For Americans, this week might mark the deepest level of insanity possible for humanity. People will get in a frenzy attempting to get to a destination in time to be with people they may or may not like in order to fret over making a meal that is just perfect, only to eat way more than their stomachs can accommodate. Some of those will get caught up in a game or two, only to rejoice with victory or agonize in defeat. After sleeping a couple of hours, many will make their way to stores in the evening or the middle of the night to buy more crap to pile on top of the loads of crap they already have. There will be rushing around to get to the vendor they believe they can gouge the most for savings, then on to the others, whose deals might not be quite as good. There will be anger and elation as the stuff fills the crevices of their latest model vehicles. Then home to catch up on the sleep lost from saving money. By Sunday it’s time for the arduous journey back to where they came from. Then back to work to earn the money for the crap that will be purchased over the next three weeks. This, ladies and gentlemen, is the domain of the ego.
It is the roller coaster ride called life. This is the meaninglessness the ego touts as important. We are told to cherish these, the times of our lives. In reality, these special times are no different from other weeks of the year, only intensified. These are still weeks where we believe that our jobs and vehicles and positions and houses and hobbies and stuff are important. In those weeks, as well, we are embedded in the world of suffering.
How often do we step back from this lifestyle and realize how stupid it is? If we use the logical mind, we cannot come to any other conclusion. We yearn for high-paying jobs so we can buy high-priced stuff that we believe will bring us happiness. It never has. We are insane to continue to expect it to. So why do we keep doing it? Because it’s all we know. Everyone is doing it, so it must be right. The reality is that everyone that’s doing it is suffering.
I’ll borrow a phrase from A Course In Miracles: “I could see peace instead of this.” The world that seems to exist outside us is the product of the ego. Therefore, it can only be insane. Our true nature is peace. It’s just that it’s been so long since we’ve experienced it that we’ve forgotten. The world of the senses is very convincing, very powerful. It’s no wonder we keep getting pulled back into it. But it is not reality. Since we are temporarily in this world, we must abide by many of its rules: we have to eat, sleep, defecate, breathe, etc. But that doesn’t mean we have to buy into the insanity. We can choose peace instead.
The road to peace is not easy. It requires total commitment. I used to believe that everyone was looking for peace. I now understand that those of us in this world are here because we wanted separation. We made this world so that we could be separate from peace, as odd as it sounds. It is against our ego-nature to seek peace, so, the way back is a struggle. But peace is always there. It is always available to us. This world of illusion has an enormous pull on us. It is what we believe we wanted, so giving it up is not easy.
But it can be done. Ironically, the next holiday after this was originally about overcoming the world of insanity by re-discovering the peace that is our true nature. It doesn’t really mean that anymore, but for a few, it did mean that at one time. So we now, as always, have a decision to make. We can continue through the season of holiday madness in the same manner we always have, or we can step back and see the meaninglessness and decide for something better. Something lasting. Something everlasting.
October 16, 2014 was a banner day. It is the first day I liked being at work. It is the first day I felt that I was unified with God. It was the day I finally began to understand what Love actually is. Okay, maybe not the actual first day, but things were different.
First, Love is different from what I expected. It’s not so much doing stuff for other people, but that is included. It is more like a feeling you have when you have allowed everything that is not Love, in other words, everything of this ego-world, to drop away as unimportant. I realize that the preparation you are making is sort of like emptying a vessel so that it can be filled. What you are emptying is the crap of life that we have invested in which really just weighs you down and holds you back more than anything. When you empty the vessel, you allow the fullness of God to shine through. That shining feels like fullness and joy and light. When you feel this you realize how silly the world and its agendas and problems and ambitions are. You know that you are taken care of, despite being in the world still.
The last couple of weeks have gotten me the “rest of the way”. In this time I have realized that resistance is the enemy; resisting anything simply keeps me in the ego-world. I have also realized the importance of being in the present moment, though it is different from what I thought it would be.
First, resistance. I figured out that the more I resist something, the more I keep it present, or at least available for the ego’s use. The thing I’ve been dealing with lately is anger. To be more specific, impatience with others. As anger arose, the first thing I would try to do is pretend like I wasn’t angry. Then as the anger settled in, I would attempt to to get rid of it by saying to myself that I had let it go or that I had forgiven that person. What would happen is that the anger would still be there yet I would have, in my mind, realized that it was silly to be angry. This realization did not make the anger go away. The thing that I realized I must do is allow myself to be angry. It’s like I had to give myself permission to feel this way. That’s because, when you are on the road to getting to where you can let things go, the ego still wants to be involved. The ego jumps in and says, “I shouldn’t feel anger; I’m a forgiving person.” Then you resist the anger…and it stays. It stays longer during that time, and it returns because it has not been dealt with. This is the resistance.
Seemingly the strangest thing you can do in that situation is to simply allow yourself to be angry. Feel the anger. Allow yourself to feel it with its fullest rage. Simply say to yourself, “I am angry”, and let yourself feel it. One note: try not to let your rage out on a person or people during this time. It might help to tell someone how you feel, but it is important, while you feel this anger, not to go off on someone. That won’t help any more than resisting will, and it could cause serious harm.
Nearly every time when I finally relented and admitted that I was angry, the anger subsided very quickly. Allowance was the key. Resistance was the enemy.
That leads to the second: being in the present moment. I used to think that this meant that you are rigidly observing exactly what is going on exactly this second, continually. Instead, it is similar to the last situation. It is more like you simply allow the present moment to be with whatever it brings with it: thoughts, feelings, emotions, physical sensations…. To try and focus on the present is helpful, but it is not exactly what we’re aiming for. It is more like we are simply experiencing the present without trying to make it something else. We are content, realizing this moment is perfect. This is how I experienced work yesterday; I reminded myself that this moment and being at this job were perfect and I allowed everything to unfold without trying to make it something else. That doesn’t mean that there weren’t times when I wished I was home instead. But at those times, I simply allowed myself to feel that and continued on. Lying to myself and saying that I really wanted to be at work in those moments would have been resisting and would have kept me from actually being in the present. By allowing rather than resisting, I was able to empty myself of the ego and be filled with peace and joy.
I was surprised when the main focus of A Course In Miracles was forgiveness. I guess I had something in mind that awakening was supposed to be and forgiveness wasn’t really it. Now I’m surprised how complete forgiveness is as far as bringing us into unity with our True Self.
I understand now that we are all one and that we only seem to be separate. Because of that, if I decide to be upset with another for any reason, I actually receive that feeling. My being upset with another is the cause as well as the effect of my decision. This is the law of cause and effect. It is also the complete understanding of karma (which is simply another name for that law). The action is also the consequence.
With that in mind I now understand the importance of forgiveness. In the Christian scriptures Jesus explained that the unwillingness to forgive actually imprisons us. As I have experimented with forgiveness, I have found that saying that it imprisons is not quite enough. I would go as far as to say that unforgiveness is the root of nearly every bit of suffering we experience. It is the cause of unhappiness. Unforgiveness is the reason we feel that we are separate from each other and the Creator.
When I initially read about the importance of forgiveness in ACIM, I was able to forgive and experience a lightness and joy I had not felt in years. That was nearly two years ago. But my ego wouldn’t let go of me that easily. It quickly redirected my attention to groups of people I felt superior to, individuals who have wronged me in the past, etc. I have struggled since that time to come to terms with the reality that forgiveness is what I need and trying to let go of everything I held against others. I used to think of myself as a pretty forgiving person. I was surprised to discover how wrong I was. I found things to hold against people I didn’t even know simply because of deep-seated prejudices I didn’t realize I had.
Things seem to be coming around, at long last, and I realize how my attack thoughts toward others immediately come back to me. It is extremely helpful to understand several things that I didn’t realize before. One is the reality that we are all one, with each other and with God. Another is that whenever I am upset with another, I am really upset with myself and when I attack another, it comes right back to me. It’s only when I really began to understand the former (thanks Ken Wilber) that the latter made sense. That explains why forgiveness is so important. Love your neighbor as your self. I get it now…my neighbor is my self.
“No Boundary” by Ken Wilber took everything I have studied about spirituality and made it understandable. As I read the first part of the book I could eventually see where it was leading, which was to reveal that there is no separation at all, anywhere. The only separation I ever perceived is separation that I made. Seeing that was an enlightenment, of sorts.
Lately (the last few years) A Course In Miracles has been helpful to me, along with some teachings from Buddhism. I had been getting to the point where I could put it all together when Wilber’s book suddenly appeared. This was the (a) final piece of the (a) puzzle. All of a sudden I could understand the teachings of the Buddha, Jesus, Hinduism, Taoism and nearly every other discipline. I could also see how they had been ripped out of their contexts, dogmatized and turned into “religion”.
I have studied Buddhism nearly as long as the teachings of Jesus. I never really saw them as two different disciplines as much as I didn’t understand how they complemented each other. Jesus seemed to focus on love and serving where Buddhism focused on mindfulness and being in the present. No Boundary helped me understand that that the only thing that exists is the “original self” whose reality is love and that there is only the present moment and that being in the present fully is eternal life. Nothing else exists except for illusions that an apparently separated humanity has made up. It has helped me see Christian scriptures, which I refused to look at for a time, in a whole new light. It has helped me understand that Buddhism is as much about compassion as mindfulness.
More than anything I have discovered that all of the renowned “mystic” teachers throughout history have understood that everything is love and that only the present exists. They understood that there really are no boundaries. They have also attempted to convey to us, in their unique ways, that we do not have to be bound by fear and suffering; that these are phenomena that we have made up and mistakenly bought into because we believed we are separate from “God” or “love” or our “original self”.
Now the challenge is to return to this reality. We have spend eons inventing, teaching and reinforcing boundaries and separation. We are experts at it. It is really ironic that we have become experts at something that is really nothing more than illusion. Returning to what is real and true is not easy. I can talk about it (with my words that are nothing more than symbols of separation), but assimilating it is the (goal-less) goal. I can call my blog “life awakened” and I can know that complete awakening is possible in each present moment. However, it will take time to fully understand and integrate the reality that the boundaries really do not exist.
I keep getting sidetracked. I get to the point where I realize that the ultimate state is love, and being loving toward others, and I get sucked into the mindfulness trap again. Instead of believing that being one with love is the ultimate, I start to look to other avenues to attain happiness. I usually start looking to teachings that are about being mindful and living in the present. I get sidetracked because when I look at those, I try to use those to attain something I already have. The ego is very clever that way.
The one thing ego does not want is for me to return to love…and stay there! This pattern is a regular cycle for me, but the ego is extremely smart and I always outsmart myself, attempting to find something I already have.
Our original self is love. Some say “God is love”. Either way, our true self, without the tainting of the ego, is unity with God; completely loving. Next, to “be love” is to be completely in the present. Everything that helps you to pay attention to, and live in the present eventually gets you to a point where you become loving and compassionate. The reverse is true, as well. The more you become one with the present, the more compassionate you become. One way to become mindful of the present is to commit to being a loving person. Being love and being in the present are the same. Our original self is eternity, and it is love. These aren’t two different things, they are one in the same. Become love and you will live only in the present. Live only in the present and you will become love.
I have found that the one thing the ego wants to do to me, above anything else, is keep me from being loving. In reality, only love exists. But the ego is an illusion that attempts to convince me that it is real and that love is just one small aspect of life. It has built a false-universe based on fear and loss and pain and craving and getting and having that is not real. In other words, I have made this world in my mind. My true reality is unity with my real self, which is love. Anything other than love has been added by me, or rather, by the ego.
It’s funny, every time I come to this realization I write something about it and make a reminder to myself to read it often. Yet, I always get sidetracked into believing that something else is as or more important than love, and I start the cycle over again.
In the last couple of weeks I have had a change in my job that has helped me prove to myself that what is most important in that situation is serving others, acting with sincere love for them. It doesn’t matter whether it’s the people I work for or the customers who need assistance. When I can focus on doing this at work and home, without becoming cynical, I am success. I have also found that I am living in the present moment, sort of scanning for where I can be of benefit, but also aware of thoughts that try to undermine my peace. When I cave to the ego and start looking for something else, I sabotage the good that is already taking place.
I am writing this as a reminder for myself. I just hope I come across it again in a few weeks.