ENLIGHTENMENT-AHOLIC

[pinit]
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.

 

I, PITBULL (or: how I learned to love the world)

[pinit]
I’ve been staying with my dear friend Kathy and her adorable dog Coco recently. The other day our little household swelled temporarily from three to four when Coco’s best buddy, a darling white pitbull named Cloudy, came for an extended visit.

Cloudy is a big snuggly ball of sweetness encased in 65 pounds of hard-packed muscle. And when he smiles – which is often – it’s literally from ear to ear. So delicious you could eat him with a spoon.

He has no idea why anybody would ever be afraid of him.

Pitbulls get a bad rap, in my opinion, and they don’t deserve their rotten reputation.  The fact is, I’ve never met a pitbull that wasn’t sweet natured; it seems to me if you really want a mean pitbull, you’d have to go pretty far out of your way to train him to be that way.

And yet.

To pretend a pitbull isn’t capable of great violence is to do the dog a disservice. The fact is, pitbulls were bred specifically to clamp down and hang onto other animals with those powerful jaws. That instinct is buried deep in the DNA.

If I were to assume this dog was a harmless jello baby made strictly for lovin,’ I could put him (and maybe also the neighborhood cats and Chihuahuas) at risk. In the wrong sort of threatening or confusing situation, those deep down genetics just might kick in.

A pitbull can’t help what he is. It’s up to me to see the dog clearly: To see past the unfair reputation so I can appreciate the cuddly nature, yes — but also keep one realistic eye on those fearsome jaws at all times.

•       •          •

And, in a rather roundabout way, that brings me to the topic of humans.

Like the folks who unfairly characterize all pitbulls as vicious thugs, I used to only see the worst in our collective human nature.

Oh sure, we were capable of great art. Great leaps of spirit. Occasional acts of selflessness, even. I acknowledged these anomalies grudgingly — but mostly I saw us as irredeemably miserable bastards, out to ravage the Earth and each other. And despite my best efforts over many years of spiritual practice, that attitude toward the world persisted for a very long time.

In fact I used to shake my head in bemusement at those eternally rose-colored optimists who insisted (despite all evidence to the contrary) that mankind was essentially noble and good. And that given the opportunity, we humans could be counted on to do the right thing most of the time.

Well. Clearly we can’t be counted on for any such thing. Our minds aren’t hardwired that way. And yet (just like pitbulls) when it comes right down to it, we’re not the slightest bit evil, either. We happen to have some nasty jaws on us, sure… but deep down we really just want to be loved.

Yet I was unable to truly feel any of that compassion for us in my heart. I could cut a dog all the slack in the world, it seemed, but when it came to humanity I just couldn’t seem to forgive us our trespasses.

•       •          •

Not to change the subject, but this has been a hell of a year for me. Deep spiritual crises followed by even deeper spiritual openings. The fledgling emergence of a profound new Self I never knew existed…which is totally awesome, at least on paper. But these shy introductions to this wise, powerful Carrie 2.0 have turned my life completely upside down. Let’s just say I’ve been both shaken and stirred.

But uncomfortable as it’s been, I wouldn’t change a minute of it.

Getting to know this eternal Self has caused some amazing shifts in perception. Suddenly I can step outside many of those deepest (conscious or unconscious) beliefs that have caused me pain and kept me imprisoned in my own mistaken stuff for as long as I can remember.

And one of those deep beliefs – not just deep, but miles wide – was my casual certainty that the world was evil. That humanity was irredeemable. It wasn’t something I ever thought about consciously; I didn’t have to. The bleak facts of our existence, and our endless catalogue of crimes spoke for themselves. It was undeniable.

Wasn’t it?

One day a few months back while I was brushing my teeth, my newly emergent eternal wisdom unexpectedly asked this gentle question:

What if I’m wrong about the world?

As in: What if nobody’s actually guilty here? And what if every assumption I’ve ever made about our inherent evil is completely baseless?

(As is often the case with such communiqués, the words were accompanied by something much bigger and altogether wordless: A perfectly neutral snapshot of humanity as a whole, an overview of us as we’ve trundled along throughout our messy history — but witnessed now from beyond my own dark and narrow vantage point.

It was an invitation to see more clearly. To notice our deadly jaws, as it were, but to look beyond them for the very first time, to appreciate our inherent sweetness. Our yearning to know God, even if we often don’t call it that. And to let a lifetime of rigid fear and judgment melt away in the process.)

It was an opportunity, if I wanted it, to entertain an entirely different possibility about how to live in this world.

This was staggering. It had never before occurred to me that my attitude was mere opinion, subject to interpretation. I was so certain of the world’s evil, I had never even bothered wondering whether or not it was true.

(I know. WTF, right? I wrote a book all about self-inquiry; all about revisiting our deepest assumptions and asking ourselves if they’re really true. And I practice and teach A Course in Miracles, which is all about the world’s innocence, for God’s sake. Well. What can I tell you. I knew all those things in my head, but sometimes it takes frigging forever for such important information to travel from the head to the heart.)

And now, I’d experienced firsthand that the world was neither good nor bad. Wow. I realized that everything I had ever done, everything I was up until this point, had been constructed with defense or preemptive attack in mind.

How should I start to behave now that the world wasn’t evil?  This would surely change everything.

•       •          •

And it has. Just by acknowledging the possibility that I was wrong about the world’s nature, a spontaneous release of my old crusty stuff seems to have taken place.

Nowadays I mostly feel tenderness and empathy for us. I can see our hurts, our skinned knees where we’ve repeatedly fallen down on sharp gravel; I still have days when I’m appalled by our antics, but mostly I just want to clean the scraped knee, kiss it and make it better.

Yes, I acknowledge it’s possible one of you might pop me in the back of the head with a slingshot rock the moment I turn away to grab a clean bandage. Humans are like that – we haven’t stopped acting like little bastards. But knowing this, I watch carefully for signs of possible bad behavior and go on dressing the wound anyway. Because we’re all in this together.

Violence is programmed into our genetic code, but I’ve found if I look carefully beyond that surface aspect of our collective makeup, very quickly our truest nature begins to shine through. And you know, it ain’t half bad.

 

 

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 Truth Within the Truth

Recently I returned from the October 2011 retreat workshop taught in Pecos, New Mexico by Nouk Sanchez and Stacy Sully. I assumed this New Mexico workshop would be valuable, powerful, moving. I never dreamed it would change my life forever.

First off, I should tell you I only went as an observer. (Nouk and I will be teaching a 9-day retreat workshop in Germany in April of 2012, so it seemed like a good idea for me to attend this New Mexico version to start planning how to blend our teaching methods.)

Nobody else on Earth is teaching exactly this information in exactly this way. Sure, this would technically be considered an ACIM (A Course in Miracles, that is) workshop.  The curriculum definitely stems from ACIM, and at first glance may all seem very familiar if you’ve been studying the Course for awhile. (Incidentally, you don’t have to be any sort of ACIM expert to attend one of these workshops—but it will damn sure help to have at least a passing familiarity with it.)

But this ACIM-based information is being taught in a way that’s radically new. In the past year (after her partner Tomas Vieira’s passing), Nouk underwent a ton of personal transformation. Some real ‘dark night of the soul’ stuff, as you can imagine, in the aftermath of those events. And in answer to her fervent prayers, she began receiving direct transmissions from Spirit showing her how to much more deeply understand—and teach—the true message and meaning of the Course.

Combined with this astonishing new clarity of interpretation, is Nouk’s own personal experience—which came during that aforementioned ‘dark night’—of releasing all ego attachment in order to surrender total trust to Spirit.

(No, if you’re wondering, she doesn’t yet abide in this awakened, ego-free state permanently. It comes and goes.)

Anyway, the result of all this is phenomenal: Nouk is offering the deep, direct scoop on how to rapidly awaken from the dream, and it’s delivered straight from the Source. This info is absolutely accurately true to the Course, yet at the same time a radical reinterpretation that cuts straight through to the non-dual heart of the teaching.

As I listened to her teach this workshop, it felt as if a powerful, yet gentle surgeon’s scalpel was deftly slicing away all the areas of confusion; of fuzzy thinking; of mistaken ego interpretation that have commonly plagued our collective understanding of the Course until now.

And she teaches all this not merely as mental theory, but from direct experience and inner knowing. She has personally experienced each one of the releases, each of the healings, and all the miracles she’s teaching about.

And, and, as she delivers this information to us, Nouk is constantly listening to her inner Teacher. She pauses to receive added explanations or clearer wording so that any confusion among listeners can be reduced or eliminated. It’s a living process, in other words, a Partnership of teachings being delivered in ‘real time,’ flowing according to the needs and capacity of the listeners who are present.

So that’s a small description of Nouk’s contribution. What’s Stacy’s role, you ask? Why is this new person who isn’t Tomas up there sharing the stage? This is a brief recap, in Nouk’s own words, of how Stacy came to be a part of this teaching process:

“Tomas and I met Stacy Sully in early 2009. Tomas chose to leave physical form in December of 2010. During his final 10 months, Stacy (a powerfully intuitive energy healer) devoted herself to taking Tomas through a very deep and joyful process of releasing fear and undoing the remnants of ego. The outcome for Tomas was a monumental dropping away of fear, and a delivery into Joy and immense trust.

Stacy and I continue to be very close because we share the same goal. Our priority is the peace of God; now we wish to help others undo the one cause of suffering without delay.”

Stacy’s role in these workshops, while much more subtle than Nouk’s, is absolutely vital as well. Stacy’s verbal contributions are filled with quiet wisdom and are always valuable; but what’s absolutely unique and totally essential to the process, is the energy work she does silently, internally, to support the listeners throughout the workshop.

She lovingly ‘holds the space,’ as they say, working on an energetic level with the group as a whole, as well as individuals who need it. (Yes, she can see and read that invisible stuff going on in each of us. It’s ok; you can trust her.) Without speaking or engaging the conscious mind of anybody in the room, she gently helps participants to open their hearts and authentically absorb the very challenging info that Nouk is presenting.

There is a great flow transpiring between Nouk, Stacy and Spirit, in other words. Stacy silently assists each listener to release any blocks, resistance or fear that come up during the workshop. She also helps ground everybody present, so the information doesn’t get stuck in the mind as intellectual theory, but instead becomes integrated into the heart. Through establishing this ‘grounding channel,’ Stacy supports a deeply anchored experience of present awareness in each person’s heart—a direct embodied understanding.

(While in ‘Truth with a capital T’ our energy and our bodies are illusory, the human experience is that bodies and energy are where we hold our unconscious ego blocks rigidly in place, here in the dream world. Stacy’s gift is to help soften those blocks so they can be released if we’re ready. The fewer ego blocks we embrace, the more we can authentically know ourselves as the one True Self that is beyond all dreams of bodies and energy. Stacy’s work is used exclusively to help us accomplish this.)

Stacy’s work relies entirely on the willingness and readiness of the person involved. (Nothing would ever happen without your authentic permission, in other words.) Combined with Nouk’s uncompromising, paradigm-busting material and exercises, Stacy can help workshop attendees experience openings and healings right and left, if they’re genuinely ready.

For me, core stuff that has resisted healing my whole life has begun to fall away in huge chunks after hanging with Nouk and Stacy these few days. But even more than that, it’s like my whole orientation has been subtly turned to True North: It’s as if all my life, every cell in my being has unknowingly contained iron filings within it; and this workshop permanently magnetized all the iron filings, causing me to feel gently but firmly pulled toward a homecoming with God.

The best part is, Nouk and Stacy are just getting started in this paradigm shift. This workshop was only the beginning. There’s lots and lots more info to share—only so much could be squeezed into 2.5 working days.

Going forward (starting with the German workshop in April of 2012), we’ll be joining forces to present these workshops. Nouk and Stacy will be doing their Divinely inspired thing, and I will be providing the nitty-gritty ‘boots on the ground’ examples of how this stuff gets integrated into everyday life. The three of us working together will be an awesome joining, I can feel it.

*            *            *

So. Are these workshops right for you? To quote Anaïs Nin, “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.”

Translation: Are you ready and willing to face and accept your deepest unconscious ego crap, (whatever it may be) and allow it to be gently released? If so, then yes! This workshop series is definitely for you.

If you’re willing to face and accept just some of your unconscious stuff, these workshops may still be for you, although, understandably, you’ll probably get a bit less out of them. Still, great honking chunks of old personal baggage may fall away for you, too, as a result.

But between you and me, if you’re still happy to remain ‘tight in the bud,’ as Anaïs would say…then you’re probably better off staying home. At least for now. Participating in one of these workshops is an agreement to get on the bullet train of forgiveness. It could cause a fair amount of motion sickness if you’re not quite ready for it.

Having said all that…only you will know if you’re ready for this or not. Well, only you and Spirit. My advice? Ask for Guidance, see what feels right. If the answer is yes, then do whatever it takes to get yourself to one of these workshops ASAP.  Seriously.

*            *            *

Future workshop info: Along with the April 2012 Retreat in Germany, Nouk, Stacy and I will facilitate additional retreats at the beautiful Pecos Monastery in New Mexico. The first retreat is open to those who have previously attended a Power of Power – Know Thyself Retreat and will be held in the early summer of 2012. The second retreat is a Level One, 4-Day Power of PowerKnow Thyself Retreat in the later Summer of 2012 in New Mexico.  If you are interested in attending, please let us know in advance, as our guidance is to keep the groups small, around 20 participants only. Dates, prices and details will be released soon. Please email Sparo Vigil to let us know your interest:  sparo.arika@yahoo.com.

For more about Nouk, Stacy, workshops and whatnot, go to http://www.undoing-the-ego.org

To listen to this article, please use this audio player –

The Lois Lane Syndrome

I’ve often been asked to describe what happens when I “channel” Spirit. But channeling is not what I do.

Don’t get me wrong, I’d love to be able to nudge my ego mind aside and make room for Spirit to come through instead of me. But that’s a talent I don’t have.

I’m just a listener—and then afterward I report on what I hear. I would describe my role in this as being kind of like Lois Lane: Through no virtue of my own, I seem to have acquired an ongoing, daily relationship with a mysterious Friend much greater than myself.

A Friend who feeds me wonderfully accurate information to write about. A Friend who cares only for my happiness. (A Friend who also shows up to save the day, every time my foolish, impetuous ego mind gets me into a jam.)

Like Lois, my only “talent,” if indeed I have one, is that I’m a plucky, intrepid sleuth. Whenever my Friend gives me a hot tip to follow, I’ll track it all the way down to its source—and then I’ll share what I’ve learned with interested readers everywhere.

What can I say, the whole analogy makes me laugh: Carrie Triffet, Girl Reporter.

•            •            •

But Lois Lane makes for a useful analogy in another, more universal way.

Because really, we’re all a bit like Lois: Every single one of us has the same great Friend with us at all times. This Friend loves us all equally, and shows each of us infinite compassion and patience. It wants only our happiness, and wishes us to know its Friendship as it truly is.

But, like Lois, we never seem able to recognize the true identity of this most dear Friend.

Why? Because it’s wearing those ridiculous glasses.

Now, let’s be honest. We all willingly choose to be fooled by this laughably thin disguise. We could easily see through it if we really wanted to. But we don’t really want to. We love the fantasy that our super Friend is something entirely separate from poor old Clark Kent, and we don’t want to see they’re One and the same.

The truth is this: Every single one of us is that wonderful Friend. Just as every single one of us is also mild-mannered Clark Kent. And evil genius Lex Luthor, for that matter. Whatever flimsy disguises we may seem to be wearing on the surface, the truth is each one of us is infinitely loved and loving. Each is equally innocent of crime. We just don’t look like it at first glance.

See, our eyesight isn’t so good.

But if you squint very hard and ask for help from that wondrous Friend, you’ll begin to notice all those Clarks and Lexes and Loises are actually united in the same holy perfection. Which, not coincidentally, is all part of your holy perfection, and mine.

Working to see the holy perfection in the people around us strengthens our true vision. Maybe soon that’ll help us ditch those eyeglasses once and for all.

And then—who knows? We might develop some x-ray vision of our own, and finally see past all surface appearances to behold the shining, eternal truth of Oneness that lies beyond.

I pledge allegiance to…what, exactly?

Awhile back I wrote about pledging allegiance to Love. About making the choice to side with spiritual truth (even though spiritual truth still mostly feels like abstract theory). And against this 3-D world of illusion (even though the workings of the 3-D world still seem so real).

Well. I suppose the decision to choose is a start. But it isn’t much more than that.

Oh, it felt big at the time. But the decision itself only opened a door. And that doorway gave me my first clear view of the road ahead: It’s a hell of a vista.

•         •         •

Mind you, it’s been a long journey of discovery just getting this far. I would use this analogy to describe it:

It’s like it took me 20 years to realize I had feet and hands. Another year or so figuring out how they worked. Then I was given a pair of one-pound weights, so I spent a few years more teaching myself how to exercise with them.

Much self-congratulation accompanied all this progress. Who was more serious than I, about waking up to the truth of all reality? Who was moving more purposefully down their chosen path toward the constant awareness of Love’s presence?

I exercised faithfully, except when I was too busy. Or too tired. Or too distracted. Or not in the mood. When I wasn’t training, I spent my time watching daytime soaps and eating deep-fried Twinkies. And yet I genuinely wondered why the Olympic Committee never came calling…

All this newfound fitness has allowed me to climb steadily and ever higher, pausing every few steps to admire the valley below and to celebrate having made it this far. Now I’ve finally reached the top of the hill … and it turns out this is just the bunny slope.

I look up for the first time, and notice the commitment to truth that is yet to be honored. You remember…the commitment I made to choose Love instead of the world’s dark fantasies. Yep, it’s still there waiting patiently for me.

It turns out this commitment is a friggin’ mountain, and it goes straight up. My puny muscles are laughably unfit for the task.

•         •         •

It’s an uncomfortable place to be, this small spot at the top of the bunny slope. The truth is, I hate aerobic exercise, and I’m still damned fond of those Twinkies. Learning to mountain climb doesn’t sound like much fun to a flabby couch potato like me.

And yet.

Heading back down the hill – giving up the quest for awakening, and going back to treating the 3-D world as if it’s real – that would be unthinkable. Not an option.

I’m awake enough to smell what the 3-D world is made of, and it stinks.

No, I could never go back. But on the other hand, I can’t stand still in this spot on this hill forever. Hell, I don’t even want to stand here one more day.

So I guess that leaves me only one choice, and I’d better start seriously gathering my strength.

Because that mountain isn’t going to climb itself.

Connecting the dots: Making up stories to give the world meaning

Here’s a simple way to describe nonjudgment: You have one dot over here and another dot over there. So, through nonjudging eyes, what do you see? Two unrelated dots, nothing more.

But that’s not how we humans view things. Judgment is the automatic function of our ego minds. We see a dot over here and another one over there, and we automatically connect them. Most of the time we don’t even realize we’re doing it. We tell ourselves a story that seems to fill up the space between those dots, and that story becomes our truth.

But really, it’s a story and nothing more.

Let’s look at a hypothetical example of how this works: I see a dog on a street corner. He has no collar. He looks dirty. I automatically say to myself, There is a stray dog.

It’s a conclusion I’ve reached entirely on my own. And because I historically have an affinity for animals and underdogs, I go on to embellish the story further:

He must be hungry and tired, poor thing.

I wonder if he’s been abandoned on that street corner. I’ll bet he’s waiting for an owner who’s never coming back.

People are so cruel.

So I’ve taken the 3 dots of ‘dog on a street corner’ and ‘no collar’ and ‘looks dirty,’ and I’ve used it as an excuse to weave a present story that reinforces my own past forms of condemnation onto the world.

I do not forgive you for cruelty to animals.

And then the dog’s human emerges from the garage of that house on the corner with a tub and a garden hose – and I see that suddenly the story has changed completely.

It’s still nothing but a story, mind you, as the dog turns and trots after the person, and they both watch the tub fill with soap and water. Now my story involves a squeaky clean puppy whose collar will be returned as soon as he’s dry.

I’m flooded with relief. But I also feel sheepish and ashamed for my earlier wrong conclusion. I attacked that dog’s owner for no reason. Clearly, this dog is loved. He’s cared for. I made a bad mistake.

I’m still connecting dots, but this time I’m doing it to condemn myself for my own misguided prejudices.

Connecting dots may seem like a harmless pastime, but it isn’t. We connect dots constantly, and it’s those stories we fabricate that make up the world as we know it. But the world isn’t as we know it. Not by a long shot. Yet we can’t begin to know the world’s true nature until we stop telling ourselves made-up lies about it.

Our compulsive need to connect dots – to judge random unrelated things and make up stories of good/bad, and right/wrong about them – this is what blocks our memory of Heaven.

As long as we go on making judgments, telling ourselves fantasy stories about each other to give our world meaning, we miss this eternal truth: The world in and of itself has no meaning.

It’s just a whole lot of disconnected dots, signifying nothing.

But if we patiently work, retraining our minds to leave those dots disconnected – to refrain from filling the in-between spaces with our fantasy judgments – that’s when the light of Heaven (which is always loving and entirely without judgment of any kind) has room to filter into our awareness.

To practice nonjudgment is to see the dots, but to resist the temptation to assign them a meaning they really don’t possess.

Nonjudgment is hard for ego minds to get used to. It’s uncomfortable for us to leave the dots unconnected – we’re hardwired for storytelling.

I guess it all just boils down to this: Do you want to know the world as it really is, and see Heaven’s light reflected everywhere you look?  My own answer to that question is hell yeah.

And I definitely want it more than I want to hang onto my stories about the world. So for me, it’s time to start doing my best to leave the dots alone.

End of story.

Doing it wrong

A reader sent me a question today on a subject I know oh so well: The fear of doing it wrong.

“It” being spiritual practice, of course.

Back when I first started meditating, I could never get over the idea that I was doing it wrong—and that thought filled me with anxiety. And since I was pretty sure heightened anxiety was not what I was supposed to be feeling during meditation…well that just proved the point. I must have been doing it wrong. Right?

Well no. Not really. It just took time and some very determined practice to get past the stage where my ego mind could keep blocking out all peace by shouting its messages of failure.

The aforementioned reader talks about trying a form of meditation and visualization mentioned by Gary Renard in The Disappearance of the Universe. It involves picturing a circle of light, and then allowing that light to expand freely. It’s a beautiful meditation that’s all about Oneness with Heaven.

Except she don’t see no light. And she’s therefore sure she’s doing it wrong.

Not.

See, this is the main thing to keep in mind: Every human being is 100% equipped to join with Heaven in perfect peace and Love, exactly as we are right now. No ‘extra’ abilities are needed. And it doesn’t even matter whether we want to be equipped for it or not. Perfect divine Love is what we are, and we really have no say in it.

Oh sure, it’s fun to be ‘spiritually talented.’ To see visions and hear voices and dance in waves of celestial woo-woo. But it isn’t necessary. And it’s no reliable yardstick of spiritual advancement, either. It’s just a talent, like juggling or whistling is a talent. And just like juggling or whistling, the ungifted can practice assiduously until they’re pretty skilled at it too, just like the ones who came by those gifts naturally.

So, Dearest Reader, this is my message to you:

So you don’t see lights when they tell you you’re supposed to. No biggie. Concentrate instead on the important part: Do your best to feel the Love and the gentle expansion of freedom that is the true point of that meditation. If you can get focused enough to ignore your ego mind’s critique of your meditation skills, I’m willing to bet you’ll begin to feel that endless Love.

And if you don’t? Ask for Help, and then keep trying it until you do. You’ll get there, guaranteed.

Because no spiritual master who ever walked the Earth has anything on you. You’re the complete package, the real deal. You just don’t remember it yet.

(endless) Love,

Carrie

Past-life murder and present day forgiveness: The ultimate do-over

I remember bits and pieces of some of my more colorful past lives. I never get the full story, though – just quick, disconnected flashes lacking any kind of meaningful context.

I know I was once the leader of a secret religious order called Lamb of God. But I only see images of torchlight flickering on roughhewn walls; of long white tunics and heavy crosses worn around the neck. It would be nice to know a little more, but that’s all I have.

And then there’s a shamanic episode a couple of centuries later that took place on Navajo land: I see images of a black horse galloping at me, its rider silhouetted against the sun; I’m raising my arms, and wearing a long cape that seems to be made of shiny black feathers.

In general, I’m not all that fascinated by the idea of past lives, so I haven’t gone out of my way to find out more. I don’t know, maybe that’s because I tend to remember less about past lives and more about past deaths.

I’ve been burned at the stake. Shot in the back. But before I talk about past death, I want to go back a minute and tell you more about that shamanic memory. It took place at Spider Rock in Canyon de Chelly, during an amazing 5 day InnerVision journey I did with Fran in 2008. (if you don’t know who Fran is, see any of the blog entries listed under ‘Sedona’s spiritual connection.’)

We toured a great big loop through Arizona and Utah. It was amazing – someday maybe I’ll write the whole story as an epic 5-parter. We hit lots of well known sacred spots on that trip: Valley of the Gods, Monument Valley etc., as well as some lesser known areas like Mexican Hat.

Fran had long been telling me about Mexican Hat. She was afraid of that place; she knew she had a deep connection to that very troubled land, and that she was supposed to do something powerful there but had never felt ready. She told me the land had been raped – mined for uranium which was then processed at nearby mills, leaving the area with permanently polluted groundwater.

InnerVision journeys are never planned ahead of time. Fran just goes wherever Spirit leads. As we approached Mexican Hat, her description of its painful history grew more heated and angry. I was expecting to see a ravaged landscape, but as we got out of the car the place struck me as astonishingly beautiful, a study in red rocks and green (don’t drink it) water.

Suddenly she stopped in mid-rant. She was remembering she’d been ‘told’ long ago that she would one day bring someone there who would heal the land. And she just now realized that someone was me.

Time stopped and I watched myself out-of-body as I said to her: “To heal the land, we need to love the rapists.”

I wasn’t entirely sure at the time what I meant by that. But the other night I realized that this episode actually connects to another one, a past-death memory. Here’s that past-death story as it’s told in my book:

…The next thing I knew, I was in three places at once. Part of me was reliving my own murder from a previous lifetime, a brutal rape and strangulation. Yet it wasn’t nearly as scary or disturbing as you’d expect, because a second part of me was peacefully watching it unfold from a detached bird’s-eye viewpoint and the third part of me knew I was safely lying in my own bed the whole time.

I’m being shown this for a reason.’ This was the thought that filled my mind, and I knew it was the truth.I’m supposed to forgive this guy.’

Yet it didn’t seem to require forgiveness in the usual sense of the word. I didn’t get that I was supposed to be saying, “Oh, there, there, it’s ok that you’re murdering me.”

It seemed I was being asked to remain open-hearted and peacefully present while he did this awful thing. So I did. And as I made the choice to do it, I dimly sensed that this decision to stay loving in the face of hatred was having a big effect, shuffling the deck on my own past or future timeline, although I couldn’t begin to say how.

This past-death experience occurred shortly before I was introduced to A Course in Miracles. Now I recognize that it was asking me to practice forgiveness as defined by the Course: To completely overlook the imagined transgressions of this world – no matter how evil or terrifying they might seem – and to respond only with love.

And what’s the payoff, you ask, for responding with love instead of attack or defense? The payoff is huge. Probably more awesome than you or I can comprehend, in fact.

When I made the choice to offer only love and peace to that rapist-murderer (instead of responding with terror and rage as I had done the first time around), I felt a massive shift that I described at the time as ‘shuffling the deck.’ But it really felt as if time itself was collapsing, shortening my journey immeasurably. I had the strong impression, in fact, that it was rewriting my past or future to leave out certain painful portions because those lessons were learned now.

A Heavenly do-over, if you will. Pretty powerful stuff.

So, back to Mexican Hat. Could that ravaged land really be healed through the simple action of choosing to love its ‘rapists’? I’m thinking yes. If time and destiny fall like dominoes when love is chosen over fear, surely the Earth can be healed by that same gently loving choice.

After all, that’s another of the Course’s basic tenets: We’re all One with everything that is. Which presumably includes every rock and stream. Heal ourselves as we heal the rapists, and in that simple choice the land is automatically healed too. So can you imagine just how powerful love really is?

I don’t know; something to think about.

The Meaning of Christmas – random thoughts from a Jewish Buddhist Voice-Hearer

Let me state this right up front: My relationship with Christ has always been complicated.

Messed up, really.

I was born into an Orthodox Jewish family that was still very busy mourning the effects of World War II when I arrived on the scene in 1958. Christ was a complete stranger in our household, Christianity seen as nothing but a dark catalyst for terrifying world events.

My resulting relationship with Jesus is summed up in this story (from the book) called He Who Must Not Be Named:

…On the one hand He looked like a nice enough guy—His blond, blue-eyed portrait smiling down on my sleepovers at the neighbor kids’ house. And of course it was widely known that if you believed in Him, Santa brought you all kinds of magical swag on Christmas.

Yet He was also the reason I wasn’t allowed into some of the other kids’ houses. I was a dirty Jew, or so their mothers informed me, and Jesus wouldn’t like it if I spread those cooties around.

Meanwhile, school brought a whole different kind of challenge. I learned nothing at all about Christ or Christianity at home or in my Hebrew school studies, except that He was somehow associated with unspeakable evil, and so the name of Jesus was never to be uttered aloud.

“Why? What happens if you say it?” I figured it must be bad because nobody would ever tell me. Maybe saying Jesus’ name was what killed those six million Jews?

This was back in the day when public school kids were routinely made to sing religious songs, so for these occasions I was forced to adopt a weird sort of ventriloquist’s dummy approach:

Wag-wag(soundlessly my jaw moved up and down)

Loves me, yes I know

For the Bible tells me so.

…………………….Yeah.

Does it seem insane to you that anyone would teach a child to equate Jesus with Voldemort?

Well, you’re probably right about that. But cultural context is everything.

The Jews who taught these lessons were not the slightest bit nefarious in their intentions. Just scared. Traumatized. And deeply worried that their bacon cheeseburger-loving American offspring were in danger of forgetting recent cataclysmic history.

Now fast-forward several decades to our post 9-11 world, and that 2007 story about the Muslim Mickey Mouse with his own TV show. And we think: How could anyone be so evil? And are they insane, using Mickey to teach children to hate and murder?

Well, yeah. They’ve already proven they’re at least a little insane, if only by ignoring the global reach of Disney’s fearsome legal team.

But the very embodiment of evil? I’m gonna go out on a limb here to say: I don’t think so. I think maybe they’re just wounded citizens of a deeply damaged world, trying to pass their belief system on to their kids.

So. Back to the meaning of Christmas. (Or maybe it’s the meaning of Christ that I’m really after.) It’s taken me a half-century to undo all that well-intentioned cultural conditioning from my early years. But I don’t regret any of it, because that outsider status has allowed me to approach the subject with fresh eyesight.

For what it’s worth, here’s what I think:

There’s no such thing as pure evil. There are only degrees of damage and desperately misguided ways of coping with it.

And let’s face it, we’re all at least a little damaged and a little misguided.

So my personal practice – all year long, but especially now during the Christmas season – is to overlook the damage and the mistakes as best I can, and try to see only the Oneness and perfection that lie deep within each person. I’ve been told (and see no reason to disbelieve) that everybody who’s ever lived is equally perfect and worthy of unconditional love. So, what the hey, I’m giving it my best shot.

Do I slip and forget? Constantly. That’s why they call it a practice. But on the days when I manage it, I’m enveloped in peace and joy and a sense of…holiness, really, that feels like warm cocoa wrapped in a cashmere blanket. Or something like that. To be honest there are no words to describe the feeling, except to say it’s real good.

So I think that’s the meaning of Christmas. Joy. Oneness. Letting the world off the hook for its collective “sins.” From that guy in the SUV who steals my parking spot at the mall (dammit, he SAW me waiting), to the Muslim Mickey who teaches hatred to yet another generation of children.

I’m hoping to let a whole lot more people off the hook as the season progresses.

Because practice makes perfect, you know?