March 28 – The Gift of Shedding – Mark Nepo, The Book of Awakening

From the beginning, the key to renewal has been the casting off of old skin. 

It is interesting that the earliest peoples believed in something that we, in our modern hive of manufacturing, have forgotten – that immortality is attainable by shedding. The Dusuns of North Borneo have believed for centuries that when God finished creating the world, He announced that “Whoever is able to cast off his skin shall not die.”

But what does this mean? Not that we can live forever but that the way to stay closest to the pulse of life, the way to stay in the presence of that divine reality which informs everything is to be willing to change. Still, change what? To change whatever we are carrying that is no longer alive. To cast off our dead skin because dead skin can’t feel. Dead eyes can’t see. Dead ears can’t hear. And without feeling, there is no chance of wholeness, and wholeness remains our best chance to survive the pain of breaking.

Of course, for human beings, dead skin takes many forms, the most significant of which remain intangible but suffocating, such as a dead way of thinking, a dead way of seeing, a dead way of relating, a dead way of believing, or a dead way of experiencing.

In essence, shedding opens us to self-transformation. Paradoxically, those of us who refuse such renewal will, sooner or later, be forced to undergo transformation anyway as a result of being broke or eroded by the world. Very often both occur at the same time: that is, we shed from within while being eroded from without.

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