Okay, so I guess the word "atonement" is burdened with a notion of "paying back" for having done something really bad. And in this process you are going to suffer terribly according to Hollywood drama, and other fear-rending storytelling.
However "atonement" in a more wholistic sense is definitely something I want to infuse my life with. And words like "discipline", "effort", and "investment" pale in comparison for me. They miss what I am aiming for in the previous post. They are all very good words for describing the acts around harnessing one's will consistantly towards a goal.
What I am reaching for in my exploration of the uncommon, possibly dusty, and slightly off-putting word (for many of us) is a comprehension of spiritual integration in the physical aspects of my life.
In a spiritual sense there is often a recognition of the idea that someone can "wake up" to a larger truth in life. Like, hey (!) maybe life is about more than making money, buying the right products, and looking young forever. A person can get an awareness of connectedness and overwhelming love when contemplating the universe, doing the dishes, looking at a flower, taking out the trash, practicing yoga, etc. A flame of spiritual awareness can get lit inside someone, maybe inside everyone.
So I have found myself waking up to the idea (over time) that, "Life doesn't suck." This is the opposite of what I told myself and my friends from my teens (possibly younger) through some of my twenties which was, "Life sucks." ...not very clever or original, but true nonetheless. I really believed it when I said it and thought it, and for me the cliche caried the weight of great sadness and disappointment. But it wasn't true. It's just how I chose to view my experience at that time. And it was through the practice of yoga that I started to see my life through the filter of a different viewpoint. (I also think that I can send some credit to a dear relationship that started in my mid-twenties that made hanging out at the bar not-so-appealing anymore.) Things started getting better.
Actions that were taken or not taken from someone with the viewpoint that contains "Life Sucks" can cause serious problems. And it has taken me years of dedicated yoga practice and looking at myself through different techniques including meditation and my women's group to get to a point where I feel like an inferno of enthusiasm, and want to make a difference in my life. So from my more recent viewpoint, some actions not taken in the past are viewed as mistakes even though I did the best I could with what I understood at the time. Today, if I were to continue to ignore undone things I would be living in the past, and ignoring a real situation based in past mistakes. So in a spiritual sense I am atoning when I am putting work into correcting past errors. And from an earthly perspective it really would be accurate to say that I am honing my discipline, or making an investment in myself and my future by contributing to my life situation.
But, I also see imprinted in these mistakes spiritual lessons I must have needed to learn, because that's what happened. So it becomes atonement when I reach for a spiritual healing through actively correcting a real life daily situation that is not right.
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