Hello lovely people!
I’ve been thinking and feeling lately like there’s a world of difference between conceptual frameworks and practical application. Sure I can talk to you about Christianity, Buddhism, Quantum “new agey” things, energy healing and reiki, Wiccanism, A Course in Miracles and more besides. But what does that really do for me? Would I rather be right, or happy? Sure I can feel smart in talking about these things, but in doing so, I will inevitably fall into a devious egoic trap … Thinking I know something. Anything, really, about this world.
That sort of seems like the past few years in a nutshell. David is fond of saying the path to awakening is one percent theoretical framework and ninety nine percent practice. As in, if you really want to experience perfect peace in every moment, practice experiencing perfect peace in every moment. That’s really the only way. And sure, it may seem like I feel good when I talk about things to other people, but underneath that illusion of pleasure is and has been guilt. I think I’m special. I think I know something you don’t. And if I take seriously the idea that anyone could be better than anyone just for a second, peace is impossible. If I am really better than you than that allows for the possibility that I could be worse than you and no one’s good at feeling peaceful when that idea is taken seriously.
So me and the ‘spiritual ego’ that has decided to come along on the ride have duked it out in a major way recently. I first became aware that I may not know as much as I think I do when I expressed to Michael, the center overseer (a lovely bit of Spirit that one!) that there was this ball of icky grossness that was proving fairly resilient. Like there was something big down there in my consciousness that I was taking seriously and I didn’t know what it was and it wasn’t going away. To which Michael responded, ‘you just need to stay in the moment. Follow the prompts. Don’t be too hard on yourself. You are love.’ All of which I had heard about a bajillion times before and was very clear on the Course’s method of dealing with perceived fear from studying the Course for the past year and a half! So my initial reaction was anger. ‘How dare you tell me what I already know!’ Closely followed by, Do I really already know it? Because if I knew it, why exactly am I upset? I know theoretically that the present moment is supposed to dissolve fear away but I wasn’t actually using the tools in the moment. So perhaps I did need a reminder and perhaps I should be thanking him rather than projecting my anger out on him to cover up the guilt of, ‘I should know this by now. I should do better. I should be better.’ Hmmm. So I realized that I am far more willing to think the principle rather than be the principle, because being the principle requires honesty to know when you are feeling upset and then see that the hurt disappears in the light of the present moment. Why would I be more willing to think it rather than be it I ask?
Specialness. In a word. I wanted to hang onto my little identity. I’m a musician. I’m a scientist. I’m a good student. I’m smart and spiritual and know all these concepts. You don’t know all these concepts. Doesn’t that feel good to be better then someone else? Isn’t it just great? Because I knew that if I consistently practiced being the principle, that identity would fade fast. The ego counsels, ‘sure it’s ok if you experience the blazing light and love for a few instants each day. That way you can talk about light and still hang onto the belief that you are better. That you are a person in a world who is more ‘advanced’ than other people in the world.’ I knew that consistently moving into the light, I would lose all sense of the personal. All sense of specialness which I had protected and clung onto so dearly for my entire life.
But what had the specialness really offered me? I thought I could hide away in my specialness and be justified in being the gentle teacher. How often had people offered me salvation and I had just skipped right by it, thinking that I already knew the concept, like I thought I already knew the concept Michael offered me and responded in anger rather than love? Friends beyond measure came to mind who had offered me love that I had not seen because I thought they were offering me a concept which I already knew. I did not listen to the message behind the concept. Love is not a concept. Love Is.
So now while I was questioning whether I had ever really recognized love in anyone except for maybe a few people in my life where love was undeniably present, (Do I know what love is rather than the concept of love as described in the Course?) a conversation with a friend came up in which he asked whether I liked this movie or that movie better? To which I replied (truthfully, I thought) it doesn’t matter to me. None of this is real. And he replied, ‘That just isn’t fair.’ And in that conversation, I could see how I needed to be inauthentic in order to defend my specialness. The specialness that was made as a defense against the blazing light and total love of Oneness. In order to maintain a special self concept I needed to keep on reinforcing the belief that I was spiritual (and no one else was as spiritual as me) I mean, honestly, how was my response to that conversation helpful? It definitely wasn’t coming from a place of love on my part. That was clear to me at least. But in order to maintain this specialness and hide behind concepts, I had to by necessity be inauthentic and cover over my true feelings with these concepts in order to make myself belief that my self-concept is true. So how much inauthentic bullshit was I spewing in order to support my belief that I was better than others? How much darkness was I hiding from my awareness simply because I didn’t want to look directly at it and cover it over with words. This feeling is not real. This world is not real. No preferences. It’s all an illusion. Well it might not be real, but I’ve made it real by believing in it, so pushing it out of awareness with concepts doesn’t seem to helpful.
Might as well start to look at the darkness now, right? About time too! So the questions on my mind were…
1. To what extent was I using these words to cover over guilt and pain and fear in my awareness?
2. To what extent was I actually terrified of love, and using these concepts to avoid having an experience of love with another fragment of mind?
3. To what extent was I using concepts such as no preferences to cover over the fear of loss of love?
And these questions together led to some other interesting ones, such as,
1. Have I ever truly loved another human being in this world?
2. Have I ever allowed myself to truly connect to another human being in this world?
If you’ve ever wondered what going through the darkness to the light is like, you may find yourself asking these sorts of questions in the process. They are not the most fun questions to ask, but they should be asked. I was essentially asking, do I know what love is? My concepts told me that it is impossible to know what love is. Love just is and you are love. But I was feeling far from loving at the moment because I recognized how much I had defended against love and perceived lovelessly all my life.
Because you see, it became clear to me that with one notable exception (thankfully!), and even then, only for a short time, all my ‘loving’ interactions and relationships had this dynamic of wanting something, fear of losing something, fear of connecting, expectation, anger, specialness, any and all of those in all my previous relationships with every single person I had ever talked with. My experiences of pure love opened me up to this awareness that there was always some belief in fear buried down there. I cannot play the innocent victim anymore. I cannot pretend I am a good person in a fearful world. The guilt of looking lovelessly was in my mind all along and I simply projected that out onto the screen. The world is not fearful, but I perceived it that way, because the guilt of loveless perception was in my mind.
Sure there were moments, last year more than ever, where I was genuinely in the present moment and could shine that joy. But it was not consistent, and honestly I would say more often than not I was using loving concepts to cover over the fear and guilt of perceiving my brother without love. There are only two choices. Either you see your brother as perfect and part of you or you do not and allow fear and guilt to enter the mind.
It is given to me to see you, all of you, as my savior for so you are. I can choose to hide behind concepts or I can choose to express myself authentically and know that as I make that switch from perceiving lovelessly to loving perception, so will that love be reflected back to me from you. None of you are my enemy. I just choose to perceive you that way by thinking I was better. Thinking I knew something. Love is you as much as it is me. On coming face to face with my recent realization, it was definitely tempting to see myself as a cruel, vicious, twisted monster. It seemed like upon coming to the realization that I have never truly loved, that I was so guilty. So evil, even. But it is given to us to choose again in the present moment. The love that I am is apparent now. One moment, the guilt was there. The next it was gone because I chose to be the love that I am in that moment.
Needless to say, cutting through this darkness has been exhausting but well worth it. The idol of specialness does not look so appealing now when I can look at it for what it is. Guilt must come with specialness. And my experience of right mindedness is becoming far more consistent far more quickly. I look forward to seeing how far down the rabbit hole goes!
P.S. Listen to David talk about painting over experiences with words here.