Today’s dharma talk has to do with the idea of stewardship, ownership, responsibility and the connection these words have with the ritualist act of baptism and the first chakra. This line of inquiry, came about after reading Caroline Myss’s book entitled Why People Don’t Heal And How They Can. In this work, Myss discusses the similarities she finds across Christian rituals, the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, and the Chakra system as they relate to health, illness, and healing.
While there were many interesting ideas presented within Myss’s work that I could discuss, for today we’re going to focus on her discussion of the connection between the first chakra and the Christian act of baptism.
A few notes before we continue: its important to understand that I am using the word baptism in a very broad sense. My use of this word, which I am borrowing from Myss, applies to any type of initiation process that teaches an individual how to be within a given community, culture, religion, profession, or relationship. The goal of this commencement ceremony – which seems to occur across most religions, cultures, and societies – is to oversee the growth and development of an individual as they mature so that this person can ultimately thrive within that group.
The second thing to note is that because these acts of initiation teach one how to be in a given environment, they work as a mental, emotional, energetic threshold that shape who one is within and outside of a given community, religion, profession, or relationship. Consequently, this education process forms the groundwork in which one can feel safe to grow in a specific manner within a given context. These feeling of being grounded and connected to a given community, occupation, religion, etc. is what in essence defines what is home for us.
In a nutshell – this is the function of the first chakra. It is our base, our root, our foundation. Sometimes this foundation is described to include our home life, our family of origin, our profession, our sense of financial stability and security, as well as mental, emotional, and physical health and well-being.
Now that that is out of the way… i.e. now that we see the connection Myss drew between the first chakra and the act of Baptism…. on to my own sense of intrigue.
Specifically, what I find interesting about all this the level of responsibility, stewardship, and ownership that is contained within both systems. Specifically, when one is initiated into a given community typically there are some individuals who stand up and say “I will take responsibility for helping this young person learn our ways.” These are your “godparents” or mentors if you will. Such individuals work to help the young, newly initiated person grow and develop within a given culture through the teaching of the group norms. A similar thing happens within the chakra system when we feel that our home life (or work life or physical body) is well and taken care of.
The interesting part for me, the part that is serving as our focal point today is this: If our mentors, guides, god parents, teachers, doctors, etc. do their jobs well, eventually there should come a point in which we as the individual will no longer need them to take “care of us.” Specifically, if growth and maturation happens, and we become fully functioning members of whatever community to which we belong, there should come a point in which we need to, and want to, take ownership, stewardship, responsibility for who we are in the world and how we want to be in that world. Even more to the point, there will come a point where we will begin to want to re-define what world we want to be part of and how we wish it to look.
I don’t know about you, but when I put those two ideas together, that was a bit A-ha moment for me. Instantly I became aware of how much of my own suffering, sadness, stagnation, insecurity, depression, and frustration was caused because there was part of me that was still looking towards old teachers, bosses, guides, etc. to take stewardship of my growth, to in essence “take care of me” and usher in my next phase of growth and development, when the time had come for me to take on that role for myself. While I can’t say the same is true for you, this was an eye opening realization for me – and one that is serving as the launching point for this talk.
So the question I have for you, the same question I am asking of myself, is this: Where in your life have you stagnated? What parts of your life might be improved if you were to re-baptize yourself as the steward in charge of your own growth and development? What pains and struggles might be alleviated if you took ownership of your own development – spiritually, mentally, emotionally, financially, and professionally? How might you begin to parent, teach, or guide yourself, your career, and your health?
It seems that when we take responsibility, ownership, and stewardship for ourselves, we begin to let go of blaming others for how our lives have turned out. In that empowered state, we can more easily begin to modulate our own growth and development, which in turn better enables us to live according to our svadharma.