Stephen Shelley

To Give is To Shift

Most men and women arrive onto their spiritual path carrying pain and trauma. For many of us, we will initially seek the support of ‘quick fix’ outer resources such as drugs or alcohol, sex, gambling, smoking…you name it. The lures of the outside world are our first search for healing, which never work. Once these are exhausted, we have nowhere else to turn but…within.

This change in perspective often leads one to seek for help and support from a spiritual teacher or coach, a community, a philosophy or teaching. And, we might spend quite a bit of time in this mode of seeking and needing support. This is normal as often the pain we carry, plus the programming of the world can be extremely dense.

This is the training wheels stage of our development: attending retreats, following teachers and other inspiring leaders, reading, digesting, inundating…all in the name of truth and making the shift from a position of needing something external to feel good to fully realizing my infinite power within.

This stage takes what it takes, and it is fully necessary and important. But, at a certain point, I indeed wake up and realize…I am the light and I have a gift to give.

I feel (mostly) peaceful, aligned, clear, radiant. Every second of every day may not be filled with bliss, but I am more and more aligned to my inner compass of truth, and when off course, I can gently steer myself back into alignment.

From this place of true empowerment and clarity, I can fully give my gift to the world. I am no longer dependent upon external elements to guide me, but am now at the behest of what wants to move through me. And, it nearly always feels profoundly “wrong” (or misaligned) NOT to give this gift.

This is a big turning point – when I cease being dependent upon teachers and communities to give me what I need, but when I seek to serve these very same entities with my light, my love, my uniquely beautiful gift.

When we go from seeking, needing, insisting upon others to give me what I need to being so lit within that my cup overfloweth, can I truly serve. It is here that we can fully appreciate and understand the Buddha’s final admonition:

“Be a light unto yourself”

To give, then, is to shift. It is here that we see that we are full and wholly complete within, that we need for nothing from the outside. And in a state of feeling complete, our reality naturally mirrors this back to us.

Upon witnessing the world and its chaos and confusion from this state, I can not stop myself from serving, guiding, bringing the light simply because the light itself quite naturally flows to the shadows, the imbalances, the distortions.

Isn’t this the point then of the spiritual path? To arrive at a place where my old pattern of following various external authorities bows down to the only true authority – the light within. From here, I cannot help but give – it is as natural and joyful as breathing.


Stephen is a writer, artist, entrepreneur, partner and daddy. He has also been known as Stephen Nash, and even Playboy or PlayboyLA (long story, though thanks to Neil Strauss for writing it). He has always been fascinated by spirituality and the urge to create epic, awesome things. This blog features content related to both topics and, often, their convergence.

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