We often think what we require is money, friends, and physical healing… We seek fragments when the whole is at hand…The Universe is a perfect, undivided whole, and healing can take place only when one is unified with It…Let us seek wholeness above all else.
~ Ernest Holmes
I love teachable moments that help remind me of my oneness with God, the Whole. I recall the time I went to a Mexican restaurant featuring an “enchilada night” special. The menu featured many different types of tasty enchiladas, but the one that caught my attention was called “The Whole Enchilada”; it had everything in it but the proverbial kitchen sink—nothing was missing. As the waitress (who reminded me a little of my grandma Ester) began to take my order, I said, “I would like The Whole Enchilada please, but could I get it without the cilantro, pico de gallo, and red chili peppers? I don’t like those.” With a giggle and bit of gentle, tongue-in-cheek sarcasm she replied (and I paraphrase), “Sure you can honey, but then you won’t be getting The Whole Enchilada, will you? You can’t just pick and choose what you like and discard what you don’t and still call it The Whole Enchilada.” My master teacher at that moment stood before me in all her glory. That was also the instant my love of metaphor and idioms kicked in, presenting me with a very teachable moment: Most of us are seeking the whole enchilada; a life where nothing is missing, except the things we don’t like. Unfortunately, that sort of life is not on the menu.
It’s quite impossible to have a life where nothing is missing and, at the same time, not have a few undesirable ingredients tossed in along the way. Those unwanted ingredients can show up in a plethora of different ways, from minor inconveniences to major life-altering conditions. The mistake we make is that, too often, rather than embracing “what is” (the Whole Enchilada) and spiritually navigating over, under, or around, we rail and push against what we don’t like, which in turn, only gives it more power over us. There is great wisdom found in the saying, “what we resist persists.” Wholeness isn’t about pushing against or through anything; it’s about the transcendence of “what is” we allow to define us and our experience. Perhaps part of the problem is that we don’t have an accurate assessment of what living a whole life really means, let alone where it begins. Where exactly is the entry point to wholeness? The answer can only be in the present moment, irrespective of what it looks like.
Loving What Is Doesn’t Mean You Have to Like It
I am a lover of what is, not because I’m a spiritual person, but because it hurts when I argue with reality.
~ Byron Katie, Loving What Is
Every moment of life contains something worth embracing, something worth loving—something that links us directly to our innate wholeness—if we are willing to hit the pause button and be with it long enough to get past our judgment of it. It’s quite easy to quickly pass by (or avoid) what doesn’t immediately push our pleasure button or appeal to our personal preferences on the menu of life. Our innate wholeness often lies unnoticed in the present moment, between the sometimes dark cracks and deep crevices of our daily life, awaiting our discovery; this is true primarily when we are consumed with looking for what’s wrong, staring at what we don’t like and as author, Byron Katie infers, “arguing with it.” Metaphorically speaking that is like trying to eliminate the very ingredients that make the whole enchilada, well, whole.
Many of us have mistaken wholeness to be a checkpoint at which we will one day arrive when everything is perfect; a place in space and time where there are no conflicts or problems, no pain or illness, and no dark nights of the soul; that glorious point of arrival where there is nothing but a plethora of peace, love, light, blue skies, and green lights. Who wouldn’t want to live in that Utopia? As we mature spiritually and emotionally our vision of a life worth living evolves and we intuitively know that wholeness means something quite different. As long as we walk the planet we will be subject to the entire spectrum, the ups and downs, the light and darkness, of the human condition. The desire to pick and choose the preferred moments—and discard or avoid those moments we don’t like is only natural; it is a very human trait because we are all hardwired to seek pleasure and avoid pain. Perhaps we confuse living a whole (full) life—where nothing is missing—with a life of wholeness. A life of wholeness is not void of unpleasantries and undesirable experiences; it’s a matter of perspective and choosing wisely that which we will—and will not—allow to define us. In other words, wholeness is not a condition but, instead, a state of being which lifts us above and beyond any circumstances.
The Spiritual Case for Wholeness
There is that within every individual which partakes of the nature of the Universal Wholeness and—in so far as it operates—is God. We are so One with the Whole that what is true of It is also true of us.
~ Ernest Holmes
As Ernest Holmes points out, the mere fact that we are one with the Universal Whole makes each of us a divine microcosm within the divine Macrocosm; what is true of the Whole must be true of the part. In other words, wholeness is an innate aspect of our being; we can’t earn it nor can it be bought—it has to be recognized and claimed! Throughout my many years in ministry some of the people I grew to think of as the most “whole” were also those who appeared (to the judgmental eye) to be the most unfortunate or disadvantaged among us. Some were dealing with a physical malady; more than a few were contending with a life-threatening disease or an ongoing condition that rendered them less than fully physically able. And yet, they were able to arrive at a place in consciousness wherein they saw themselves (which was all that mattered) as perfect, whole, and complete. Why? Because, regardless of their “condition,” these individuals understood their oneness with the Whole and, as a result, they refused to be defined by a condition. They understood that their wholeness came from a deep remembrance of who they already were; a perfect individuation of the perfect Whole. What I received from them was a deepened understanding that if God is not defined by the human condition, nor then should we be. In her classic book, The Sacred Continuum, my colleague and good friend, Rev. Stephanie Sorensen, further elucidates this point:
We recognize that every form—from the smallest quantum unit to the largest universal structure—is engendered within the Wholeness of Spirit, and that ‘in spite of all appearances’ and behind such images as disease and dysfunction, Spiritual Perfection dwells. Such realization reveals to our consciousness a more perfect state of being for ourselves and others.
I resonate with Stephanie’s term, “the Wholeness of Spirit” because it implies that, spiritually speaking, there is nothing that needs to be fixed or added to us—or taken away to make us complete and whole; we came fully equipped from the manufacturer. The only thing that needs to be “healed” is the belief that this is not so. The freedom to live a life of wholeness lies before us every moment of every day because that wholeness first lies within us; but it may require reframing the moment—rather than denying, excluding, or avoiding—and finding new meaning in every precious breath we take. For this reason, it is paramount that we remain vigilant and work mindfully at not being seduced by appearances; as noted in John 7:24 —“Stop judging according to outward appearances; rather judge according to righteous judgment.” Actualizing “righteous judgment” (right-use of discernment) means looking, with conviction, faith, and reverence, past conditions, beyond the shell, beyond what the critical eye erroneously reports as fact, and affirming what the sacred heart within already knows: God is, I am, and so it is.
THE TAKEAWAY: The freedom to be whole means learning to see ourselves through nonjudgemental eyes, allowing us to love the totality of who we are—as we are; warts, wrinkles, and all (aka, the Whole Enchilada), rather than just the parts that outwardly please us. Embracing the parts of ourselves we don’t particularly like is a high calling. Loving ourselves in such an “all-inclusive manner” requires courage and a depth of consciousness that transcends our attachment to the five-sensory world where judgment reigns supreme. Authentic wholeness requires a depth of love for ourselves that can only ascend from within; from the God of our being. We shall never actualize the freedom to be whole by looking outward to the world for its permission, validation, or agreement—and especially for its love. In the ineffable words of 13th-century Persian poet, theologian, and Sufi mystic, Rumi;
Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.
I sense that Rumi would have loved the Whole Enchilada. How about you?