When all your needs are met and time is an unnecessary construct, what will you do with your life? Ratna Ling is a place that seems to transcend space and time. It’s not paradise and it doesn’t promise to be. It’s easy to idealize the lifestyle, the land, the people here and at some point, all of us do.
That said, most volunteers arrive here because something in their life isn’t working. Family, job, romantic relationship, spiritual numbness, whatever it is, it doesn’t quite sit right. So, you start searching for something different, something that speaks to you where you are in your life. Something that makes more sense. Something in the middle of the Sonoma County woods, a long walk to the ocean and built on the premise that we are the ones we’ve been waiting for perhaps?
Whether you come to Ratna Ling to learn about Buddhism or to escape the daily grind doesn’t seem to matter. Once you’re here, you’re in… and I mean all in. You can try to leave your past behind and you may even succeed for a while, but in the end, anonymous does not work here. The truth always comes out. By the truth, I mean your truth.
So what are the tools you’ll need to work through it? To really see yourself for who you are? And to allow others to see you as deeply as is possible.
Awareness. The first step to working through anything is awareness that the “thing” exists. You can’t take charge if you are asleep at the wheel. The prompt for awareness can come from outside forces, but ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s impeding your experience.
Forward Motion. After you understand what the Thing is, you have to decide that you want to do it differently. That’s where Ratna Ling can help. This is a place where you can do things differently. You’ll be supported and encouraged through your personal and spiritual growth which will in turn reflect in the support and encouragement you’ll offer others.
Self-expression. Now, do it Your way. You may have to put on a brave face for this one because many of our patterns are so deeply rooted that even step one may have taken decades to uncover. No matter though, you’re here now and you’ve already come so far! Remove yourself from the fear, insecurity and historical outcomes and discover what it means to be you in this moment, in this situation. How will you proceed with no regrets or apologies
Unconditional Love. This tool is crucial to your well-being and the well-being of others. If you are not walking, talking and existing in love, then what are you doing? Make every decision with good intentions and with the love of yourself in others in mind and you can not fail.
Gratitude. Take an inventory of every single thing you have to be grateful for. Clean water? Check. Warm clothes? Check. Food that nourishes your body? Check. The freedom, time and ability to contemplate your existence? Double check. While it is not necessary to alleviate emotions that are unpleasant altogether (anger, sadness, and greed for example all have value in the human experience), the best way to work through them into the more pleasurable ones is to practice gratitude.
Commitment. Make the decision that you’re done with old habits and patterns and stick to it. While it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to stay in gratitude every minute of every day, that means you’ve got an opportunity to play with it every day! Once you’ve decided for each of your challenges that it’s over for good, you can start at awareness whenever necessary and the path back to commitment will get continually shorter.