known since I was a small child that there was something missing from my world, something that I yearned for with every fiber of my being yet could not begin to understand. I have even ridden horses all my life, racing across the landscape of my childhood with my best friend, Beverly, a Native American girl the same age as I. On horseback, we followed the clouds, pretending we were stars in the sky as we chased each other across the universe. During those long, beautiful days, I felt more complete and perfect within myself than at any other time.
As an adult, galloping across the plains on the back of a magnificent Arabian mare, I still get that same sense of perfection. Yet until Twin Dreamers spoke those words to me, I did not equate the feeling of perfect completion within me when I am on horseback as the fulfillment of my wild, instinctual nature. I only knew that when I ride horses, I feel closer to God than at any other time.
How do you experience God in your life, the Great Spirit, the presence of divine harmony in whatever form you know it? For me, I know that I am one with the Great Spirit when I am living my own truth. That happens when I stand in the center of my own being. It happens when I stand in the center of my own personal truth and not what someone else tells me the ‘truth’ of any given situation should be.
How often have you heard someone say, “This is the way it’s supposed to be (whatever ‘it’ is). It’s the way it always has been and the way it always will be?” And every fiber of your being is crying out, “No it isn’t. You’re wrong. Nothing could be further from the truth.” Yet not only do you say nothing, which is sometimes the only thing you can say in the face of such adamance, you decide there must be something wrong with you for disagreeing so completely. The more strongly you disagree, perhaps, the worse you feel about yourself until you walk away feeling wholly defeated, hobbled by some unseen force that obviously wishes you nothing but ill will.
That is the way it feels when we deny the existence of our own personal truth. It feels worse than the worst insult anyone else can hurl, crippling to the point of total personal defeat.
On the other hand, it feels so exhilarating when you say to yourself, “You know what? I couldn’t disagree with you more. Maybe I can’t change the way you think, and maybe now’s not even the time to try. But I couldn’t disagree with you more, and I’m not going to do it. I’m not going to think what you think; I’m not going to believe what you believe. It may be your truth, but it’s not mine and it’s no part of me.” And you walk away feeling so good about yourself, so personally empowered, so completely right with life.
That is the way it feels to stand in the center of your own personal truth. The most wonderful part of it is that your own personal truth resides at the very center of your being, and that is the place where you are one with the Great Spirit and all that is in the universe. What a fabulous place to be!
The truth is within your own heart and within your own soul. Whenever you become lonely or afraid, all the answers you will ever need will be found within yourself. Sometimes we need other people to help us find those answers, and that is good. It’s good to see the light of the Great Spirit reflected in the love and wisdom of others. But you must always measure what you find out in the world with what you find inside yourself. You must first ask yourself, “Am I being faithful to my own truth?”
Your being is like a spirit lodge. Within this spirit lodge dwell the sacredness of your being, your realization and the divine light of your creation. Sometimes your sacredness matches what everyone around you is saying, and sometimes it doesn’t. You find peace and joy in life when you live in your own spirit lodge, the place within you where you are one with the Great Spirit and all of life, the place of your own sacred truth, regardless of the chaos that might be going on around you. This is what I mean by ‘living spirit,’ it is living in your own spirit lodge.
Have you ever wondered why some people can be so serene in the midst of what everyone else sees as impending doom? It is because they are living in their own spirit lodges; they know they are one with the Great Spirit and all of life, and no matter what happens nothing can ever separate them from that Oneness. They have taken care of what is around them to the best of their ability and placed their faith in the Great Spirit.
In the words of Shakespeare, “This above all: To thine own self be true, and it must follow, as the night the day, Thou cannot then be false to any man.” Outside your lodge is a great wilderness that can often become a battleground stained with ignorance and earthly pain. Many people live without a sacred place within, and those who do not have a sacred place within do not know how to enter the spirit lodges of others. To me, that is the definition of true loneliness, not being able to enter the spirit lodge of another person.
When you live your own truth, you find that it is much easier to allow others the honor of living their own truth, as well. Even where you disagree, it is not important. What becomes important is honoring the divine light within you both. This is the true meaning of freedom, when you are not shackled to an existence that is based on beliefs that are false to you. When you are living spirit, you are living your own sacred truth. Then you are as magnificent horse, wild and free through your oneness with the divine light of the universe, unfettered by beliefs that bring you only discomfort and disharmony with your own existence.
Lynn Andrews is the New York Times and internationally best-selling author of the Medicine Woman. She is the founder of the Lynn Andrews Center for Sacred Arts and Training and is recognized worldwide as a leader in the fields of spiritual healing and personal empowerment. Learn more at www.lynnandrews.com.