Greetings and welcome to the Commitment Quest. I am so glad you decided to join us for this pivotal event. At this point, there are about 250 people signed up to participate with us around the world, so the response has been far larger than I anticipated. However, I have seen the power of this Quest manifested over and over again as the very act of your heart making a powerful commitment draws a complimentary response from life to empower all we do.
And let me underscore, that this Quest is generated in the heart, and takes place in the heart. It is an act of selfless love and sacrifice for all that is precious to you. You are taking a stand for the purest yearnings of your heart, the deepest love and devotion held there, and a whole-hearted embrace of all of life. Life will return that love to you 100-fold.
This letter is to help you prepare for the Quest. Mostly, the preparation is fairly simple and with this letter, I will lay out the process you will follow to be ready to enter the Quest on the 29th. Basically, there are only a few steps, but while they are simple, they are not easy and will require some deep soul-searching to accomplish. This soul-searching actually is an intrinsic part of the Quest, so recognize that the Quest has already begun as you dive into the preparation for it. Pour your heart into it.
But before I go into that, there are a few things that might help you understand the roots of what we are undertaking; to give it a context in relation to our spiritual journey. I told you that the inspiration for this Quest is the Dog Soldier Societies who committed their lives to the safety and preservation of their people, and while I am not an expert in those societies I honor their stance and their courage. They stood between two cultures, theirs and that of the attackers, and resolved to be the shield that allowed their world to survive and continue to thrive and grow.
We, too, are choosing to stand in that “no-mans-land,” that place between two worlds. We choose to stand as a shield forged by our commitments. On one side of us, the inner purity and truth that defines our real spiritual identity, and on the other, the outer world that constantly seeks to knock us off our path, or distract us from it, often leaving us wallowing in darkness, wandering aimlessly when we could be fulfilling our heart’s loftiest desires! Here is where we seek to stand, energized and empowered by our commitments!
In this Quest, we aim to explore the inner, initiatory process the Dog Soldiers must have gone through to prepare themselves for this monumental step. This inner process of initiation is what the preparation for this Quest is all about; it is the step we must resolve before we can make our own commitment. I consider this step the first heart of the Quest. The second heart will be revealed when I send the instructions for the Quest itself.
As I have said in an earlier email, we are not seeking to change the behavior of the world by our efforts, not seeking confrontation with other people’s choices or beliefs—which truly are none of our business, but to explore our own motivations and commitments, both light and dark, and see where we can deepen our commitments and action to the light of our journey. And we are not seeking perfection on this path either! We are human, living a human life, and we are here for that life, to explore, learn, and find our way home again. I have found that it is often our mistakes that teach us our most precious and hard-won lessons. Our deep inner experiences are our guide on that journey. Your heart has brought you to this Quest, so this journey must be right for you at this precise time.
In fact, there is no Commitment Quest without resolving issues of light and darkness within yourself that hold you back from already having made the commitments you seek. This includes fear, selfishness, rage, judgment, expectations, etc., on the dark side, but also, on the lighter side, the things you believe make you happy but might be distracting you from what you really seek to be doing. (A clarification about my use of the word “darkness” in this letter. I am simply referring to the darkness in our own awareness, what is often called the unconscious mind, where we house the experiences we don’t want to look at and feel. It is a poor strategy because they are not truly out of our consciousness but are only deeply ignored. Unfortunately, they continue to influence us in our day-to-day life, which is what makes it a poor—though sometimes useful and necessary—strategy.)
And, one more point before we focus on the specific preparation for this Quest. Spend some time focusing on what a “commitment” actually is to you! How is it different from the many choices you make every day? The commitment we are making is intended to be a core aspect of your stand in life, something unshakeable, solid, and rooted. What holds you back from making such a profound stand? What is the nature and depth of your desire for it?
I consider a commitment to be a pledge made before the Creator, to the Creator, and therefore unchangeable until the Creator directs you otherwise. It is not a whim, a fancy, an idle dream; it is a pledge made to God. You need to be very clear about what you are committing to, having researched it as deeply as you can, before you stand and make such a pledge. Spend some time resolving this issue before the Quest and find what a commitment is in your world now. Let me emphasize this; the process of this Quest does involve you literally standing before the Creator and declaring your commitment.
The preparation instruction that follows is designed to bring you to clarity on this point, and many others, before you go into the Quest on the 29th.
- You will need several physical items gathered and prepared before you go into the Quest.
- A wooden Stake. The stake can be anywhere from about 18” to 6‘ long with a diameter of 1 ½” to about 4”. You will be recording your journey of preparation onto the Stake so that when you plant it in your Quest circle it will contain the symbols of all you have done leading to your Commitment. This record can be marked through carving, painting, or even writing, (it is up to you) so make the Stake big enough. Point the Stake at one end to make it easier to drive into the ground. On the other end, a couple of inches down from the top, draw or carve a circle around the Stake. The space above the circle represents the Creator and is left untouched, just below the circle is where you carve/paint the commitment you are making to the Creator, and below that is recorded your journey to your commitment—what you are working on between now and the start of the Quest! It will include your struggles and your inspirations!
- You can think of this Stake as a sacred Staff for this part of your journey.
- A red sash (red is the color of protection) that will be long enough that when it is attached to you (around your ankle or waist) and tied to the stake, there remain about 8 feet of space to move around (Red rope is acceptable; rawhide is traditional.) The length can be less but you need to have some room for movement as that is part of the Quest. You may choose to decorate the sash if you wish but it should reflect this Quest.
- Find a place to do the Quest that will be undisturbed for 24 hours. It does not have to be in the deep wilderness but needs to be somewhere safe and free from interruption. As with the Vision Quest, you seek a small clearing of about 10 feet in diameter (larger is fine) that is out of sight of anyone you might be Questing near. Feel free to gather with others doing this Quest to share a general area.
- Think of this next step as defining the challenge you face right now! Here I want you to research within yourself all the things you are already committed to that may leave you little time or space to fit in a new commitment. Where do you stand in your commitments right now?
- Clearly, this involves things like family, friends, loved ones, your spiritual journey as you see it, your work, hobbies, etc.
- Think of your memories as well, how have specific ones channeled your life in directions you might not have chosen. Think of all of these as how you choose to spend your time now—what you already committed to! This is one step of self-reflection that will help you as you go forward, though I also find it can be an uncomfortable mirror. Write these things down!
- Also, research the habits that drive you and that perhaps are less consciously chosen. These might be loosely called your addictions and distractions—the things you do that seem to occupy your time without giving you anything particularly beneficial. Whatever you put your time into involves some commitment.
- Specifically, list character traits that sometimes drive you; you commit to those as well. Perhaps you are a fearful person, an angry one, are shame-based, or have another trait that drives your action to some degree, including a loving cheerful personality that puts you in situations that take up your precious time.
- List your distractions!
- This step is largely designed to make your physical mind feel useful in this process. It isn’t, particularly, and this step will begin to connect you to your feeling and desire centers, which are crucial to this Quest.
- With this step completed, we then seek the Commitment we are going to bring to our Quest. Perhaps you think you already know what commitment you seek, but that may be only what you think you should be committed to rather than what you really feel committed to. So I invite you to go through a few steps to feel what your heart really desires. Generally, we seek only one commitment for each Quest but you may have thought of several commitments that are clustered together, for instance, perhaps you feel you are committed to healing the earth, but you aren’t a healer, so you may also have a commitment to study healing, to study planetary healing, or to go outside for an hour a day and pick up trash!
The point is, that this is an intensely personal step; there is no “right” answer. We seek the yearning and passion that is driving us on our path, and we search for the commitments that will carry that passion to fruition in action. This is an entirely felt research, no thinking will guide you to your core commitments here—they are felt not thought! Be open to exploring these felt commitments. In the previous step, we typically used our physical mind for 85% of the work and only used the feeling and desire centers for about 15%. Now, in this step, we will reverse this, using 85% of our feeling and desire centers and only 15% of our physical mind.
If you are already skilled and fluid in this type of research, you can jump right in and ignore the steps, a, b, and c, below and go to step 4. However, if you are new to these things, I have written out some steps that should help you work through this process productively.
- Write down what you think should be your commitment to this Quest. Then, sit quietly and ask yourself “what else am I committed to now?” Allow yourself to feel into any ideas or desires that come up when you ask and write them down no matter how silly they seem. It may be a commitment to find joy in life, freedom, follow your vision, or open a school to help others; anything that you feel is good. The more immediate and specific the better but write down whatever comes. Spend about 15 minutes in this quiet contemplation and write down every feeling or desired commitment.
- Now read through the list. Is it complete? Do you want to add to it now? You can let your physical mind slide in a bit here.
- Now, read through the list, bouncing from one item to the next. Bounce through every item until one leaps out with a strong feeling—it is especially important. Circle it and continue to read, leaving out what is circled with the next reading. (Tom Brown calls this rebounding.) Do this until several are circled—or perhaps only one stood out to be circled.
- You can repeat this rebounding exercise with the few remaining items, or just spend some time feeling into each and discern which is calling to you the most right now. That is the one to work with. Or perhaps several are related and it feels like all should be worked with now, while not ideal for learning the process, if that is what you feel, you should go with it. I am not saying the rest on your list aren’t also crucially important but recognize, that I am teaching you a process you can use for the rest of your life! You can repeat this Quest as often as you need to with a different commitment each time.
- Once you have discerned the commitment you will focus on, the real work begins! You now have to research each commitment you are considering and all research is done the same way. Narrow the focus of your mind to the commitment you have selected and open your heart, your body, and your mind to it. Allow everything about that commitment to flood you, submerge yourself in all that comes up around it, and saturate yourself in it. You are not seeking resolution here but understanding! It is not a physical mind journey but one of feeling and desire. Every now and again, pause and journal what you are seeing, the good and the bad.
- As you focus on the commitment, allow all the feelings that arise around it. Accept all that is revealed in this step. Whether feelings of fear, anger, or dullness rise up or excitement and inspiration, embrace it all and accept it all. Feel the self-doubt, the anxiety as you stand before the new, the frustration that these are still present within you. Feel the hope for the new to be revealed, the relief that you are taking this step now, and the courage as you face this daunting task. Accept it all, become it all, let it all swirl around and within you, opening you to your own subtle rhythms of life.
- We do not seek resolution in this step, just an honest understanding of both aspects of our experiences as we look at this commitment, the light, and the dark. Record all that you see, feel, and sense. It is a crucial part of the journey. Again, this is not an ego search, it is felt.
- Repeat this step several times over the next few days, each time allowing yourself to sink ever deeper into new, subtle layers of experience that surround this commitment.
- Seek into the darkness of the unconscious mind for the forces that raise objections to you picking this commitment, bring up fear, hesitancy, or even try to drive you away from this Quest. Accept it all, embrace it all, feel it all, and know you will not be defeated.
- Seek also into the light, your love for life, your hopes and dreams for yourself, your loved ones, those who are suffering and in need, and your world. Feel your excitement at being ready to face everything for this commitment and the future you envision.
- All these things are the platform for the Quest. At first, do not seek resolution, because that is the arena of the physical mind and the ego that always seeks certainty and abhors uncertainty. Allow the ever-flowing tides of life to move without restriction. Explore the true landscape of your commitment.
- However, do acknowledge all your feelings and don’t allow any of them to drive you from either your commitment or the Quest. Prove to yourself that you are ready and able to meet every objection that arises within you and still you will commit and act. We may not eliminate our fear or self-doubt, but we will develop the knowledge that it isn’t stronger than our commitment declared before God.
- And record it all, either in your journal or directly onto your stake.
- Record it all on your stake. You might find it easier to record it directly there as you progress through the preparation, or you might find it more effective to put your insights in your journal and then spend several days transferring the critical aspects of your journal to the stake. You will carry this stake into your Quest area and it will hold all the work you have done. It is part of your Quest and part of what you will present to the Creator as you make your pledge of commitment.
- Carve, paint, write your journey to this Quest on the stake. The earliest carvings could start at the pointed end and be buried in the ground as the stake is planted. It will show how deeply rooted your efforts reach into your life and heart to resolve on your commitment. The carvings should then flow upwards, following the timeline, to the final depiction of your commitment, leaning up against the Creator’s area of the stake.
- As I said you can express your journey on the stake any way that works for you—it is the symbol that is important. Even if you simply write your progress on a paper and attach that to the stake, it is fine as the important part of this step is the power of your research and the insight and courage you found.
- Essentially, this stake represents your heart’s journey to commitment and everything it had to overcome to make the pledge of commitment to the Creator.
- It is also the anchor that holds you in place as the challenges come to your commitment, so while you won’t actually carry this stake through your life, your creation of it will always live within as a reminder.
So this is the process of preparation for the Commitment Quest. With two weeks to go before the Quest, I will send out another letter announcing a series of phone calls you can participate in with me to ask any questions you have. Then with about a week to go, I will send out the Instructions of how to do this Quest and explain some of the inner workings of it so you will get the most from it. However, don’t worry about any of that just now—just focus on the preparation and do it whole-heartedly, slowly, and thoroughly. That will drive the most powerful results.
Recognize that this Quest is a part of ancient shamanistic rituals and is incredibly powerful. If you put your whole heart into the preparation you will find deep and abiding changes being wrought in your life as you move more and more in harmony with the spiritual forces and laws that underlie and support all of life. As you confront your darkness and bring it into the light to be seen as it is, a part of life, life and light will surge into you to transform your life experiences into harmony and powerful action.
So, again, thank you for joining us for this Commitment Quest, Enjoy the journey; simple but not easy!