The Spiritual Value of Three-Legged Stools
Back in the early days of the FIRE THROUGH SPIRIT site, there was a long, unexpected dormant period from September 2001 through mid-January 2002. Behind the scenes in my everyday life, it was as if God declared the parameters of my reality to be mere lines on the Celestial Etch-a-Sketch, and turned it upside down to shake them out of existence:
I gave up a lucrative career, many friends and a comfortable and familiar location to move in with my fiancé, a hundred miles north in a rural part of New York State.
Simultaneous with my move, my father – with whom I was extremely close – crossed to the Other Side, after a years-long struggle with heart disease and depression.
And within weeks of my starting my new job, my employer was diagnosed with multiple brain tumors – necessitating the closing of her practice, and my once more needing to seek fresh opportunities for income.
To many people’s amazement, I never felt more secure, more stable, more sure of being in the right place at the right time – and it came from three things: welcoming change . . . looking for blessings in the darkness . . . and faith that God’s Plan, while perhaps inscrutable, is the best one to stay true to my Path.
Do you remember the old brainteaser, “which leg of a three legged stool is the most important?” The answer is “all of them; without one, the rest will not support you.” And it’s just as valid in life as in furniture. Let’s look at how it works, in two different situations.
SITUATION ONE: MOVING THROUGH LIFE
Welcoming Change: If things don’t change and grow, they die. That’s the law of nature. Nothing remains constant in the material world. Therefore, it stands to reason that our lives will change. We will lose some friends and gain others. We will all, eventually, lose our parents and other loved ones. We will fall ill, get well, move here or there, switch jobs, taste both days of joy and nights of sadness and doubt. That is the lot of human existence.
Even with faith that there is a Grand Plan for you, and the ability to look for blessings in difficult times everything remains difficult if you resist the change that is being asked of your life. So, knowing that change is your lot, you will have a much better time of things if you accept it, actively seeking out the new joy and prospects coming your way.
As you embrace (rather than fight) change, moving into the heart of the river that is your life, you will save your energy for taking advantage of new situations, rather than wasting energy trying to keep the status quo. You will be like a leaf, gently riding the swells and currents effortlessly, rather than a salmon, fighting her way against the current, and ending up exhausted.
Next time change presents itself in your life, observe how you react. If your first instinct is to shake your head, close your eyes, and tell the change “I won’t!” — try a new direction. Watch what happens when you open the door to change and say “welcome in.”
Finding Blessings In The Darkness: Hard times can be tough to accept with grace. Even harder is turning them inside out to see the hidden blessings that may be behind a situation
Let’s look at losing a job – perhaps through a layoff, a change in personnel, or just plain getting fired. It can be a very scary time, especially when those not plugged in to Abundance Thinking try to convince you that “it’s a soft economy, nobody’s hiring.”
Believe it or not, you have just been handed a ticket to Opportunity! It may entail simplifying your life, deciding to move, taking courses in a whole new field. But you now have that choice, because you’re no longer thinking in the same old fashion. The faster you widen your “life vision,” the faster the opportunities will appear. Honestly examine what it is you want to do with your life. Has there been a home business you have wanted to try? Were you truly unhappy in that job, but afraid to look for something else because of your “comfort zone”? Is there any kind of exciting potential that you were passing up because this position precluded it in some way?
You can apply this in any situation. Whether you must end a friendship, endure a fender-bender, permanently change your diet because of illness or allergy, even lose your possessions in a fire: if you look carefully, something positive will come into your life because of the change.
Even if you welcome change and believe in The Plan, if you forget to seek the blessings in the darkness, the road is harder than it needs to be; there will be countless gifts in your life that go unclaimed. Seek the blessings and move forward, opening your eyes and heart.
Faith in the Plan: When we talk of God here, we’re not talking about a specific vision of God. Everyone, and every religion, has a particular image that speaks to them and is valid. “God” here is the Central Point, the Singular Intelligence, the Principal Emanation of the Universe that sets us all in motion and guides us through Love, the primal energy on which the Universe runs.
We are not chance or random. We are unique, and we all come into this existence with a Plan and a Path, through which our souls learn, grow, and heal, so that when we return Home after this “living dream” we will have come that much closer to Oneness with that Infinite Intelligence. In everyday terms, that means that there truly is a Path under our feet. If we trust in it and follow our intuitive guidance regarding it, we’ll gain our deepest happiness, our greatest opportunities to serve our fellow human beings, and the most peace for our souls.
Sometimes it may appear that we are making a dead-end choice, or we’re just going around in circles, like a hamster on a cage-wheel, pedaling furiously but getting nowhere! It is during those times that you most need to “ground and center,” finding a moment to reach up and connect with Source. Let the Love of Spirit calm your mind and heart. Allow yourself the gift of not needing to be in control; of allowing One Who can see much farther than any of us to bring you where you need to go.
Even if you welcome change and see the blessings in the darkness, without that heart-level certainty that Something greater than yourself loves you, wants the best for you, and is willing to help you on your path, you will miss hearing that still, small voice that can aim you in the best direction for your ultimate happiness and peace.
SITUATION TWO: RIGHT SPEECH
Often, when looking for an idea to share at the end of the year, people talk about resolutions, gratitude, and goals. But this year I found myself focusing on the wise advice: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?”
I’m not sure where that simple phrase came from. Some say it’s in the Bible. Some folks say they found it in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s books. Some say it’s Buddhist. Probably all of them are right. But the most important thing is that IT – the idea – is very right indeed.
We are bombarded by so much information these days, so much verbiage, that folks have to shout to be heard. We shout when we use hyperbole and exaggeration; if it isn’t quite the truth, who’s to know? We shout when we say something witty, even if it’s cruel. Honestly, how many of us really know about a faltering starlet’s life and troubles? But she’s the butt of so many jokes that almost everyone knows one – and tells one. And lastly, we can feel so drowned by the cacophony of the world that we shout anything that comes to mind, just to let people know we’re out there.
None of it works for the enlightened mind. But because it’s a knee-jerk reaction, it’s a habit that can be hard to break. So the three-legged stool of Compassionate Speech is a good piece of furniture to bring into your soul’s dwelling-place. Here’s how to build it, strong and lasting:
IS IT TRUE?: When you’re speaking, stick to facts. Think “neutral.” And if you can’t be sure about something, don’t fall back on “I’ve heard it said that” or “someone told me” or “people say.” If you don’t know it, don’t say it.
Don’t mistake opinion for truth. Just because you think someone’s wrong about something you can’t say “he’s wrong.” State truth. “I don’t think he’s right on this one.” Own up to your own truth, but don’t compromise someone else’s.
IS IT KIND?: Truth is important, yes. But it is not an excuse to castigate, or to put someone down to hold up your own virtue. And just because you might want to know about something doesn’t mean your friend does. “Darling, I hate to tell you, but it’s for your own good…” is a cop-out, pure and simple.
Kind speech enlivens. It gives hope where it can, it builds up where possible, and only gently “whaps the recipient on the nose with a newspaper” (think very small puppy) when something needs to be pointed out, enabling the target of the kind comment to retain their dignity.
IS IT NECESSARY?: This is when “tasting your words” before you spit them out is the wisest course of action. Will you regret later saying what you’ve said? Might it come back to haunt you if you are not 100% sure that your words adhere to Rules 1 and 2? Sometimes just holding back and waiting to see how a situation progresses will prove that the person in question either Gets the Clue Brick themselves, or the situation morphs so that what would have been necessary no longer is.
Here, also, if you say “yes, it’s necessary” ask yourself – necessary for whom? For you? For a friend who would say something but doesn’t have the courage? Because your mother/brother/best friend would if they were only here to do it? None of these reasons will suffice. “Necessary” means that all will benefit by your comment, that your words create a win-win situation, either immediately or with patience and willingness.
This prescription can be a tough one to swallow, when we see everyone else around us mouthing off with what seems to be impunity – getting laughs when we aren’t, getting attention we wish we had, or beating us to the scoop about something juicy. After all, we’re only human. But as you purge your personality of these petty poisons, you will find yourself clearer, calmer, and more comfortable with silence. You won’t feel the need to shout. And people will come to realize that when you speak – even in a voice gentler and less fraught than most of what’s out there – what you have to say is worth hearing, thinking about, and taking to heart.
So there you have it: a simple piece of spiritual furniture that is practical, reliable, and always there. The next time you find yourself at an uncomfortable crossroads in your life – when you feel like all your plans have been tossed in the air by a capricious and uncaring Fate – go sit on your three-legged stool, and observe your life and opportunities from that perspective. More than likely, you’ll find that you have the best seat in the house.