According to Vedanta, there are only two symptoms of enlightenment, just two indications that a transformation is taking place within you toward a higher consciousness. The first symptom is that you stop worrying. Things don’t bother you anymore. You become light-hearted and full of joy. The second symptom is that you encounter more and more meaningful coincidences in your life, more and more synchronicities. And this accelerates to the point where you actually experience the miraculous.
I work hard. Too hard. I work the way one works when they are trying to avoid something. I keep myself busy at a stupid pace. I get more done in a day than most get done in a week. I cross things off lists like I’m in training for the Olympics List Crossing Competition. My friend Niall calls me Miss Makes Shit Happen. I used to think that’s cool. I’m realizing now, not so much. It’s not noble state of being, at all. It’s escapism. It’s finding validation in what I can accomplish, not just because I am. It’s my biggest challenge and my biggest crutch. I need to learn to surrender.
So I’m in Negril, Jamaica with my friend Bianca, both seeking refuge from running circles on our respective hamster wheels. We took a girls trip, in hopes that the Caribbean’s clear blue salty waves might wash the LA resin off of us. She’s a list crosser too. Birds of a feather…
To say that B and I are both foodies is a slight understatement. Negril I love you, but I think we missed the memo on where to dine. In dire need of an amazing bottle of wine, flavor-infused cuisine, and warm service, we consulted my laptop, because the locals were sending us to some pretty whack establishments. We came across Zimbali and were instantaneously intrigued. A couple of quick back-and-forth emails with Alecia, the lady of the house, and we had a pick-up scheduled for the following day. B and I were both electric with excitement.
The road to Zimbali was not a smooth one. We shared our forty-five minute trek, through unpaved roads filled with pot holes, with a newly pregnant Indian couple from NYC. B and I sat in the back row of a hot and humid minivan listening to Boyz II Men. It was a breathtakingly beautiful ride, simultaneously uncomfortable, and 100% worth it.
Upon our arrival, we were warmly greeted by Mark, Alecia’s husband and partner in the thriving seven-and-a-half acre organic farm they created seven years ago. For the first two years, the couple lived in the mountains in a hut with no running water and cooked with fire. Together, they transformed acres of weeds into Zambali, and started a family simultaneously.
The second we walked in, this remote area of Jamaica felt like home. The chillest cats and doggies, true Rastas in demeanor, were roaming about while I chilled on a hammock, taking in the view. Next came a guided tour. A really cool Rasta with a sharp machete showed us their coconuts, bananas, plantains, cilantro, avocado trees, turmeric, honey bees, the most sensitive plants I’ve ever seen, jack fruit, star fruit, oranges, bamboo, cucumber, yams, carrots, tomatoes, pear trees, cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy, and more.
Finally we sat down to a four-course meal created by Chef O’Brian (this is his first name!) and his sous chef. Everything from the coconut sushi, to the black bean cake with orange reduction, was delectable. Our culinary experience was amazing, and way beyond what either of us expected, but none of it was the inspiration behind this blog post.
As I’m sure I’ve said before, B and I go to see Marianne Williamson speak at the Saban, in Los Angeles, every Monday night. Obviously this didn’t happen tonight, since we were almost 3,000 miles away. Either way, I got the message I needed from Marianne, loud and clear.
Bianca and I are both reading her book Only Love Is Real. The book (and her lectures) is based on her interpretations of A Course In Miracles - a thick, blue book that reminds me of the Bible.
Last night, she and I were up late, like two adolescents having a sleep over party. We talked, we laughed, we listened to music, B read my cards and then the convo turned esoteric. We spoke about A Course In Miracles and both shared how overwhelming the text feels. I’ve had the book since early November and each attempt at reading it has been futile.
I divulged that, on some level, I know that book is my next spiritual journey. I’ve been on a “spiritual path,” for lack of a better term, since I was a teenager. I’ve practiced yoga since I was 14, studied the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Sutras, read Autobiography of a Yogi, studied Kabbalah, finished my 200-hour yoga certification (not to teach, but to learn), I’m obsessed with Rumi (since before Madonna made him popular), I’ve worked with theta healers, followed Shamans into the another plane with Ayahuasca, practiced Somato Respiratory Integration, been worked on by Network Spinal Analysis practitioners, spent 10 days silent in Vipassana meditation, and so much more.
I dive fast and hard into one teaching, soak up every bit I can, learn what I need, change immensely, then on to the next - slowly climbing the ladder to enlightenment, I hope. But, for the past year I’ve been teacherless.
I have a knowing that A Course In Miracles is the next step but I have a stubborn resistance to it. Maybe it’s because it will be the culmination of my spiritual ADD. Who knows.
So again, short story long - Marianne Williamson, Only Love Is Real - I’ve been reading it in Jamaica. Today, just before the driver picked us up for Zimbali, I decided to bring it with me, knowing full well I’d have zero time to read. After dinner, Mark, our host, was telling us the significance of the name Zimbali and we began speaking of his childhood as the son of a Naval aviator, Zimbabwe, corrupt governments, my time at the United Nations, and the future of politics. We all agreed there needs to be a mass shift in perception before the world can become a more pleasant place to live.
I asked him if he knew who Marianne Williamson is (since she’s running for office in California) and suddenly a light beamed from Mark’s eyes and he began speaking about A Course In Miracles (which I did NOT bring up). He hurriedly left the room and came back in, dropping a heavily used, faded, dogeared copy of of the book, right in front of me with a thud. He flipped through the worn pages showing me all of his notes. Bianca and I looked at one another in disbelief, and the Indian couple looked over with awe as Mark excitedly told us how it took him a year to get through the book and how it changed his life.
Mark showed us Marianne’s most famous quote hanging near the living room. We shared with him our experiences at her weekly lectures and he told us he’s been wanting to read Marianne’s book Only Love Is Real, for years, but hasn’t had the chance. I then knew why I’d brought my copy…
I think I’m lucky, I have angels and protectors and messengers that find me. Even when I ignore the quiet nudging of my intuition and busy myself with so much nonsense, the important stuff gets overlooked. It’s funny I needed to travel 3,000 miles from home, to meet a stranger on a Jamaican farm, just to hear a message clearly.
I return to LA in a couple of days and give the Universe, and anyone reading this, my word - no excuses - I’m going to start the course immediately. #28daysoflove