I told a good friend about the Winter Feast for the Soul and about my belief that we have to create the peace inside that we want to see manifest in the world. She responded that in her worldview, you can only create peace in relationship to others. Of course, I think we’re both on to something.
As I understand it, A Course In Miracles talks about the world as a projection of our own internal space. For example, when you meet someone who is really aggravating to you, there is a good chance that what you find aggravating in that person is actually present within you – but perhaps absent from your conscious awareness, or repressed. According to the Course, if we can forgive that grievance in the other, we can also forgive it within ourselves. Ultimately what that means to me is that our interactions with others provide rich fodder for exploring our own inner landscapes. Usually when someone touches off your hot buttons it is more about you than it is about them. Ultimately each charged interaction provides an opportunity to learn a new lesson about ourselves.
The marvelous thing (in my view) about this notion that the world reflects our inner space, is that the beauty that you acknowledge inside will also be reflected in our exterior world. Many years ago I went to a taping of an audio series by Carolyn Myss and Norm Shealy. One of the exercises was to think of some positive quality of yourself. I was floored. I couldn’t think of one positive quality. It took me weeks to think of something, and what I came up with was compassion. People who have always known me will probably say: “Come on, Francine! You had to know you had lots of positive qualities!” Well, it’s one thing what the outside world recognizes, and entirely another what a person will accept for themselves.
Pema Chodron in her book “When Things Fall Apart” talks about bodhichitta (awakened consciousness). She mentions that bodhichitta can start like a small hole in a dam that lets through a tiny trickle of water. That trickle eventually wears away at the wall until the whole thing comes tumbling down. For me, this small recognition of my one positive quality was like that small hole in the dam. After that I ended up through a series of “coincidences” starting my yoga teacher training, meeting my Reiki teacher and studying energy healing, and quitting my job to study counseling. From that one point of acknowledging my own worth, I find myself surrounded by amazing, enlightened, compassionate, conscious beings who bring me even further into awareness of the beauty that lies “out there.”
So while the challenges of the outside world teach us about ourselves, recognizing our own positive qualities can also lead us to be more open to attracing people who have those qualities into our lives. What is peace, after all, but opening to being more compassionate with yourself and with those around you?
Winter Feast for the Soul started on Thursday. You can join in anytime if you’re interested – As the organizer Valerie Skonie says, “Forty days is forty days.” You just start counting from one.