Week 3 – The Evil Genius

For the rest of this year and most of the next, I’ll be sharing a section each week from THE FRICKEN MAP IS UPSIDE DOWN. From start to finish, from my heart to yours. From the big comfy chair.

Welcome to week three of this free series. Go ahead and get settled into your own comfy chair, grab a mug of something nice to drink, and read on.

(The following content is excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: Notes from a spiritual journey, by Carrie Triffet © Copyright 2019.)


The Evil Genius

I didn’t turn toward the inner foot-dragger comfortably or
easily. Three decades of spiritual training had taught me to dis-
miss or overpower this reluctant subterranean self. The picture
painted of this inner self by so many spiritual teachings was
anything but flattering. Traditionally, most have considered
this aspect of the self to be something of an evil genius, hell-
bent on keeping us from knowing our own inherent divinity.
All worldly suffering is blamed on it.

But here’s the thing. For me personally, this kind of training
didn’t seem to fit my skill set. Try as I might, thirty-something
years of hard effort brought little success in dominating or dis-
mantling this stubborn portion of the self. Plenty of other nice
things changed dramatically along the way, as a result of all the
hard labor. But never that.

Yet that had long been my one great desire. To know my
own inherent divinity. To radiate peace from within. But if
these spiritual lineages were to be believed, I could never hope
to know true peace as long as the evil inner genius was alive
and functioning. I should starve it, they counseled. I should kill
it. Only then could I be happy
. Except in my case, the starvation
diet simply didn’t work. I was clearly outmatched.

Nothing I tried dislodged the evil genius from its core seat
of power. Consequently, I couldn’t seem to get anywhere near
my desired destination of transcendent inner peace. In fact,
every step I took in the direction of peace seemed to lead me
father from it. Thirty-odd years into this journey, it finally oc-
curred to me I was thoroughly lost—with no idea which direc-
tion might lead toward authentic peace.

For the first time ever, I stopped to take honest stock of my
spiritual journey as a whole. If not toward inner peace (which
at this point was clearly not happening), where was I hoping
my path would take me? How, exactly, did my spiritual life,
with its transcendent meditation practices and brilliant little
awakenings, translate into my actual daily life—like, y’know,
after the meditation was over?

As I launched into each day, was I feeling ever-greater inner
fulfillment? Ever-increasing appreciation for life itself? Was I
growing steadily more compassionate in my attitude toward
humanity and its foibles? No? Okay, well was I at least becom-
ing more gently accepting of my own imperfections? Was I in-
creasingly happy just to be me? Uh. Not really. Not that either.


So then what, I asked myself with a certain amount of exasper-
ation, was this all-consuming spiritual journey actually about?

It was a pivotal question. In the unanswering silence that
followed, I gave up trying to be my own navigator. I dropped
my map and surrendered into the lostness that engulfed me.

Like most forms of spiritual surrender, this one brought with
it the immediate seeds of salvation, although I certainly didn’t
recognize that at the time. I didn’t even think of it as surren-
der; I was merely admitting the totality of my failure, because
it could no longer be denied.

I gave up control of the map—of all maps, now and forever.
In my hands, I now realized, the fricken things were useless
anyway. So I set aside all my training and everything I’d ever
learned, along with all my preconceived judgments and ideas
about what my spiritual path was supposed to look like. And
I let divinity reconstruct my navigation device on my behalf.


My attitude toward the ego self has transformed completely
over the past two years. It has become abundantly clear to me
it isn’t evil in the least—even as I have also come to recog-
nize just how correct all those established teachings really are,
when they speak of its inherent God-blocking properties.

The egoic perceptual lens is unquestionably the source of all suf-
fering. Yet this aspect of the self can’t help being what it is, and
it believes its job is to keep us safe, no matter what. It does its
best. For me, the appropriate response to its efforts is compas-
sion for our shared plight.

This non-adversarial attitude has made it possible for me to
work very powerfully with both the subterranean egoic self
and the higher divine self. In this divinely led partnership,
much has come to light. For one thing, I’ve been shown time
and again that the unconscious mind is capable of far more
responsiveness than is generally assumed.

Even if it is looping old patterns of pain over and over again,
reliving its traumas in what seems a mindless or unconscious
way, the simple introduction of my conscious awareness, my
loving intention, was all it took to gently awaken this subterra-
nean region to itself. You’ll see some examples of what I mean,
later on.

In exploring this part of the self, I’ve come to recognize there
is great purpose, perhaps even great nobility in its function.
The unconscious faithfully carries many heavy burdens on our
behalf. Part of the spiritual maturation process, as I see it, is to
learn how to help lighten that load.

I feel the whole idea of the ego could use a radical rethink-
ing. I used to give lectures in which I sometimes worked with
‘The Ego Puppet,’ a googly-eyed sock puppet I wore on my
arm. I used it to demonstrate (even back then) the ego is not
a separate evil entity to be blamed for our ills, as it is so often
portrayed in spiritual circles. I conversed with the puppet at
length about its tireless efforts to do our own bidding. And
finally I pointed out, to great guffaws from my audiences, that
if you look carefully you will notice it’s always been your own
hand up the ego’s ass.

My little standup comedy routine had its roots in truth,
of course. The subterranean self is always trying, in its of-
ten head-scratchingly bass-ackward way, to do exactly what
we’re asking of it. To blame it for that is just shouting at
the mirror. But I’ve come to realize I had my depiction all
wrong. It is, in fact, the other way around. The subterra-
nean self is not a puppet at the end of my arm. I am the pup-
pet. And the subterranean self is the one who innocently
pulls my strings.

Consider this. The personality self is often likened to an ice-
berg, right? The top ten percent is thought to be the conscious
surface dweller, the one who answers when somebody calls
your name. The so-called ‘real you.’ And the rest of the iceberg
resides in the murky depths.

All our wounds, unresolved issues and traumas reside there as burning hotspots. Most of the time we don’t feel the burn directly; that’s what the ice is for.
We only get a rush of heat when somebody or something
pushes our buttons. Meaning, they’ve bumped into one or
more of those painful unresolved hotspots. And when a hot-
spot gets activated, it flinches. It can’t help itself.

This involuntary contraction automatically yanks on our
strings, causing us, the surface-dwelling personality to jerk
abruptly. Generally speaking it takes a fair amount of con-
sciousness and plenty of practice, to be able to interrupt that
knee-jerk reaction to an activated hotspot, because our strings
are wired directly to it.

The more unresolved hotspots our submerged iceberg con-
tains, the more reactive we are to inner and outer circum-
stances. Reactivity is pretty much the opposite end of the spec-
trum from true peace. When I finally realized true inner peace
wasn’t even slightly likely, it was because I saw this connection
between subterranean hotspots and my own surface-dwelling
experience of daily life. My iceberg contained deeply buried
hotspots galore. I couldn’t seem to get at them, but I sure as
hell felt their effects every time they flinched.

Eventually I came to the conclusion that the submerged
ninety percent is the one steering the ship—the one who is
actually having a life experience that answers to the name on
our birth certificate. The top ten percent is just the figurehead
bolted to the front of the boat.

It was with this humbling recognition that I, the gaudily paint-
ed figurehead on the Good Ship Carrie, finally relinquished all
delusional belief in my own independent power, authority and
rightful role as captain. I saw, finally, it’s never actually been
me at the helm.


~ Carrie Triffet, excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: Notes from a spiritual journey, © Copyright 2019

Find out more about The Fricken Map is Upside Down or pre-order now on Amazon.

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WEEK 2 – True Stories from the Big Chair

For the rest of this year and most of the next, I’ll be sharing a section each week from THE FRICKEN MAP IS UPSIDE DOWN , my latest book. From start to finish, from my heart to yours. From the big comfy chair.

You’re just in time for week two of this free series. So go ahead and get settled into your own comfy chair, grab a mug of something nice to drink, and read on.

(The following content is excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: Notes from a spiritual journey, by Carrie Triffet © Copyright 2019.)


It’s all fun and games until somebody loses an ‘I’

With a toss of her head, the woman across from me flipped back the curtain of blond hair from her right eye. It was the sort of haircut designed for one-eyed living. The sort of haircut that would drive me mad if it were mine. She smiled warmly across the café table and regarded me with one-and-a-half eyes, her tresses falling right back into their preferred spot.

‘Who is the ‘me’ that would be driven mad by this haircut?’ She inquired patiently.

I sighed. It was my own damn fault. Steve and I had been wanting to broaden our circle of acquaintance. Genuinely fond as we were of the local villagers in our corner of the English countryside, we found ourselves forever feeling like exotic specimens, seemingly the only tree hugging, Source-loving, moonstruck metaphysical types in a ten mile radius. I guess we were craving the company of like-minded souls. People on a spiritual path.

Steve had recalled her name from the distant past, a woman who had once been active in the local non-dual Awareness community. With a little diligent research, I found her on LinkedIn. As a job title, her profile had stated ‘Living from pure Awareness’ or something like that. I had taken it to be an aspirational statement. As it turned out she really was living from pure non-dual Awareness, and had been for decades.

She was of that rare breed, one who suddenly becomes enlightened in the middle of doing algebra homework, or cleaning the litterbox, or whatever. One day she spontaneously woke up, and all sense of a personal self crumbled away forever into the void. She still went through the motions of living a life, raising a family, holding a job. Yet no person was present for any of it. Nobody was thinking, yet thought was occurring. Nobody was making peanut butter sandwiches for a toddler, yet sandwiches were made. Life, in the shape of a soft-spoken woman with an asymmetrical haircut, was happening all by itself.

This complete loss of personal identification is seemingly the holy grail of the non-dual path, and for many years she had obligingly worked with eager seekers who hoped to experience for themselves that same stateless state. Even though, as she would tirelessly point out to them, there is nothing to experience. Experience is happening, but there is no experiencer.

Not unreasonably, she had assumed Steve and I had invited her out for coffee because we wanted some relentless non-dual pointing toward truth. In fact we invited her out for coffee because we like coffee. After a good hour and a half of no conversational statement left unchallenged—Who is the ‘I’ that feels burned out? Burnout is simply happening—we thanked her and made our exit.

That was a few years ago. A couple of years before that, I’d had a brief taste of the very truth she’d been pointing toward so patiently. Back in April of 2014, while wandering aimlessly through the walled city of Old Jerusalem, in the midst of overwhelming heat and hubbub, it happened. Without warning, the personal self, the personal Carrie, suddenly vanished.

I realized ‘I’ didn’t exist. Had never existed. I was not the busy person immersed in highly important doings, that I had always assumed myself to be. I was, in fact, a figment of my own imagination. Surrounded by this noisy tourist throng, I knew myself only as an impartial and impersonal gap through which oceans of stunningly irrelevant Carrie-centric stuff had always poured forth.

My feelings, my worries, my passionate opinions about everything and nothing. My ideas about the spiritual path, and how it was supposed to unfold. None of it was real. None of it mattered. Only this majestic emptiness mattered. It stopped me in my tracks. I sobbed a little.

I’d been a seeker of enlightenment for a very long time. Some kind of dramatic shift in perception was exactly what I’d been aiming for, hoping for, all along. Not this kind of dramatic shift, mind you. This one sucked.

This one, adding to its other peculiarities, was only a partial shift of perception. One in which there was definitely still very much an experiencer. (Sorry, nice blond lady.) And the acute experience of sudden identity loss, coupled with the recognition that none of the things I cared about had any meaning at all—well, it was infinitely more disappointing than I’d bargained for

The spiritual seeker part of me was thrilled to bits nevertheless, because on some level I recognized this impersonal spaciousness could lay the groundwork for the permanent inner peace I’d always sought. This part of me lobbied hard for making spacious emptiness our new home base. But the vast majority of me wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.

As with so many other things in life, when it comes to accepting an awakening opportunity, the majority rules. So the brief recognition of untethered grandeur faded as quickly as it came. In its aftermath my response was typical of the way I tended to view such awakening moments: I was bitterly annoyed with the part of the self that refused to get with the program. The foot-dragging part that always seemed bent on spoiling my heavenly fun.

For most of the previous decade, my focus had been on teachings of ultimate truth, beyond the limiting world of form. Pure, pristine divinity was all I was interested in. I had no curiosity at all about that mysterious ‘silent majority,’ no desire whatsoever to find out why this inner self might be choosing to lag behind. I had no patience, understanding or compassion for life as viewed from its limited perspective. My spiritual roadmap simply didn’t allow for that.

Years passed before I recognized the actual truth being pointed to so insistently, in that stifling hot Israeli marketplace. The non-dual awakened moment wasn’t it. That moment of dis-identification with the personal ‘me’ was only acting as the pointer.

The reluctant inner self it pointed to, I eventually realized, was the unlikely key to just about everything. In an altogether unexpected way, the inner foot-dragger turned out to be at the very heart and soul of permanent peace.


~ Carrie Triffet, excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: notes from a spiritual journey, © Copyright 2019

Find out more about The Fricken Map is Upside Down or pre-order now on Amazon.

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NEW! True Stories from the Big Chair

week-one-fricken-map

For the rest of this year and most of the next, I’ll be sharing a section each week from THE FRICKEN MAP IS UPSIDE DOWN , my latest book. From start to finish, from my heart to yours. From the big comfy chair.

You’re just in time for week one of this free series. Welcome! So get settled into your own comfy chair, grab a mug of something nice to drink, and read on, for the first two short pieces from the prelude.

(The following content is excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: Notes from a spiritual journey, by Carrie Triffet © Copyright 2019.)

This is the disclaimer bit

Here is the spot where I declare right up front that I am not a
psychology professional. Nor am I a medical professional. It’s
where I ask you to use your own sovereign wisdom to discern
whether the following book is right for you at this time.

This is also where I ask you to be kind to yourself. To use
common sense. You’re the one who knows you best. The fol-
lowing book contains, among other things, meditation exer-
cises to help you deep-dive into your own emotional, spiritual,
and physical freedom. It offers an approach that is extremely
gentle, yet undeniably badass. Is badass right for you at this
time? Only you can say.

I do know this much: If you’re currently on meds to sup-
press difficult thoughts, feelings or psychological conditions,
this is not the path for you right now. This book champions an
approach that is the opposite of suppression, and the journey
it proposes would therefore not be ideal for you to embark
upon at this time.

If you’re physically ill, see the healing arts professional you
normally would. Follow that practitioner’s advice. And enjoy
this book purely as a window on what can perhaps be. Use
discernment in all cases, please.

Perhaps this book can act as a jumping off point to help
you find great compassion and respect for the uniquely quirky,
massively inconvenient you that you know yourself to be.
Maybe the information contained in these pages will help you
relax into the gift of wholeness. My intention is that this trans-
mission (both energetic and written) will help spark within
you a firsthand knowing of the divine self within.

Disclaimers aside, please enjoy this book. May the adven-
ture of discovery be as wonderfully eye-opening and liberat-
ing for you as it has been for me.

Carrie Triffet
August 12, 2019

————————————————–

Between you and me

I would describe my spiritual evolution over the past three
decades as an ever-expanding (and occasionally contracting)
roller derby of living awareness: Messy. Circular. Highly enter-
taining, yet overall a bit brutal.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe now and then you, too, have
found yourself sidelined on the bench, nursing an injury dished
up with glee by one of your own inner self-saboteurs. And won-
dering why the evolutionary process seems so damn hard.

The short answer is, it doesn’t have to be. The long answer is,
it’s taken me thirty-three years to find the short answer.

As the title and cover suggest, I speak throughout this book
of a spiritual journey. As if we’re actually going from one
place to another, evolving from one state of consciousness
to another over a span of time, in order to reach spiritual
freedom. It isn’t true. The truth of spiritual freedom is always
right here-right now.

But realistically that’s not how most of us experience it. For
most of us, myself included, a certain amount of journeying
from here to there seems essential, before we can know eter-
nally timeless truth firsthand. For most of us there seems to be
stuff in the way that blocks this ‘right here-right now’ know-
ing. And even though it’s pretend stuff, it’s still in the way.

So although a time-based journey doesn’t actually lead to
true spiritual freedom, I’ve personally found the trip necessary
anyway. I wrote this book because my own recent explorations
not only fast-tracked my spiritual journey—they profoundly
cleared the way. As a result, that knowing of right here-right now
truth has sprung to life, and is starting to flourish within me.

This book is, among other things, a real-time chronicle
of my own rather astonishing journey of accelerated transfor-
mation and liberation. Like my other books, it also contains
a number of related teachings interspersed throughout.
Unlike any of my previous books, these teachings adhere
to no established spiritual dogma or philosophy. I’m a free
agent these days.

The transition away from established teachings wasn’t an
easy one. At the time, this process was slow, confusing and
awkward. Some pieces of the established teachings remained
radiantly relevant for me (and do to this day), but try as I
might, I simply could not seem to arrange those individual
puzzle pieces into a coherent picture; I couldn’t seem to expe-
rience for myself the living truth these teachings spoke of. And
yet I could be satisfied with nothing less.

The established teachings are brilliant, of course. And
some people undoubtedly find spiritual freedom by follow-
ing exactly where they lead. Ten years in, I had to admit I
wasn’t one of them.

Eventually I learned to keep only the puzzle pieces I found
helpful and resonant, along the way picking up other, seem-
ingly random pieces presented to me through divine in-
spiration. And thus gradually, piece by piece, I allowed the
(magnificently non-random) jigsaw puzzle of my spiritual
worldview—along with everything I thought I knew about my
self—to be radically reconfigured by a divinely Loving hand.

And funnily enough, I now find myself gazing out upon
the same magnificent vistas described so eloquently by those
established teachings. It’s only the route of travel I took that
seems different.


~ Carrie Triffet, excerpted from The Fricken Map is Upside Down: notes from a spiritual journey, © Copyright 2019

Don’t want to wait a whole year? Pre-order The Fricken Map is Upside Down on Amazon.

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THE ODD THING ABOUT EMOTIONAL FREEDOM

The proof copy of my book arrived yesterday from America. “You must be so excited!” said my friend Joanie, who happened to witness its arrival. I smiled and tore open the package. The book looked fine. Just the way it’s supposed to.

Was I excited? Not really.

I ought to be saying the opposite, I know. It’s what’s expected. But the truth is there’s no stress, no anticipation. No hoopla. It’s a curious feeling.

I’m not jaded by any means. It’s great to know this book is completed at last, and almost ready for its release. Deeply satisfying. Humbling to be part of its creation. But as for the rest of it…There’s nothing there. Just a sort of gentle, oozy river of pleasantness.

And I don’t mind. And I don’t mind, that I don’t mind.

Last evening I began to read through the book carefully. It’s my very last chance to make changes. At this point it’d be expensive to make revisions (and it would push back the release date). But if glaring errors are present, it’s good to know I have the option.

I’m finding no typos so far. No punctuation errors. But I do see a few small inconsistencies. Like for instance, I use the word ‘multi-dimensional’ probably a dozen times throughout the book. But I don’t always hyphenate it. Multidimensional, multi-dimensional. There’s no right or wrong here. But I’m supposed to pick a style and stick with it. And I didn’t.

And you know what? I don’t mind.

And that’s what caught my attention. Because I used to mind very much. I used to obsess about producing the highest quality, award-winningest books I possibly could. Impeccable graphic design? Yes, please. And a manuscript so gloss-polished you could see your reflection in it.

I paused and dialed into that prior version of myself. What was the motivation there? Why did I strive so damn hard for excellence?

Fear of attack, mostly. Excellence was my armor against criticism by others, real or imagined.

But the need for armor seems to have dropped away while I wasn’t looking. A whole bunch of things, in fact, seem to have dropped away while my attention was elsewhere. I’m allowed to be imperfect now. And so is everybody else. Which, honestly, is an incredible relief.

So now I’m in this strange in-between space. It’s not like excellence is a bad thing. Excellence, in and of itself, is wonderful and well worth aiming for. But I have no use for the armor anymore, so why bother? And that attitude feels mighty odd to a lifelong striver.

And that’s what’s odd about emotional freedom. It’s a wonderful relief to misplace the armor by the side of the road. Yet so much of recognizable daily life, as it turns out, was woven from a fabric made from fear of attack. When the fabric frays…well, things get a little weird. A little unrecognizable.

Who knows, maybe a desire to create highly polished excellence will come back at some point. Not as an expression of fear this time, but as a love letter to God.

And if it doesn’t? I really don’t mind.

The (almost perfect) FRICKEN MAP IS UPSIDE DOWN will soon be available for pre-order on Amazon. Official release date is 12-12-2019.

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Here comes the fun bit

For me, there’s a beautiful alchemical process that takes place at a certain point during the creation of a book. It happens someplace after the first draft and before the final edit. It’s a moment that’s awe inspiring, hugely engrossing–and a grand cosmic mystery besides.

Not that writing the book itself isn’t a total hoot. It is. Inspiration flows, incredibly deep wisdom that may or may not have anything to do with me pours out—and I crack myself up in the process. (Hopefully other people too.)

When I write a book, it pours out in dozens of individual essays. I never have a clue how each essay might relate to any of the others, or the order in which they should all fit together in the finished book.

Each essay is like an irregular bit of mosaic glass. Jewel-like, each one twinkles and gleams in its own specific way. None of the pieces seem to resemble any of the others. I polish an individual piece until it sparkles, then I think to myself, damn that’s pretty good. And then I move on to the next irregularly shaped piece.

I used to worry and wonder how all these random pieces could possibly come together into any kind of flow that makes sense. I can never imagine how all these disparate twinkly bits will transform into a coherent book. And yet they do. Every time.

I take no credit for that; it just happens. Something beyond my own consciousness is in charge of that process. Four books in, I’ve finally learned to just relax and let it happen.

So here I am, back in that old familiar place of not knowing. Dozens of individual printouts lay scattered around me, color-coded paper clips adorning various sections. Who can say how any of it will fit together? I just know it will, in ways that are bound to astound and amaze me. And I wouldn’t miss that process of discovery for anything.

It’s just always a little tricky figuring out where to start.

~ Carrie Triffet is the author and twinkly-bit-polisher of 3.5 books. That last .5 of a book is THE FRICKEN MAP IS UPSIDE DOWN.  Look for it later this year.

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Seems I’m the last to know…

About a year ago, a wide-awake young friend contacted me. “Are you still writing?” She asked. “I sense that a book about the development of trust is being written in the ethers, and it feels really good.”

“No,” I answered rather coolly. “I have zero inspiration to write these days. And even if I did, the development of trust is Nouk Sanchez’ topic, not mine.”

Today I remembered that conversation and had to laugh. A book is nearing completion. And dammit, one of its key themes is the development of trust.

Unlike my earlier books, this one does not adhere to A Course in Miracles. It takes its inspirations from a broad range of sources, including The Lotus Sutra, esoteric mysticism and even galactic wisdom.

And yet, even without me realizing it, the deep underlying themes are mysteriously, unerringly, in harmony with the Course. Even though on the surface, the teachings look startlingly contrary to what the Course teaches.

So I honestly don’t know who this book is for. It’s probably not, I’m guessing, for students of the Course who enjoy Course teachings and no others.

And yet. This book (and this author) are unmistakably being employed as vehicles for something pretty amazing. Something peculiarly Course-related, in its own renegade, thoroughly un-Course-like way.

The resonance of Christ Awareness rings out like a bell through this writing project. I have no idea whose ears will perk up and hear it.

We’ll see. As usual, it seems I’ll be the last to know.

 

~ The Fricken Map is Upside Down is in its early editing phases. Look for it in 2019.

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THE MIRACULOUS GIFT OF GROUCHINESS

grumpyI used to be addicted to the opinions of others. I took my cue on how to feel about myself or what to think about my day, based on the reactions I got from everybody around me. If someone smiled at me first, I smiled back. (Nice person, upbeat day.)

If they frowned I took it personally, because I was sure it meant that either they were an asshole, or I was—depending on the situation. (Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Maybe you’ve responded to life in this same way once or twice.)

This despite a kick-ass spiritual life in which great wisdom and deep compassion flow quite naturally through me. I know people suffer. I know their responses to life say very little about me, and a great deal about how they perceive their own difficult circumstances. And I genuinely want to help ease that pain somehow.

But. Despite glorious light-filled meditation exercises in which I could feel all these things so clearly…go ahead and cut in front of me in the Starbucks checkout line and watch me go to that lightning-quick place of silent outraged judgment. I’m a jerk, you’re a jerk. Or vice versa.

But this approach to life has become too painful and too pointless to continue.

So lately I’ve been kicking the habit of looking to the behavior of others, to tell me how I should feel about myself, or my day. I decided I want to be truly confident about myself, exactly as I am. I don’t want to wait for anybody else’s approval in order to approve of myself.

Because actually that’s nuts. We all do it, we all take our cue from the responses of others—but it makes no sense at all to do that. Others are all wrapped up in their own forms of self-hatred and pain, and guess what: They are just as preoccupied with looking to the outside world on how to feel about themselves. Why would you want to base your own self-worth and happiness on that?

So I’ve taken serious steps to end my addiction to the reflections I get from others. I’ve checked myself into the most private clinic in the world, you might say—only one doctor, only one patient—and the therapy is to wear a Self-Love patch.

This is not some sort of self-esteem/affirmation thing. I’ve never found that kind of thing to truly work, have you? Not way down deep where it counts.

This Self-Love ‘patch’ goes beyond all that stuff. It releases little reminders of my own stupendously beautiful divinity into my bloodstream every so often throughout the day. Whenever I remember to do it, I pause in what I’m doing, and choose to feel my true identity as God’s love. I witness myself as being composed entirely of the sweetness of holy light. And I feel how fantastically right that feels.

I started doing this because I recognized it’s time for me to stand up confidently strong in my own being. It’s time for me to be of truly loving service to others, in the way my soul yearns to be. I want to be a beacon of strength and light for all.

And yet I know I can’t offer authentic love to others if I’m not feeling it for myself first. Because I can’t give it if I don’t have it—not really.

So I’m pausing to feel my own divine radiance a bunch of times a day.

And as my body-mind slowly gets used to this more truthful self-image, I’m noticing an interesting, unlooked-for side effect: The obsessive need to calculate my worth based on the random reactions of others is becoming far less powerful.

Like, far less powerful.

When somebody smiles at me first, I still smile back and automatically go to that same old happy-place: This is a good day. Nothing much has changed there yet. But here’s what is noticeably different:

Anytime somebody frowns, or is snippy, or in any way harshes my happy-buzz…I seem to bypass my usual reaction and go straight to the recognition that this person is composed entirely of God’s love. They are made of sweetly holy light.

This is not an exercise. It just happens.

(Well, sometimes I react first, and then it happens a few seconds later.)

But then the most heartfelt THANK YOU wells up in me. Thank you for reminding me of who you are in truth. It’s such an honor to hold this reminder for you…until you can remember it for yourself.

And that’s the part that blows me away. I’m totally touched and honored that this person entrusts me with the memory of their divinity on their behalf.

Think of it: Every asshole, every brusquely preoccupied person, everybody who treats you poorly…each one of them is only doing it to offer you the supreme honor of remembering their light for them.

In truth they don’t need the help. In truth, their light is self-evident and known by all. They’re just here to help you (and me) practice holding the reminder of it, so that our own light can shine ever more consciously and beautifully throughout the universe.

What a rich and joyous world this is.

So that’s today’s realization.

I can’t guarantee nobody will just plain piss me off, of course. That could happen. But for all the ones who spark this gorgeous recognition of holy light instead…my gratitude knows no bounds. Thank you.

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NOTE TO SELF

secret doorNote to self: There isn’t a single thing I would change about you
Even if I could.

Everybody talks about unconditional love. And it sounds awesome.
It also sounds like nothing we actually know how to do.

How to give love unconditionally to others?
This is how.

When you can sit in the presence of your own darkest shadow
And see all the stuff about yourself that you hate,
Or fear,
All those things you find ugly,
Everything you’re secretly ashamed of…

When you can embrace your own shadow self
Including all its cringe-worthy elements,
When you can say to your darkest self—and really mean it:

‘There isn’t a single thing I’d change about you
Even if I could…
(Yes, I still don’t like the things I don’t like about you. That hasn’t changed.)
But my love for you is way bigger than any of your limiting beliefs,
Way more constant than any of your dreadful behaviors.
My love is bigger than those extra 15 pounds you refuse to lose,
Bigger than the way you snort when you laugh
Bigger than the scars you insist on carrying
From way back when you were little.
My love for you is completely unaffected by all that stuff.
I’m here for you, no matter what.’

This is unconditional love.
And the moment you feel it authentically for yourself, you will instantly recognize
This is the only kind of love that actually exists.
The rest of it is shadow-puppet love.
Placeholder love.
Something to kill time (and relationships) with
Until the real thing comes along.

Be the real thing for your own beautiful self.
This is not a selfish act.
Once you feel the real kind of love for yourself
It becomes clear how to give this gift to others, too:

Feel absolutely no need to change a thing about them.
Let them remain as flawed, as blind or annoying as they want to.
And love them anyway.
It opens you up to a world of joy.

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ALL ROADS LEAD TO HOME

compass-roseA couple of years ago while strolling through the walled city of Old Jerusalem, I had a sudden realization:

“I” didn’t exist. I was not the busy person immersed in highly important doings, who I had always assumed myself to be. Surrounded by this noisy tourist throng, I suddenly experienced myself as a vast empty hole, an impartial and impersonal gap through which oceans of stunningly trivial stuff—past lives, present lives—poured forth.

It made me cry.

I’d been a seeker of enlightenment for a very long time. This shift in perception was exactly what I’d been aiming for, hoping for, all along. But the actual experience of sudden identity loss, coupled with the recognition that none of the things I cared about had any meaning at all…well it was more uncomfortable, more disturbing than I’d bargained for.

Part of me knew this realization would lead to the liberation I’d been craving—if I could only manage to hang onto it as a permanent state of awareness. But most of me wanted nothing to do with it. And so the recognition faded as quickly as it came.

I’ve really only ever dabbled in the Advaita Vedanta stream of enlightenment. I’ve watched videos and read books by a handful of excellent teachers, and tried to do as they suggested. Tried to look in the direction they pointed. Tried to figure out who was the “I” who was doing all that looking and trying. But in the end I really wasn’t particularly drawn by the promise of emptiness, or detachment: Too harsh. Too depressing. I wanted some other kind of peace.

And so life led me to the version of nonduality taught by the Everything-Is-One crowd: God Is. Nothing else is real.

It seemed, on the surface, to be an entirely different stream. A completely different road to freedom. It allowed for the existence of divine intelligence, and for unconditional love.

Sure, I would still have to render the world meaningless, and shed the personal identity—but I could do it in a way that seemed a little more happy-clappy. A bit more Kumbaya.

*          *          *

Over the past 10 years I’ve made my home in these more God-centric teachings, and they’ve been wonderful. They do indeed offer a slightly cozier and more comfortable place from which to pursue enlightenment. But I’ve also wandered freely onto other resonant paths, some related and some not. It’s been the combination of all these diverse teachings that seem to have collectively done the trick.

Case in point: In the weeks since divine love has taken up partial residence within (as described in the last post), the most amazing sort of full-circle Advaita-like thing has occurred: Suddenly I recognize the true eternal nature of everything. Without working at it. Without hunting for the “I” who is, or isn’t, busily searching for itself.

I seem to effortlessly see that everything in existence, including my own body-mind, is nothing but smoke and mirrors. Insubstantial puffs of steam—each looking unique and different and utterly believable on the surface—yet so obviously arising out of the one undifferentiated sea of existence from which everything springs.

Yep, that’s the same sea of existence that I previously identified as an empty gaping hole, devoid of identity or meaning. Which seemed so disturbingly freaky two years ago. Two years ago it had all seemed so…unloving.

Because I was so unloving in my witnessing of it. Funny how that works.

Back then, I experienced emptiness through a very startled and reluctant human mind. Yet seen through the gentle eyes of divine love instead, the experience of that empty hole is quite different now than it was the first time around. This time around I like it. The sea of existence, it turns out, is actually pretty cool.

That may sound kind of hard to believe. But trust me, it’s way more fun to bask in that, than to stew in the raggedy old identity I’d always previously thought of as me. I find it both comfortable and comforting now, to enjoy brief visits into my own pristine, limitless nature, where my only identity is that of the eternally holy now moment.

The antics of the personal identity are still here to be enjoyed (or endured) like a rambunctious puppy—but formless awareness is my undeniable home. I haven’t yet brought my overnight bag with me, but I have no doubt where my home lies. Even if I’m only currently staying in it for brief periods at a time. The truth is always true, even in extremely short snippets.

There’s plenty I don’t know. Tons I haven’t realized. Loads of misperceptions that have not yet been released and transformed into light. I certainly don’t claim any special state of being. And if you have any question at all in your mind about whether or not I’m wafting around in an abiding state of rainbow-unicorn-transcendent-awareness…talk to my husband. He’ll set you straight.

But there are some definite things I now know to be true. Beyond any doubt.

*          *          *

Advaita Vedanta is a wonderful path. So is Buddhism, which I practiced for 20 years before that.

And. Speaking only for my own highly subjective self, it wasn’t until I let divine love come and take up residence within, (an effect of following the Everything-Is-One path taught by A Course In Miracles and others) that I was somehow freed up to recognize formless emptiness as the one true underpinning of all existence. I have no opinion on the comparative merits of each of these teachings I mention. I’m not playing favorites here. I’m just pointing out that I haven’t really seemed able to get to those realizations by following any one single path or teaching. I seem to need that blend.

These differing streams have all worked for me in beautiful harmony, like the threads of a tapestry. Squiggly on the backside, but—surprise!—coming together into a cohesive picture on the front.

Maybe that’s just me.

But if my strange and wiggly path rings a bell for you too, then I would offer this advice:

Try not to be insistent about what your path is supposed to look like. Trust in the wisdom of your higher Self, which is always ultimately in charge of the journey.

No matter how random the roadtrip might seem at times…no doubt the universe—and your own experience of its divine perfection—is unfolding as it should.

(Hum uplifting Desiderata choir music here.)

Sooner or later every road leads home, is what I’m saying. Of that much I’m certain.

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HOLY WATER

Heart moonA rather big shift of awareness happened the other day: I finally invited divine love, with all its unruly magnitude, to come crashing in. Not only did it arrive on cue—it stayed, taking up residence within me. As me—kind of. But not yet 100%. Nowhere near. So now it seems, in effect, that I’m living with a very large celestial roommate. For lack of a more accurate description.

This was no sudden incident out of the blue. It was precipitated by a month-long series of more or less daily shifts and realizations, occurring along two parallel themes:

1. Everything I’ve ever depended on for happiness has been a self-created lie.

And

2. Divine love is surprisingly, unexpectedly delicious in all possible ways—and I genuinely want to go around seeing and being only that. (Because, yes, everything else sucks by comparison. See theme #1.)

I am inspired to speak openly about this particular shift, because there are aspects of it that might be helpful to others who are walking their own paths home to love.

There’s a very good reason I haven’t spoken about any of the other shifts, even though each has been deeply worthy in its own way. These pedal-to-the-metal stages of the letting go process are messy, you see. They don’t have to be, theoretically at least. Spiritual teachers always hasten to assure us of that.

But let’s be real: As long as the small self is in charge—and it will always be in charge until the letting go process is virtually complete—you can expect a mess.

Besides which, these are messy times we’re living in. High-strung instability is the new normal. The unstable times bring with them a huge opportunity for transformation, yes…but it isn’t likely to be comfortable.

Think of the times we’re in as a rising tide that, potentially at least, can lift all boats to far greater heights than our civilization has ever known. But the water is choppy, and the effects on one’s own dinghy are unforeseen at best.

But hey: If not now, when?

So I, intrepid spiritual explorer, have knowingly and repeatedly steered my vessel onto the rocks. Inviting boat breakage so I can find my own freedom, and maybe also help clear the way for other sailors to follow in my wake.

And that strategy does pay off, a thousandfold. Eventually. When speaking of it in the abstract. But here’s how it goes in realistic day-to-day terms:

When I least expect it, some part of my boat suddenly sideswipes a rock and falls to bits. I cry out with shock and pain. The shock and pain prompts a sudden realization or shift of great depth and loveliness. As a result, I spend 24 hours bathed in joy and peace. And then the next 2 days after that are spent frantically trying to scotch tape the waterlogged boat bits back together, because it’s so deeply uncomfortable to be partially boatless.

And so it goes.

So that’s why I haven’t spoken to you about any of these prior shifts. I was too busy alternately smashing up, and then fruitlessly patching my sad little boat back together.

Like I said: Messy.

But here’s the thing about this most recent shift, and it’s important: I discovered there’s nothing to fear, in the loss of your boat. It was a crappy little craft anyway.

•   •   •   •   •

I always get symbolic visuals in my communications with the divine. This welcoming in of divine love occurred because I finally surrendered all my habitual attempts to manage it, or contain it or squeeze it down in any way to fit into parameters I might feel more comfortable with.

Divine love will not be contained. It will arrive as itself, fearlessly free, or not at all.

So the symbolic visual I was given was of the Johnstown Flood, a catastrophic dam failure that occurred in the late 1800s. The dam collapsed, the water roared through the town and swept nearly everything away. The small self, not unreasonably, would have found this a frightening image.

But here’s the thing.

This heavenly flood was incredibly peaceful. There was no fear in it.  And that’s because the small self wasn’t the one doing the looking.

As soon as I surrendered and caught sight of that sparkling water rising up over the wall, my perception shifted and I was now seeing from the divine perspective of the water itself, not from the interpretations offered by the small self. In fact, the small self was nowhere to be found.

The rushing water was lovely, pure and clear. And I was actually glad, relieved, to watch as it swept through all the rickety-ass structures I’ve built in my lifelong futile quest to feel happy or safe in this unhappy, unsafe world.  I marveled that I could watch this process so peacefully and entirely without fear. My safety wasn’t even slightly in doubt.

And I heard: It’s impossible to drown when you know yourself as the water.

Whoa.

And then I was wordlessly given to understand that, in fact, not everything would be swept away. Some people, some objects would still be left standing after the floodwaters receded. But my relationship to each of these, my own perceptions of each of them would be washed clean, and made new.

And that’s good to know, that some things and some people will accompany me forward. But I couldn’t bank on that beforehand. It was only because I was ready to allow absolutely everything to be swept away, that I could issue the no-strings-attached invitation to let love in. As long as I hung onto anything out of fear of losing it, fear itself was the thing that blocked love’s entry.

And that’s how we usually tend to do it. We hang on to the bitter end, kicking and screaming, clutching our various small treasures, afraid to let them be removed and replaced with something infinitely better. Until we eventually figure out the hard way how worthless those trinkets really are. And only then do we consent to let them go.

But I see now that it really doesn’t have to be that hard.

So here is my advice: Be incredibly bold. Chart a fearless new course—the rockier the better—and do your best to be excited each time your pathetic little boat springs another leak.

Because when you’re finally ready to take that plunge and surrender everything—(how bleak and juiceless that glorious choice seems beforehand!)—you will instantly be shown how unspeakably wonderful it actually is.

But of course you won’t get to see any of that until after you surrender. Because that’s the way it works.

I know. Bummer, right?

But that, my friend, is why they call it faith.

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