What was I listening to when I was sixteen? Cultural programming, or a message for my higher self? I’m thinking about one of my favorite songs of the time: “Soldier Boy” by the Shirelles. The song seems so simple, but to me it’s embedded with something very precious and beautiful… even archetypical.
Longing and promise, distance and nearness, the interplay of masculine/feminine polarities… inner and outer: can all of that be found in a pop tune?
While on the surface the song may seem to be little more than VietNam era programming meant to give romance to war, the feeling of it dwells within the spiritual realm: dedication, devotion, loyalty, fidelity, reverence. How do we sort these words out? What is naturally rising, what is spiritual practice, what is external manipulation, what is liberating, what is divine, and what is the bottom line?
Some time ago I realized that ‘dedicated’ has kind of followed me through life. Looking back I see myself at age nine, reading, late into the night. And what was I reading? The Book of Revelations! Something in me knew that I was here to live through a change. Was it conditioning? Or a trajectory belonging to my higher self? I’m thinking maybe a good bit of both.
We’re all dedicated to one thing or another, even if our dedication is to apathy or flip-flopping. And our dedication will evolve with us. The dedicated soldier boy and the devoted girlfriend can reunite; they can decide their love has diminished; or they can experience the grievous consequence of war. So the longevity of the heart’s commitment depends not only upon a turn of fate, or who or what you love, but why you love what you love.
To get a little bit better grasp of the subject, let’s look at some of the other words I mentioned. Rather than thinking about definitions, I’d like to just check out how the word feels or what feeling memory is evoked in us when we hear and think about the word.
Devotion seems naturally rising to me, and I know it can be tricky. On one hand it resonates within our divinity: devotion born of aspiration. There is something to see, to know, to feel, to experience: aspiring to be our highest potential, i.e. climbing the stairway to heaven. In my own climb I have become devoted to certain teachers, drawn to the feeling that their information engenders, and that has been a beautiful thing. The heart knows when it meets itself in another.
On the other hand, we can go overboard with devotion, give ourselves away and end up with a ‘gotta repair my life’ experience. Ask yourself… is my aspiration rewarded here? If the answer is no, then step away. If it is yes, then don’t hesitate to reward your teacher. Sometimes money is the exchange, sometimes service, and sometimes the teacher just gives freely and asks nothing. In that case what can we give back? Only our appreciation… and by appreciate I mean grow. Become your highest potential. Take the lesson in and give to others.
On we go… let’s try another word: loyalty. I guess the question here is… is the loyalty asked for, or is it freely given. Is it spiritual practice or external manipulation? Loyalty could be looked upon as consistency – I’m consistently present in your life, whether near or far, because I dig you… I see your soul, your beauty, your aspirations, your struggles, and I’m feeling you as a brother, sister, lover, friend. As you move ahead, I support you… because that’s what’s up. If we disagree, so what… that’s just opinion and opinions change: loyalty doesn’t. And if you stumble, I’m not going to abandon you. I’ll still be here.
And then there’s the ‘not so good’ feeling to loyalty… it comes with the words, “be loyal.” For most of us spiritually-minded persons, there’s a natural inclination to run in the other direction at the mere thought of obligation. Who would ask for such a thing? Well, we all know that quite a few people would… loyalty is a keyword within the system. It is conditioned in small ways and can become seriously restrictive in very big ways, i.e. loyalty to my government; loyalty to my potato chip brand. When the system’s programming says ‘be loyal’, the real meaning is ‘be useable’. We can sign off on that.
I really like the word fidelity. While it may seem restricting, in that it holds you to something, it is ultimately liberating in that it holds you to inner divinity. Fidelity brings to mind an image and an experience in my own life that speaks directly to the spiritual battlefield. This is where soldier boy and brave girl come into the picture.
In my twenties, when I was familiar with myself but not so much with how to grow into being, I visited Chartres cathedral in France. When I arrived and approached the cathedral, a bride and groom burst through the front door, followed by the wedding party. Cool to see, and we’ll return to the image.
After the place had emptied, I went in and walked the labyrinth. I was trying to make it ‘spiritual’ but didn’t get much out of it… or out of me. Then I spent some time looking at the windows and observing how dark it was inside. I wondered about the people who had been there, thought about the work that went into building it, and finally I came upon a statue of Joan of Arc. That stopped me and I just stood there and took it in. She existed… I love her spirit.
“If only I could be like her,” I thought. I had no idea of what she fought for, only that she was faithful to something greater than her world… accessed within herself. It was a deep moment for me… with a kind of quake inside, like pieces coming together. “You have asked for the right thing,” seemed to be my message to myself. I left Chartres and France, and returned to my normal life. It was not too many years later that I began to meet the teachers that I had hoped for, and the spiritual challenges that commanded me to grow, love what’s true, be brave, and step up.
The bride and groom, the girl and the soldier boy; these are symbols of the inner oneness that is greater than the external world at war. Sometimes it takes a long time for us to realize… these polarities are not separate forces. While they may be currently out of balance and looking for balance, they are our fidelity within: our first love and our last love.
So yes, that is the beautiful side of fidelity. But like the other words, this one can have a down side too. When we marry and promise fidelity in this world… till death do we part… we are not encouraged to factor in growth. I can see how the promise serves society and family, and that’s a very good thing. If there is love-the-love going on, then the relationship will sustain without a till-death promise, as ‘loved love’ is in itself a promise. The partnership may dissolve and return again, but the love will never waver.
For the other types of arrangements; raising a family, building financial stability, sharing responsibilities, enjoying companionship and trusting friendship… maybe an annual contract negotiation and renewal would be good. Ultimately relationships are for growth, and never for ‘making use of’ another. Knowing that the contract exists, and that it will come up for negotiation, might make the priorities more stable, and the individuals more appreciative and supportive of growth and evolution… which is our right.
Now let’s go to the last word: reverence. In our mundane, 3D state, this is not a natural feeling that we can evoke when we wish. For most of us it belongs to our potentiality, and only rises up within us when we are granted a glimpse of ‘what is greater’. But we can lay the ground for reverence. Allow, accept, respect, admire… these are footholds on the stairway to heaven, helping us to cultivate reverence for the divine masculine and for the divine feminine.
‘I Am’ is both the lover and the beloved – one and the same in our own inner divinity. It’s the oneness we’re always talking about. There is no downside to becoming knowledgeable about the inner polarities, as the unity and maturity into a balanced state will bring the peace we so desire.