Practical spirituality for a complicated world.
"Sail me on a silver sun, for I know that I'm free. Show me that I'm everywhere, and get me home for tea."
It's All Too Much, by George Harrison
"Are you nuts?" "Have you lost your mind?" "What are you going to do there?" "Do you have a job?" "How will you live?" "Why are you going to just walk away from a successful career?" "Don't they have lots of rattlesnakes there?" "Isn't it hot there?" "I hope it works out for you." "I hope you're doing the right thing." We've heard these comments, plus a lot more during the past couple of months since we
decided to move to Southern New Mexico. Once in a while, someone said something like, "Good for you, for following your dream!" However, many of the people we know believe that we have lost our minds. Truth be told, I've lived most of this lifetime on the edge. Setting out into the unknown doesn't frighten me, at all. On the other hand, remaining anywhere, after Spirit has urged me on, really scares the daylights out of me. I know, beyond any doubt, that being guided by Spirit means living in the flow. When we're in the flow, life unfolds in delightful ways that we could've never imagined possible. If we insist on pushing, pulling, straining, being Nervous Nellies, always having to control the outcome, then life becomes a constant struggle. I don't want that.
I believe in God, the Creator of all that exists. I've spent most of this lifetime trying to learn and discover as much about God as I could, wherever I could. For a few years, I abandoned all thought of God because I had been so abused by religion and religious people. There was a time when I couldn't even bear the sound of the word "God". One day, rather suddenly, I realised that I wasn't angry with God. I was furious with all the religious power structures that had created a hateful god in the image of their own human limitations. Those religious organisations are at the root of so much pain and abuse, all for the purpose of controlling us. At least, that's the conclusion I arrived at, one day. If I've preached anything in my column these past 5 1⁄2 years, it has been this: Search for God, listen to your heart, trust your own inner knowing, think for yourself, avoid religion and politics, live in the present, release trying to please others. Well actually, looking at it now, maybe that was a bit too much preaching, but I think those are positive messages, and I'm glad to be associated with them. According to the ancient Vedas of India, the purpose of human life is to establish a proper relationship with God, with our fellow humans, and to live in balance and harmony with all creation. That sums it all up fairly well, I think. Most cultures, throughout history, have recognised the importance of these principles. Gradually, all cultures begin a process of decline. Again, the Vedas describe what a society in decline looks like: obsession with sexual activity, amassing material possessions, a haughty disdain for God and spiritual pursuits, warlike activities against neighbours, unqualified, unintelligent people assuming political power, mothers murdering their children, men living without a code of honour, neglecting their families, etc. That's a fairly accurate description for much of early 21st Century America, isn't it? So, all I'm suggesting is that we consider some of these ancient teachings, and perhaps adopt spiritual principles as an alternative to the things of this material world. Maybe that is a radical message. I don't pretend to know all the answers, or even some of the answers. I've said many times that the questions we ask are often more important than the answers we receive. I've also told you all, quite honestly, that I could be wrong about all this. Don't take my word for any of it. Explore. Discover. Think for yourself. This is a big Universe, and we've got all of eternity to surf through it.
I've tried to be an alternative voice to all those who shout at you, or threaten you, or try to submerge you even more in the sea of materialism, and ego sense gratification. I've tried to present spirituality as a worthy pursuit, and to encourage people to be more independent. One thing I've endeavoured to do is to say:
you are free
. You have the freedom to decide for yourself what spiritual looks like. You don't have to be a religious clone, or a political puppet of the Radical Religious Right, or of the Fanatical Marxist Left. You don't have to be intimidated by the phony Tolerance Terrorists, or the lunatic Fundamentalists. You are really and truly free. You are as free as you allow yourself to be. I've also tried to remind you, that for good measure, it's a terrific idea, once in a while, to tell these self-appointed commissars of political correctness to p*ss off. That may not sound terribly spiritual, but just to keep our feet on the ground, once in a while, it's okay. I'll say it once more: Remember:
you are free
Another personal issue I enjoyed writing about was my recovery from people pleasing. I spent far too many years trying to make everyone happy, at the expense of my own sanity. One day, I discovered that most of the people I was trying to please, and trying desperately to get the approval of, weren't very likeable, themselves. It finally dawned on me that I, myself, was the biggest loony, for trying to please people and get them to approve of me, when I thought they were loonies all along. Today, I won't go out of my way to be rude, but neither am I the human door mat I once was.
I've also been open about how I used to live in fear. For many years, I was intimidated by most other people. I saw them as competent, afraid that I was incompetent. I wasn't, but I was afraid that I was. About 30 years ago, I woke up one morning and said, "No more!", and I haven't looked back since. I am no longer a spectator. Today, I take an active part in life. I don't stand by trembling, having one nervous collapse after another, perpetually wondering if I've made the right decision, or not. Along with the support and guidance of Spirit, I plunge headfirst into life, knowing that I am, at all times, divinely guided and protected. I embrace life, with its certainty and uncertainty, its comfort and unease. Most important of all, I listen for that quiet voice within, my own inner knowing. When I heed the promptings of that guidance, then I am in the flow. That is how I live my life on a daily basis, including the small decisions, as well as the big decisions, like moving to a new community without a job. If it is in the flow, how can it not be a tremendous blessing?
And now, the time has come for us to say goodbye. In his wonderful book
, Richard Bach advises us not to be saddened at goodbyes. He says that goodbyes are necessary before we can meet again, and that meeting again, after moments or lifetimes, is a certainty for those who are friends. One day, you might pass along a dusty New Mexico road, and notice a rascal who looks familiar. Go ahead and wave, for it just might be the Redneck Hindu.
If you have found anything of value in these 295
Walk Your Talk
columns, pass it along, for we are all channels through which each other's blessings flow. Professionally, writing this column for the past 5 1⁄2 years has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my career. Personally, it has also brought me a tremendous amount of joy. I thank Diane DeLoren for suggesting I write the column, and I'm grateful to the
Santa Fe Reporter
for printing it. I also thank the publisher, Andy Dudzik, who remained a constant supporter of my column, as well as of me, as a writer. To ensure domestic tranquility, I must also thank James Efferson, my number one fan. Last, but not least, I thank the readers of
Walk Your Talk
, especially those who sent in questions, and offered such kind words of encouragement. I send you all thoughts of your highest good and greatest joy. I wish you all many blessings, and much adventure on your individual walks with Spirit. God bless us all. OM Shanti OM Haribol!
Robert Ransom Odom is an internationally published author and teacher. Robert has been a leading figure in the metaphysical spiritual community of Santa Fe since 1990.To ask Robert a question, visit his website at www.RobertOdom.com, email firstname.lastname@example.org or send mail to PO Box 33, Santa Fe, NM 87504.