There is within us a desire to know and understand. For some this is cosmic, a desire to get to original causes. For others, it is borne out in the how and why of day to day survival. But this impulse to know is innate in the creatures we are: no claws, no hard shell defenses, just our minds to guide and protect us. Except when it doesn't. Except when the gift of our consciousness is weaponized against ourselves as doubt, fear and shame take up more space than we could have imagined was possible.
We get lost. There is simply too great of a distance between who we are and what we've become.
When this happens, when you recognize that you've gone off the rails from what was possible in your life, when you see there is work to do to set things aright, when you see the distance you might despair of ever closing it and just give up; or, you might start on a program of self improvement: lose weight, exercise, read self-help books, go back to church, go back to nature, walk 10,000 steps a day. It's all good, man. Any one will do, all won't make a difference if self improvement is the goal. The language is telling. Improvement is defined as "a thing that makes something better or is better than something else." There is judgment in it. Better implies worse. If you are to be self-improved, you must start from the proposition you are somehow worse to begin with. I know the intention is good, but this is horrific bullshit and does great harm. Don't fall for it.
Being lost is not a failing. Not knowing something is not a failure. Struggling does not mean you are deficient. You need no improvement, love. You need to be complete.
The word "complete" comes to us from the Latin word complere, which means to fill up, finish, fulfill. You need to fill yourself up. There's nothing to improve, only fulfill.
Following the track of improvement, of studying the habits of highly successful people, of being indoctrinated into the mysteries of religion, of learning the optimal combination of amino acids and protein to build muscle, of getting that MBA are fine in and of themselves, but no wholeness will arrive through them. When you place your identity outside of yourself, when it is tied to outcomes you are forever at the mercy of those outcomes. There is a distancing here. No matter how hard you work it is a distraction from the primary work of your days: to be who you are, as you are without judgment or shame.
Now, if training for a marathon, or getting an advanced degree, or turning to faith are expressions of your filling up, then all is well. Things move from the inside out. No one ever believes this because we live in a time and place that emphasizes the external, the accoutrements, the trappings of what is alleged to be the good life. The good life is the life waiting to be lived inside you right now. It has nothing to do with money, faith, sex or accomplishment. It solely has to do with restoring yourself to yourself, as you are, without the doubt that has plagued and tripped you, without shame for being the creature you are, without fear of judgment.
How is this done?
One is too many
Billions ain't never enough
Don't take the easy road
There's no shortcuts
Spirit kingdom do
What we can't do for ourselves
Don't put nothin' down
Without lovin' everybody else
* * *
Tell me 'bout your desires right now. Quick, before you start censoring them, filtering them through everyone else's expectations. Can you do it? Listen, the spark is there. It is in you because it is you. Your work is to uncover it and go where it leads you. Remember, improvement is useless without it. To improve without the spirit of being complete is harm itself, it makes you a hungry ghost, always searching, always finding the flaw, always being judged, always being judgmental. That don't serve you. Not a bit, love.
Dr. John wants you to know there's no shortcut, but there is help. Every step you take in the direction of being whole, of being filled up is met with hundreds of steps rushing towards you to meet you, to lift you, to assure you, to dare you to take another.
From Joseph Campbell:
"For when the heart insists upon its destiny, resisting the general blandishments, then the agony is great; so too the danger. Forces, however, will have been set in motion beyond the reckoning of the senses. Sequences of events from the corners of the world will draw gradually together and miracles of coincidence bring the inevitable to pass."
Do you believe that? Do you believe that is possible, or is wishful thinking? I hate wishful thinking. It destroys, makes weak what could have been strong. No, this isn't wishful thinking. It is a description of how things fall into place when you abandon improvement for being who you are, no part left out. It doesn't mean riches or peace or health. It means you can finally be as you are and you can move and act and do from the deepest well of being. And here, if this is where you have gotten to, it is impossible to put something down without lovin' everybody else.