The Last Attachment

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
In the course of our lives, human beings form attachments to events, people, memories, feelings, beliefs, experiences, physical objects, and much more. If we choose at some point to follow a spiritual path, we learn, sometimes quite painfully, to see the impermanence of everything and to let go of many of those attachments. One of our strongest attachments is to the personality we have constructed over the years and the stories we tell ourselves about our lives. Lives that are in reality ephemeral and transitory—a truth never more poignantly visible than in the past few months as humanity confronts death on a daily basis because of the coronavirus. We are taking a collective crash course in letting go—of everything.

The very last attachment in life is to our physical form. It keeps us tethered to Earth and if held onto too tightly may prevent us from experiencing the seamless connection between the physical and the spiritual. Between humanity and divinity. However, when you step into the free formlessness of the soul, of living with and within God, you begin to flow with life and eventually let go of hanging on so desperately to your physicality. This may happen fully only at your death, but if you are fortunate, you may experience it in life as you open to the greater wisdom of nonattachment.

Over the past year, I have faced the unexpected early deaths of several good friends. Such losses seem to increase as the years pass, and we look at our selves and our lives with a new awareness of the fleeting nature of time. In childhood, we have a whole life of endless days and nights ahead of us. As we grow older, the days appear to shorten and the years pass more quickly. In counterpoint, our bodies slow down, and we realize there is no reason to rush through the days and years. This is precious wisdom, moving us gradually to releasing attachment to time and physicality. But now that process has been accelerated for everyone. When people are dying by the thousands everywhere on the planet, there is no time for gradual acceptance. The last attachment is front and center all the time.

How do you navigate that awareness so that it infuses your life with wisdom and not suffering? How do you come to accept the deaths of loved ones and/or your own eventual death? Perhaps this global acceleration has been given to humanity to help us to face all of life’s beginnings and endings with peace instead of panic. To fully realize the preciousness of each moment and live from love and acceptance rather than judgment and attempts at control. We are here on Earth in physical form for a split second in time. Yet our nonphysical souls live forever in eternity. If you open to connecting to that soulful presence within (through whatever spiritual practices resonate with you), you access a timeless inner peace that is not attached to your body. That experience can sustain you through life’s most challenging moments.

When you begin to see everything from your soul’s perspective, moments of peaceful connection can multiply and become continuous. Much of the suffering that arises from attachment to a fixed predictable “reality” will gradually dissolve, and you can be more allowing of life, even in times of crisis. Maybe the entire world is now learning to accept the process of living and dying as part of a greater spiritual unfolding in the universe. Our physical form is just a temporary costume. In truth, life at its very core, you at your very core, are Spirit, which is eternal. When you are no longer so “attached” to external physicality, you begin to experience that inner loving connection as a constant companion.

 

Where Is Your Home?

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
The coronavirus mandate to “stay at home” has meant different things to different people. For some, it has meant freedom from external-world busyness and distractions and a return to inner peace and quiet. To others, it has felt like unwanted confinement and loss of in-person social contact. Some have lost their jobs and incomes; others, like healthcare workers, have had no choice but to leave the “safety” of home to provide critical services, despite the risks. All of us are suddenly facing issues of life and death. Our entire world, inside and out, has changed radically and continues to do so. In the midst of these huge ongoing changes, what does home mean?

Is home a place, or is it other people? Is it simply “shelter” or something much deeper, within you? Many of us have found ourselves considering such questions. When death appears at your doorstep, it is hard to ignore. Losing a loved one or facing the possibility of your own death is traumatic. You long desperately for solace and comfort, something that “home” has traditionally provided. But what if you are homeless, or you live in fear of losing your rented apartment because you no longer can pay for it? What if, even inside your seemingly secure home, you feel insecure and lost? How do we handle such painful, often isolating experiences?

Perhaps it’s possible, going forward, to feel at home within ourselves, whatever the situation, through the power of connection. Connection to other people, near or distant, gives us shared experiences and shared support, both individual and community. Connection to Nature takes us out of our own worries and fears and opens our hearts to the living world around us that we may have ignored or taken for granted. A peaceful walk in a park seems like a tremendous blessing right now. As does time spent with family, friends, and neighbors. These two are inseparable connections, and they can assist us in finding a sense of “home” and inner peace in the midst of uncertainty. As we navigate the future, we will be sustained by the ways we work together to make the world more livable for everyone as well as by the way we honor Mother Earth.

Equally important is a connection to something greater, beyond this lifetime, beyond all lifetimes. Whether you call it God or Goddess, Source or Mystery (or have no name at all for it), there is a loving Presence that permeates our material world and holds us all in its awareness. We carry that Presence within us; it is in our hearts and souls. It is in the love we share with others and the appreciation we feel for the Earth’s beauty. This is the Home that is infinite and eternal. It is who we are, we human spirits in physical form. During times of great crisis, people often begin to explore this aspect of themselves, the part that can never die or be lost. Here is the comfort we seek when everything else seems so tenuous and uncertain.

We can find courage and sustenance in connecting to our souls. We can also be more at peace with the unknown if we feel that connection. Yes, we have been facing fear and aloneness. Yet something else has been awakening: a soulful energy that emerges when we live our fullest, most loving expression in the world. When we sing in the night to our neighbors or care for the sick and helpless or share our deepest thoughts about life with a friend, the heart of the world is healed. Each of the ways we live love moment to moment is a unique, unrepeatable contribution. This global crisis could be a catalyst to help us remember the home of Spirit within ourselves, which connects us to all of life.

Peace from Gratitude

Charles Dickens described the French Revolution as “the best of times” and the “worst of times.” We could use similar words to describe our world now. There is chaos, conflict, death, and destruction on the one hand, and love, compassion, and the birth of a new more aware consciousness on the other. We who are alive at this time are bridges between the old and the new, Heaven and Earth, humanity and divinity. To hold all that within us requires great courage as well as deep inner peace. How do we achieve that? One of the most effective and powerful ways is to hold gratitude in your heart, to see the world through that lens, even with tears of sadness in your eyes. There is always something to be grateful for in life, whatever the circumstances.

Living Peace, Allowing Grief

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
Yesterday just before sunrise I was overwhelmed by feelings of sadness, grief, and mourning. Tears streamed down my face. The unfathomable loss of life around the world from the coronavirus hit me like an avalanche. The number of cases is continuing to rise here in Florida and throughout the U.S. My thoughts turned to Boston friends who had died of cancer in the last year and the trip home to Massachusetts in May that Anne and I had to cancel. My own and the world’s sorrow and pain rushed through my body in waves as I wept. Gradually, after a time, it subsided, tear by tear, and I sat quietly in the half-darkness, breathing in the silence. The sky began to lighten. Then, as if in answer to my heart’s call for comfort, a mockingbird began to sing its morning song, a medley of every possible birdcall it had ever heard. My heart lifted, as it always does when I hear a mockingbird.

This is how life works. You fall head first into grief, your heart cracks open, and through that crack, grace enters: a birdsong or a sunrise, the comforting words of a friend or the kindness of a stranger. Grace takes many forms, but it always brings us back to the peace at our core, our soul’s presence. I realized that even as I wept in pain and sadness, I had not lost the feeling of inner peace that has been with me since the beginning of the year, an ongoing connection to something greater. Growing awareness of the peace that lives within us will be our greatest strength in these times of huge planetary change. We are learning to let go of the known and trust in something beyond knowing.

My own years of spiritual exploration and questioning have at last settled into trust in a universal Presence (or God) that holds the Earth in its loving embrace. We—meaning humanity—are going through a tremendous shift and rebalancing on this planet. It is a release of inharmonious old patterns, an opening into greater awareness, and ultimately a coming together in oneness. It may not look like it on the surface, but I feel that is what is happening. All of my adult life I have believed in such a shift, foreseen by elders and masters in many traditions and cultures. That vision has inspired and sustained me through the years. Now it is occurring, more and more powerfully.

This paradigm shift is not pretty, a gift tied up with sparkly wrapping paper and bows. It is messy and painful, as all birth is. Fear and anger come up, as well as mourning the end of a familiar but worn-out way of life. In the midst of all those emotions, something new is being born on this planet, and we are all part of the process, midwives and newborns, angels and human beings. What appears to be chaos, conflict, and a shattered world weighed down by suffering is actually the shedding of an old skin and a restrictive structure that has been killing our spirits instead of uplifting them. In the ruins of the current paradigm based in top/down exclusion, a new one is arising that is centered in circular process and inclusion. Humanity is rediscovering its collective soul through the experiences and expanding consciousness of every single courageous one of us.

A cause for celebration, yes. Still, there is sadness, loss. Life on Earth, even in a new, more open and compassionate world, is never just one thing. A utopian vision must include the full spectrum of human emotion and being. We came to this planet, God incarnated in form through us, to experience it all. When we accept that—the sorrow and the gladness, the breaking and the healing of our hearts—we can then hold within us both grief and deep peace. The grief is human; the peace is divine. If we live life fully connected to our souls, peace and calm never leave us, even as the tears flow. In full acceptance of all that we feel and all of life as it is unfolding, we can experience that peace and live it in the world. It is who we are and why we are here.

The Heart of Peace

During challenging times, such as the one we are currently experiencing, it is often quite difficult to remain calm and centered. Fear and anxiety dominate the collective consciousness, and we start to slide into negative thinking and feelings of overwhelm. We forget that at our core is unshakable calm and peace. We were born with that inner essence. It lives within our hearts and souls, and we can access it at any time. Take a deep breath and join me in connecting to the calm within you: the heart of peace.