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.

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.

A Tree Grows in Dorset

tree wingsActually, lots of trees grow in Dorset—England is a very green and beautiful place. But this particular tree sprouted only a few nights ago, and it may well be the first of its kind. This is a tree of freedom. A tree of safety for all.

••

Here’s one way of describing the human condition: Each of us lives in our own little fairytale cottage, and all of these cottages are set in a beautiful forest. We all deeply love the forest. Our ancient family roots are there.

But we’re each sealed up in our own little house. There’s no door to the outside. And the windows are coated with the grime of 10,000 years, so no light gets in. We long for a view of the forest, our true ancestral home—but we can’t see a damn thing out those windows.

So we spend all our time looking through magazines, tearing out beautiful pictures of forests instead. And then we tape them up over the windows and pretend the view is real. When those images yellow with age, we tape new ones over top.

It’s just what we do.

And yet it doesn’t satisfy. Magazine pictures don’t smell like a forest. Birds don’t make their home in them. Putting up pictures (an activity designed to alleviate the ache of homesickness) actually makes the pain worse.

I got bored with putting up pictures long ago. I wanted to be able to see the forest outside my window. So over the past few decades I’ve been persistently clawing away at the crackly, yellowed scotch tape that holds those magazine pictures in place. Layer after layer, the old faded pictures were removed. Every so often I would take a break from this activity, and run to a different window—the one in my office, say—and put a new picture up.

It’s a habit that’s very deeply ingrained. It took some concentration and effort to learn how to stop doing it.

In recent years, most of my windows were now no longer covered with magazine images. There was still sticky goo from mountains of ancient Scotch tape around the edges, and a few torn corner fragments still remained here and there. But the false pictures themselves had mostly been taken down.

This didn’t mean I was then able to see the forest outside. All I saw was the impenetrable grime that caused me to put up pretty pictures to cover it up in the first place.

So now I was severely bummed out by the view. Poor me. All that hard work for nothing. My windows were so dark and ugly, and I was no nearer my goal of seeing what was outside. Seemingly.

But of course that wasn’t true. The decision to stop wallpapering over the grime is itself a huge step in the right direction. Taking down old pictures is a necessary start. But what now? I looked around at all my grimy windows and sat down on the floor in a puddle of tears. After I stopped sobbing (a year or two later) I looked up to notice a beautiful, luminous, heavenly gift had been quietly placed by my side.

It was a mop and a bucket.

The window grime was my own. I put it there, and I was the only one who—with divine help—could remove it. It was time, clearly, to get busy and clean my own damn windows.

A funny thing happens when you start to clean your own windows. Even though you’re focused on washing the window glass, the outlines of a door start to automatically appear all by themselves, over there where only a blank wall had been before.

The door was always there. You just couldn’t see it, for all the shmutz on the windows. The light was just too dim.

••

So all this talk about grimy windows (and reappearing doors) is all well and good…but what does that actually mean, to clean your own windows? What does that look like in practical terms, and why bother doing it?

First off, this is why it’s important to attend to one’s own grimy windows before doing anything else: If the world outside my window seems to fall off its collective bicycle—yep we’re introducing yet another metaphor into the mix—gashing its knee and howling with shock and pain, it’s my own wound that actually needs attention first.

I won’t be able to correctly perceive anything about the world’s so-called knee injury unless I’m willing to address my own throbbing knee, right where I am. Because in truth I wouldn’t be seeing a bike wreck in the first place, if I hadn’t first pasted a picture of it on my grimy window. It’s me who needs the paramedics.

Those of us who want a clear window view, bless our hearts, we tend to try and scrub down the outsides of the windows first. Fix the problems we see ‘out there.’ But we’re not on the outside, so we can’t get at them. Besides, in truth the outsides of the windows are sparkling clean. They just look dirty from in here.

Everything depends on cleared perception. Because as long as my windows are grimy and covered with magazine pages, all I’m actually looking at is a picture of a bike accident.

But as my own injured knee responds to my loving attention and care, I’ll be better able to recognize what (if any) action should be taken to help heal the ongoing bicycle mishap that seems to be happening out there. Until my own knee is attended to, outward efforts to fix the pain of others don’t mean a damn thing. Not really.

So I’ve been patiently cleaning my own windows first. Taking responsibility for the distorted lens through which I view myself and my world. And here’s what that means:

I’ve been welcoming in my own stuff, my own uncomfortable baggage. Not necessarily to try and fix it. I invite it in so I can accept it, just as it is right now. All that stuff I dislike about myself—the stuff I judge, the stuff that brings me pain, fear and frustration—I’m not suppressing it, or wallpapering over it anymore.

I’m not fighting with it or denying it. I’m letting all those discarded, rejected bits of myself come back and be seamlessly reintegrated as newly remembered, newly loved and respected parts of my one indivisible self.

I’m cleaning and kissing that infected gash on my own knee, as it were, before even trying to bandage the giant, collectively wounded knee I seem to see out the window. And ever since I started doing that—instead of focusing my attention on the wreck outside—the changes have been profound.

••

It dawned on me not long ago, in one of those spectacularly mundane DUH moments, that instead of working hard to get my own needs met first, and only then helping all others—my spiritual and worldly method of operation up until this point—I could simply focus on meeting the needs of all beings, for the highest good of all.

Why? Because ‘all beings’ includes me. (DUH.)

When the highest good of all is my firm intention, my own highest and best needs for safety, survival, love and all the rest of it, are automatically met—just as everybody else’s are. Not only that… my own life is bound to be that much safer and more beautiful if everybody in it is happy and released from pain, too. Right?

So why wouldn’t I choose to live in this way? What the hell took me so long?

••

A few nights ago I was reflecting on the whole idea of fear. Recognizing that it all boils down to a simple desire for safety. All those terrible things we do, all the awful effects out in the world, are really just cries in the dark. We all just want to feel safe. I just want to feel safe.

And all of a sudden, a shaft of very clear light shone through one of my less grimy windows. And I realized: I can do something about that. For the highest good of all—and therefore for myself.

On behalf of all beings, I open myself to receive the fearful anxieties and terrified emotions of the entire world. All of the pain and misperception, all of the naked hunger for peace and safe harbor—including my own. Bring it. I welcome it all gladly. And let a heavenly recycling plant operate as me, through me, allowing all universal pain and fear to be dissolved, transformed and purified within. And let my smokestacks belch infinite pristine peace and healing back out into the world, for all eternity.

And you know what? When I set that intention, when I agreed to stop screwing around inside the cottage, and finally try my hand at stepping out the door to take on my true job description…my own remaining fears and anxieties melted away. And for that moment at least, I experienced myself as not only being outside in the forest—I was the forest itself.

I am the forest.

Or at least, in practical terms, I’m a single tree—quietly absorbing the world’s pain and fear, and allowing heaven’s divine essence to perfume the atmosphere via my branches, leaves and flowers.

Imagine what the world might be like if lots of people were doing that same thing.

I’m not actually ‘doing’ anything, by the way. It’s all done for me, through me. As me. My only job is to let the process take place. And that’s amazingly easy to do. It’s only the decision to do it, that seems so ridiculously hard.

The world can use a few million-billion more of this kind of tree. Don’t you think?

So let every day be Arbor Day. And if you feel inspired, consider this your invitation to come on outside and rediscover the forest. Smell the fresh air. Dance in the sunlight. And maybe decide to be the fantastically beautiful tree of divinity you were always born to be. For everybody’s sake. For the highest good of all—which definitely includes your own.

— Carrie is the author of 3 books. Her latest, Tastes Like God, will be released July 30, 2015.

A Year without Fear: GOING STEADY WITH GOD

going steadyThere’s a scene in Private Benjamin where Goldie Hawn enters an army recruitment office and is shown a beautiful, slick brochure on the benefits of modern military life. She’s so impressed, she enlists right on the spot.

But when she arrives at bootcamp in Mississippi, she’s confused: Quonset huts. Latrines. What the hell? This is definitely not what she signed up for.

“I think there’s been a mistake,” she tells the drill sergeant. “I joined the other army. You know, the one with the condos, and the private rooms.”

•          •          •

Asking to know spiritual truth is a lot like that. The brochure looks great, and plenty of us sign up for it right there and then. But it’s never what we think it’s going to be. We imagine a perfected “spiritual self” who never gets upset, never has issues. A luminous, blissful peace-bunny spreading divine love and joy to a thankful world.

The truth, it turns out, seems so distastefully alien by comparison to our spiritual fantasies—so upside-down from everything we think we want—that it’s damn near impossible to stand still long enough to even consider it.

At least, that’s how it’s been for me. For years I’ve been patiently shown the truth over and over, and over again. I’ve seen it in videos, I’ve read it in books, I’ve witnessed it in visions. It shows up in my email inbox.

But each time I’ve brushed it away.

Because that’s not the truth I signed up for. I wanted the one with the condos.

•          •          •

I really want to know God. It’s been an unstoppable urge for a while now. In the last post I spoke of being in the goodnight-kiss-at-the front-door stage of my relationship with God—but the desire to go all the way, so to speak, is a craving that seems to emanate from the depths of my soul. It’s really my one great desire.

And that’s a fairly uncomfortable predicament to be in, when the only way to know God is to get with the program and agree to accept the irritatingly, disappointingly unacceptable truth of existence:

There’s nothing to fix. Nothing to teach. Nothing to learn, and nothing to heal.

Everything is perfect exactly as it is right now, because everything and everybody is composed entirely of God. Joined in perfect oneness with God. No matter what things look like, and no matter what disastrous effects those things may seem to be having on your life, or the world…innocence and safety, love, peace and joy are the only things going on in truth.

 There’s nothing to accomplish or do. You already have it, and ARE it. Stop striving to be better. Stop yearning to wake up. Stop trying to escape from your perfectly imperfect circumstances. Your job is just to be. Recognize you don’t know anything about anything. Refuse to judge anything you see. Have faith that it’s all innocent. Disbelieve everything your mind tells you, and instead walk through life snuggled deeply, blindly, trustingly in God.

 There is no “you,” no spiritual self who can heal the world. You can’t bring love into this world—bodies can’t bring love to other bodies. You can only see through the illusions this world of bodies presents to you, and find your one true love in God.

 

Needless to say, I had some wee issues with all that—particularly the business about there being nothing to heal or fix or teach. Also the bit about being just dandy, thank you very much, exactly as I am right now. Come to think of it, I’m not crazy about big chunks of the truth, to be honest. My mind is still spluttering its indignation.

But I got sick of seeing the truth gauntlet thrown down in front of me every time I turned around. And even sicker of stepping daintily over it, pretending it wasn’t there.

•          •          •

Last night, before falling asleep I finally agreed to drop my resistance to the truth (despite its distasteful appearances), and to try joining fully with All-That-Is.

But on one condition.

A prayer, of sorts: You know everything about me, my thoughts, my beliefs. You’re there when I fart. You’ve seen me have sex. But I know nothing, really, about you. Give me a hint. Show me how you see things. Help me know you better.

I slept as I normally would, dreaming about nothing in particular. But then I woke in the early morning with a strong sense that I was in the presence of a huge entity of some kind. It was vast, deep, powerful. It felt thoroughly benign. No…more than just benign: It was wholly suffused with God.

I felt I ought to recognize who or what this entity was. It seemed somehow familiar, yet I couldn’t quite place it. And then suddenly I realized:

Oh. My. God. This is the devil.

I was seeing Satan—as viewed through a completely sane mind.

•          •          •

Well, I asked for an example of God’s truth. That was a pretty good one.

Alrighty then.

A radiantly gentle, spotlessly innocent Satan is pretty clear testimony to the fact that I know abso-freaking-lutely nothing about anything. (Not to mention that my lifelong terror of the supernatural is a pointless joke.)

If the devil is perfectly, luminously innocent, you might ask…then what the hell isn’t?

That’s a very good question. Oops-a-daisy. I may have made a teensy mistake here, wasting my time judging and condemning everything and everybody, 24/7…

Because, apparently I’m entirely wrong about everything. I mean, like, ENTIRELY wrong. About EVERYTHING.

Which means my distaste for God’s truth is probably all wrong, too.

Probably. In all likelihood.

•          •          •

So it’s looking like God might be marriage material after all. Possibly it’s time for me to get serious, and stop playing hard to get.

I guess I’d better start picking up the phone whenever the truth calls, instead of letting it go to voicemail. Because I suspect we’ll probably be seeing a whole lot more of each other from now on.

 

A Year Without Fear: LOVE IS A THING WITH WINGS, DAMMIT

thing with wingsIn my chosen spiritual ocean, I’ve spent many a pruney year dog-paddling in circles around the idea of unconditional love. It’s an authentically healthy love (I’m told), one that offers complete freedom and true healing to all who experience it. And all, apparently, are equally worthy of it.

It’s a beautiful theory. And to practice unconditional love feels totally great as an abstract exercise—always performed on my own terms, of course, and only when I’m in the mood for it.

But in real-life daily practice? Where it actually counts? I’ve barely dipped a toe into that pool. I’m talking about real, true, healthy unconditional love. I want to see how it applies on a blood-pumping individual, interpersonal human level—you know, the one where we actually live.

What does truly healthy love even look like? I mean seriously—I want specific personal knowledge of how it works. How it feels to do it. (This is where the spiritual books all scurry forward to fill the experience gap, flipping open to well-thumbed pages:

Healthy love, they inform us, is given freely and without a need to get anything in return. It’s a love that holds no creepy crawly strings or hidden clauses: I’ll love you IF. Healthy love is our true identity, they say. We become whole as we remember our own wholly loving nature.)

Yes, I know all that. But I’m tired of letting book-knowledge substitute for lived experience. There’s no liberation in it.

 

•          •          •

 

These days, I’m all about bringing my own interior darkness to light. Historically, some areas have always seemed darker and more persistently painful than others. They refused to go away, so I told myself they were beyond my power to heal or transcend.

But I’ve grown bored with telling myself the lie that I’m helpless to transcend my own crap. In fact I’m not the slightest bit helpless, and never was. (No one is.) In my mostly unconscious misuse of my infinite God-given creative power, I have created my own suffering entirely by free-will choice. I accept this truth; I own it, I take responsibility for it. And having recognized and embraced this unlimited creative force within, along with its unconsciously crappy effects, I am therefore free to un-create those effects anytime I choose.

So there was this black hole of self-hatred and unworthiness that I spoke about last time. I reported that it had miraculously healed all by itself. But I didn’t tell you that in the months leading up to that profound transformation, I had chosen to shine a light into that deeply unconscious black hole for the very first time, to see what was in it.

(A black hole is not a place that readily accepts illumination, by the way. And nothing can escape from it. Which was why I had never seemingly been able to touch its interior in all my years of trying. Until I finally recognized the black hole’s existence depended solely on my permission. I had created it, and my choice to let it endure was the only thing holding it in place. It behaved as a black hole would, in other words, until I saw I was bigger than it was. Upon realizing my own power over it, I found I was suddenly able to access its secrets, because I had granted myself entry.)

Upon examination, I saw that the black hole was a sort of a cosmic bucket without a bottom. And forever falling through that bottomless bucket was a tiny, terrified self in search of a worldly identity. A ‘me’ that was unable to offer itself the smallest crumb of love or compassion. A self that fruitlessly searched the external world for evidence of its own lovability and worth. But even when that evidence showed up, there was no ground to hold it. No matter how desperately the small self grasped at those bits of external validation, nothing could stay. It all fell right through the hole.

That black hole was the very essence of neediness and terror.

We are told in spiritual practice—and in every self-help guide ever written—that real love is within. And it’s clearly true. Real safety, real peace, real wholeness and real validation can’t possibly come from anybody but the self. Trying to get any of those things from another person (who, let’s face it, has their own black hole to deal with) is, in the immortal words of George Carlin, like trying to satisfy hunger by taping sandwiches all over your body.

It has to be an inside job. The external approach simply can’t cut it. But I knew no other way. I tried doing what the spiritual teachers said. I really did.

I looked very hard for a very long time, searching determinedly within for all that juicy good stuff.

But the black hole just couldn’t love me back.

 

•          •          •

 

I’m married to a gorgeous guy who is delighted to be married to me, and isn’t shy about telling me so. I luxuriate in his loving approval. I know exactly how lucky I am.

He and I find ourselves participating in spiritual retreats together fairly often, either as presenters or attendees.

Retreats are funny things. Due to the nature of the exercises involved, everybody wanders around with wide-open hearts. Beautiful souls who are often starved for true communion (with the Self!) gain temporary nourishment from the next best thing: In the safety of the retreat setting, we all let glimmers of our true beauty out. A bunch of magnificent open-hearted angels, holding up shining mirrors to one other. And everybody falls a little bit in love with everyone else’s light.

Is this a problem? No, of course not. It’s beautiful. It’s an honor to participate in it. But the needy Black Hole Troll has been known to have an issue with it now and then—like when the husband’s light gets admired a little too much, if you know what I mean. Or vice versa.

But how much is too much? Degrees of anything is a fool’s game. I know better. Trying to manage something by degrees is a slippery slope that leads directly toward suffering and away from liberation. There are really only two choices: There’s either healthy, authentic unconditional love (which has no degrees, and means total freedom is extended to the spouse, to give and receive love as he sees fit)—or there’s guaranteed darkness and pain.

I’m not talking about monogamy or fidelity, here, by the way. That is a closely related subject, only because we humans who are so starved for authentic light and purity of love, often confuse its beauty for the kind we’re more familiar with. And then complications ensue. But that’s a topic for some other blog post.

Right now I’m just talking about my own exploration of the perceived danger, the extreme threat that seems to rear its head when a loved one is allowed in fullness, as a sovereign being, to receive love or express open-hearted admiration for the light of others.

Last month, the husband and I attended a retreat workshop at a beautiful monastery in Israel. Our group took over the entire monastery. The only other person staying there at the time was a lovely woman on a personal silent retreat, who spent her days in walking meditation out in the garden.

She did nothing to call attention to herself. She wore no makeup, her hair was pulled back in a simple low ponytail. She wore plain white cotton shift dresses and flat shoes. She was the essence of humility. The women in our group (if they noticed her at all) saw her and smiled at her lovely simplicity, and then gave her no second thought.

The men in our group zeroed in on her like flies to honey, like moths to a candle flame. They obsessed over her, speculating about her, telling themselves and each other stories about her presumed state of elevated ethereal awareness. Some of them even followed her around and made general pests of themselves.

Observing her effect on all of the men, yet none of the women, I would ordinarily be inclined to call it a simple case of pheromones, dressed up in spiritual claptrap. Except for the effect she had on my husband.

The first time he saw her, he didn’t actually see her. He was facing me, and his back was turned to her as she walked quietly past our group. He nearly fell off his chair, swiveling to see who it was that possessed such a powerfully tranquil vibration of stillness and peace. Screw the workshop. He wanted more of that.

I didn’t like it a bit. And I wasn’t entirely sure why. What possible threat was it to me—I mean really? I did quite a lot of conscious spiritual work around it while it was all going on. But I admit it, I was not crazy about Stillness Girl’s effect on my darling spouse.

It wasn’t until days after we’d left the monastery behind that I realized why. Steve and I were playing hooky that day, relaxing on beach chairs beside the Sea of Galilee while everybody else was being carted around on a tour of the area. I was deep in thought on my beach chair, sitting with crossed legs as I often do, one foot swinging rhythmically in tempo with the noise in my head. Steve gently put a hand on my leg to stop its incessant motion, before sitting down on his own beach chair. And as he did it, a flash of insight showed me what the hell my problem was. What it had always been.

I am not still. I don’t exude profound tranquility. If I walked behind you, trust me, no swiveling would occur—not for that reason, anyway. So it seemed to me that the Lady in White had something I lacked. And that’s the part that felt so threatening. That’s the part that felt like a rebuke, a judgment, an accusation, whenever the spouse admired a quality in somebody that I believe I lack.

Stillness. Straight hair. A lyrical recording voice.

Whatever it might be that I think I lack, his innocent admiration or love of it in another felt like abandonment, betrayal and finger-wagging all at once. And that made it the worst possible kind of identity theft—it threatened my identity as the one who is loved. But that’s the black hole that was doing the talking. Not Steve.

Steve actually has never agreed with my troll-self in its unloving assessment of me. So he couldn’t figure out why I would find such a thing threatening. The way he sees it, his open-hearted admiration of the Lady in White (or anyone else) did not in any way take away from his love and admiration for me. And you know what? He’s right.

But I didn’t truly know he was right until the Black Hole Troll gave up its post a week or two after our return from Israel. I’m not 100% free of dark misperceptions about myself yet, but I am truthfully beginning to recognize myself as the Beloved. Yes, the Beloved, with a great big gorgeous capital ‘B.’ And that recognition is a breathtakingly short hop away from seeing everybody and everything else as that, too.

Case in point: The other day in the car on the way to the post office, I suddenly choked up and cried a little. Because the English countryside in bloom is just so fucking lovely, I became overwhelmed with joy.

It—and I!—were indescribably beautiful and perfect and whole. So much tenderly magnificent Belovedness all around, my lumpy little emotional system couldn’t cope.

In those brief moments of authentic Belovedness, I know without a doubt that inside where it counts, I am approved of to an unimaginable degree. And because of this, I now know my safety and my true identity can never be withdrawn. External events can’t touch it.

 

•          •          •

 

So how does all this Belovedness change things, in the neediness/jealousy/control department? I’m not sure yet what the changes will look like, but I’m guessing it will shift the landscape profoundly.

I still observe myself wanting to clip Steve’s wings, to limit his freedom, as a knee-jerk response to perceived threat. But I know it isn’t the way forward. I know it doesn’t lead to safety or happiness. So I immediately bring a “sun of illumination” into that dark desire for constriction. And as this gently brilliant searchlight streams its loving rays into every shadowy corner, I allow for the (terrifying? unthinkable?) possibility that my husband can actually be free to give and receive love as he wishes without it harming or stealing anything at all from me personally.

Gasp.

Is this really true? Am I safe whether Steve’s love is kept for me alone or extended freely like blown dandelion seeds? It’s mighty scary territory, even with the newfound knowledge that the Beloved is within. Because letting love out of the cage is just about the most frightening step imaginable for this tiny little ego self. And once love is out of its cage, I’m pretty sure there’ll be no stuffing it back in.

But I do know this: I have thoroughly clung to the alternative throughout my entire life. And for fifty-something years, my futile attempts to contain and control love have brought me only pain. So I’m setting aside the books and the teachings of theoretical unconditional love, and am finally taking my own shaky steps onto the diving board.

I hope to God I can swim.

 

PS, if it interests you, I have a free e-book that touches on some of these same topics. It’s called I AM THE LOVE OF MY LIFE (a field guide to unconditional love for self and others). Download it from my website or from Kobo.com

A Year Without Fear: I AM $600,000. (AND SO ARE YOU.)

prosperityAt the end of my previous post, The $600,000 Gatekeeper, I reported that the internal arbiter standing between me and limitless creative expression seemed to have permanently abandoned its mission.

Afterward, a friend asked, “So if the gatekeeper is gone, are you now able to feel you deserve $600,000?” I didn’t know. I said I’d get back to him.

When I first met the gatekeeper, it showed itself to me as a frightened figure trying singlehandedly to hold back all of creation. It didn’t seem terribly interested in whether or not I deserved a randomly large amount of money. The outsized request itself was the threat.

In general, I would say the gatekeeper didn’t much like or approve of me. But there wasn’t much it did like or approve of, frankly. It was a very tired and cranky young sentinel, and I didn’t know whether judging deservedness was even part of its job description. Now that the gatekeeper had left the building, did all disapproval go with it? I grabbed my lamp and merged with my highest wisdom self, to find out.

We went within to have another good look around. I made the same exploratory statement as before: I’m in the mood to receive $600,000. Then my highest wisdom self and I watched carefully, taking note of all feelings that arose in response.

The answer to the deservedness question wasn’t entirely obvious at first. Where a sense of constriction or limitation used to be, I found only silently peaceful expansiveness. Nothing inside there cared about $600,000 one way or the other. But if I wanted to have it, there seemed no clear, self-generated reason why I shouldn’t.

I shone my lamp more deeply into the question of what I deserve, or what I am worth. I wasn’t prepared for what I found.

A fundamental sea change had taken place. A shift so profound, I can barely find words to describe it. And I hadn’t even noticed it happening.

•          •          •

I need to back up a bit here, to put this astonishing transformation into perspective for you. Throughout this lifetime, in my deepest unconscious core I always believed I was a hatefully unlovable troll. An abnormal, unforgivable blight on the universe.

No amount of spiritual work has ever convinced me otherwise. Not down there, in the deepest slumbering places where the sun don’t shine. This fixed core belief in my desperate unworthiness and unacceptability seemed forever out of reach and beyond help.

Until this week. Until I got to experience myself as creation itself. The higher wisdom self and I brought our light of conscious illumination into that great internal vastness for the very first time. It became a wonderful, softly welcoming experience, very beautiful to witness, as our light made tracers in the darkness and gently awakened bits of my comatose creative self.

Apparently the hate-filled unconscious core thing had been watching this whole event. After it witnessed the spectacular movement of universal creation flowing through me, AS me—well, this core thing seems to have radically revised its opinion.

It’s actually starting to think I’m pretty damn cool.

•          •          •

Do I deserve $600,000? What a goofy, charmingly irrelevant question. How can I not deserve the limitless creation that I already am? I am $600,000, for God’s sake. And I’m Buckingham Palace and the Taj Mahal thrown in. Which kind of makes me want to start singing a Cole Porter song to myself:

I’m the top

I’m the Coliseum

I’m the top

I’m the Louvre Museum…

 

I haven’t mentioned it much yet, but it was fully clear to me as I witnessed myself in my spectacular universal function of creation, that you are that same identical thing too. You are every bit as vast, as grand, and as unstoppably limitless. (I know people say that kind of thing to you all the time. Books are full of it. But I’m reporting my own eyewitness account, here. And I’m telling you: Really. No shit. YOU ARE ALL THAT. And a bag of chips.)

•          •          •

But here’s the fine print on that contract:

If you want to know yourself as the limitless creation you truly are, you don’t get to cherrypick only the parts you like.

Yep, I’m the Mona Lisa and the Tower of Pisa (to go back to Cole Porter for a minute). But I’m also the slums of Rio. I’m the gas chambers of Auschwitz, and I’m every guy who ever drowned a sackful of unwanted kittens.

Write a song about that. I dare ya.

As I sat merged in meditation with the highest wisdom self and our lamp of illumination, I recognized I am responsible for all of creation. And my responsibility is to stop turning away from the creation that I am. I don’t have to like it all. But I must accept the whole package without resorting to the sort of schizophrenic denial I’ve been using since time began. I am required to know myself consciously and willingly as I truly am, in other words, or not at all.

The contract is to love without judgment. To help where I can. To step in and intervene if called to, but to do so without employing rejection or denial or a wish to find anyone or anything guilty–for those I would condemn are all very clearly parts of my own creation. Parts of my own creative self.

That’s what my creative self actually is. Its only function, its sole identity is constant, nonjudging, impartial creation. It couldn’t pause, take a breather from 100% neutral creating, even if it wanted to. And it doesn’t want to. In fact it doesn’t want anything. It already is everything. And it makes no judgment whatsoever about the unholy unconscious purposes you and I put our creative function to. It just endlessly creates, creates, creates whatever we ask of it.

So that’s what my larger self is. It refuses to judge its own constant creations. I know–I’ve seen it, felt it as me. Do I go on denying that nonjudging creative self? Running away from it? Being terrified of it? Blaming others for it? Hating others? There are no others.

And I’m done with that whole self-hatred business, really. The self-hating unconscious core and the vast creative self are the same self. There’s only one, you know.

I’m inclined to stop fighting City Hall. So I agreed to the contract as wholeheartedly as I could. And as I did it, I felt my spine gently slip out of alignment. All by itself. (Ow.)

Not all parts of me are equally on board with this, it seems. I literally do not have my own support. At least not yet.

How does this contractual agreement change things? Does it change things?

My chiropractor and I haven’t a clue. I’ll keep you posted.

 

A YEAR WITHOUT FEAR

victorian garden queen and suitorA 12-MONTH EXPERIMENT THAT ASKS THE QUESTION: IS PAINFUL SELF-LIMITATION NOTHING BUT AN OLD HABIT? (Breakable, like any other habit?)

And if a habit of fear can be broken, is it possible to cultivate a habit of joyous liberation instead?

I want to spend the next year finding out.

•          •          •

Like so many people do, I spent decades inside a self-created prison of emotional pain and unworthiness. It was life without parole, and that’s just how I wanted it. I liked it inside that tiny box. I felt comfortable in there, squeezing all of life’s delirious bounty down to a starvation trickle so as not to overwhelm myself with too much of anything.

I’m much freer now than I used to be, of course. But honestly, that isn’t saying a lot when you consider how infinitely free our potential actually is, in the grand scheme of things. Love it or hate it, the world has no boundaries or limits on what it can show us if we let it. So I’m still settling for tragic smallness, really. Most of us are.

Yet, these days I keep getting persistent glimmers that there are other ways to go about life. The rigid roadblocks I’ve habitually erected against my own happiness and fulfillment are sort of winking at me, shimmering like the transparent mirages they really are. Here’s the best way I can describe what’s been going on:

It’s as if lately I’ve been engaged in a sort of Victorian picture-postcard flirtation with what I’ll call Divine Possibility. A whole world of beautifully wide-open, potentially limitless freedom has been fluttering its eyelashes at me, lifting its petticoats to show me a delicate ankle, as it were, before skipping off with a giggle to hide behind the garden gate.  Or so it seems.

But I know it’s really the other way around. Limitless freedom is patiently staring me right in the face—it’s me who’s playing coy, peeking at it bashfully from between my fingers. (And then I take a break to duck inside the potting shed, because apparently I still like to stand in the dark with my face to the wall, now and then. Smacking myself in the head occasionally with a trowel. Just because.)

But hey. At least I’m finally aware—after so many decades of clueless confinement—that the unstoppable flow of Divine Possibility and I are actually occupying the same lovely spring garden.

You’re there too, by the way.

•          •          •

So here I am, in my peculiar Victorian garden metaphor, rubbing my sleepy eyes and only just beginning to look with keen interest at the lush tangle of blooms and weeds running riot this way and that, growing with wild abandon all around me. Which is to say, I’m starting to really notice how the creative force operates within us, whether it’s wielded consciously or not.

This is not theory, or an exercise in the Law of Attraction handbook. I’m coming to recognize firsthand, for myself, that I—we—are all infinitely powerful creators, engaged in a grandly orchestrated ongoing dance with all of creation. We are 100% responsible for everything we call into our experience in each moment. We attract it, we create it, we make it all from scratch. We can’t not create. Our vibration draws similar vibration; like attracts like. We routinely bend people and situations to our will, mercilessly insisting they behave as we feel we deserve, for better and worse. And then we deny responsibility for any of it. The bad stuff is somebody else’s fault. The good stuff is God’s doing. (Or vice versa, depending on your worldview.)

But we’re creating it ourselves, because that’s what we do. It’s what we are. I know this not because some teacher or some book said it, but because I’m finally paying attention and seeing creation openly in action everywhere. The evidence is all around, if you’re only willing to look. To really see.

•          •          •

A dear friend recently asked a seemingly innocent question: What is your deepest desire? (My immediate thoughts naturally raced to all those cherished dreams still unfulfilled: I want to awaken fully, to know myself as I really am in Truth. I want to be profoundly helpful in the world.)

But the right answer, the only possible right answer that’s true 100% of the time for everyone is this: My deepest desire is whatever is occurring in my experience right now, in this moment.

No, I’m not parroting something I think an enlightened person would say. I’m not going all Byron Katie on your ass. I personally do not often (ok, ever) walk around 100% immersed in the utter perfection of present moment beingness. I do not know firsthand from my own experience that if something is occurring, that fact alone means it is perfect. I ain’t there yet.

However. I did see with shocking clarity the cooly neutral truth of that statement. Why is this moment my deepest desire? There is actually never a moment in time that I’m not experiencing the fulfillment of my deepest desire. Because that’s how creation works, and I am an infinitely powerful creator. What I say goes, always.

But ask me to name my deepest desire, and my mind automatically skitters off into ‘what I haven’t got yet’ future dream-fulfillment territory. But that’s a lie. That’s just another game of Victorian peekaboo.

In truth I am an infinitely powerful creator, and nothing/nobody can override my free will choice. Ever. Period. I automatically create and attract into my experience exactly what I want, moment by moment. Whatever I’m experiencing is whatever I want most to experience in that moment. What I desire most. That’s how it works. It can’t be any other way.

Naturally we don’t want to hear that, because it’s very hard to accept the news that we freely create our own bondage and pain. I get it. I’ve certainly been there, bitterly arguing I would never cause myself (or others!!) unhappiness or injustice. Oh, but the truth is, I would. I have, through free will choice. Unconscious free will choice, mostly, but free will choice nonetheless.

•          •          •

So now I’ve clearly seen not just the marionette strings on my hands and feet, I’ve finally recognized the true identity of the puppeteer.  And I accept responsibility for both. Yet not a lot has changed, in my habitual daily decision-making process. But why is that? If the world is actually my oyster/lobster/seafood buffet, and creation is an ongoing inescapable fact of life in the world, I shouldn’t need to go on unconsciously choosing the same old starvation diet, right? I could be choosing all my future-based heart’s desires right now. In theory, anyway.

And that’s what got me wondering:

If I’m starting to know myself as an infinite creator, how come I still habitually make fear-based decisions? Why do I automatically play small, narrowing my own options, restricting my own freedom? And therefore the freedom of others?

So I’ve devised a very simple experiment. I want to find out fear’s actual role in the day-to-day creation process. For one year, I will stay alert to notice every time I make a decision, large or small, that is based in fear. (I know well the telltale signs when fear is present. I’m sure you do, too: A feeling of contraction or heaviness. Any sense of worry. Any desire to limit myself or others.)

As I consciously acknowledge the presence of that feeling state of fear, I will stop and ask: Is there another way to see this situation? Another solution or direction I can take that is not fear-based? And then I will wait to see what answers or insights might come. I pledge to walk down those unfamiliar new avenues in which fear plays no part. Maybe it will get less uncomfortable and strange each time I do it. Maybe the scenery will change a bit every time. Then as the months roll by, we’ll see what kinds of new vistas open up.

•          •          •

Freedom, (if you look at it closely) is actually freedom from fear. Freedom is feeling safe, peaceful and strong, expansive and loving in every moment, regardless of what is occurring around you. That’s true freedom. Inner freedom. It is not (to quote Janis Joplin) another word for nothing left to lose.

Yes, losing everything—and discovering you’ve survived anyway—is one way of moving beyond the fear of losing everything. But surely not the only way of attaining true freedom, true liberation.

I want to know myself as That. As One who walks the Earth in true freedom from fear. And yes, I’d like to be fully awake and ridiculously helpful to humanity while doing it. But right here and right now, I’ll start by holding my old habitual fear patterns up to the light. Not to battle them—just to gaze upon them with bemused curiosity. To put them aside, and then choose something different this time. And next time. And the time after that.

My current hypothesis is that fear is a habit. And therefore maybe the act of choosing fearlessly is just a muscle that needs to be developed. So, gym class starts now. I’ll be blogging my progress (both the forward and the backward kind) if it interests you. Personally, I can’t wait to see what comes of it.

 

 

WAKING UP. SMELLING THE COFFEE.

love me some coffeeThere’s been a lot of talk among God’s students lately about food’s perfect innocence. How it’s neither good nor bad for you, how it doesn’t make you thin or fat, sick or healthy. How (like every other aspect of this 3-D illusion), food is entirely neutral. That I’m the one who gives it all the meaning it has for me. If I say it’s fattening, in other words, then it is. If I say it’ll make me sick—or well—then it will.

I get it in principle. I’ll bet many of us do.

Well, forget the theoretical realm. I decided to test it out for real. And I had just the perfect test subject in mind:  Lately coffee disagrees with me in a big way. And you know how I love my morning coffee. That sexy siren scent wafts in from the kitchen and I either give in and have a cup—and then spend the morning wishing I hadn’t—or I deny myself a cup and spend the morning wishing I had.

So it was a perfect test candidate, then.

Today I wanted a cup, but decided to check in first to see if it was a good idea or not. It’s the first time I ever asked for internal divine wisdom beforehand, instead of just making the decision unilaterally.  The few times I tested this food innocence business in the past, I made my choice to eat or drink something, then after that I asked my Highest Self to be present with me while I ate or drank it.  Then I ate or drank consciously, together with Spirit, giving it my best attempt to enjoy those foods I thought were bad for me.  Doing my best to let them be neutral while I consumed them.

My results were always inconclusive.

•                •                 •

Today, when I checked in prior to pouring the coffee, I got schooled on how it’s really done:

By drinking coffee with your digestive tract in its current state, worldly laws indicate you will suffer for it.

 If you want to experience no ill effect from this coffee, you must withdraw all belief from your self-created universe of hate and rage (which is the only power that upholds worldly laws), and place FULL trust in me. Through me, you will be able to see and feel the coffee’s true innocence. Not a concept of innocence, as your thinking mind would generate, but a true knowing of its innocence.

I silently agreed to withdraw all belief from worldly laws, and to lean into holy truth instead.

The coffee is neutral. Do you feel this?

“Yes.”

Good. In its neutrality, the love of God shines through it.

I saw that the moment my beliefs about it were released, the coffee’s true God-nature was revealed: It was lovely, gently radiant in its ineffable holiness.

Now look at your stomach and digestive system. They, too, are perfectly neutral. They, too, are suffused with God. More than suffused, actually. They are composed of the God Self, as is the coffee in its cup. As is the cup.

 Can you feel your wholeness, dear one? All is the God Self. In this knowledge (which is always felt, and never intellectualized through the thinking mind), nothing in this world can ever harm you. You are just pretending to shuffle bits of your God Self from one spot to the next. It’s all you. It’s all equally innocent and harmless, and it all cherishes the infinite perfection that you really are.

I relaxed into the profound safety and joy of this simple truth. My world shimmered with God-awareness.

Now, in this peaceful certainty that coffee is your own love shining its holiness, you can temporarily reunite it with a dream of a 3-D digestive system which is also shining its holy God Self. By resting in this truth, coffee can have no ill effects. Nor could it ever want to. It has been reminded of its own perfect innocence in you. It has been liberated, dear one, and welcomed back into the one holy Self.

The awareness of divine gentleness, love and safety has persisted all morning, coloring every aspect of my perception.  And oh my, that cup of coffee went down easy.

I think I’ll have another.

WHEN IS A BACKLASH NOT A BACKLASH?


Rooster Crowing at Dawn --- Image by © G. Baden/zefa/CorbisBack in the day – say, 5 or 6 years ago – it seemed that every time I got on a spiritual roll, every time I felt big breakthroughs in wisdom, trust, love or peace, I knew this wonderful sense of expansion would come only as the first half of a 2-part cycle: I could expect an inevitable ego crash shortly afterward. You could set your clocks by it; a dreadfully fuzzed-out period of lethargic contraction that would arrive right on the heels of all that glory, every time, as night follows day.

2 weeks of confusion, stagnation, depression and/or ‘spiritual amnesia,’ of the sort where one actually forgets both the original breakthrough and the beautiful clarity that accompanied it. I’d watch that slo-mo wave of sickly ego backlash rising up to engulf me, and feel utterly powerless to stop it. After all, what goes up must come down, right? And who am I to mess with Newtonian physics?

•          •          •

Thankfully, after several years of deepening spiritual maturity, the 2-week ego crashes are no more. These days it’s more like a very occasional few hours of temporary insanity. But regardless of the duration or frequency, I see these egoic backlashes in a very different light, nowadays.

Now, they’re interesting opportunities.

•          •          •

Lately, as I’ve traveled the world and stayed in homes and accommodations not my own, I’ve noticed how very narrow my tolerances are when it comes to bodily comfort: Heat vs cold; light vs darkness. Too dirty or too clean (oh yes, there is such a thing as excessive cleanliness.)

How just a few degrees one way or the other can make or ruin my experience. How European daylight at 4am is so much harder than Californian daybreak at 6.

And don’t even get me started on the topic of plumbing. Talk about narrow comfort preferences! I really had no idea just how high-maintenance I really am.

So I’m noticing very keenly how much energy and effort are spent trying to keep the body comfortable and the personal preferences satisfied. Full time job, really. And the reason I’m noticing it so acutely is because lately these tolerances and preferences of mine have been taking a beating. Bigtime.

All of this observation of my own brittle needs and preferences occurs against a backdrop of huge recent leaps toward spiritual freedom: I’ve been happily getting my mind blown and perceptions shattered – yes, again! – by the Way of Mastery series of books and videos. They’re a pointblank invitation to ‘stop being a spiritual seeker, and start being a spiritual finder.’

They present a stark challenge to just get on with it: You say you want the fully awakened, 100% embodied experience of knowing yourself as One with Heaven? Then start right now. This minute. And here’s how to do it.

Because our Creative power is unlimited (even if we don’t yet recognize or believe that fact) it turns out we can actually just decide to reach out and start creating a bridge between our current state of limited egoic perception, and the limitless vastness of perfect Reality. Just like that. We can start that bridge-building process anytime we want, just with the power of fully committed choice.

(In my last post I talked about relinquishing the quest for enlightenment, releasing the identity of the perpetual spiritual seeker. It’s one of those paradoxical things; it seems it was a necessary prerequisite for me to release the “goal” of future enlightenment, before I could seriously entertain this next exploration – right now — into that which is already here.)

So in my exploration, I discovered that right now I’m just exactly strong enough and sane enough at this point to sincerely give bridge-building a try; not just theoretically, but actually.

But not actually sane or strong enough to ease into that practice gracefully. Because of course it includes a vow of 100% commitment to want the peace of God instead of all else. In every circumstance, in every moment of every day, no matter what.

I was only sane enough to go for the committed vow. And that’s pretty darn good all things considered – even a couple of months ago I doubt I’d have been able to get that far.

But honestly, between you and me, my follow through leaves quite a bit to be desired.

Speaking of follow through – and ego backlashes – a mere couple of days after making this electrifying leap into active bridge-building, Steve and I left England (where scarves and woolens had been the order of the day) and headed for California, Land of the Record-Breaking Heat Wave. Along with the blistering temperatures came a change of habitat so uncomfortable, so opposite my preferences in nearly every way that it gave my ego permission to do its worst.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m incredibly grateful to have this house for the next couple of weeks. The home’s owner very generously bailed me out of a jam, an awkward period of time where I needed to be available locally for business but had nowhere to stay. This is peak tourist season, so there was, quite literally, no room at the inn.

This lovely friend has been remarkably patient, kind and accommodating. In fact, she cleared her family out of this house and went on vacation so that the place would be available for me to rent during the days of my visit. I’m incredibly blessed, all in all, and I know it.

But. (Ready for some churlish ingratitude? Here goes…)

The heat and jet lag threw a party and invited the rooster that lives next door. The one that crows nearly every hour of the day and night. And added to all this, the caretaking duties of this temporary rental include looking after a gaggle of willfully incontinent pets. Willfully. Incontinent. Pets.

Are you starting to get the picture? After 24 hours of this, my ego was feeling really, really justified in letting it rip.

 

Virtually everybody has that tipping point. That moment where it seems fully justified and natural to unleash the hounds and let the ego run roughshod as it chooses. For some the tipping point can be a very small big deal; like maybe when the waiter screws up the coffee order and brings caf instead of decaf.

For others with far deeper reserves of peace and tranquility, it might take a tsunami or other epic disaster to rock their boat and give the ego mind an excuse to take over and reinterpret the story for awhile.

Regardless of where a person falls on that scale, nearly everybody has a point where the story is no longer neutral; where it isn’t merely difficult to want to forgive…it’s more like the event is so jarringly unpleasant that all ideas of forgiveness fly right out the window.

External events decree that it’s time to misbehave, the ego says. And as it’s decreed, then so it is.

In my case, that means it’s time to wallow in unhappiness, to muck around in spiritual amnesia and get utterly lost inside the story of my own discomfort and unmet needs.

And that’s where I was for a good 8 hours, the other day.

•          •          •

In the old days, I’d have called this an ego crash, an inevitable ‘course correction’ that I was powerless to stop. And I’d have waited it out, feebly offering snippets of helplessly unfocused prayer and meditation. And then eventually the momentum would shift and a more comfortable, more recognizable degree of sanity would return.

But I recognize something quite different is afoot now.

Here I am, vowing to start consciously choosing the reality of Heaven above all else. And what do I get as an immediate response?

Not an ego crash – unless I choose to see it that way…in which case that’ll be exactly what it is: a 2 week diversion steeped in pain and lethargy. But no, this is no ego crash. It’s not my ego mind devising a punishment, nor is it an attempt to stall my momentum. This circumstance has been presented to me as an act of purest Love.

My vow to want Heaven above all else has been duly noted. And my own highest Self has helpfully, lovingly arranged the perfect mix of off-kilter circumstances designed to push me off my foundation and press all buttons at once, so I can see firsthand where my weakness lies. The places where I’m still hanging onto those pesky blocks to Love.

Because I won’t be living the 24/7 experience of Heaven anytime soon, if I get rattled when a cat knocks a lamp on my head at 2am – twice – and then a rooster crows me awake an hour later. Because if I’m rattled, that means I’m choosing that story instead of the peace of God.

A 100% vow means the willing relinquishment of ALL tipping points.

Even the really big ones. Even the really petty ones. That vow is a specific request to set in motion the necessary training to be able to view all worldly events as equally neutral; equally meaningless in the face of perfect Heavenly joy.

And I want that training. I really do.

So actually, I’m pretty damned incredibly lucky for the customized curriculum. And I’ve been walking around with an odd feeling of tingly joy and unspeakable gratitude, mixed, of course, with clammy sweat and general sleep deprivation.

Life, my friends, is good. It’s just the 3-D living of it that sometimes sucks.

God, I’m dripping. Is it too early, do you think, for another shower?

 

 

 

ENLIGHTENMENT-AHOLIC


Road-to-NowhereFunny, isn’t it. You’re positively sure you know some fact or other; you understand it completely from your head down to your toes. And then one day the candle of Knowing spontaneously ignites, and whoosh!  It’s made a liar out of you, just like that.

The other night I came to know — really know — there’s no point to the goal of attaining future enlightenment.

Mind you, I would have said I already knew that chasing a phantom “future enlightened state” is an exercise in futility. I seem to recall I wrote a book on that very topic.

And yet I discovered I was doing just that.

I realized I was still seeking enlightenment as a future-based end goal, complete with checkered flag and trophy cup. One more item to check off the to-do list. But there is no end goal, and no finish line where enlightenment is concerned. How could a limitless state of awareness ever be brought to completion?

I honestly thought I knew better. [You probably know better too.]

But when an authentic knowing floods in and rewires your perception, as it did the other night, you can’t help but recognize with a shock that up until now, you really didn’t know what you thought you knew.

That you didn’t, in fact, know squat.

Because now, suddenly, you have become the knowing — and no amount of shriveled-up previous mental “knowledge” compares, once that fully integrated whoosh of living, breathing, juicy, mind-body-Spiritual embodied wisdom takes permanent hold of you.

•          •          •

It happened this way:

Having recently vowed to live our lives as “loving servants of God *with plumbing*” (it was me who added the plumbing clause to the contract, because I do enjoy a good hot shower in the mornings), Steve and I have taken to spending big chunks of our day in meditation or contemplative prayer, since we have no clear idea of what form that service might take.

But we haven’t been praying in the sense of asking or telling Spirit what our ego minds think should happen; rather we’re doing our best to simply stay open and empty and trusting, and rest in God while listening for…what?

Inspiration, I guess.

Mostly I get Big Silence. Peaceful, sure. Grounded? Absolutely. But not much clear direction happening on the topic of loving service – or any other.

This particular day’s meditation was much the same. But then suddenly at the end, the candle whooshed, the dominoes fell and a fully formed knowing clicked into place:  It’s pointless for me to go on chasing the goal of enlightenment. It’s only my ego mind that seeks it, and what’s the mantra of the ego? Seek and do not find.

I had long ago convinced myself that awakening was a necessary step toward choosing Love instead of fear, because theoretically if I’m awakened I’ll be present enough at all times to remember to choose correctly between them.

Sound enough logic, as far as it goes. But it’s a future-based ego trap, designed to put an end goal on something that has no finish line.

And then a second knowing whooshed in: I needn’t wait for, or struggle toward enlightenment (which is a pointless effort anyway because the time and circumstances of my awakening are not within my control). I need only choose to let my life be guided by Love in every moment starting right now. Awake or not awake is kinda beside the point, when one’s life is being shaped and moved and art-directed by God.

So I let go of enlightenment as a goal. And I chose to let every moment of my life be guided by Love instead.

I can’t say it felt good, letting go of that firmly entrenched goal – which is a pretty fair indicator of how deep my attachment actually was.

I felt disappointed, deflated in the pit of my stomach. And alarmingly close to tears. My identity as a spiritual seeker was a huge chunk of who I thought I was. If I was no longer chasing enlightenment, my ego mind would now be forced to give up acres of prime real estate.

And then a third knowing tumbled in on the heels of the other two: Letting go of the cherished goal of future enlightenment allows me to have less resistance to what’s going on right now, in this moment.

THIS moment is the classroom, the treasure, the eternal choicepoint. Every gorgeous, messy, imperfect, confusing moment of it is a fresh opportunity to be guided by Love. But if this moment is chronically unworthy because there’s no awakening happening in it, how can I hope to embrace it fully and receive all the infinite gifts it has to offer?

Ah. Oh I see. Ok, I get it now.

It’s all well and good to agree to let my life be guided by Love. But it’s not quite the passive activity I imagined it to be. (Not at this stage of my development, anyway.) I’m no leaf, peacefully surrendered to the eddying stream; I’ve got a very bossy ego that is still mostly sure it knows best in every situation. And that ego will not hesitate to grab a motorboat and tear upriver at full throttle against the current anytime I let it.

So am I serious about living my life in alignment with Divine Will? Do I really want to let Love guide me?

If so, then an ongoing commitment to action is required. It’s my moment-to-moment responsibility, as crap hits various fans, to pause, step back and ask: How would Love have me respond in this situation?

To ask it over and over, as many times a day as I manage to remember to do it. And this is key: To ask it and listen. And not assume I already know the answer.

Oooh, another small whoosh: Yes, forgiveness will always be a component of the answer. But Love is chiefly concerned with extending Love. So the decision to be guided by Love is a request to be used by Love as a conduit for actively healing, nourishing and replenishing everybody and everything I encounter.

Them, before myself.

And I haven’t a clue what’s the best way to do that in each new situation. Only Love knows.

So it’s a whole new moderately unfamiliar landscape here that I’m looking at, one with several key landmarks missing. And a certain amount of mildly uncomfortable newfound humility heaped on top.

I haven’t entirely made sense of it all yet, but there seems to be a faint, sparkly joy playing around the edges of it. But I can’t absolutely swear to that.

We’ll see.

I’ll let you know.