COMPROMISED BY LIFE
“I felt compromised. And it was me who was compromising my life. So after 12 years, I decided that this was not where I could be anymore. We sold the house, and I got a one-way ticket…just to go. And that was when I started to collect and really read books. It was only at that time that I gathered together a different set of people around me who had more interest in life and the universe. One of my friends called me the ‘cosmic queen’ because I had all this interest in all these things. We’d stay up until three or four in the morning just getting so into life and the universe and the deeper meaning of life, and I loved every second of it.
The book that started me off was Shirley MacLaine’s Out on a Limb. It’s amazing the service she’s done through that book. It played a very significant role in my journey. Then I started to move from that into things like Paramahansa Yogananda and that autobiography of him and many other things I read as I traveled. I talked to many different people; the beauty of being able to be on the road expands consciousness. It took me away from being so caught up in the roles in life and everything that goes with it. So luckily I had the fortune because I had the funds from my house. I could stay on the road for quite some years but I worked as well. I had the ability to be out of work and leave Europe. So I had quite a great life but at the same time deep down there was this calling that I had to start doing something more with my life.
I was driving along one day with a friend in her sports car. It was very surreal and I just had the sense like I was moving as I said, ‘I’ve just got to spend my life doing voluntary work.’ There were words coming out of my mouth and I didn’t know where they came from. I’d never really thought deeply about any of it. They just came out and I thought, ‘My life’s gotta be for voluntary work. It’s gotta be for humanity now.’
Not so long after that, I moved into this concept of omnipresence; belief in a kind of energy that permeated everything. I was starting to think that it may be what God is. As I woke up one morning, the strangest thing came to my mind and it was like, ‘What can I do for You today, God? What can I do for You?’ And in that weird statement it totally dispelled the idea of omnipresence. It was like there is the existence and entity presence of the being that exists and I thought, ‘I’ve got to get to know this being. It exists. How can I spend my time being so caught up in all these things when there’s this being that’s there. I’ve got to find it and know it.’ So that’s how it all started.”
I met Christine Westbury in Melbourne, Australia where she lives in community as a member of the Brahma Kumaris. The Brahma Kumaris originated in Hyderabad, India during the 1930s. They are known for the prominent role that women play in leading their spiritual movement. The organization teaches how to transcend labels associated with the body—such as race, nationality, religion, and gender. It aspires to establish a global culture based on what it calls “soul-consciousness.” They often dress in all white to symbolize purity, and they follow a strict lifestyle of abstinence, celibacy, and meditation. They believe that each of us is a soul and that we are connected to God, who they call “The Supreme Soul.” The Brahma Kumaris symbolize the Supreme Soul as light.
Christine shared her beautiful journey from leaving a life that felt constricted; a life filled with the wrong things. I love the language she used to describe that time: “I felt compromised and it was me who was compromising my life.” This resonated with me because I believe I am the one who compromises my own life, not others. In my past, I compromised my life by being in the wrong career, by not being healthy in relationships, by not doing the personal emotional work I needed to do, and by focusing more on my own problems than on how I could be of service to others. I recognize that there are many out there who do not have the wherewithal to change their circumstances or are in abusive relationships that prevent change. But I believe that many of us do compromise our own lives. I am grateful for the wake-up call that I got in the form of being, as Fannie Lou Hamer said, “Sick and tired of being sick and tired.”
Christine sold her home, left her relationship, and started to travel and to read. Her next awakening came when she realized she wanted to devote her life in service to others and then it was clarified when she had the thought one morning: “What can I do for you today, God? What can I do for you?” I could relate because my own journey has taught me that I must get outside of myself to live a great life. I have a checklist I use to guide my life today: 1) Do no harm, 2) Honor my commitments, 3) Help those who still suffer, and, 4) Enjoy life. Today I make the assumption that the Universe brings into my life and into my consciousness those who I am meant to help. So I love the idea of asking each morning, “What can I do for you today, God? What can I do for you?” Whether I believe in a Higher Power that is external and personal to me or an internal, non- personal energy, my life and the world can only benefit from me asking and acting on this question.
Finally, I love the metaphor of God as light. What better metaphor could there be? Light is intangible but ever-present. It illuminates all situations and guides us. It is part of us, yet separate from us all at the same time. It dissipates the darkness. And the visual of light converging to a point reminds me of its infinite power.
Thank you to Christine Westbury for sharing your journey with me and role-modeling what it means to listen for the still, small voice that tells us it is time to change.
O! So inspiring…both Christine and you, Daniel. Yes, I also think that Light is the best human description we can attribute to God. After all, “Let there be Light” is known to millions as “the beginning” and people who have experienced near death describe moving toward the most brilliant light. To me, light = energy and that to even the most skeptical is eternal.
“What can I do for you today, God? What can I do for you today?”…so moving. I will strive to wake up to this thought and ambition.