There once were two brothers. One day the elder brother decided to take to austerities and departed for the bleak mountain. However, he returned home after twenty-five years, greatly emaciated, looking like a skeleton.
“Where have you been, brother?” said the younger one, who had stayed in the native village. “What have you been doing all these years? Your body has been punished enough to make a man weep. What have you learned?”
“Twenty-five years of asceticism have given me the power to walk on water.”
“My poor brother,” lamented the younger one. “Have you really wasted so many years on such folly? Why, if I hail the ferryman he will take me to the opposite bank of the river in a few minutes.”
– Taken from, Sudhin N. Ghosh, ”A Tale of Two Brothers,” in Tibetan Folk Tales and Fairy Stories
Once someone completes the spiritual pilgrimage through the Wheel of Initiation they understand themselves as Spiritual Stewards. They are returning to their families and communities with a regenerated sense of self and their belonging. When we step through the threshold we are saying “Yes,” to what it means to be a spiritual steward.
Spiritual stewardship means maintaining an ongoing intention that arises from the altruistic desire to take personal responsibility for uplifting our lives and bringing benefit to others. Every action we take then holds this underlying spiritual intention. In undergoing initiation, we have each made a very real (karmic) agreement (vow) to ourselves, and to all sentient beings. Our choices and behaviors will continue to reflect what’s in our consciousness and what we choose to cultivate. What will you choose to cultivate from this moment on?
Sometimes we hold our spiritual aspirations in our back pocket, not really constructing a life from them. Back-pocketing our vows and intentions can become a form of passive resistance to staying awake. This often happens when we identify with such titles as spiritual steward or Bodhisattva or yogi instead of cultivating what they represent. Saying we are evolving into something means that we are moving more and more into a natural state of being in the world. We are evolving past the identification with who and what we are. In so doing, we come to understand that we are not our creations, just as we are not our thoughts. We are not so much spiritual stewards as we are stewarding.
We are the movement. We are where life happens.