This weekend, I’d almost forgot it was Memorial Day. Blissed out in Tahoe at a yoga/hooping/dance retreat instead of watching parades and BBQing-I’d almost let the holiday pass without acknowledgement.
My first reminder was a FB post by a friend of this Michael Moore article on the reality of “I Support the Troops” with the staggering facts that 60,000 Veterans are homeless, 19,000 sexual assaults within our troops, or the sad fact that 18 Veterans commit suicide every day. It put me in a dark place as I drove home after all of the lighthearted fun of the weekend.
Then, I connected with a friend who just finished a weekend full of spiritual ceremony. He and I had discussed my previous experiences in ceremony in the past and I wanted to make sure I represented it well. (I told him truth- near-death experience and vomiting included).
What I heard both redeemed my faith in Veterans and in the power of the spiritual path overall.
While my friend is under 30, he bravely sought spiritual healing as a way of reconciling his military experience.
And, this ceremony was one for the brave. This path forces you to watch the death of your EGO or the obliteration of one’s personality. Scary stuff.
The ego is Asmita in yoga or ‘I-am-ness‘. It’s the material aspect of being- what we DO and what others SEE vs. what our true self is like. Ego is a need, it is a social need-a social by-product. There are certain types of egos which society doesn’t approve of (if a man kills someone-he is a murderer) and there are egos which society accepts (if a man kills hundreds in wartime, he is a hero).
Thus, society creates an ego that can be controlled and manipulated. Ego is always shaken, always seeking approval, always a ‘false center’.
But this is false….. you came with your real center, you were born with it, nobody else shapes it. You have a TRUE center-you were given this by existence itself-that is the self. The EGO is a false thing and through society it is controlling you.
But, the ego is hard to let go of. It gives you a function in society, a hierarchy in society. But it is a plastic life.
My Veteran friend was brave enough to enter his spiritual ceremony and watch his ego die. This is no joke-I’ve been through it. It is as real as watching yourself become reduced to a grain of salt-to observing the physical obliteration of your being. It’s messy and scary and reduces you to tears.
But, my friend was strong enough to become vulnerable-aware enough to see beyond his ego-brave enough to watch his identity be broken and accept his interconnectedness with the Universe.
And, within that, he felt profound value in the feminine energy around him. A deep appreciation for the strength of nurturing and caring that women provide. And, his willingness to let his EGO go, allowed him to embrace the feminine energy around him and spread this message to other Veterans who suffer.
This became the culmination of my weekend. A merger of the feminine energy I felt during the full moon and a profound hope that if a young Veteran could break through the false ego and find his way to the spiritual path- others could too.
Because, while I like to BBQ and eat cake with red-white and blue icing, I’d rather eat organic, spin fire and celebrate the end of ego-based wars and hate on the feminine that happens in wartime.
And, my young friend validates that hope.