If Upon the Altar at the Center of Your Self You Do Not Find the Light of the Divine

You will not find it anywhere.

photo of author shot by Ricardo Acevedo

I forgot where I heard this lovely quote for the first time. A recent search of the net does nothing to help refresh my memory.

But I do know the quote stuck with me strongly enough that I got a representative image of it tattooed on my body. You can see it peeking out with a supernatural photoshopped glow in the picture above.

(If anyone on Medium knows who originally said this, I’d be obliged for the reference.)

It’s Fractals, All the Way Down

I just read umair haque’s latest piece on the why and how of rock bottom for America (which could be a good thing?)

Then I followed up by reading Shannon Ashley’s piece on the responsibilities and expectations of getting our personal needs met.

These pieces got me to contemplating the space I was in nearly 12 years back, when I chose to get this heart shaped tattoo, with alternating bands of radiating sunshine and cloudy skies, centered around a glyph signifying self on my solar plexus.

In the dozen years since getting this ink strategically placed within the layers of my skin, (in a very tender place on my physical body) the philosophy behind the quote has never once served to steer me wrong.

I fully agree with Shannon’s cultural scalpel of a piece which dissects the un-useful myth that as functional adults, we need to rely upon others to get our needs met.

Love and care should ideally be something we CHOOSE to give, not something we NEED to receive in order to be happy.

Our broken capitalist culture works very hard to sell things to the lowest, most fearful versions of ourselves. For example, these crazy ads in a local restaurant’s bathroom.

photo taken by author in Bee Caves TX

(Don’t even get me started on the difference between the language of the ads between the women’s & men’s rooms. That’s for another post.)

The point is, these ads, and much of our culture as a whole, sell fear. They leverage what Brené Brown calls shame.

And they are the furthest possible thing from the idea that we are each and every one of us, born of divine light. We are all perfect as we are. Ever-changing. Perhaps unimportant in the grand scheme of things, but that doesn’t really matter in the end.

I believe we are here to observe, to experience, and to record our coruscating lives in the akashic records of a slowly maturing universe. And we don’t need to buy our way to this sense of freedom. We just need to be taught better where to look for it.

We are so often taught that the answers and love we so desperately search for are to be found OUTSIDE of ourselves. More and more, I find this to be untrue. Actually, I’ve sensed the lie in this myth instinctively since I was a child.

photo of the author at 3

The Solution to Finding Love Must Be Fractal

It’s easy to become despondent when we look out at the world and see the chaos descending.

From the ecological crisis, to the economic cacophony and inequities of income inequality, to the gender and race conflicts that show up so often in my recommended reading list — the world can feel like it’s going to hell in a hand-basket.

I fall victim to the plunge of despair more often than I like to admit. It just feels like so much PRESSURE to stay afloat and live wisely amidst the chaos of transition that seems to be happening so fast these days!

But if the problems are fractal, then surely the solutions we all seek must be fractal too.

Fractals are infinitely complex patterns that are self-similar across different scales.

The Answers Are Within Us

What if we are all exactly where we are supposed to be right now? Not to sound trite, but perhaps the mystics have been right all along.

photo of the author in 2019. howdy y’all.

What if this tumultuous page of history is just a part of the grand master plan?

What if the light of the divine is actually right where it’s supposed to be?

What if, instead of suffering from (or unwittingly empowering) the fog of human experience the Toltec call the Mitote — we were able to choose instead to observe it with neutrality.

screenshot from the Butler-Bowdon blog

What if we could dissolve the stressful hubbub of being, simply by breathing and relaxing into it, until the fog cleared?

What if all the answers we seek were right at our center?

Never lost, just obfuscated? Waiting to be found. Laying in wait to be uncovered by the desire to live a better way.

Personal or cultural, I think what we have to come back to most of all, is our willingness to be PART of the world we live in. We can no longer afford the illusion of control. We are not the masters of this place, this experience, or this planet. We have no right to dominion over the world. Rather we have a responsibility to participate in and steward our world to the best of our collective ability.

As humans, we are merely pieces of an enormously complex pattern. I think it’s far past time we acknowledged this and moved forward from a new story of connectedness and interbeing.


Kaia Tingley is a writer, artist, podcaster, digital strategy nerd, and sometimes hot-tempered supernova with a wild, free soul. She holds a degree in Exercise Science from the University of Southern California, and black belts in two different martial arts. She practices massage therapy & shiatsu in the southwest hippie refuge of Austin Texas. Her work involves the pursuit of a smooth sustainable flow of energy through systems. Physical, emotional, technological, or cultural — the kind of system doesn’t really matter — the principles are the same.

She lives with her husband, two young kids who like to climb on her while she types, and a cool old dog named Satchmo. You can find her on Instagram here or on LinkedIn here. Feel free to reach out by DM there if you want to reach her directly.

She also knows she should probably have an email list, but hasn’t quite gotten there yet.

I help women craft a space for inner balance. Top Writer — Feminism, Climate, & Parenting. Striving to be a positive influence. Instagram @muse.of.creativity

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