It seems that many wise people are prompted to their spiritual awakening by some type of suffering. This seemed the to be the case for Michael Singer as he wrote his spiritually charged book “The Untethered Soul” while in the midst of a federal indictment. This was also the case for Eckhart Tolle who was on the verge of suicide before his spiritual awakening. Suffering’s round about purpose comes back to a forced spiritual awakening. The world is on its way to “waking up” and more and more people will awaken through joy as opposed to suffering, but suffering has been a normal way for humans to awaken.
It is easy to feel grateful, joyful, and peaceful when all seems right with the world. But what happens when everything goes down hill? When everything goes wrong you are being given the opportunity to experience your own level of consciousness. It is as if the universe is saying, “This is how enlightened you think you are, but let me show you how enlightened you actually are.” Because thoughts in the end are merely thoughts. Recently the universe has been helping me to awaken to my actual state of consciousness from which I have been operating.
Around October I was walking back to my apartment one cool, damp Chicago night and felt my leg start to itch. After arriving home I sat on my couch, looked down at my calf and found it had swollen up like an orange. The itching was relentless. I tried a great many things trying to stop the itching but nothing helped. The next day the bite looked so bad that I went to the doctor who prescribed antibiotics but couldn’t tell me what had done it. I was disturbed, bugs freak me out.
About 3 weeks later the same thing happened on my foot. Around a month later it happened again. The itching was tormenting me. I just couldn’t stop scratching. I was also being tortured by my thoughts. I wanted to know why this kept happening, how to stop it, and what bugs were doing this so that I could kill them. But I never found out. A month passed, I got another bite. My mom was reading a book that talked about “shenpa,” the need to itch, that notion inside that you feel compelled to act upon. It arises in many different forms. For many the need to itch manifests as addiction. They get a feeling that they need to do something and then they act. At this point I had deduced that I kept getting these odd bites because I needed to learn how to be with them, how to have an itch and not scratch. There are definitely other areas of my life that would benefit from learning how to not act upon compelling but unhelpful thoughts. I felt sure I was getting the lesson, but of course I still scratched the bites, and still felt uneasy about any bug I encountered not knowing who the culprit was.
Come back tomorrow as the plot thickens; surprisingly the title is not a spoiler. But today ask yourself, what unhelpful thoughts are you constantly acting on? When you have one of these thoughts take notice. Sit down comfortably and close your eyes for a moment. Feel the inside of your hands, your breathing. Watch the thoughts playing out in your mind. Find out what happens when you don’t act on them right away. Allow the thoughts to be, just be there with them. Don’t label them as good or bad, or wish you didn’t have them. Bring acceptance to the moment, and just sit with the desire allowing it to be as it is. What happens next no one knows. You might find yourself acting on the thought again, or you might find yourself placing your attention somewhere new. As opposed to deciding what will happen, allow yourself to not know, and then you’ll get to watch with attention and interest to see what you do afterwards. This turns the “itch” thoughts into something interesting and helpful.