I looked down at the new text on my iPhone, surprised. "Random," I thought. And, "Duh."
The text was from a friend of mine I've never even met; one of the hazards of running MyOutSpirit.com is feeling very close to people you've never hung out with. LGBTQ people often turn to me as if I'm someone with answers, and I do my best to honor their questions and reach inside myself to remember the answers. (I even added a "Big Questions" section to the website so that all the members could do this question and answer work together.)
"Have you ever forgotten who you are?" my friend wanted to know.
From a spiritual perspective, answering "Yes" is deeply true. We have all forgotten who we really are; it's why we're embodied. "Genesis says Adam fell into a deep sleep," as Marianne Williamson reminds us. "Nowhere does it say anything about him waking up!"
The root of all genuine, transformative spiritual practice is a freedom from identification with the small "s" self - the ego and its attachments, beliefs, habits and limitations - and evolving into identification with the capital "S" Self - an experience of unity with the Universe/Light/Divinity/Brahman/God.
We suffer because we have forgotten who we are.
Our lives are meant to be about remembrance: rediscovering the atoms of stars in our bodies; stretching our ordinary consciousness into a vast web of unconditional love; moving into a place without "self" and "other," "subject" and "object." We are here to reconnect with that Spirit that interpenetrates everything.
We get to choose.
Most of us are lost in our lives. Jobs, family, children, pets, good relationships, bad relationships, retail therapy, fashion, fitness, activism, sex, politics, GLEE - there are innumerable shiny distractions for the ego to play with like Legos it uses to build a portrait of itself. This is the real definition of karma.
Karma is not about good or bad actions, sinful or virtuous behavior. Karma is that which strengthens the ego self at the expense of the Self. "Bad karma" is created when your thoughts, words or actions reinforce your ego. That is what keeps you in hell, suffering, caught in samsara - however you understand it. But it is possible to have sex, enjoy GLEE, and celebrate your life without creating more karma for yourself.
How? By remembering who you are and why you are here, and letting that remembrance color your choices. Take action for your freedom. EnlightenNext founder Andrew Cohen calls it "Clarity of Intention:"
"Wanting to be free more than anything else is not a feeling; it's an action. It is a conscious position you take in relationship to every choice you make. Without the clear intention to be free, no amount of spiritual practice will change you in the long run. Your success depends entirely upon your conscious choice to be free in every moment. Ultimately you will reach a point where you no longer have a choice, where your own freedom is recognized to be a choiceless obligation. Then the Authentic Self, which is already ecstatically and perfectly free, will have become the dominant force in your being."
"Have you ever forgotten who you are?"
We ALL have.
Clayton Gibson is the founder of MyOutSpirit.com, the gay spirituality social networking website and resource directory, and GaySpiritCulture.com, the co-op funding program for LGBT-affirming organizations and businesses.
Photo Credit: "Shimmer" by Bartosz Madej