Western Baul Podcast Series

The Obstacle Is the Path (Chris McMaster and Debbie Hogeland-Celebucki)

October 20, 2022

“The obstacle is the path” is a Zen proverb. Usually when we encounter obstacles we go around them. But on the spiritual path the only way around is through. Our neuroses can be obstacles. Our work with them is but 1% of the process even if it feels like a huge amount to us; the other 99% comes from grace. We don’t have to fix neurosis, which is just energy that can be used for transformation. Every neurotic manifestation has a complement which can be transformed into something that serves. We can bring practice to every form our lives take. At the heart of practice is to live with kindness, generosity, and compassion. How we relate with our obstacles is key, so having compassion for ourselves is important. We can experience grace even if we don’t believe in God, however we conceive of that. Things that feel so big to us are really not that big to the universe. When we make small steps the universe responds. We’re good at hiding from our obstacles or neuroses. We can ask ourselves, “What is it that owns me right now?” It is important to see, be curious and intimate with our obstacles without judgment, which is the practice of self-observation. What we do internally has an impact on the world. To be inwardly active and outwardly passive, without acting out, builds a lot of energy. Most people are caught between the inspiration for spiritual transformation and the movement of ego. Over time, if we continue right action, we begin to convey to ego that we won’t be manipulated or controlled. What we want ego to do is to put its power in service to right action. Chris is a co-author of The Conscious Parenting Workbook whose practice includes work as a personal chef and nanny. Debbie is an advocate for the wisdom of community and conscious parenting and the author of Widening the Circle: Inspiration and Guidance for Community Living.

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