If everything you owned burned in an inferno, how would you feel?

What if your partner or best friend died tomorrow?

What if you were diagnosed with cancer and were facing chemotherapy, radiation, and the possibility of not making it in the next few years?

Sometimes, we think we have life figured out (not really, but we pretend we do). If we have that car, that job, or that house, we’re golden. If our day goes just the way we wanted it, we score! If we triple our income, we’re on Cloud Nine.

At least, that’s how many of us think in the Industrial West. But why do we have these ideas? Is this our heart speaking, or is it our brain? We’ve been conditioned for so many years. Reflexively, we reach towards what we’ve been told we’re supposed to have. If we have all of the right THINGS, we’re living the Good Life.

So much of what passes for spirituality nowadays supercharges this ego chase, so that we can satisfy what someone or something told us will make us happy. It’s sedating. But spirituality isn’t meant to sedate us–we have enough of that already! It’s meant to break us out of our old paradigms and help us emerge as beings Aware of the nature of Reality. If we’re addicted to our current paradigm, this transformation can feel uncomfortable.

What many of us also don’t realize is that spirituality is the Art of Living. It isn’t something we start and stop on the meditation cushion. ANY experience can enhance awareness, depending on how we approach it.

Pain and destruction raise our perception, if we allow them, if we’re completely present with them and nonjudgmental. They clear away what’s superfluous and illusory, leaving behind the True Nature. When you lose everything, you can realize, in a sobering flash, that those things don’t define you.

The Tibetan Buddhists have a practice called Chod, a ritual that takes place in a graveyard at night, where fierce and horrific entities are summoned and invited to tear apart the practitioner. In the astral carnage, the person loses attachment to the ego and enters the Void of Supreme Reality. Buddhists believe that clinging even to positive things will keep one from attaining the highest vision.

We don’t need demons or wrathful deities to tear us apart, because it seems like life does this enough to us as it is. But instead of running away from the “darkness,” we can embrace it and let it work its power on us, freeing us from our limited perspective.

Truly, what is good and bad is a point of view. Getting eaten by a mountain lion would be awful for us, but wonderful for the starving animal and her cubs. Right and wrong aren’t built into the Cosmos–there’s simply experience.

Sometimes, we just need a bitchslap to wake us up. We’re in a game, and if we take it too seriously, or get sucked into it too much, we’re missing out.

Here are some tips for riding the flames:

1. Let yourself feel your emotions, no matter how “low” or “gross” they are. Observe them and let them pass. No need to hold onto anything.

2. Instead of using your head to think of things to manifest, meditate until you reach some deeper sense of yourself, and let your Heart inspire you. Follow the signs in your life with childlike curiosity, but without serious expectation.

3. When facing a challenging period of your life, don’t struggle to make this or that happen. Allow things to happen as they will, and go with it, keeping an open mind to the possibilities. Things will probably fall away that you won’t realize until later you didn’t need.

4. Don’t be afraid to let go of things you now consider “positive.” At some point, you may start to see them as less glamorous than they appear now.

Be courageous on your Journey!

Let’s hear about your experiences! Please share below.

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