A Healing Atlas


Many of us are familiar in some way with the myth of Atlas.  Atlas betrays the Olympians and his punishment from Zeus is to hold the heavens (or the sky) up to keep it from falling to earth.  At one point Atlas convinces Heracles to hold the skies for him, but is soon tricked into holding it up once again.

        The great question is: What would happen if Atlas released his burden?

        One way to answer the question is to ask ourselves- What would happen if I put down my burdens? 

Would we fail to meet our responsibilities?  Would our world fall a part?  Would they fall like tears from our eyes as we realized a way of life without them?

Today when we think of Atlas, we don’t think of him as being that which holds heaven from earth, but holding up the globe itself.

In Ayn Rand’s work “Atlas Shrugged,”  Francisco asks Hank what advice he would give to Atlas if he saw the greater his effort the harder the burden was to bear.  The answer Francisco tells him is to “shrug.”

        Another point of view on Atlas comes from the spiritual thinker Mark Nepo who said,

        “Atlas wasn’t forced to hold up the world, he was convinced that if he didn’t, the world would fall.”  Perhaps those words ring true for our own lives.  We are not forced to carry our burdens, but we convince ourselves that if we don’t, our world will fall apart. 

  Like Atlas, we probably think at times that to release our burdens is to be crushed by them, so instead of letting them go we try to get others to carry them with us. Sometimes we unintentionally pass them down to our children. Often the very burdens we carry were passed on to us.

        Give up your burdens.  By that I don’t mean give up your responsibilities.  The two are very different things.  A responsibility is something we choose to do. A burden is something we choose to suffer because of.

        When we face the most difficult aspects of our lives, it is not wise to hold these alone.  “Give them to God” is the spiritual advice. Practically speaking this means: release yourself from their weight, and take care of yourself; be good to yourself and your life and to others and see what happens because sometimes the best way to set the nature of life into motion is not to forge ahead, but to let go.


Ramana Maharshi said-


Place your burden
at the feet of the Lord of the Universe
who accomplishes everything.
Remain all the time steadfast in the heart,
in the Transcendental Absolute.
God knows the past, present and future.
He will determine the future for you
and accomplish the work.
What is to be done will be done
at the proper time. Don’t worry.
Abide in the heart and surrender your acts
to the divine.

In other words, be with what is in your life with as little judgment as possible and you may find there is something whole operating there.  Perhaps if we release our grasp of the sky it will not fall?  Perhaps the only thing separating heaven and earth is ourselves?

Get out of the way.

  There are two powerful things that can happen when we release the burden.  A healing atlas.  The first is Grace.  Grace is when the veil of limitations has lifted and we experience the wholeness of what is.  Grace is peace in the midst of seeming chaos, vigil in the face of tragedy, a light that flickers in the darkness.

The second is forgiveness.  When I choose no longer to possess hatred or anger or fear towards someone or something or sometime.  Forgiveness occurs.

Grace and Forgiveness are human experiences, but they are what we might call “divine events.”  We don’t do them, we let go so that they might happen, and are better because of them.

        Ask yourself,

Where do I want Grace in my life?

Where do I want Forgiveness in my life?

What am I willing to let myself out from under from for this to take place?




One Response to “A Healing Atlas”

  1. Rachel says:

    Wonderful! I am always “burdened” when I forget that God is all there is. That sense of separation leads me to the false notion that I am in this on my own and have to handle everything by myself. After all, if I don’t then who will?! When I remember to leave room for God, I am quickly relieved and can shrug off any situation which is presented to me.

    And to answer your questions. Finances are always a powerful lesson for me. LOL

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.