Bringing the Orphans Home

Lili Zohar's picture

At the All School Meeting a few weeks ago, Jason spoke about enlightenment as not freedom from (our ego, our humanity) but freedom with. He said this freedom comes from walking at the same pace as our neurosis. In his most recent teaching video, Jason instructed that we can’t reach enlightenment by cutting away parts of ourselves. Rather, to be whole, we need to welcome the orphans back home.

This wisdom of inclusivity is transforming my life. After years of favoring the “quick”, “together” and “fearless” one, I am allowing myself to know the slow, uncouth, and disgustingly unlovable one who lives inside. From my earliest days, deep-seated, almost hard-wired hyper-vigilance drove me to favor a polished presentation. Terror of imperfection kept me from speaking a word until my 4th year. Too tense to babble, my first speech was in complete and grammatically correct sentences. I unwittingly deprived myself of the great delight of baby-talk: the exploration of places in my palate created by skin, tongue, and tooth becoming intimate with vibration. I missed out on feeling the sing-songy silliness of baby sounds dancing thorough vocal cords and throat. Fear of ridicule and rejection meant that the slow to learn, curious and life-trusting baby was shoved underground. She surfaced in dreams, in the guise of a retarded and crippled child, accompanied by her crooked, protective side-kick, a nasty and terrifying witch. Sometimes she appeared as an innocent child or tiger cub that some other dream figure (usually me!) voraciously pulverized into pulp. External expectations combined with inner constraints created orphans and more orphans, imprisoned deeper and deeper inside.

This psyche-splitting, life thwarting distrust has permeated every aspect of my being. Still, my unrelenting Yearning for Wholeness was never far away. In her honor, I have undertaken a campaign called “No Child Left Behind”. It’s turning out to be quite a big project!! Yet somehow, reclaiming my lost children is setting me free. I decided to begin by getting to know my inner idiot. Ashamed and exhausted from overcompensating for my life-long dyslexia and learning difficulties, I signed up for weekly Apple lessons a few years ago. In the sprit of kindness toward the disadvantaged, I was willing to be slow, learn step by step and ask stupid questions again and again. As a result, I am having fun building presentations, websites, and sound recordings, ever grateful for the patient aid of computer-geek teachers half my age. This is giving me the confidence to learn how to play.

There are still so many more gaps to fill in. From the earliest of years, I asked profound conceptual questions about life and death, time and space, God and the Universe, but felt incapable of the kind of sequential logic needed to study science. With my inner idiot as my new friend, I have taken to studying layman’s physics and brain science. Thanks to periodicals and teachers like Brian Greene, Stephen Hawkins, and Daniel Seigal, I am exploring the same questions I have been pondering my whole life, but with better language. Paradoxically, now that I know a tad more, I have fewer opinions and much more reverence for the mystery. I sense with great excitement the questions just beyond my articulation and I let their calling lead me. I am also having fun learning Hebrew from my kids’ 2nd grade primers. I delight in moving backwards through time, freeing the curious child and letting desire and play direct the simple joy of learning something new!

With the tunnels opening, long discarded orphans appear on every turn. Still, the hard work of bringing them home is reaping heart-warming surprises. For starters, I am falling in love with my life. As I learn to trust the simple joy of being alive, I can honor my past choices, including the painful ways that reactivity and armoring have crippled my body, spirit and mind. I see that each thing that has happened to me, whether I have been blessed or misused, is in relationship, life engaging life. I trust the mis-steps and bumps on the road because they have brought me here, to this shimmering place teeming with life. I can likewise honor my health and good choices and the illuminating urge that has been the over-arching constant lighting my way.

As I reclaim the split off parts, I am releasing myself from defined notions of who I am and what my life is supposed to look like. I don’t put stock anymore in the stories I have told myself about my past. Yes, painful things happened and amazing, Light-filled experiences as well. These have punctuated all the glorious ordinary moments in between that create the colorful, flowing fabric where I move and breath. I no longer feel limited by the characterizations I have used to compartmentalize reality, to make sense of my life. I can embrace the discarded parts, and the healthy ones too, knowing that I will never be free of the idiosyncrasies and foibles that make me who I am.

With self acceptance, the twisted, jangled threads are unwinding so more of me can flow through. I find myself engaging life from the sheer delight of it all. How invigorating to find a freer me actually choosing the very life that all my many broken and tenacious selves have unwittingly created through contortion. It seems that my Navigator can be trusted to set and trim the sails even when unseemly castaways are making a ruckus. Another Self is also steering the boat, one that doesn't need to push away or distort reality. I am discovering with the guidance of my reclaimed orphans I can better face the gales and ride the river's bumps and turns, still enjoying the ride.

I used to wonder: “How do I serve God?” Now I ask: “How do I fulfill myself?” and discover the answer turns out to be the same. Every choice I am making supports my desire to share who I am in a healing way and to savour life as it is. Who knew that reclaiming my inner idiot and her many unsavory companions could bring such joy?