Noticing that a speaker I hadn’t heard before was giving a talk in town about finding divinity within – a subject close to my own heart – I decided to go along.
It’s brave, talking about a topic like that in this town; it’s something of a spiritual hub. Although small in area and population, Glastonbury plays host to adherents of a huge and sparkling variety of beliefs. We have Sufis, various denominations of Hindu and Christian, Buddhists, Pagans, 50 shades of witches, wizards and magicians, goddesses and many more besides. The local events guide is bursting with invitations to engage in ritual, breathwork, healings, drummings, gong baths and awakenings. Ascension and Enlightenment loom large in the small ads. And yet here was this lady, standing up to tell her audience that divinity could be found within.
Her credentials were impeccable. Not only did she have a doctorate in social anthropology, she had travelled the world and become intimate with a range of spiritual paths that made our town’s selection seem paltry. Calmly, gently, and with great respect and reverence, she pointed out that every spiritual and religious path she had encountered came down to one thing: There is a desirable state, which lies some way ahead. If we are prepared to follow the prescribed path resolutely, putting our own desires aside, we may be fortunate enough to reach the promised state of bliss/enlightenment/ascension/joy or whatever is being offered. She paraphrased further: As things stand, we are not good enough, not complete, lacking a certain something. Our perfection lies some way off.
She had not, she insisted, had a personal awakening or mystical experience – nothing so grand. She had, gradually and painfully, seen that the paths she had been following were missing the perfection that is already there. She spoke of a fragment of divinity which lies within each of us and invited her audience to find their own ways of searching within for the guidance which would not take them on some esoteric spiritual path, but would involve simply going on, day after day, week after week, making mistakes, making amends and getting on with life. She looked rather sad, as if the quests for perfection with their rituals, observances and promises of a wonderful future were, by comparison, a kind of primrose path – one she missed.
This is The Shift – the one that so many books were written about, so many experts spoke about just a few short years ago. 2012 would dawn, they said, and everything would change. We would enter a New Age. Self-empowerment would be the key. We’d no longer be giving our power away to politicians, bankers or – yes – spiritual leaders. It was hyped up to a ridiculous degree. We gazed longingly at Aztec inscriptions and prophecies ancient and modern. We waited with baited breath…
No bells, no whistles, but slowly and almost imperceptibly the change began.
A stealthy, gentle sea change is taking place as we begin to recognise that we DO in fact have the perfection we sought inside ourselves. We are perfect, divine beings who have chosen to spend a fragment of our eternal existence exploring imperfection. We witness dark in order to be able to see light. We encounter pain in order to recognise and value joy and pleasure. We have been born into a time and a culture where many ancient and wonderful paths offer wisdom and experience. Many of us have the freedom – hard-won by our ancestors – to choose which, if any, of these to follow.
So however we decide to experience this brief lifetime, each of us – every single being – is unable to shake off our innate divinity. It is who we really are and as we grasp that stunning understanding, so we can gently, gratefully and reverently lay aside our allegiance to those who try to lead us to what we already have.