Sparkling rainbow colours
contained in their crystal prison,
awaiting a beam of light
to set them free.
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t interested in other spiritual traditions. I’ve always believed that there is truth to be found in every path.
Whether we style ourselves Sufi, Christian, pagan, Jew, Muslim, atheist, whatever – the spiritual reality is that we are all called to something that is greater than the sum of its parts. What we name it, and how we follow it – these are another matter altogether; but there’s room in this universe for all of us, and we can all learn from one another.
From the solitary, happy days of early childhood, I’ve been aware that there’s more to the world than my eyes could see. It’s always there, hiding tantalizingly jut behind the gauze curtain that is the ordinary appearance of things….beckoning, luring me onward and inward.
So hard…so hard to capture it with mere words, which are themselves only labels; and it seems to me, from my present vantage point of years, that I’ve spent much of my life grasping at spiritual labels in an attempt to catch and hold that mystery, instead of simply learning how to live in the awareness.
I’ve always wanted a spiritual “home” for myself, a grounding point from which I could fly and to which I could return. After years of searching for that home (and not incidentally, working my way through two Christian traditions in the process), becoming a Buddhist thirteen years ago was a tremendous, life-changing step for me, much like falling in love.
I immersed myself in it with joy and dedication. It felt as though I had reached the pinnacle of my own personal journey. I had surely, finally, come home, and from that time my steps would follow those of the generations of Buddhists who had come before me.
Nowadays, it feels to me as though I’ve spent a great deal of time concentrating on putting one foot in front of the other, watching only the ground in front of me to make sure I’m on my “right” path through the woods – when suddenly I happen to stop, look up, and discover to my surprise and delight that I can actually see for miles around me, and what I see is a marvellous rainbow of colours on this new horizon!
“Home,” in a spiritual sense, seems to be widening again, for the third time in my life.
This time, though, there is a difference. I no longer feel any particular need to grasp at one path, no need to turn my back on what I’ve left behind, giving up the old in order to embrace the new.
Oh, there are certainly those moments when it’s unsettling to my everyday self to feel again the loosening of whatever glue it is that holds me to what I call my path – especially now that I’m part of this close-knit group of sangha brothers and sisters.
And yet, just when I would have thought I’d be overflowing with the need to immerse myself completely in this particular Buddhist tradition, I can feel myself standing back and looking at horizons both behind and before me, gathering in truths of many traditions and seeing them with new eyes.
Of course, change never seems to happen when you want it to, when you’re ready for it, or when the timing might be more appropriate. No, change happens when it must, I suppose, no matter the setting or the timing.
There is no sense of loss here though, because in fact I lose nothing! There’s only the feeling that perhaps this small interior blossoming is an integral part of a deep process that I’m only dimly aware of – that this is part of my spiritual life’s work, this expanding and expanding again.
And it’s evident in my own life, looking back again from the vantage point of years, that the heart really does stretch, and stretch, and stretch again to accommodate each expansion, filling with new light and spilling it out to the world.
It’s as though somewhere in my unconscious self, I’ve been forging my own “Susannah-coloured” rainbow.
And if that is the case, then perhaps we are, each one of us, nothing less than beautiful crystal prisms – beings filled with the potential of Infinite Light – refracting that light out into the world in our own personal rainbows of colour.
It’s a metaphor I’m entirely happy to live with.