Friday, March 02, 2007

are you ready to get rid of everything?

At some point, many people with a lot of material possessions just want to get rid of it all. All of it.

Just let it go.

The problem is, sometimes getting rid of everything isn't the answer.

I'm feeling really out of it right now - light-headed and woozy. My boyfriend is Baha'i, and today is the first day of the last month of the Baha'i calendar. During this last month of the year, Baha'is fast between sunrise and sunset - kind of like Islam's Ramadan.

I'm not Baha'i, but I thought it would be a nice gesture to fast along with my boyfriend, even though we don't live in the same city.

(The longer I go this first day without food and drink, however, the stupider this gesture is beginning to feel. Wait, was that my outside voice?)

I'm drawn to the spiritual significance of the fast: These nineteen days are a reminder of our strong desires for the material world, and through fasting and prayer we give ourselves the opportunity to explore different (preferably spiritual) choices.

Done without consciousness, however, I suspect this exercise would be futile.

It's not enough to simply deprive ourselves - or get rid of all our material possessions. Anyone can be disciplined for 19 days (yes, I have to do this for 19 days!), but at the end of it, what have you learned? Without introspection and consciousness, you'll have starved yourself for a while, and then most likely return to your pre-fast habits.

I don't want to finish this fast the same as when I began it. I've struggled with disordered eating since adolescence, and I thought this would be a wonderful opportunity to finally face the insatiable demon inside me. You know, the one who would have me eat an entire bag of cookies in one day.

(I'm betting many of you are also acquainted with Mr. Cookie Demon...)

Here's the heart of it: My desire for a cookie (or a new outfit, or the latest techno-gadget) does not rule me. Desire is fleeting and hollow. There is something larger than the desire - call it God, The Universe, love, the creative source, the true Self, whatever you will - and each time I turn away from material desire, I expect to run into something better, head-on.

What has this got to do with organizing?

(Yes, please tell us, Michelle. My sugar-starved brain is starting to hurt...)

Getting rid of everything is too easy. If you don't confront the desire to clutter up your life, sooner or later you'll end up back where you started.

It's hard work to get really clear - about each and every object in your life. It takes a lot of strength, and courage, and patience to do the work of clearing out the things you don't truly need. I would say it takes even more strength to make decisions about what to keep - and what to acquire, because you know, we can't stop acquiring stuff.

But you can start becoming conscious. You can ask yourself: Does this serve my highest good? Is this contributing to the essence of my life? Or detracting from it?

Clarity.

It's an ongoing adventure...
copyright 2007, Michelle Lynne Goodfellow

4 comments:

djaquuleen said...

Thank you

I hope to find the strength some day soon.

Peace, Love, Light, Truth & Laughter

Jacqueline

Faizi Crofts said...

I enjoyed reading this blog post. I am a Bahai and I 'enjoy' the fast at this point. But let me point out - attending the fast are usually difficulties and we seem to even be inclined towards unspiritual behavior (hunger and fatigue related grumpiness for example). This may seem counter-intuitive- but it makes sense when you compare it to say - exercise. Being out of shape doesn't feel like it goes away when you start jogging a couple of miles every morning all of a sudden. In fact- you feel your 'out of shape-ness' most acutely by doing this. Yet- jogging is precisely a remedy for being out of shape. It is similar with education. Studying a difficult subject doesn't tend to remind us of our intellectual strengths- but rather we may come to terms with our limits. Yet it is at the limits where we must focus in order for growth to occur over the long run. But we must be long sighted you see?

I have effectively used the fast as a tool to quit smoking. Next to starvation - a missing cigarette took on a different sense of proportion. Also - I augmented the fast by praying the 'tablet of purity' every day. During the Fast- I felt like the inner significance of that tablet by Abdul-Baha sort of opened up to me very powerfully and began to re-program some defunct addition habits with entirely new thoughts and tendencies. I tell you - at the end of the fast- not smoking was as easy as walking from one room into another. I quit without ever feeling like I tried at all. In fact- quiting was not a matter of "trying to quit" it was a matter of "trying very hard to pray and meditate right" - in short - fasting properly. I hadn't decided to quit or put any mental energy into the idea until the end of the Fast beyond the praying, but at the end I sort of realized I had been 'liberated from the addiction' (which is the kind of language that tablet uses- and which is exactly how I felt).

That said- I wouldn't expect specific things from Fasting - I certainly didn't and was very astonished by the result. Just be open to the possible benefits and pray with sincerity and peace, constancy and moderation (too much prayer can be like too much penicillin, and too irregular can be like waiting three days to eat and then binging a large compensatory meal- be balanced for the best results).

Thank you for being a friend to us Bahai's. We are very appreciative of kinship.

Michelle Lynne Goodfellow said...

Thanks for your lovely comment, Faizi. My Baha'i boyfriend and I are no longer together, but I learned a lot about the faith from his grandmother during the time we were together, and I still have a lot of respect for Baha'i.

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