I read part of The Path is Everywhere, Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You. It is worth transcribing the cover text here.
Drawing on my personal journey as well as my work with others as a therapist and guide, I wrote The Path Is Everywhere with the intention that it serve as a provocative, alive, and compassionate invitation to re-enchant our ideas about healing and spiritual awakening in the modern world. Weaving together the wisdom streams of contemplative spirituality, relational and somatic psychotherapy, and the poetic imagination, The Path Is Everywhere reminds us that the depth and magic of the sacred world is always already here, buried in our emotions, bodies, relationships, and in the natural world itself. Many have grown weary from a long search, exhausted from an endless quest to improve, hold it all together, heal all their wounds, and complete some mythical spiritual journey. But you are not a project to be solved. You are a mystery coming into form, and you have the raw materials that you need, right now, to live a life of profound depth, purpose, and meaning. We hear much about spiritual awakening and the deep joy, clarity, and peace that are its promised fruits. Often ignored, however, are the disappointments of awakening and the ways it can shatter our hearts, breaking us open to the reality of the crucifixion, resurrection, and transfiguration we are likely to encounter along the way. In the rush to convert the negative to the positive, manifest everything we believe we want, and manage our lives into some permanent state of “happiness,” we lose contact with the reality that there is no transfiguration without embodiment to the dark cross within. The journey of becoming a true human person is messy by nature, as it emerges directly out of the unknown and requires compassionate confrontation with the entirety of what we are. As we journey together as fellow travelers, let us commit to embracing both the joy and the heartbreak of the path, and bear witness to the wisdom shining out of our immediate experience, whether it appears as sadness, bliss, despair, or great joy. Grace will appear in both sweet and fierce forms but it is still grace, sent from beyond to open us to the radiant fullness of being.
I liked, in the beginning, this proposal to bring everything back to the first reality of life. Too often, we read that we must destroy old habits, that we must find the lost child, that he must think of happiness if we want to reach him. We are also told that depression is a bad thing and a sign that our nature is being robbed.
The author expresses with a beautiful style that it is not necessary to think in negative terms. Depression, evil in itself, sadness, suffering are an integral part of life. We must therefore not flee from these states, unless they are pathological—this is another reality—but rather observe them, feel them, especially listen to them in order to understand and reach their source.
Stay close to your sadness and surround it with curiosity, presence, and warmth. With the fire of awareness and with the ally of your breath, descend underneath the story of the sadness and into the crucible of the body where the sadness essence dwells and makes its luminous home. Go on a journey into the core of the feelings, sensations, and images and into the raw, shaky life that is longing to be held.
— Licata, Matt. The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You (pp. 40-41). Kindle Edition.
This is an outright existential purpose. Human nature is. That’s the end of it. Through this loving acceptance of oneself, one manages to put reality into perspective, to participate in life without making promises or distress. To paraphrase Camus, stay on the tightrope between two certainties.
As long as we follow a spiritual approach promising salvation, miracles, liberation, then we are bound by the “golden chain of spirituality.” Such a chain might be beautiful to wear, with its inlaid jewels and intricate carvings, but nevertheless, it imprisons us. People think they can wear the golden chain for decoration without being imprisoned by it, but they are deceiving themselves. As long as one’s approach to spirituality is based upon enriching ego, then it is spiritual materialism, a suicidal process rather than a creative one.
— Licata, Matt. The Path Is Everywhere: Uncovering the Jewels Hidden Within You (pp. 71-72). Kindle Edition.
For those who have read these “promenades,” they will understand that it also reflects the few achievements I have made, either through philosophical readings, meditation or by merely observing what surrounds me.
I still stopped reading Licata’s book after the first third. In his beautiful language, both scientific and poetic, he leads readers to try a tangible spirituality, and I fully agree. However, I would tend not to use the word spirituality. I don’t know why. The author talks too much about the mystery and the sacred. In short, even if he wants to be realistic, he directs his gaze towards his ignorance by attributing spiritual qualities to it. His speech then becomes a little circular. If only he would try to describe this sacred, but of course, that is impossible. The Gods do not have to be named, I agree. They do not then have to be reflected since no light can come back to us.
So, what can we do? Live like a cat? Sleep fourteen hours a day and hunt insects or eat your kibbles from time to time? There is no point in pushing to extremes. The achievements of meditation, of solely observing what surrounds us and what moves within us, are a novel that we must read and reread. This reading of the soul is, in itself, a source of peace and wisdom. Even the worst bully can’t say no to mysterious listening to what’s going on inside him or her. There is always a promise of redemption within us, which is present, and Licata is probably right to insist on this point. And wanting to take happiness at all costs forces us to silence our anxieties, to imprison them in a dungeon, a silence that later transforms into a Shade, a neurosis. For all these concepts, it is worth reading this book. Perhaps I will continue reading it a little later. For the moment, I am hunting my own archetypes, which are probably also yours. I listen to what the universe seems to want to tell me, even if I refrain from giving it any intentions.
Perhaps, in the end, it will only serve me to say nothing more. This will not prevent either mystery or ignorance from continuing its journey. But since Nature has given us a beautiful bouquet of questions as a gift, let us hum it to the point of intoxication.