On two Wednesday evenings a month, I sit in satsang (spiritual dialogue) with a very wise and loving woman named Alayah. I always receive some comfort or inspiration or both – and last night was no exception.
The primary activity of these satsangs is “inquiry”: people will present some issue or problem they are having in their lives and Alayah will help them to inquire, to look at it more deeply. A central subtext is always “Who are you?” – to help people probe beneath the surface appearance of the separate self to a deeper layer of oneness with all life.
A woman had just been exploring some emotional pain she had been experiencing and Alayah was encouraging her to follow the pain deeply within. “Where is it in your body?” Alayah was telling her that if she followed it deeply enough within, it would all dissolve into Spirit. “When you go into your deepest self, that is where you will find God – God is nothing but who you really are.”
The woman asked Alayah, ” But what about giving my pain over to Spirit or Life?” Alayah said, “There is a place for that, but we’re going directly to the source – the straightest path to real truth. When you go deeply enough within, you realize that there is nothing out there that is separate from you.”
This woman had reached a point of peace with her work and Alayah surveyed the room. “Anybody else have questions or issues?” I was sitting right next to this woman and caught Alayah’s eye. “I have a confusion.” “OK, bring it on.” “I have been involved in a 12 Step program and have been wrestling with the idea of Higher Power. Specifically, I have been trying to practice the 3rd Step – turning over my life and my will to God’s care as I understand God. That’s all new to me, but it feels like I have been having some success with it.” (see yesterday’s post)
Alayah said, “That’s a totally valid way to go, but if you keep coming back to these meetings, the concept of turning things over to something or somebody outside of you will fall away. The surest path to God is to go deep into the heart of who you really are.” This spoke deeply to me and to the real sticking point for me with the Higher Power concept in Overeaters Anonymous (my 12 Step program). I deeply believe that I am not in any way separate from God or Life (my preferred term). I want to experience more sense of connection with this mysterious force that I call Life – but not as something different from me.
I said to Alayah, “My best buddy Monty and I have had numerous conversations over the years about the depressive emotional pain I experience. His wish for me is to drop beneath my mind, my thinking about the pain and to go into my body. Where do I feel the pain in my body? And to ‘be with’ that.” Alayah smiled broadly and said, “I like the way Monty thinks.”
And at this point things really came together for me. I sat there beaming at Alayah, drinking deeply from the pool of love in her eyes. After some deliciously long moments, Alayah asked, “We’re sitting here looking at each other – what’s going on for you?” I said, “I’ve gotten exactly what I needed. I’m just sitting here with it – I don’t need any more words.”
And I had gotten exactly what I needed. Afterwards, as I was sitting in the car waiting for my friend Lisa, who had stopped to chat with someone else, I wrote down my new current revision of the 2nd Step, changing the words “power higher than my own”: “Came to believe that a power deeper than my ego….” With this revision – and putting my own spin on “God” in the 3rd Step the first three Steps now fully work for me.
- Step 1 – Admitted that I was powerless over food (or my emotions), that my life had become unmanageable.
- Step 2 – Came to believe that a power deeper than my ego could restore my life to sanity.
- Step 3 – Made a decision to turn my life and my will over to the care of God, as I understand God.