It’s the start of a new year, a new decade, and this is an opportunity to create a more joyous, healthy, and fulfilling life. It’s common, at this time, to make resolutions for self-improvement yet, often, something essential is left out of our plans.
If someone asked me, “how might I improve my life?, I’d say “by flying with two wings.” Let me explain with this brief story:
The fire crackled and sparked, emitting brilliance into the black night. Shadows played on the surrounding grass as the flames reached out and shrank back into the blaze. An ancient woman, with bright eyes and soft face sat on the ground beside the fire, within the circle of young men and women surrounding the fire. She looked into each face, as if to read the thoughts behind the eyes.
This was a sacred gathering, a transmission, and an important lesson. It was late at night. The village homes, with their warmth and love, were pinpoints of light blinking in the dark valley far below. Twenty-two aspirants were gathered with the teacher.
The wise-one started speaking: “A material culture has taken over most of the world, and people cultivate mainly the external, material part of their lives. They labor, plan, enjoy the pleasures and suffer the pains of physical life, and strive for outward success. Yet the Inner has been forgotten."
“The Inner-Beloved is the source of all joy, love, and creativity. Without communion with the Beloved, life is dry, like the pulp of a fruit without the juice. Without the inner-connection, it is not possible to be fulfilled. Such a life is without satisfaction.”
“A person engaged only in material life is like a bird trying to fly with one wing: No matter how much the wing is flapped, the bird remains earthbound, moving in circles. Only when both wings are beat together can the bird take flight.”
“If you would experience happiness, you must develop both of your wings, the material and the spiritual.”
After saying this, the Teacher became silent, and all in the circle contemplated what had been said for a long time. Then, quietly, the members of the convocation arose and went their separate ways.
I am a student of this teaching, and attended this convocation in my mind. Although the story is imaginary, it is real in terms of the lesson it conveys. Finding true fulfillment in this life requires more than winning, more than having money and material things. True happiness comes from a connection with the source of happiness inside.
Once we have that connection, then everything we do is powered and shaped by it. It is as said in the New Testament at Matthew 6:33: “But seek ye first the Kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
Until we have that connection, we move from person to person, thing to thing, hoping to find fulfillment. But no thing can fill us.
Many years ago, when a freshly out of law school, I worked for a time for a famous lawyer. He had a big personality and was widely known for his outspoken manner and accomplishments. He was wealthy, had a law firm in his own name, a beautiful wife, and world-class fame. He seemed to have everything, but my sense was that he was secretly unhappy. I worked in an office directly beneath his; there was a spiral staircase that came down from there and while working I could hear his voice. He shouted obscenities most of the time. He was cruel to his employees, and his inner-life seemed empty. To me, all his wealth, success, and fame seemed like glitter on the outside with nothing on the inside.
I’ve also spent time with people in India who have very little in the way of material wealth by any standards, yet there was a sweetness and joy that shined out of their eyes and a great generosity in their hearts.
So, when starting this new year and new decade, I hope you will give time and effort to both wings of your life, so that in this decade you will truly fly.
Through education and facilitation, I help people deepen their experience of the Inner-Treasure, and integrate their two-wings into full, rich, meaningful lives.