by Dr. Alberto Villoldo: If Billie Holiday had never learned to use her soul-stirring voice to record her struggles against racism…
or if Anne Frank hadn’t poured out into her diary her harrowing tale of hiding from the Nazis, their suffering would have overwhelmed their lives—and the entire world would have been impoverished by the loss. Instead, each woman used her gifts to overcome daunting circumstances and launch herself into her destiny.
Extraordinary as these examples are, every single one of us has gifts: treasures that we can bring up from the Lower World that will lead us to our destiny. Many of us are unaware of these hidden capacities because we’ve settled into the lifestyle required of us by family, work, and circumstance. We get on a “train through life” and stay on it, regardless of whether it’s the right one or not. We stay on board simply because we’ve found a seat and it’s too much trouble to pick up our baggage and change course at the next station. For example, in college we take an aptitude test that indicates we have a talent for a career in medicine, when all our soul wants to do is design airplanes. So our counselors steer us toward pharmacy school, and we end up counting pills while looking longingly at the clouds. We’ve missed our calling.
However, you can journey to the Chamber of Treasures to recover a soul part that will gather the implements it needs to express your calling. These tools are called “medicine gifts” because they carry within them the power to manifest a new dimension of expression in your life—they’ll enable you to board a new train to a fresh destination.
Coming in many shapes and forms, tools are metaphors. Yours may be a paintbrush or even something as simple as a stone or a grain of rice. These medicine gifts are never only what they seem to be: They have a mythical, mysterious quality that you must find for yourself. A pen that you discover in the Chamber of Treasures, for instance, isn’t simply a writing instrument, it’s also a tool that will call forth your inner poet.
These tools will not just be sitting there waiting for you, like a diamond ring in a jewelry store. What makes the ring precious in the first place is that the stone first had to be extracted from the earth at great human cost. Like digging for diamonds, you have to journey deep into the Chamber of Treasures to find tools of value. They’ll be the gifts of your subconscious, not the wrenches and pliers of your everyday work or family life. They’re the materials of the mystic, sage, artist, and scientist.
Now, although we tend to look at things in the context of “bigger is better,” in reality the simplest tool is often best. We buy enormous SUVs and forget to use our legs until they’re too weak to serve us. We shop for the perfect outdoor gas grill, while forgetting how to start a fire. We order the most expensive laptop computer to write a novel, when a pen and paper will do. And we forget that myths and legends are filled with heroes and heroines overcoming incredible obstacles with basic tools that were just right for them.
The biblical story of David and Goliath illustrates what can happen when we respond to our calling with the right tool. A simple shepherd, David changed the course of Western civilization when he defeated Goliath with a mere slingshot—and eventually became king of Israel.
When we find our tool, it can set us on a course for destiny, but it doesn’t mean we no longer have to fight the giant. Our tool isn’t a magic wand that makes everything better—it simply allows us to confront situations that we find insurmountable, overwhelming, and dispiriting.
Just like in David’s story, the risk is enormous, the conditions are desperate, and the payoff is extraordinary. But when we employ our deeply buried treasures to serve our calling, the results are nothing short of miraculous: We go from being shepherds to becoming kings in our inner lives.
Next week: Finding buried treasure.