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.

 

GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS PRESENCE


Lately I’ve been happier and far more peaceful than ever before in my life.

Of course, that’s not saying a lot.

From day one, I’ve always had far more heart-thumping, grindingly antsy anxiety running through my veins, than actual blood.

Mind you, it’s about a thousand times better now than when I first began my spiritual journey. But (as anybody on a similar path knows), when this painful ego stuff gradually begins to clear and sanity is strengthened, the crap that remains becomes seen in ever-sharper focus. And it’s that clear-eyed perception that makes the remaining bullshit far more acutely unpleasant than the dull, unfocused ache of the old days.

•          •          •

In recent months, Holy Presence has become the basis of my spiritual practice. This form of present moment awareness is very unlike the earlier ‘now moment’ flirtations I’ve tried through meditation, or chanting, or stopping to smell the roses, or whatnot. This is a sort of up-close-and-personal, in-your-face form of presence. A vast and muscular and very Loving presence.

Back in May, I embarked on Michael Brown’s Presence Process, a ten-week breathwork course that emphasizes consistent morning and evening periods of sustained presence. In the book, he describes these steady, prolonged periods of present moment awareness as being very different from the usual spiritual practices that are meant to put us in touch with the now moment.

He says it’s the difference between visiting an old friend often for a cup of tea, (and assuming you know their house well because you’ve stopped by so many times) and actually agreeing to house sit for a few weeks. Suddenly you’re in this house by yourself for a prolonged stay, and you have all the time in the world to notice the hundreds of things about it that you’ve never seen before.

So I did the breathing, in presence, as prescribed. And I started to notice something right away that I’d never realized: Presence has a distinct vibration.

At first I thought it was just a ringing in my ears caused by the super-oxygenation of the breathwork.

But no.

Presence is a living thing; it has a mind of its own – and it comes calling for me whenever it wants my attention. My ears become filled with its unmistakable ‘sound,’ and I am gently reminded to withdraw my focus, my belief, from whatever silly ego story I’ve sucked myself into at the moment.

This has been a lasting effect of my presence and breathwork explorations, and I’m delighted to say that the phenomenon seems to be growing more pronounced all the time.

I wish I could find words to describe for you what I’ve found inside the ‘house’ of Presence, now that I spent those ten weeks house sitting. But truly, it enters that sacred realm where words can’t go.

It isn’t just that Presence has an intellect. Presence is Holy.

Presence is not only where Spirit dwells, the now moment seems to be made out of Spirit. And vice versa.

And I know…I can feel…that if I could just manage to spend quality time hanging out in Holy Presence, entirely nonresistant to it, then this experience itself would be Heaven on earth.

(See? I told you, words are fumbly nuisances here. But I’m doing my best.)

And so it has become my practice to melt gratefully into Holy Presence, and sit there non-resisting. And to try to string together as many moments of that experience as I possibly can, before my chattery ego mind slips away and drags me someplace else.

It’s sort of a combo of intensely focused present moment awareness, and a joining pool exercise. (If you’re unfamiliar with the joining pool, see The Enlightenment Project, page 141.) Except this is the funny thing – and here comes the failure of words, again: I’ve discovered that true present moment awareness IS a joining pool exercise.

So there you go — it’s the best description I can come up with. If you’ve managed to make any sense out of what I’ve written here, and feel inspired to try this Presence practice for yourself, I highly recommend it.

•          •          •

Anyway, the benefits of it are wonderful and many, including a gentle, ever-unfolding clarity.

The other day I was snugged up in my cozy English digs. It was cold and blustery outside, but I was sitting warm by the fire with my hot tea and Afghan throw, the Christmas lights a-twinkling. And I noticed I was truly happier, more peaceful and more free than I’ve ever felt before.

And then Presence came gently calling. And I was very softly pulled into it, taking me several layers deeper than usual. I adjusted my focus accordingly, and as I did it, I could see that at this more buried level I was actually seething with anxiety.

This was a profound antsiness, a thorough dissatisfaction with myself, for sitting by the fire with a mug of tea instead of using the moment more productively. I should be writing a book or something, shouldn’t I?

This dissatisfaction, this self-criticism runs so deep in me that at its lower levels I’m completely blind to it because it seems so much like what my world is constructed out of. It’s the lens through which I view and experience my 3-D reality, so I would ordinarily never back up enough to notice it as a stand-alone thing – just a lens, not reality itself.

But here’s the great thing: Unlike the old days when I believed in the anxiety message through and through, I knew this present moment was perfect and Holy, exactly as it was. And nothing at all was required of me right then, except to relax and allow it to just be.

It was kind of a startling moment of worlds colliding. But thanks to the reassurance and Love emanating from the ongoing song of Presence that was playing so sweetly in my ears, I took the time to examine that old buried ghost story of anxiety very carefully. And I saw it had no relevance here. So I made the conscious choice to relax and melt my habitually anxious worldview into present moment peace instead.

•          •          •

I’ve been experimenting with this very delicately ever since. And I find its effect has been equally profound, no matter what the present moment happens to hold.

A couple of days ago, we went on an outing to the lovely city of Bath to do some Christmas shopping. I had a client phonecall scheduled for 7:00pm (to accommodate the 8 hours difference between England and California), so there should have been plenty of time to shop and get back before then.

But as we all piled in the van to head for home, we discovered the roads were seized up in absolutely stupendous gridlock — which they specialize in, in these ancient cities where cars and traffic are always a patchwork afterthought.

A half hour went by and we hadn’t moved more than a car length or two. And suddenly the hours of extra padding between me and my client call didn’t seem quite so cushiony. And I had no way of contacting them to let them know I might miss the call.

This should have been a prime recipe for anxiety, but it wasn’t. Presence was in my ears, and I was steeped in the profound peace of this-here-now. And I knew the client call would either happen, or I would apologize when I got home, and reschedule.

The folks in the front seat started up a game to pass the time: What’s your version of paradise? Where would you be right now if you could have anything in the world?

I had to really think and think. But when my turn came, my mind was blank.

Because honestly, this moment was already it.

Stuck in traffic in the back of a van. Nothing could have been more glorious than that.

 

So on this day of Christmas Eve, dearest friend, I wish you peace, and happiness, and freedom.

And most of all, I wish you Holy Presence.

 

JUST BREATHE


Ever been spanked by an ancient Chinese Entity?

Yeah, me neither…until last week, that is.

Last Tuesday, Ken Bok [of http://acimexplained.com] came down to the farm for a visit. Although he’s interviewed me many times online, we’d only met once in person at last year’s UK ACIM conference.  Now that I’m staying in Dorset — a mere trainride away from London — we thought it an excellent opportunity for hanging out, so Ken came down and spent a couple of days with us.

And with him, it turned out, came this ancient Chinese Being. And the Being wanted to talk to me.

•          •          •

Ken has only recently poked his head out of the closet to announce that he’s psychic. (I’m told his readings are quite good. Contact him at https://www.facebook.com/kennethbokpsychic if it interests you.)

What I didn’t realize is that he’s also a psychic medium. And the guide he channels is actually a whole group of ancient Chinese intelligences that go by the collective name of Yong. Sort of like Abraham, I guess, except not nearly as cuddly.

As it turned out, Yong had plenty to say to me. I’ll share just a few of the highlights here:

Apparently I ought to be a lot more prolific than I have been thus far. It seems I’m supposed to leave a ‘legacy,’ a comprehensive body of work that will continue to help others after I’m gone. But apparently I’m being a bit of a slowpoke, output-wise.

So I’m ‘strongly urged’ to get off the stick and get to work in earnest. I’m told to write more, and speak more, and give more workshops.

And speaking of workshops, we (the Undoing the Ego team http://undoing-the-ego.org) also are told to hold a lot more Power of Power workshop retreats. It seems we haven’t even scratched the surface with those. As mindblowing as they already are, they will apparently evolve way beyond this current level and make a huge contribution to the collective Self.

Or something.

So we need to leave a legacy of work from those retreats, in addition to our own personal legacies.

And there’s more: The breathwork that I’ve been developing – it seems I haven’t yet begun to tap its true power and immense value. It hasn’t yet become even a fraction of what it will be. (I thought it was pretty unbelievable before. But what do I know.)

I’m supposed to do a lot more hands-on experiential breathwork. I need to experience it as often as possible myself, and also facilitate it for others.

A lot. Like, really a lot.

Each time I do it, I’ll learn more, and new avenues of exploration will open. I should also start to talk publicly about the breathwork. Like in my blog, for instance. And I should maybe start some breathwork groups on the internet. (Yes, apparently ancient Entities do keep up with modern technology.)

•          •          •

Honestly? I’m exhausted just thinking about all this. Partly because most of my seeming to-do list doesn’t even exist yet, and I have no clear direction or idea of which way to head, to get there from here.

And yet, I’m actually not worried about any of that.

This is where trust and surrender play such a big role. It means setting the bone-deep prayer and intention that I want to be truly helpfulwhatever form that takes. And being absolutely unattached to what the result of that prayer looks like.

And then wandering out into the world at large, eyes peeled for signposts. Trusting that I’m exactly where I’m supposed to be, even when no signposts are yet visible. Or maybe they’re visible, but they look too weird at first glance to be right. (Tricky, but I’m getting much better at that part.)

And the inspirations have indeed been coming. A whole new exciting avenue for breathwork exploration has revealed itself just in the last few days. (I’ll get into the details of that another time.)

And a group of beautiful, courageous friends-in-Spirit have shown up and agreed to be my beta testers – yes, on the internet! – as I work to fine tune these powerful new breathwork processes.

So it’s all good.

And the spanking? That came after all this glorious hoo-hah about legacies and such.

It seems I needed, er, an attitude adjustment. A big chunk of this very long message was spent sternly admonishing me for my childishly foolish/cavalier behavior towards this breathing business. Breathwork is not a toy, and I need to use a hell of a lot more wisdom and discernment, going forward, because its power must always be wielded consciously and with clear Spiritual intent.

…Ok, then. Um, thanks.

I responded to this fairly overwhelming and moderately disturbing 40 minute communiqué (which had lots more juicy bits than I’ve described here) by promptly catching a cold and going to bed for a few days. Sometimes a girl just needs some blocked nasal passages and a cup of hot tea.

But now I’m back, and the ‘legacy’ is still waiting patiently right where I left it.

So here we go. Trust and surrender.

Excuse me while I go someplace quiet and just… breathe.

 

SAFE CRACKER (SAFE part 2)


I’ve been thinking quite a lot about this business of safety, trust and surrender, because my life has changed so radically ever since I put all three of these into action last month in Sedona. In fact, I barely recognize myself these days.

A number of things have happened over the past few weeks that would’ve previously sent me spinning into waves and fits of anxiety and fearfulness. But now…nothing.

From car breakdowns a thousand miles from home; to stolen credit cards; to computer malfunction and potential loss of income; to howdy-do visitations from ghosts (or possibly angels, I don’t know – one invisible entity is much like another in my book).

Anyway, my point is, it’s been a cavalcade of what used to be code red anxiety-producing events.

But apparently there’s nothing that presses those fear buttons anymore. In fact, I’d go so far as to say the buttons themselves seem to have been permanently dismantled. And strangely enough, I would actually characterize the events of the past month or so as peaceful and enjoyably stress-free. Because I didn’t really blink an eye at any of it.

And there’s more.

In addition to the total lack of fear, I seem to have unexpectedly acquired a brand new ability to differentiate between the actual facts of a situation, and any stressful story I would’ve told myself about it in the past.

For example, when my credit card information was stolen, I was fully aware of the same old stories I might have chosen to attach to the event: Oh no! I’m not safe. Oh no! What will be stolen from me next? Oh no! What if my replacement card doesn’t arrive before I leave the country tomorrow?  But I clearly saw they were optional embellishments, not the reality itself. And so I wasn’t tempted to indulge in them anymore.

Instead there were only simple facts: My credit card was used to make two purchases. The card company reversed those charges and cancelled the account.  My new card would either arrive in time or it wouldn’t. Because no stories were woven around the facts, there was no anxiety – indeed, no suffering of any kind, associated with the incident. There was only joy. And gratitude. And profound peace.

After a lifetime of habitually anxious hand-wringing, I cannot begin to tell you how new and wonderful and utterly bizarre it is to live inside this unrecognizably serene new version of myself.

•          •          •

And so I wondered: What was so incredibly different about the trust and surrender I offered up at the Sedona cabin, versus the hundred thousand-odd other times I’ve tried it? I mean, I’m sincere as hell when I pray. Why did this particular set of prayers cause such deep and fundamental shifts in perception?

I took a long, careful look at this question, because I wanted to crack the code. To tease out the primary catalyst for the miracle I’ve experienced, and hold it up to the light so that I – and you – can get a good look at it.

The nucleus, the core difference between the Sedona Cabin prayer and all preceding ones seemed to be the fact that I was at the end of my rope when I offered it.

I guess I have a hard-ish time fully letting go of ego control under normal circumstances. (Perhaps you can relate.) But these circumstances were hardly normal. I accepted the possibility that surrender might cause my death and then surrendered anyway, because I couldn’t stand to be tormented by my own fears for one minute longer.

And so, I completely and fully surrendered my imaginary “control” of the situation to Spirit for the first time, I guess. Even though it felt like I was putting my life in extra danger by doing so. And I managed it despite being unable to trust even a little bit at that point.

And that’s the tricky thing about trust and surrender. The ego mind so dearly wants it to happen in just that order: Prove to me that I can trust, and THEN when I know it’s safe, I’ll surrender. (Maybe.)

 But unfortunately that just isn’t the way it works. Surrender comes first, and then the trust floods in afterward, along with the beautiful miracle of prayers answered.

Having to surrender before we trust isn’t some kind of twisted test set up by God to doublecheck on our worthiness, by the way. That’s not how God rolls.

Our inability to trust in advance is just a hurdle set up by our own ego mind as a means to protect itself.

Yes, it’s kind of a bummer that it works in that seemingly backward order. And your ego mind might want to convince you that surrendering first is some kind of dreadful “lady or the tiger” trick: be suckered into surrendering, and then discover too late that you’re worse off for having done it.

But that’s honestly never the case.

In my experience, anytime we manage to surrender, there’s a guaranteed jackpot waiting in the wings. (The jackpot is always there either way, of course. But surrender seems to enable us to accept it.)

•          •          •

So is “end-of-rope” suffering necessary in order to surrender deeply to God and accept all the good stuff that comes as a result?

Strictly speaking, no. Of course not.

We just tend to vastly prefer the suffering (i.e. hanging onto ego “control”), wrongly believing it’s the road to peace and freedom.

Oh honey. Au contraire. You want peace? You want freedom? Freedom is having a sense of peace and safety no matter what kind of stuff arises in your 3-D world.
If what you truly want is peace and freedom, then what you truly want is surrender.

Great big gobs of it. Run toward it with open arms. Ask for it with joy and gratitude, even if it feels scary as hell while you’re doing it.

You won’t be disappointed. Trust me.

 

SAFE


Being female in this world, I’ve always held certain unexamined assumptions about How Things Are. I believed the story that I’m weak and vulnerable. I believed my gender made me an automatic target for crime, and therefore I must be constantly on my guard against theft or bodily attack.

And so, like many women, I developed behavioral responses to my environment:

Never walk down alleyways at night.

Always check the back seat before getting in my car.

Listen for footsteps. Be aware of any cars that might be following mine.

Paranoia, in this case, seemed the smart and rational response to a dangerous world. And this hyper-vigilance gave me some illusory sense of control over my environment.

Despite ongoing enquiry into the nature (and trustworthiness) of my own beliefs, I had never seen fit to question this particularly far-ranging and pernicious set of fears.

I’d spent decades feathering my nest and arranging my life into the reassuring picture of comfort and control, you see. So my fears rarely had the chance to parade themselves in full.

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Uh…no. They festered ever-present just below the surface of my consciousness, oozing low-level anxiety into every corner of my life instead.

•          •          •

So it’s been an interesting several months.

After 21 years as a comfortably married lady, I moved out of the house June 1st and gratefully spent the summer at my dear friend Kathy’s place. While there, my primary hobbies including staying awake nights and obsessing about lack of safety, potential loss of steady income, and fears of destitution and/or homelessness.

The theme was survival – was I capable of taking care of myself? And that age-old unconscious question at the base of all things: Did I really have any right to thrive in this world?

I discovered all my buried fears now had ample opportunity to come out and play: How would I live? Where would I go? Could I run my business without Kurt (I.T. Guy Extraordinaire in the next room), ready to bail me out of any technological jam?

There was more: Without a home base to call my own I’d be traveling around with all my worldly goods in tow, having no permanent place to stash my valuables. How would I protect myself from the constant threat of theft? I felt utterly vulnerable and unsupported in the world.

(Interestingly, I was surrounded by beautiful people on all sides who were offering huge quantities of loving support. But this frightening and pervasive lack of support was an inside job. And it welled up in me unceasingly, no matter what anyone around me said or did.)

•          •          •

At summer’s end, I packed up my little car and drove it across the desert to Sedona. I had no idea why Sedona, or what I might do there. But I had eventually gotten so bored with torturing myself over questions of where to go and what to do, that I surrendered the whole scary bag of worms to Spirit.

And Sedona it appeared to be, so now I was just uneasily following the prompts that seemed to point me toward red rock country.

One of these Spirit-inspired prompts was a Sedona house-share rental that I had taken sight unseen from Craigslist. It was a massive three-story log cabin in the woods, with broad balconies on all sides. It had spectacular views of Thunder Mountain.

So far so good.

This place was quite a bit more expensive than other house-shares I’d seen, but sounded a hundred times better than any private apartment I was likely to find for a similar price. So I took it.

I would have the whole second floor to myself — a huge bedroom with office area; balcony; sitting room; a closet big enough to park my Mini inside (if only I could’ve gotten it up the stairs) and a large separate bath. And there was a very spacious loft area at the other end of the second floor that was also mine – except for Wednesdays, when that space would be used for New Age chiropractic sessions of some sort.

All of that sounded fine, and the pictures looked good. But then I arrived, and saw what the photos hadn’t shown:  There were no doors on my room…just a bunch of curtains across an open expanse. No window coverings in most of the house, either, including my bathroom.

And when I asked for a key, I was told they didn’t use them. None of the locks worked on the house’s several exterior doors, apparently. Which didn’t seem to trouble my roommate Maurice (or any of his friends) because he never locked the doors anyway.

Okaaaaaay….

And then three days after I arrived, Maurice left town for two weeks and I was all alone in this giant, exposed, unlockable cabin in the woods. All alone, that is, except for the fifteen or twenty strangers who converged on the place every Wednesday to have their chakras tuned up and spines realigned.

Not only did this place push every safety fear button I had, it seemed to invent a half-dozen new ones.

I was especially terrified of coming home alone after dark to an empty, unlocked house. As I entered, I would turn on every light, methodically checking every room, every closet, under the beds and behind the shower curtains – investigating every potential hiding place to assure myself no unseen attackers were lurking.

I was also afraid that some of those chiropractic patients would surely recognize this house for the easy mark it was; over and over in my mind I’d picture them casing the joint and coming back after dark to steal the aforementioned worldly goods.

Or worse.

Every night in bed my mind ran obsessively through all the horrifying scenarios of What Might Happen. And I couldn’t seem to stop it. The heart-pounding, sick-making terror of it.

Oh yes. I knew these were all just ego stories I had invented.

I knew these fears weren’t real.

I knew I was One with all these horrifying “others” who populated my feverish imagination. And I certainly knew they were innocent in Truth.

But knowing all this didn’t make it a damn bit better. Not when it felt like my very survival was at stake.

•          •          •

But here’s the thing: These days I’m in a period of consciously examining all my deeply buried unconscious pain, fear and general gunk, together with Spirit. Just the action of witnessing all this hidden crap – just agreeing to bring my awareness to it and be with it unconditionally – this is powerful stuff, and it causes huge leaps in healing.

So whenever dark, difficult emotions crop up, I see it as a gift, and I welcome the emotional turbulence as a prime opportunity for transformation. And back at Kathy’s place, I had prayed to be able to witness my deepest fears and surrender them to Spirit once and for all, for total healing.

Hey, prayer answered.

Or the first half of it, anyway.

So I knew it was no accident I had come to stay in this funhouse of the damned. Besides, even while it made me sick with terror, funnily enough there was something about the house itself that felt like a big, warm hug. On some level I knew this cabin was a loving, gentle laboratory for working out my fears.

A safe place to feel howlingly unsafe in.

But. The obsessive scenarios of violent crime still played out in my head every night and refused to go away. Upon deep examination, I realized my pain stemmed from being helpless to control the situation. (Had the doors been lockable, I could’ve maintained the illusion of control. But in this wide-open vulnerability, I had no choice but to rely on those terrifying “others” – hoping they’d choose not to target this house. But clearly I would never have control over that.)

The truth, of course, is that none of us has control over such things, ever. But we whistle past the graveyard, and we buy alarm systems or firearms or life insurance policies; we build up savings and retirement accounts so that we can stop being afraid. So that we can sleep at night. So that we can give ourselves the illusion of control. But outside forces are outside forces, at least here in the 3-D world of illusion. And outside forces simply aren’t controllable.

The only way to be free of fear once and for all is to meet it where it actually lives:

Within.

After awhile, I found the pain of trying to control the uncontrollable was even more unbearable than the fear itself. So it became comparatively easy to surrender the whole awful situation to Spirit. And that’s saying a lot, because when push comes to shove, we all unconsciously believe surrender to God leaves us completely unprotected and vulnerable to attack.

In that ass-backwards, upside down logic of the ego mind, hanging onto the fear seems to offer some measure of protective armor. Some scrap of control. So if I was going to hand over my last scraps of protection and control, it meant I had to get to a place where I felt willing to die. Where surrender actually seemed a better solution than hanging onto the agony of “control.”

Like: I might as well agree to possibly be murdered in my bed, because living with this kind of mental pain – the endless imaginary future enactment of that murder – is worse than that.

So I surrendered and I trusted, mainly because I saw no other viable options.

 

Relief was not immediate.

It took days or weeks. I’m not sure exactly when it happened, but one day I turned around and realized the fear had gone away completely.

The house was still the same.

The people, God love ‘em, continued to come and go, treating the cabin like a benevolent frat house.

It’s me that’s changed. I’m totally comfortable now.

•          •          •

Here’s a related subject: The other day in the late afternoon, Fran and I hiked Cathedral Rock. It had been years since I’d done it. Cathedral combines elevation hiking with a substantial amount of rock climbing, so it’s not a hike that can be rushed through. It takes some time.

I wasn’t thinking. It was sunny when we started out, so I wore my prescription sunglasses.

The sun had dipped below the horizon by the time we reached the top. By halfway down it was getting quite dark, so I had to choose between two less-than-ideal options: Make the rapidly deepening dusk even darker by wearing my shades? Or take them off and be as blind as…some kind of blind thing with its eyes closed?

The dilemma made me recall my first “midnight hike” in Sedona. (If you’ve read Long Time No See, you know about that hike.) How terribly anxious I’d been. And how astonished I was to emerge from that pitch-black wilderness experience entirely unscathed.

The lesson that night had been about trusting in Spirit, which was something I was unable to do back then. Then some time later, in another nature setting surrounded by towering Sequoias, I found myself once again worrying about dangerous predators and other safety hazards. And a lesson from Spirit emerged, which referenced that previous midnight hike:

“…The truth is that the bears and the ice are One with your holy Self. In perfect gentleness they support you and keep you safe within this dream world – just as the cactus and coyotes functioned to keep you safe during your pitch-black Sedona hike. Your One Self (which includes all bears, coyotes and prickly desert plants) supports you in your lesson plan as it lovingly awaits your awakening.”

At the time, it was too much to take in. Oh sure, I understood it intellectually. But it wasn’t until the other night, as I shimmied down a mountain in near total darkness, that I got it. I was entirely calm, without a shred of fear or anxiety, filled instead with a sense of total safety and trust in Spirit.

And, just as Spirit had described it back then, I could really feel the rocks and cactus and crickets and sky as my One holy Self, lovingly supporting my progress every step of the way. I felt our mutual gratitude. And our mutual joy.

In fact I felt like the richest, luckiest, giftiest person alive. And pretty much every minute since then has felt like Christmas morning.

•          •          •

The most extraordinary thing of all: So much more seems to have been healed than just the particular set of fears I thought I was handing over. These days I find myself striding through life in wholly unaccustomed ease and safety for the first time ever.

I have no concern for my personal security or the safety of my stuff. Yes, I remain mindful. I don’t leave my things unattended, or take foolish risks. But fear is gone. I am truly comfortable wherever I find myself.

And even more miraculous than that: For the first time in my life, I now know I have a right to be here. I mean, really know it.

I am safe in My own embrace. And I am Loved. Very, very Loved.

And it’s all an inside job.

I leave this crazy log cabin in a week or two, headed for my next adventure. I will be forever grateful for the things I left behind here. And for the new riches I carry with me, wherever I go.

 

 

 

If you ask, shall ye receive?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no.

As an author, I occasionally get requests for free books from folks who like my writings but can’t afford the luxury of buying them. Usually they ask for used or damaged copies – but of course I don’t have any of those. It’s not like bookstores mail their rejects back to me personally; that’s not how it works.

And authors don’t get free copies of their own books. (Even when the author also owns the publishing house, as is the case with my second book, The Enlightenment Project. My cost for that book, before shipping, is something like $4.80 apiece.)

With shipping factored in, it’s more like $9.00. Really, it would almost be easier for me to buy the book on Amazon and have it sent to the recipient instead.

So if I’m filled with love for humanity on the day the request comes in, I might decide to ship a book. Or I might not. I play it by ear.

• • •

So a few weeks back, I received a letter from a woman in India. A very sweet letter, asking for used or damaged copies of The Enlightenment Project. She said she and her community are hungry to learn about enlightenment, and eager to grow in wisdom. But they can’t afford to buy books.

I didn’t know what to make of the letter at first. All the people I know in India speak English better than I do; this letter was clearly from someone for whom English is a second language.

And so I wondered: Is this really a woman in India who wants to learn more about nonduality? Or is it some kid in a Nigerian internet café, who is testing out a peculiar new scam aimed at authors?

Not that the Nigerian angle made any sense, of course – let’s face it, it would take an awful lot of work to make a buck off a self-published spiritual author no one’s heard of. But this is where my mind went at first.

(Hey, it’s an enlightenment project. Clearly I still have a ways to go, in that department.)

I felt no immediate inspiration to ship books to the other side of the world, but didn’t want to reject the request either… just in case it was legitimate. So I handed over the question to Spirit: What would you have me do here?

At first I received no answer. But a few nights later, I was idly flipping channels and stumbled onto a charming documentary on HBO called The Sound of Mumbai, about a group of impoverished kids who perform a one-night-only concert of The Sound of Music at a world-famous Mumbai concert hall.

It was funny and sweet, and ultimately heartbreaking, as (spoiler alert!) nothing changes in the lives of those kids after the one glorious performance is over.

Afterward, as I was lying in bed, I felt a deep kinship with those kids. They were very real to me, they had all come very much alive. And their hopes and dreams mattered every bit as much to me as those of my nearby friends and neighbors.

And a sort of a whoosh of wordless realization struck me: This was my answer from Spirit. My sweet, gentle answer, set to Rogers & Hammerstein lyrics.

So I’ll be sending books to India. Possibly a whole bunch of books, because I’ve been inspired to ask for help from my FaceBook friends in this endeavor, and the generous response has been very heartwarming.

And special thanks in all of this, to my dearest Little Brother, Ananta Garg, for offering to cover import duties and handle distribution from the other end, once the books have been shipped.

I’m truly blessed. And, oddly enough, feeling like the richest lady in all the world. Funny how that works.

If you happen to feel inspired to join me in helping to start a very informal lending library someplace in Gujarat State, here’s what I’m looking for:

2 copies (new or used) of each of the following books:

The Disappearance of the Universe ~ by Gary Renard
Your Immortal Reality ~ by Gary Renard
The Power of Now ~ by Eckhart Tolle
A Course in Miracles
The End of Your World ~ by Adyashanti
Falling Into Grace ~ by Adyashanti
The Spontaneous Fulfillment of Desire ~ by Deepak Chopra
Take Me to Truth ~ by Nouk Sanchez & Tomas Vieira
The Universe is a Dream ~ by Alex Marchand

And any other clear, easy to read favorite books you may have, on the general topic of Oneness.

Contact me here and let me know if you’re inspired to send books. You can mail them to me (I’ll provide a PO box address for that) and I’ll send them on to India.

Thanks in advance, and much love to you!

Sincerely,
The richest lady in the whole damn world

The quandary

You know how it is when you discover a band with a fresh, new sound – you love their catchy pop hooks, and you can’t wait for their second CD to come out. And then the CD finally arrives, and it’s filled with Chinese orphans reciting classical 12th Century poetry, all set to a backdrop of modern, atonal compositions for viola and flute.

And you think: What the hell?

It’s nice that you guys are following your muse…but couldn’t you do it while sounding the same as you did before?

•            •            •

If I treated writing as a career, I’d be sorely tempted to apply everything I know about product development and marketing. I’d look at what makes my first book connect with readers, and I’d give them more of that.

I’m well aware the first two thirds of Long Time No See appeals to a wide audience. That’s the part of the book that reads something like an older, wiser Eat/Pray/Love. And I could’ve stayed in that vein, and gotten mainstream success.

But in that final third of Long Time No See, instead of meeting a hunky stranger in a tropical paradise, my story dives into the single-minded search for non-dual truth of all existence.

Not really bestseller material. Yet it was by no means an accident; the story went exactly where it was guided to go.

And so Long Time No See is embraced by a much smaller (and much different) audience than it might have been. And that’s as it should be.

But now, as I prepare to release my second book – and yes, it’s chock full of Chinese orphans and atonal compositions – I’m pretty sure most of the small audience that loved all parts of Long Time No See will be disappointed by the dearth of catchy pop hooks.

Yes, it’s still funny. There’s still a healthy dose of pop-cultural snark. And I personally think it’s my best work to date. But The Enlightenment Project shines a steady, unblinking light on some areas usually left shrouded in shadows, and that’s not going to be a very comfortable sensation for many readers.

I think I might lose almost everybody who’s been with me so far.

And I do apologize for that. But here’s the thing. My writing is a chronicle of my spiritual life – and my spiritual life is a fluid, ongoing progression; it only flows in one direction. There’s no going back.

I write because I feel guided to share the things I’m experiencing right now. And if I didn’t feel that inner spiritual prompt to share these things, I’d keep them to myself. I wouldn’t be writing at all.

By the time a book comes out, I’ve already moved on. I’ve already grown and deepened my understanding beyond what’s shared in the book. This was true of Long Time No See, and it’s definitely true of The Enlightenment Project.

Who the hell knows what the book after The Enlightenment Project will be like. Just a bunch of blank pages, maybe. One atonal poem from the Chinese orphan within.

And in my mind’s eye, I semi-peacefully watch as my readership grows ever narrower, dwindling finally to one, and then none…

Or so it seems to me. But it’s in the hands of Spirit now, so I guess we’ll all find out together whether I’m wrong about that.

Be the change you wish to write about

My next book, The Enlightenment Project, is almost finished. I’ve been really happy with it so far. I didn’t feel like it was missing anything.

Except for one thing: I had this weird persistent feeling all along that the book was shorter than it was supposed to be. Not by a lot, just maybe 8 or 10 pages. But I couldn’t quite explain the feeling, so I shrugged it off and kept going.

Meanwhile, I’d recently teamed up with Jan Cook, booking agent extraordinaire, so that I can start traveling around teaching workshops. I know that’s what I’m meant to be doing; Spirit has made that abundantly clear on many, many occasions. But I’d been resisting it with every molecule of my being.

I know fear of public speaking afflicts like 93% of humanity. I don’t flatter myself that my problem is unique. I just know it runs really, really deep with me, and its tangled threads of self-loathing are a big part of the distorted fabric of my whole self-identity. Even after all these years, I still don’t like to be seen.

I’ve made tons of progress, of course. I’m fine with writing books or telling personal stories now.

But any form of public speaking (even a brief telephone interview) is enough to send me round the bend beforehand, in anticipation. Afterwards is no better – that brief trip into the spotlight is experienced as such a stark violation, I always need a long recovery period afterward of hiding in darkness.

I agreed to stop resisting all this public viewing months ago. I surrendered it all to Spirit. Yet my October speaking gig in Sedona was still enormously difficult, and interviews since then have gotten harder, not easier.

Now I’m scheduled to teach a one-day workshop in Louisiana in May. I know the information itself that I’ll be teaching (thanks to Spirit) is wonderful. But I hit the wall over the seemingly hopeless depth of my public speaking problem. This isn’t the focus I want to carry with me into that workshop. Self-obsessed shyness and fear and ancient tangled up pain and self-hatred are not what I want the underlying energy of that workshop to be about.

I mean, why get on a plane and fly someplace to teach, if I’m so gripped by mistaken self-perception that I can’t even see the other folks in the room as they really are?

So I made a small shift in my intention this morning. I decided to stop perceiving my problem as hopeless. I decided it’s immaterial how tangled or complex or deep it has always seemed. I don’t need to understand each of those tangled threads; I just need to be done hanging onto them. All mistaken perceptions melt away with equal ease, when truth is honestly desired instead. And now I honestly desire truth instead.

So my change of intention is: This problem is already over with. I’ve given Spirit full permission to help heal my misperceptions by whatever means necessary. No holds barred. The steps involved are of no consequence to me; only the outcome matters. And as a result I know with full confidence this painful self-hatred and fear are already things of the past.

Now I look forward to public speaking with a faint sort of tingly joy. Does that mean the problem has resolved itself already? Oh hell no. The deep forgiveness work is still to be done. Only the intention has changed. Yet now I can imagine how wonderful it will be to teach, when I’m free to care about the wellbeing of the other people present, instead of spending 8 hours in violent self-torment.

And I realized that’s what’s been missing from the new book. First I need to undergo this wonderful transformation, freeing myself from my prison of fear and self-judgment once and for all, and then I need to write it down as a useful example for others.

It should make a pretty good story.

Double vision

What do you do when you and somebody in another part of the country have the exact same vision at the exact same time? Well, if you’re me, you sit up and pay attention.

I’d been praying recently for guidance on what’s next. And rather than trying to figure it out with my thinking mind – which, experience has taught me, pretty much always comes up with the wrong answer – I just say to Spirit:

Show me.

Point it out to me in a way I’ll understand, and I swear I’ll head in that direction. But I’m flying blind, here. I need to be told which way to go.

So I’d been praying that way for a week or so. Then on Thursday morning, out of nowhere, I woke up that day knowing clearly what sort of book Fran (of InnerVision fame) and I should write together. I understood wordlessly the book’s format, what it would be about, and how I would write it.

And then I clearly saw the book’s cover. Or, more accurately, I saw the bottom third of the book’s cover. The title and cover artwork were hazy, but I could read the bottom part, plain as day. The background was a dark chocolate brown, and I could even describe the typeface for you, although I’m not going to.

It said: By Fran Duda, with Carrie Triffet.

Fran was flying that day (in an airplane, I mean, from one city to another), so I made no attempt to reach her to tell her of my vision. I wasn’t sure how she’d respond, anyway. She’s always known she’s supposed to write a book, but the idea has seemed far too daunting for a variety of reasons.

I’ve always been pretty sure I’m supposed to help her write that book (since I’m the translator she trusts to put her ‘beyond words’ experience into language). But I also always suspected the project was likely to be a hugely frustrating pain in the ass.

Fran is a brilliantly gifted intuitive; so gifted that it’s always been hard for her to blend into society and ‘pass’ as normal. (For more about Fran, if you haven’t already read about her in my book, see any of the previous blog posts under the topic heading of ‘Sedona’s spiritual connection.’)

She’s always been terrified of going public. And especially afraid of going public through the written word.

She’s fine when speaking one on one or to groups of people, but when it comes to writing things down and letting those statements be set in stone and seen by the world, she freezes. When I first knew her, she would spend weeks obsessing over the wording of a single sentence. These days, she’s far more trusting, much more surrendered and willing to let the connection flow as it does, from Spirit through her and through me simultaneously, so that I can put the essential meaning behind her ethereal experiences into words for her.

So the collaborative writing process would be far less torturous now than ever before, but I also knew it could still have its very sticky moments because she would be writing down her deeply personal stories. The desire to endlessly edit might still rear its head if the information in the stories got too close to home.

Yet Spirit’s message had been perfectly clear, so I knew I needed to put aside all my own doubts and just agree to do it.

But Jeez Louise, I already have one book in the works and another in the hopper. And little time to work on either one. So although I accepted this vision as an answer to my request for Divine guidance, let’s say I wasn’t altogether on board with it.

The next morning, Fran called out of the blue, apologizing for the short notice and asking if she could come here for a visit the following day?  We sometimes go months without talking, so I knew this request was purposeful. And she’s a delightful houseguest, I always love having her here. So of course I said yes.

After she settled in, our first activity together was a walk on our favorite beach. While walking on that beach I told her of my vision that we would write a book. She stopped walking and turned to stare at me; I could tell she was having one of those time-stop moments of recognition.

I told her the book would be a series of recorded conversations between us, in which she verbally tells me the story of her extremely fascinating life, as well as a full description (language limits permitting) of her gifts and the nature of her InnerVision work. And that I would then fashion those audio conversations into a written book.

And then I reported what the bottom third of the book jacket would say, reading the words off to her.

And she told me then that she had had the identical vision of the book cover on Thursday morning, and I had spoken the exact wording that she saw on that bottom third.

So that’s it, then. I guess I’m writing a book. It’ll be by Fran Duda, with Carrie Triffet, and it’s bound to be a barn burner.

No idea when it’ll come out, I just know that it will. And I’m good with that.

Oneness = Identity theft?

So I had that recurring dream last night – the one where I foolishly leave my handbag unattended and moments later my wallet is gone…it happens and then I’m completely lost, set adrift. It’s not so much the money I’m worried about; it’s the driver’s license, the credit cards.

Everything I use to prove I really am who I say I am.

It’s a dream that occurs each time I place another big chunk of my trust in Spirit.

It’s a not-so-friendly shorthand reminder from my unconscious ego mind. A way of warning myself to back off, to quit pushing beyond my egoic comfort zone. To stop trying to see the world through the eyes of Spirit.

Because if I’m learning to trust in Spirit’s interpretation of the world, that means I’m withdrawing part of my belief from the ego mind’s version of the story.

The dream’s details change but the essence is always the same: It’s saying: Better be careful – you’re playing with fire. Get too close to Oneness and you’ll lose your identity for good.

And God knows, that’s a terrifying thought.

But is it true? Of course not.

To reconnect with Oneness is to remember our own truest state. Our real identity. And when we remember what we really are, we will also remember that we are completely safe. Infinitely peaceful.  Totally free.

It’s our ego mind that’s in danger of losing the false identity it’s so carefully constructed to hide the truth of what we really are.

But knowing all this intellectually doesn’t really mean anything; when push comes to shove, I for one still thoroughly believe I’m a separate person with an individual mind, living in a 3-D world with lots of other folks in the same predicament.

Until I know and believe in my heart that we’re all One, these teachings of non-duality are all just blah blah blah. And as long as that’s true, then on the deepest unconscious level, the thought of attaining Oneness will continue to be terrifying.

Because who will I be if there’s no more me?

Actually, Spirit has taught me quite a lot on this subject. I freaked out about it in a fairly big way, back when I first realized what a return to Oneness would really entail (see page 190 of my book, in a story aptly titled ‘Freakout’).

That was back in 2006. Since then Spirit has taught me to look closely at the mask identity that the ego provides –  the false ‘me’ belonging to each one of us. To really notice how all of us settle for daily unease as a fact of life; to realize that none of us are able to find truly lasting happiness or peace in this world.

We settle, in short, for an ill-fitting meat suit instead of the perfect identity that’s really ours.

There we are. It’s the human condition.

But for those of us who aspire to wake up from this dream of separation, our work is cut out for us: We know we can’t ‘give up’ this individual identity while we still believe in it and find it valuable. Trying is a waste of time – it just doesn’t work that way.

But by allowing Spirit to teach us and gently heal our perception of the world, then our perception of ourselves begins to heal as well.

Until finally, one day we realize that the mask self is nothing at all. It has no value so we willingly let it go – and just like that, it’s gone.

Oh sure, the meat suit is still here, but we’re not fooled by it anymore. We know it isn’t really us. It’s just a vehicle for walking around expressing the truth that we’ve become awakened to: That the state of Oneness is True Self, and no other identity is needed.

Yeah, I greatly look forward to knowing all this with my heart instead of my head.

But in the meantime, has anybody seen my wallet?