A love letter to all of you who embark upon the inner work of awareness and excavation of your own unique soul. (Be sure to read it with an Irish accent as it is from beloved teacher, John O’Donohue:)
“We should allow the different sides of what is contradictory inside of us to come close and meet each other. There is a secret life in contradiction.
Because when you find contradiction in yourself, it’s never a neutral place; it’s always a place of fecund energy. And where there’s energy, there’s life. The force of energy within your own contradictions can actually bring you to a new level of growth and possibility. You can allow them to emerge with greater clarity and force.
If you hold to it, it will allow you to develop a sense of harmony which is deeper than the contradiction. The good place to begin doing some inner work is to find the points of contradiction because then you’re really in touch with the deeper energy of your soul and spirit. This enables you to become vastly more hospitable to that which is difficult within yourself.
Sometimes it’s amazing how we hold on so desperately to what makes us miserable. I often think there is a kind of addiction within us to what is negative about us. And maybe we need to re-value that which is negative.
Rilke wrote, “Difficulty is one of the greatest friends of the soul.”
We can bring the same hospitality to what is negative within us to that which is joyful within us because sometimes in avoiding what is difficult within us, we only encourage it to recur and recur.
What we need is actually a new way of looking at that which is negative. The way I would suggest is that which is negative is one of the closest friends of your own destiny.
The treasure is actually hidden in what is difficult in and around you. It is actually what you really need and that you can’t find any place else.
You can only befriend that which is negative if you really learn that it’s not destructive.
One of the great enemies is what we call morality. Morality is the greatest enemy of human growth. We take moral rules as a description of where the soul wants to go.
Actually, the best teachers in moral philosophy will tell you moral rules are at best, a signpost and can never be descriptions because each soul is so different from every other soul.
What we tend to do when we see that which is not moral within us is to do moral surgery and try to cut it out and remove it from us. By doing that, we are actually ensuring it will totally remain within us.
There’s a strange paradox in the soul that if you try to evade something or avoid it, it will chase you everywhere. The only way to bid farewell that you would consider destructive to actually transfigure it to something positive and creative and contributes to who you are.
The nice truth about what is negative in you is that the negative doesn’t lie to often. It will tell you fairly clearly where you are courting absence rather than inhabiting presence in your life.
When you enter your own solitude you will find one of the first presences announcing its arrival is that which is negative. Re-baptize all your negative qualities as your best qualities.
In this kind of baptism, rather than exiling or excluding all that is unwelcome in yourself, you are bringing it home into unity within yourself. All spiritual teachings will tell you that which is unified is that which is in complete rhythm.”