The writer Robert Louis Stevenson once wrote: “Take your minds out and dance on them.
“They’re all taped up”.
What’s he saying?
To me, he’s asking us to open up our closed minds and to play.
To get over our small single-minded self with its oh-so-proper ways of thinking, with its always correct opinions, with its obsession with doing everything right and, instead, to truly live.
To live from a place where risk, failure, not knowing, not having complete control are just fine — thank you very much.
To move beyond the rules and regulations we’ve come to believe make up our life and to realize there is more than one way to think, one way to be, one way to pray, one way to love, one way to know God.
By virtue of being a human being, we have been invited into a larger mind — a participant in a larger being.
According to Jewish and Christian scripture, we are made in the image and likeness of God.
We are so much bigger than we imagine ourselves to be.
It’s not that we don’t mess up, falter and sin — because we manifestly do.
But, that is such small potatoes.
Rather than grasping at our mistakes and supposed failings, what would happen if we focused instead on our innate divinity, our holiness/wholeness?
What if, every time we stumbled and fell, we picked ourselves right back up again and looked in the mirror of our own sacredness?
What if we claimed our God-given freedom and became all that we could become?
Can you imagine living from a place of complete acceptance, of no judgement, of both yourself and of others?
That is what Jesus/Yeshua asked of those who chose to follow his teachings.
And how, you might ask yourself, can you measure up to that undertaking?
Well, the short answer is that you can’t.
You, working from that place of your small mind, your small self, cannot.
However, working in relationship and connection with your source, with your ultimate reality, with your God, you can.
But, you cannot experience that bond with your small mind, your small self.
It is only when you have begun the process of completely surrendering to this Other (this “Other” that is none other than your own and everyone’s deepest Self) that you can begin to access that place of freedom, acceptance and peace.
And, how can you learn to surrender, to let go of your little obsessions?
There are, of course, many ways we can move beyond our small minds.
The self-help books, blogs and papers are full of answers.
But, as I’ve mentioned in previous columns, all of the traditional religions say clearly that intentional silence (meditation/contemplation) is a prerequisite.
Once you get a taste of the joy and strength that comes with the trusting, releasing and letting be that comes with having a practice in place, you will never want to stop.
Moving beyond our reactive, auto-pilot behaviours is within our capability.
In fact, it’s why each of us has been put here.
As Jesus/Yeshua says: “Do not be afraid”.
Just jump in. The water’s fine.
In fact, you might even learn to walk on it.
(By the way, the Hebrew word for what Christians have translated as “sin” actually means “to miss the mark”— as in an archer aiming at a target.
It’s root is in not being fully present and taking the time to aim with intention.
It has to do with being conscious or unconscious. Being unconscious is death. Being conscious brings life.
Brian Puida Mitchell facilitates an interdenominational contemplative group. He is a graduate of the Pacific Jubilee Program in Spiritual Direction. firstname.lastname@example.org