Life as the Medicine and the Journey of Becoming Whole

“God so loved herself that she gave form to every aspect of her being. For God so loved the world, that she became it.” - Christopher D. Wallis

It’s the summer solstice and I sit at the ocean’s edge. The water is a deep greying blue as the sun begins to sink towards the horizon. My wild flower offerings are caught in sea foam, teasingly coming back towards me and then drifting away. The Summer Solstice is the longest day of the year, a festival of light. It’s funny but I’ve never considered myself a light worshipper. Don’t get me wrong I love the startling dazzle of sunlight, the surging of life that happens in those daylight hours, but I have always had a preference for the darkness of night. There are the liminal places of mystery that tempt me into oblivion. There breathes infinity in places where the soul pulses in naked abandon. Night has always held an eternal quality to me. The sun keeps time, but at night we are in the infinite now. 

I suppose it is that love of night that has led me into waters dark with churning shadows, and caves that demand a shock of courage to enter. I am a shadow worker and a life worshiper. I am here for the activated remembrance of spirit with the material. Only here in our humanness do we get to embody the wholeness of creation, spirit and matter, Divine and Demon, ALL that is. I am what I am because life has taught me how to be so. Life is the guru, the God/dess, the masterful mistress that I worship. She is coming for us all, so let us open and surrender. Let Her teach us how to be whole. 

The work of becoming whole allows the revelation of our holiness. The eternal truth is the truth that we are one with all that is, we are whole, and all is sacred. Yet through life’s dance we forget, we twist, and turn away and buy into the illusion of separation. This false belief in our separateness from God, universe, Source, Life, is the source of our existential wound. 

We live in a time where suicides are a greater cause of death than all wars and homicides combined. Rates of depression are skyrocketing, despite (for those of us in the west and most developed nations) enjoying pleasures the likes of which the kings of history have never seen. Yet, we continually turn away from life, diving into addictions to soothe our suffering minds, which sadly feeds a sense of lack-luster engagement with and disconnect from the world. Shriveling and hiding, our contraction creates the suffering that we so fear from life. The pain of existence is caused when we fight against the reality that is life, letting our egos play god rather than letting go and surrendering into what is true. Ironically we suffer when we believe life is the cause of our suffering. Life’s pain is but a stimulus, an invitation to self-actualized awakening. 

“I call God reality, because it rules” 

“Everything happens for you, not to you.”

- Byron Katie

In my room I have a floor to ceiling tapestry of the Hindu Goddess Kali. Kali is a Mother Goddess, she stands outside of time, a goddess of death and infinite love, she is the embodiment of life itself and the devourer of the ego. She dances atop the prone figure of Shiva, her lover God, she wears a necklace of demon skulls, her tongue out, long, lapping up blood, her eyes are wild and alive. 

I am kneeling at her feet. 

My body is heavy, I am numb. My personal demon of depression has visited me again with its seductive song of despair. I gaze up at this Goddess of Life and pray:

“Oh Mother please release me from this unbearable weight please help me to come alive, bring me back into my sense of connection with you, with life, fill me with life, Oh Mother please release me”

Desperate to be free of the fog fueled state of my suppressed aliveness, I beg to be free. I hate this part of me, this demon, this terror that comes upon me dragging me to the ground. 

As I begged I heard a terrible Divine whisper “who are you to decide what is god and what is not?” Just a whisper and my world shook. I broke open as all my own horrors were revealed to me. I broke open at the invitation, the demand, that I accept them as part of the sacred expression of creation. I broke open holding myself, holding all myself. She enveloped me in radiant life and I knew my demons as angels come to teach me of my own wholeness. 

I lie prone beneath Her in surrender and let life dance me.

Life is the medicine. 

“ What we’re seeking is an experience of being alive, so that our life experiences on the purely physical plane will have resonances with our own innermost being and reality, so that we actually feel the rapture of being alive.” - Joseph Campbell

Life holds in it all polarities, it is both agony and ecstasy, light and dark, night and day, horror and wonder. In our fear of life’s darkness we have exiled our very selves. As without so within. When one denies the beast without, we sever ourselves from ourSelf and we become pale, anemic echoes of the wholeness we are. To ingest life as medicine is to enter into the cave of your fears, it is the shadow work the world needs. To surrender to life as medicine is an act of ego annihilation. It is to “die before we die” as Rumi said. When we die to life, to the reality that is life, ALL life - spiders, warts, puppies, butterflies and all - we are born into it. This is awakening. 

All is sacred. ALL is sacred. There is no part of you that is not holy, just as all of creation is an expression of the Divine play, Shakti. Matter - Mater, Mother. This is a radical truth for the ego to accept, for ego thrives in separation and judgement. To make the Self whole, or rather to realize that the Self is whole and reclaim this remembrance, we must meet our demons and kneel at their feet, welcome them in as gods, because they are. We are. When we engage in this alchemy, we come fully alive. Aliveness, which is embodied presence, cannot be fully felt with unattended monsters hissing in your basement. When we are fully alive, we do not fear life, rather we rise to meet it, for any fear we may have held for the external has been reclaimed on the internal. You have tamed the dragon. You are free and can now ride that glorious beast!

“It is only by granting the whole world its freedom to be exactly as it is, that you can be free”. 

-Christopher D. Wallis

So what is the process of radical acceptance that ignites our liberation? 

Your body is the teacher for awakening into life. Open, allow every cell to receive life, every atom. How deeply can you attend to the smell of a rose, the taste of your meal, the touch of your lover, the rioting color of the garden, the sound of music? Receive fully with fascination all that you perceive.

Be here now. Full immersion in the present draws you into life. Bathe in the now. 

Bow to your demons and meet them as Divine. Do not hide from those shadows you deem unholy, seek them out. Seek especially those aspects that resist life. As Joseph Campell says,“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”And the treasure you seek is life. 

Love. Love life. Love all of life. Love yourself. Love yourself back to life. Love your fear, your wounds, your shame. Love your beauty and your tender heart. Love the clear skies and the grey, love this jewel of a planet and love the agony of its destruction. LOVE life. When you grieve know it as love, when you're angry know it protects love, when your joyous love that you are joy. Be in love. 

To be human is to be both spirit and matter. Only in this body do we have the opportunity to express the totality of creation, the polarity of limitless and the limited, eternal and the impermanent. God is not merely an ephemeral transcendence, God is reality, God is matter, God is you and needs you to fulfill the ecstatic expression of existence!

Life is the medicine. Life is what you are here for. You are life. Drink deep and know yourSelf.

~Elizabeth Huebner