When I wrote on tapas or accepting pain for the sake of transformation—like purifying gold in fire—I didn't delve into the underlying assumption that, within each of us, there's something that longs to be transformed, that longs for purification so our true essence can shine.
The idea that transformation or purification could benefit you is a delicate message because it potentially could be extrapolated into the idea that something is wrong with you. Suddenly, we're back at the damaging concept of Original Sin—that each of us is fallen, innately flawed with a rotten core. I couldn't disagree with that idea more vehemently. Nothing is wrong with you.
If you read the sentence, "Nothing is wrong with you" and instantly, adamantly disagreed, please read it again. And again. No need to read the rest of this letter. Just that one sentence. Nothing is wrong with you.
I believe each of us has a pure core of Love. Then why do we need to purify ourselves at all? Well, we wouldn't—if we weren't fed lies from society that breed negative emotions within us like anger, jealousy, judgement, resentment, and blame.
We get barraged with messages—from the media, from our friends and family, from society at large—that we are not good enough. That we need to lose weight, drink more water, have clearer skin with fewer wrinkles, make more money, then more money than that, have bigger boobs, have a more kale-based lifestyle, have more followers, have more friends who are cooler, have better sex more often, travel to more adventurous places, live in more perfectly curated homes, and on and on and on.
It's nauseating. I can't stand commercials. When we're watching sports, I mute them religiously. [We often miss Tony Romo's opening words of commentary wisdom, and yet, we've somehow managed to survive. ;)]
But when I speak of accepting pain in the name of transformation I do not mean "pain" in the form of credit card debt so you can buy the $1000 winter coat everyone else in the five boroughs impossibly seems to possess.
The transformation I speak of is internal. Inner peace is an inside job.
So when people speak enthusiastically about tossing possessions that don't spark joy, know that I've read the book and totally support it, and I want to say: Do you know what could be more powerful to toss out of your life than your Hopewell Vikings Powder Puff Football tee shirt from 2007?
None of that shit sparks joy either, homie.
This is where purifying practices come in. Our societal messaging more or less breed these negative emotions within us—but though it's not our fault we have this garbage inside us, it's still our responsibility to clean it up.
The trick comes—I think—in realizing where these emotions stem from. Rumi says:
"Come to the root of the root of yourself."
When I experience a negative emotion, I try to ask: What is the root of the root? What is the root of the root of my jealousy? What is the root of the root of my anger over this situation?
Listen, my yard isn't clean. I've been trying to write a letter on jealousy for weeks....to no avail. My envy towards others is too embarrassing for me to share. And I judge people subconsciously, automatically, and basically constantly. I have a long, long way to go.
But I'm not writing this to chastise myself. And I’m definitely not chastising you. I simply want to share one principle that has opened things up for me as far as emotional purification:
I have realized my emotions come from within me. Not from other people. Not from my circumstances. My emotions come from me alone.
Maybe you think, "Duh." Because logically where else could they come from?
But have you ever said, "He makes me so angry"? Do you realize saying, "He makes me so angry" is blaming someone else for your own inner emotional state?
It's akin to a child saying, "He made me hit him." No one can make you hit them. And no one can make you angry. The anger comes from you. When you realize this—when you feel it in your bones—it is terrible and beautiful.
It is terrible because you are finally forced to take accountability for your inner state, and thus, for your life.
And it is beautiful because you are finally able to take accountability for your inner state and your life.
Eleanor Roosevelt famously said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I’d push it further:
No one can make you feel anything without your consent.
Most people who know me know I'm very emotional. Overemotional, some (most?) might say. When I had the realization I needed to stop blaming my emotions on others, my inner emotional landscape was the equivalent of a hoarder's impassable yard with ugly furniture from the seventies, broken bicycles, scattered nails, and endless weeds. So (to mix metaphors) it's not like I'm the person whose been skinny her whole life now saying: "And this is how you lose weight!" If I can work toward taking full accountability for my emotions then—I promise you—anyone can.
Once I stopped blaming other people and external situations for my inner state, everything changed. My yard might still have a floral couch in it that I need work on getting rid of, but I can at least walk through it now without stepping on a nail. It's—strangely—peaceful.
Wayne Dyer tells a story about an orange. He says, you can squeeze an orange any way you want. You can use a juicer. A blender. You can bang it with a hammer. You can run it over with a truck. And the only thing that will ever come out of that orange is orange juice.
You will never get grapefruit juice from an orange, no matter what you do to it. You will never get apple juice. Or pear juice. No matter what, you will only ever get orange juice.
Because what comes out, is what's inside.
You and I are the same.
And that is why we purify.
with Love and with Light,