“What do you really want?”

The spiritual teacher looked at me and asked this simple question. It was day three of a week-long silent retreat and I was having my scheduled ‘dokusan’, a term used for a private meeting with the teacher.

My mind went to some of what I thought were acceptable answers to this question like ‘Enlightenment’, ‘Truth’ or ‘God-realization’ but when I checked into my heart the only words I could find were “I want to help”.

On the heels of these words was the clear awareness that the most meaningful place to help from was a liberated soul. So that was why I was here. To liberate my soul so I could be of service to bring more peace, sanity and health to this world. It became clear that it’s also the reason why I sit in silence every day, and am committed to the sometimes painful inner work. And it’s becoming the primary reason why I do my best to take such meticulous care of my body. Although the original motivation came from not wanting to get sick and to maintain my exterior appearance this has lost some of its interest as the focus has been drawn more deeply to the spiritual:  the soul shines more easily through a body that is honored and respected.

Although I’ve been aware of the desire to be of service from a very young age, lately the call has become stronger. The longing that I feel is relentless and impossible to ignore. It has required that I look very closely at the way I have helped in the past. While sincere, many of my motivations have been entwined with fear: working hard to support my children and keep my household afloat, wanting to influence and change people according to my own agenda, being worried about outside opinions, feeling self-doubt about my abilities, and being weighed down by uncertainty at times.

Lately, one of the words that has been present in my being is ‘integrity’ and what that really means at this time in my life. I realize that helping others, when I’m not in integrity, is weak, lackluster, fatiguing, and often stressful. If I’m honest with myself, helping in this way can come from wanting to control, avoiding my own feelings, and not trusting Life.

And so, as I touch into this soul-driven desire to help, I find that it appears that I’m actually helping less right now. Much of my attention is driven inwards. Most of what is being revealed is coming directly from Silence. Quietly, but powerfully it seems to be deconstructing who I thought I was. I don’t know where it’s leading but that too is less important. I do my best to be in integrity with the deepest place I have available to me moment by moment.

It feels right.

“The Master can keep giving because there is no end to her wealth.”

Tao Te Ching, Lao Tzu


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