Commitment: a state or quality of being dedicated to one or more persons a cause, activity…
“Devotion. Loyalty. Covenant.” The words, synonymous with commitment, are as old as the world’s oldest civilizations. Yet, the consciousness energies of that “quality of being dedicated” are older still. They are inherent in all creation. The cosmos could not have continued after its beginnings without a commitment from the Macrocosmic Creative Consciousness Energy (the Creator/Spirit) to Its creation. Since then, Spirit has been expressing throughout the microcosm and inching all living things, especially us, along the evolutionary path.
One of the interesting methods that Spirit has used to push us along (not without a few glitches, to be sure!) has been to give us Storytellers. There have been thousands of them, mainly anonymous. Since the very earliest times, they have been producing an incredible outpouring of teaching stories—poetry/prose/drama/fact/fiction.
Our first Storytellers were the shamans who painted their stories on the walls of the Ice Age caves, including those of Pech Merle in France. Ever since those ancient days, the Storytellers have been an ongoing reminder of the Creator’s commitment to us and of our commitment to the Creator, to each other and to ourselves.
Like the many other gifts that Spirit has bestowed, the stories have embraced paradox. Within them we, the evolving recipients, have been both the subjects and the objects, both the actors and those acted upon. And the stories themselves have been paradoxical…a situation that has often resulted in our misunderstanding and misconstruing them. (Many of the sacred stories, especially, have fallen into that category.)
Yet, the most ancient stories and the most modern, especially those teaching us about commitment, have remained essentially unchanged. It is we who have had to “grow” into them. That has often been a challenge!
For all along, we were being taught the ways of the heart. This is true, no matter where in the world we look for the Storytellers and their stories.
In those of the western tradition, the heart ways given to us were sometimes fairly easy. They were reflecting the stage of spiritual evolution some of us had attained. A fine example from Judaism is the story about the tender love between Naomi and her daughter-in-law Ruth. In that account Ruth, a Moabite, had given up her own country to support and sustain the widowed and homeless Naomi, a native of Bethlehem. That loving commitment was rewarded by Ruth’s becoming the ancestral grandmother of Jesus of Nazareth.
At other times, the heart ways were extremely difficult to detect, while people were actively engaged in warfare, which produced much hardship and grief. Many of the stories about the Greek gods and their interactions with people centered around this theme. Rare were those mortals who truly loved either the gods or each other. When they did—Baucis and Philemon, for example—the rewards were great. In that story, the gods decreed that this loving couple…the only one the gods could find…would continue to embrace each other after death, as intertwined trees.
And there are the heart ways of commitment of wives to husbands. Another wonderful Greek tale is that of Penelope, the wife of the adventuring Odysseus, who followed his calling of being a warrior in faraway places. Having stayed away for years, he was finally getting old and tired. Meanwhile, he had had no contact with Penelope and he was (understandably) concerned about the reception he would receive upon returning home. He need not have worried. Faithful Penelope, who had fended off many suitors during all those years, welcomed him back into her life.
From modern times, there’s the heart way of commitment between the two children described in The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett. Here are Mary Lennox and Colin Craven, whose commitment to restoring an abandoned garden and to helping each other result in an amazing life expansion within them and their surroundings.
Thus, it has been that for thousands of years the world’s stories have taught us that the ways of the heart and the rewards of commitment have remained consistent. All along, we have been learning this, while we have been expressing our “both/and” paradoxical beingness in uncountably diverse ways. All along, we have been receiving needed insights into the immense range of our evolving consciousness—the pleasure and pain of our physicality, emotionality and mentality.
The stories have been given to us in order to teach us what we have had to learn about the power of our intent, along with the power of our will, values and beliefs. If we look at history with that perspective and see the unfolding of human events as Spirit-in-Action, we increasingly realize that all along we have been the creative power in our own affairs. Although their results have often been regarded as “punishment,” what we have slowly learned from the stories and our own lives is that the Law of Causality never fails.
Commitment as the way of the heart is an indication of Spirit-in-Action as the Law of Causality.
An Ancient Story: Nachiketa and Death
From the world’s most ancient sacred writings, the Upanishads, we have the wonderful tale about the 14-year-old Nachiketa, who realized that the commitments he was seeing around him, especially those of his family, did not promote life. After he had persistently questioned his father, who finally lost his temper and consigned him to the domain of Death, Nachiketa went there to get the answers he sought. When he was informed that Death was occupied elsewhere, the determined young man sat there and awaited Death’s return.
After finally showing up, Death was so embarrassed that he offered Nachiketa three boons (irrevocable favors) in compensation.
The first boon requested by Nachiketa was that of an all-forgiving compassion. This would open the inner gates to a deep consciousness (and thereby make commitment possible).
The second boon was that of receiving the fire of life, i.e., the power of prana. This would give Nachiketa the secret of the kundalini energies—a commitment to physical and spiritual vitality—that could not be extinguished.
Then came the third and final boon. Nachiketa asked:”Show me the way to go beyond death.” And Death was stuck! At first he tried to dissuade Nachiketa by emphasizing the superhuman endurance and dedication that acquiring this knowing would entail. Then, Death tried to divert the boy with guarantees of unlimited sexual and other sensuous pleasures, wealth beyond belief and hundreds of years of earthly existence in which to enjoy all of it. Unlike most teenage boys, Nachiketa steadfastly refused all the offers.
Death, who was secretly pleased with this display of commitment to purpose, then surrendered. Next came the instruction that brought Nachiketa along the path that leads to Wisdom…the path of a discriminating human intellect.
He learned all of it. Then he returned home. What happened thereafter, we can only imagine. Perhaps…Perhaps…What a story!
Nachiketa’s commitment can be compared to that of Siddhartha Gautama, who sat under the Boddhi Tree with a commitment to learn the secret of the Eternal in this life and become Buddha. And there’s the story of Jesus of Nazareth, who clearly demonstrated that a commitment to one’s sacred calling could result in much pain and suffering. But the magnificent reward is a deep spiritual awareness sometimes referred to as a Christ Consciousness.
A Modern Story: Saint Ralph
And to prove that the way of the heart and commitment are never to be lost as long as people are walking this earth plane, here’s a story from this century. It’s about Ralph Walker, another 14-year-old boy who, like Nachiketa, made a commitment to challenge death.
Ralph, who had already lost his father in WWII, was facing the death of his beloved mother from an illness that made her comatose. Every day he would sneak into her hospital room after visiting hours to commune silently with her. Meanwhile, no one at the St. Magus Catholic School he attended was aware of his situation because Ralph was firmly determined to follow his own path. (Since the onset of his mother’s illness, he had been living alone in the family home and informing the school authorities that he was with his [now deceased] grandparents).
When he was caught masturbating in the school’s swimming pool (with a clear view of the girls’ change rooms), the horrified principal, Father Fitzpatrick, ordered him to work off his libidinal energies by joining the boys’ running squad. Unknown to Ralph, here was the real beginning of his commitment journey.
At first, he struggled alone, while his body underwent rigorous training. Then, one day a teacher at St. Magus, Father Hibbert, who had left a budding running career to enter the priesthood, offered to help. By then, Ralph had decided that he would bring about a miracle that would restore his mother’s health. He would win the 1954 Boston Marathon. With Father Hibbert actively training him and Father Fitzpatrick reluctantly supporting the idea, Ralph fully entered into his commitment. And every day, he communicated his progress to his silent mother.
Well, that boy got to the Boston Marathon (a minor miracle in itself, since he was a Canadian and required total funding for the attempt). And with the help of the Spirit, who went running along beside him in the guise of a Santa in shorts, Ralph ran. He was winning the race. Then, at the final moment, he was tripped by the runner behind, who went on to capture the first prize.
Greatly discouraged, Ralph and Father Hibbert returned home. When the boy apologetically entered his mother’s hospital room, he discovered that the miracle had already happened. She was awake and aware of what he had done. (Indeed, Ralph’s entire school, including Father Fitzpatrick, had been delighted.)
It’s a great story! Again, the main lesson to be learned from it is clear. Many, many centuries after the first shamans painted their stories on the cave walls and many centuries after Natchiketa’s encounter with Death, we are being taught that when we make a commitment to that which is life-serving, we can become great human beings. After all, we’ll have the constant help of the Spirit as the Law of Causality.
Here we are evolving into heart awareness one story at a time. The Storytellers continue to give them to us. To augment that treasure trove, some of us are realizing that we also have a sacred story to live. It’s about our brain/mind and heart/mind development. It’s about our personal involvement with the Law of Causality. It’s about realizing that we’re already in heaven. And it’s about becoming much more that the animal souls we thought we were.
Well, onward and upward! At this time in human history, we’re still inching along. Spirit is still in action, while we’re making our commitment to a bigger life.
Berenice Andrews is a shamanic teacher/healer. For more details about the healing practices mentioned above, see her book Rebirthing Into Androgyny: Your Quest for Wholeness…And Afterward. See also her articles “Finding Your True Self: A (Sort of) Socratic Dialog,” September, 2014, and “Understanding the Human Energy Being,” June, July and August, 2015 in Transformation Magazine. If you are interested in reading more and/or becoming her student, see her web site: thestonecircleclassroom.com.