The Thoreau quote made me think of a tidbit from the Persian poet Rumi. This is what the person yearning for connection with Spirit says, and Spirit's response:
I would love to kiss you.
The price of kissing is your life.
(Or less poetically stated: The price of kissing Spirit is letting go of your current identity.) And that Rumi tidbit made think of something one of my teachers is so fond of saying: "The price for spiritual power is discomfort."
Like all decent wisdom tidbits, these phrases are loaded with power, mystery and the opportunity for misinterpretation. So it goes.
Most the time we think that emotions sweep over us and overwhelm us, and they do. But we also often live in lingering states: a constant state of fear, or of emotional flatness, or anger or resentment or grieving or cynicism. At that point we have crossed over from being overtaken by a wave of emotion and into agreeing to live in a state of emotion. That's when we enter into an agreement to pay the cost.
When I live in the ongoing state of fear or anger or cynicism, I am agreeing to pay a price in energy. The shamanic term for energy is power. In order to live inside the power of fear, I give up another kind of power as payment.
The price of fear is intimacy.
The price of certainty is wonder.
The price of greed is patience, and since beauty relies on patience, the price of greed is beauty.
The price of arrogance is surprise.
The price of cynicism is open-armed love. Since open-armed love includes grieving, because grief is a form of love, the price of cynicism is stifled grief, and since grief is one of the main lubricants on the hinges of the doors to Spirit, the price of cynicism is connection to Spirit.
On it goes.
The medicine for fear is intimacy.
The medicine for certainty is wonder.
The medicine for greed is patience, and since beauty relies on patience, the medicine for greed is beauty.
The medicine for arrogance is surprise.
The medicine for cynicism is open-armed love, and since open armed love includes proper grieving, prayers that summon tears are medicine for cynicism.
We are in a time period in which more and more people are taking a hard look at the price we pay for the "normal" that has been programmed into us. More and more people are understanding that the price is too high for living a life, as archetypal psychologist James Hillman said, "happily in “the system of rip-off economics [that] promotes its communal senselessness by substituting "more" for "beyond.”
The energies of fear, arrogance, greed and cynicism are programmed into us so deeply that it takes great commitment to let go of them. These old energies rise up with great ferocity when we turn our attention toward authentic spiritual power, and we hear these old energies as voices of self-doubt, embarrassment, self-deprecation, and sometimes outright shame. It's helpful to think of these negative voices as a parasite in you screaming for you NOT to bring the medicine. The medicine is perceived as discomfort by the parasite, who wants you to stay in a state of dis-empowerment, so it can continue to feed on you.
The surrealist painter Salvador Dali said, "The only difference between me and a madman is that I'm not mad." What he meant (I hope) is that by working honestly with his artistic energies (which is the same work in many ways as working your spiritual power) he learned to trade the negative price for the Medicine. Another way to say this is, "The difference between a mental breakdown and an opening of the spiritual path is discipline, courage and guidance." Well, that's how I see it.
We are in the time of the waxing moon, heading toward full this weekend, and here is a prayer I hope you'll find useful:
I have lived smaller that I want to live.
I have listened to those voices that shrink me.
I am ready
to trade the price I have been paying
to stay disempowered and disconnected from Spirit.
I am ready
to trade for the medicine.
The light grows across the face of the moon.
The sun rises stronger each day from the south.
The ice releases its grip on the shore.
The land awakens and revives.
Bring this medicine to me
So that I may stand strong in this world.
I have something to accomplish in this life
And I am so grateful that you are here always to help me.