What kind of creature are you?

From the Gospel of Thomas:

“If you seek the Kingdom of God in the sky then the birds will precede you. And if you seek it in the sea, then the fish will precede you, but the Kingdom is in you. And if you know yourself then you know the Kingdom of God.”

During a Hakomi session, I once found myself having the vision of being on a beach with my family and many people I knew. Everyone seemed happy to be on the beach, relaxing, talking, eating. Everyone seemed quite normal. Then someone looked out at the ocean and spotted a pod of dolphins swimming past, moving fast, jumping and gliding through the water. At that moment I found it hard to breathe, and then suddenly I was in the ocean. As soon as I was underwater, I could breathe. My body felt light and I was moving with so much ease. I looked back at the beach and the bipeds walking on it and I was amazed. I knew I was not one of them and I was amazed I had survived as long as I had without breathing.

There have been long periods of my life, weeks or months, when I have gone without really breathing. It happens like a long slow forgetting, like the frog in slowly boiling water. It starts out fine and gets a little more intense until I am in pain, but so accustomed to it, I hardly notice my condition. So I was going along, barely surviving and not even knowing it. And then I would find an interaction with a person or a class or a book or movie or a new experience or a rich late night talk with a good friend and I could suddenly breathe again. I could feel myself. I felt myself waking up from a bad dream. Looking around I wondered, where have I been?

Sometimes a particular teacher or lecturer speaks in a way that I feel like I am drinking them in. My body is so thirsty and everything they are saying feels and sounds so true to me and it is such a relief to hear, feel and drink in the truth. The feeling of being a fish back in water again returns. My body feels relaxed and full like it is truly my own. I feel close to the people around me no matter who they are. Curiosity emerges in relation to events and interactions that could have sparked anger, bitterness, jealousy or guilt when I was suffocating.

What amazes me about the not breathing times is how alone I felt. Have you ever gone swimming with dolphins? While you may see 5 or 10 of them at the surface of the water, hundreds of them may be swimming below. We may have more companions than we realize.

Many teachings direct us to “be ourselves”. How do we “be ourselves” if we don’t know who we are? How do we get to the truth of who we are? Sometimes we get a “hit” that what we are hearing or seeing or feeling is just true. Somehow we know it in our bones. It is a calm knowing and something in us says “yes”.

There are many counterfeits and many ways we try or pretend to be creatures other than we are. At best, fighting our nature brings dissatisfaction or irritation. At worst it brings pain and disease. If we have been conditioned away from our nature for much of
our lives, then it is a practice to discern our compulsive conditioned self from our true self.

I believe our bodies can become an ally and the instrument through which we come to know what kind of creature we are. Then we can admire the fascinating variety of natures out there. We can let them be what they are. We can stop expecting a giraffe to act like a ant. If I am a giraffe, what a futile and maddening thing to expect myself not only to be an ant but to find my heaven in an ant hill.

Your heaven is in your own world. Know what you are. Love what you are. If those directives seem challenging, get help from someone who really sees you, who really gets you, who can really acknowledge you for what is natural to you, though it may certainly not be normal.  Often a habit or trait that is problematic is a highly specialized skill born out of the circumstances of our upbringing that has become compulsive and overdeveloped.  Judging and condemning these skills offends the part of us that worked so hard to survive our particular circumstances.  If we can acknowledge and appreciate our compulsive behaviors, they relax.  Our bodies relax and then we can develop new skills and act consciously instead of compulsively.

Two of my favorite teachings (Re-Creation of the Self and Human Design) say essentially that there is nothing in you that needs to be fixed. Anything you are trying to fix is not you. What you are is already perfect. Our potential is to wake up from the nightmare of being someone else, living someone else’s life. You may require some guidance in learning specific skills or ways of navigating the material world, and still…

What you are is perfect, put upon this earth to experience and to enjoy being yourself in your own personal kingdom of heaven.