A Square-Peg People Book Review
by Oriah Mountain Dreamer
What if the question is not why am i so infrequently the person i want to be, but why do i so infrequently want to be the person i really am?
This truthseeking - truthtelling book explores that question. It's a book about diving into the Deep (or what Oriah Mountain Dreamer calls "Mystery".) And it is not a book of easy answers or formulas for quick and painless "success".
It's a book about integrity - realness.
Oriah makes it easy to bring the lessons into your life. Each chapter of The Dance ends with a meditation, making the reading experiential.
In the prelude, Oriah Mountain Dreamer asks:
What if your contribution to the world and the fulfillment of your own happiness is not dependent upon discovering a better method of prayer or technique of meditation, not dependent on reading the right book or attending the right seminar, but upon really seeing and deeply appreciating yourself and the world as they are right now?
I was at a spiritual gathering recently when a person I knew began talking about how we need to do "good works" to pay for - to earn - our spiritual growth. Good works make up for our imperfections - pay for our bad days.
Everyone was leaving, there was no time to reply - but I had a physical reaction. In my core I know this is wrong. My mind kept going to the lines in Mary Oliver's poem, "Wild Geese", that say:
"You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting."
This is the message - the core (the soul, if you will) of Square-Peg-People. YOU ARE - no matter who you are or what you've done - or will do - welcome in the universe, loved, accepted, YOU BELONG!
I believe that this is what you come up with if you dive into the Deep - if you experience the truth that we are all so much more similar than we are different. If you accept ALL - in yourself and others.
This is what I see in the writing of Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Oriah talks about grace:
To live our soul's longing is to be willing to live grace-filled moments. Grace is the opportunity to be happy that we do not earn.That's what makes it grace...to receive the grace-filled moments every day, we have to know that we are worthy not because of our hard work or our suffering or our eagerness to be other than we are; we are worthy by our very nature--the same nature that creates and sustains all that is.
Part of the poem, "The Dance", which the book is based on, says:
I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring.Tell me how you crumble when you hit the wall,the place you cannot go beyond by the strength of your own will.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer does not paint a picture of herself as "there" - perfect in her ability to accept herself. She tells many stories of her own lapses. These are the stories that will touch your heart. I resonate with: "I have heard enough warrior stories of heroic daring." My experience has not been so perfect - and I appreciate - and feel strengthened by hearing about people like myself - people with feet of clay.
She also talks about how we can begin to see ourselves in a more accepting light. She tells stories about the struggle to stay in that frame of mind, even though our culture works hard in the other direction, pointing us (as she states it: "...to reshape our essentially flawed nature with heroic efforts of endless trying.")
This passage that describes some of the process of becoming accepting of ourselves:
If I want to live my abiltiy to be fully present and compassionate, my ability to be with it all--the joy and the sorrow--I must find the ways, the people, the places, the practices that support me in being all I truly am. I must cultivate ways of being that let me feel the warmth of encouragement against my heart when it is weary.
Oriah Mountain Dreamer also talks about the fear many people have that thinking in an accepting manner - of themselves and their lives - will lead to lack of growth. And she points out how just the opposite is true.
I have seen this, too. In my work as a therapist, and in my own life - the changes that last - are the ones that were embraced first. Accepted.
In this book, Oriah does not offer a step-by-step plan to acheive perfection. She leads us into the Deep. In a chapter called "The Sacred Emptiness" she states:
We must find a way--a practice--that can take us to the emptiness and keep us there when we would run from what we fear it holds.
This is the Deep - where Love and Real and Truth and Trust are.
~ ~ ~ ~
Full Disclosure: we're affiliates of Amazon.com - so when you buy from the links above you don't pay a penny more, but you help support Square-Peg People. Thanks!