The Paradox of Potential
A incredible book about how potential is found in a child's perceived lack.
Sometimes your greatest challenge is your highest calling
Living in strange countries far away from the things that I know, forced me to see myself outside the normal measures of
relevance. Namely: job, position, salary and achievements.
When I was taken out of my context, all that was left was me. The part
that only I can see.
The roles we play in the social circles we grew up in sometimes lures us into believing that these roles are the extent of who we are. It is when we are plucked from the lull of the usual that a more ancient and original aspect of ourselves emerge.
When I lived in Bangkok for three years, the void that was left by a flourishing business in photography plunged me into depression. I did not have a child then, and the husband I recently married was gone for weeks at a time, leaving me alone in a country where hardly anyone speaks English.
It was a Buddhist monk that first led me to the secret behind a key teaching in esoteric thought. One morning, I was out to catch the light with my camera when a hunched, old Buddhist monk led me out of the comforts of the Oakwood Residences into a small narrow street in Bangkok. The shanties that peppered the obscure street suddenly and without warning, revealed a beautiful and yet unknown Wat.
I left my shoes at the temple gates and felt my feet connect to the warm marble floor below. The heat coming from the ornate flower designs woke up a sensation I have long forgotten, the feeling that I am connected to the ground I am standing on. At the center of the Wat was a giant Buddha. One hand resting on its lap and the other raised to bestow a blessing. This hand gesture reminds me now of the pranayama called Nadi Shodan.
All that I receive, I give away. All that I give away, comes back a hundred fold.
The position of the hands blesses and asks. Two contrasting forces that generate abundance.
In this simple meditation, lies a great mystery of
manifestation. It is through this mystery that the smallest acorn can
produce the loftiest tree. James Hillman explains this in his book, The
Soul’s code, In search of calling. He calls it the acorn theory. This is because the smallest acorn produces the tallest trees.
It was this author who first made me understand the idea that one’s highest potential is found in his lack. The Kabbalah talks about this in great detail. In Kabbalistic terms, darkness is the cup of light. The shape of a person’s darkness is his cup. The cup that receives Divine light. By smudging this cup with a smidgen of oil, he invites the Supernal Oil to come down from heaven. What this means is, for blessings to come, give of yourself even a minute amount of the blessing you wish to receive, to invite the full serving of Divine grace to come down from above.
Each of us has a unique suffering. This suffering seems to be bestowed upon us and are permanent. It is true that it is our curse, we can die living this nightmare. Except that there is a way out. The key is to begin to see the suffering as a blessing. When you are able to do this, the suffering becomes your source of power.
An example for this is Christopher Reeve. As a young handsome actor, he played one of the most celebrated archetypal heroes of the modern age—SUPERMAN. Superman is the epitome of power. He had the physical strength that can move planets, defy gravity and serve mankind as a whole all at once. His heroic calling and kindness is godlike. It is a role that only he portrayed with such credibility. Like he was born for it. Then, as he aged and as his career went downhill, he found himself paralyzed from the neck down. Unable to move, he experienced the opposite of being Superman. He became the most powerless human being. Christopher Reeve would have gone down in history as the most ironic tragedies in Hollywood. But something happened. He began championing the cause of Stem Cell Research to help people like him recover from paralysis. Before he died, he came back once again in the Superman TV Series known as Smallville as the scientist who would reveal to the young Clark Kent his true nature. He did this to gain publicity for the cause he champions.
It was after he lost all external power that he tapped into a higher one and became a true hero, a true Superman. It only took one ounce of courage on his part. The courage to speak of his suffering. Support for Stem Cell Research became actualized after his death when President Obama lifted the ban for this controversial scientific study.
I, too experienced this. In a way, because I had no one to talk to for a long time, I found my voice and my relevance. I am no longer defined by my job, my achievements and my salary. I can now hear the beating of my true passions within my heart and with this I am able to lead others to find theirs.