by Dan Joseph –
Once there was a young prince who was in search of a princess to marry. Unfortunately, although he searched far and wide, the prince couldn’t find a suitable mate. Then one night, during a rain storm, a young woman showed up at the prince’s castle seeking shelter. She claimed to be a princess and the prince was enamored of her. However, the queen mother was skeptical of the young woman’s claim and decided to subject the woman to a test.
The queen ordered the castle servants to stack twenty mattresses and twenty feather beds on top of each other. She then placed a dried pea at the bottom of the stack. “If she’s really a princess,” said the queen, “then she’ll feel the pea beneath all these beds.”
Making the Shift
Instead, we become increasingly unable to tolerate our unloving thoughts.
We begin to feel them with an almost absurd sensitivity, just as the princess felt the pea. This motivates us to keep going, to continue the sorting-out process as we exchange our old thoughts for kinder ones.
Ultimately, I suspect, we will reach a point in this process where anything less than perfect love — perfect, divine love toward ourselves and others — becomes unwelcome. That love is all that will ultimately satisfy us. Everything else will produce discomfort.
Speaking personally, when I began reading A Course in Miracles, I was struck by how lofty some of the ideas were. Over and over, the Course teaches that we are infinitely loveable children of God, filled with such holiness that should we open our eyes to this holiness in anyone — even for an instant — our lives will be instantly transformed.
The glory of God is within everyone we meet, says the Course. And this glory is within us as well. To see this holiness is to fill our hearts with love. Wow! I thought when I first read that. Those are some pretty “high” thoughts! They certainly sound nice, at least. Now, eighteen years later, I have a different view.
Those thoughts aren’t lofty spiritual musings; they are oxygen.
All of my other thoughts — my resentments against that person, my worries about this thing, the perfectionistic ideals that I hold against myself — are like smoky air that I choke on. And my life is a back-and-forth vacillation between the clean and dirty air, with the smoke becoming more difficult to tolerate each day.
I hear similar reports from other folks on the spiritual path. The peas, the smoke, the burden of our unloving thoughts weigh upon us more acutely with every step we take. Eventually we decide to toss a few peas, breathe some clean air, drop a few weights. This is wonderful; we walk on freer and lighter. Even as we do this, the remaining blocks become clearer.
I suppose that this is why spirituality requires an ever-greater commitment as we move along.
Having become more honest with ourselves about our blocks, it is more difficult to hide them. And now that they are revealed, our only choice is to commit ourselves more fully to the process of change.
Like a stream that begins as a trickle in a desert, the spiritual path collects water from its tributaries and draws us more powerfully as we go along. With each new bend, it becomes harder to hold on to our old thoughts — and more of a relief to finally open to the flow of divine Love.