God’s Love and the art of pest control

AntsAs a student of the practice of Oneness, I can tell you some pretty gorgeous-awesome-powerful things happen during my meditations on that subject. Beautiful radiant visions of perfect peace and divine Love; the feeling of being connected to everything that Is. No complaints, it’s wonderful.

But remembering to actually believe in these things during normal business hours is the real trick, isn’t it. And I’m not always so good at that. But I’m happy to say I was very good at it once recently.

Last week I had the house to myself; my husband was in Japan for his annual Buddhist pilgrimage.

For several weeks prior to his trip we’d been noticing an unusual buildup in the ant population surrounding our house. Columns and battalions, wave after wave of ant reinforcements marching in busy streams all around our property. Kurt commented on more than one occasion that the first rainfall would surely bring a huge infestation into our kitchen.

And it did exactly that, the day after he left for Japan. Ants on the countertops, ants climbing the walls, cavorting in the cupboards, exploring the trashcan, carrying off Baxter’s bowl of cat food. (well, maybe not that last one. But nearly.)

And at first I went to that place of ‘Us versus Them,’ of trying to kill them all and make sure they didn’t come back. I cleaned the cupboards and countertops, I took out the trash, I drowned as many ants as I could find. And in spite of my efforts, the infestation doubled in size over the next few hours.

Then, miraculously, I caught myself and realized what I was doing. Of my many conversations with Spirit, a significant number of them have dealt with this very subject of ‘Us versus Them.’ That there’s no such thing as ‘Them,’ and no such thing as someone or something outside oneself to be protected from.

So I looked down at the moving streams of ants and thought, “Okay, I’ll find the connection of Oneness that I share with you, and I’ll use it for communication purposes. When I know you can hear me, I’ll tell you to leave my house, and that you should save yourselves by going away peacefully. Because I really don’t want to have to kill all of you.”

(As any student of Oneness knows, that’s a compromise use of Oneness that I was planning to try. In connecting with the eternal Oneness of those ants, I was intending to overlook the 3-D reality of their ant-selves, but not overlook the 3-D reality of my kitchen. A flawed strategy, sure, but I figured it was better than wholesale ant murder, which was my Plan B.)

But as I closed my eyes to begin joining with those ants in Oneness, a remarkable thing happened. I felt them as thousands of individual sparks of divine Love; saw them as thousands of points of holy light. And a tremendous sense of gratitude unexpectedly welled up in me.

Part of me was still thinking: “Ok, you’ve connected with the ants, now tell them to get out of your kitchen.” But I found I didn’t care about my kitchen anymore. The kitchen wasn’t real – the divine Love of those ants was my only reality. So I offered them my love, my reverence and my gratitude for the remainder of that meditation. And I knew that when I opened my eyes and went to check the kitchen, the ants would be gone.

And they were.

Wait – You mean God is real?

Oops.

That piece of news required a major rejiggering of the worldview.

I don’t know about you, but I managed to skate through an Orthodox Jewish childhood and a 20-year practice of Buddhism without ever once imagining that God might really exist.

(In my own partial defense, Nichiren Buddhism doesn’t address the question of God as we know it. Sure, it has a few allegorical gods who show up in the Sutras now and then, but they’re treated more as symbolic functions of the universe than actual deities.)

As I began to learn about non-dualism – the teaching that we’re all one – for the first time in the spring of 2006, I felt the unmistakable resonance of its truth deep within me. But I was knocked flat on my butt by its central concept: God is real and the world isn’t.

Of the 2 halves of that statement, you’d think the assertion that the world isn’t real would have been the more shocking – and in some ways it was plenty shocking. But it was the God part that completely blew my mind. Not only that God is real, but that God is the only thing that’s real. Because God is the only thing. Period.

Maybe this is old news to you, but I sure as hell had never heard anything like it.

This is part of a diary entry (from my book) in which I chewed over these ideas:

April 11, 2006

Leatrice lent me a book almost two months ago, a dog-eared paperback called Realization of Oneness by Joel S. Goldsmith. I didn’t like anything about the look of it. The grimly earnest, band aid-colored cover positively shouted “Eat your alfalfa sprouts!” circa 1973.

She’d said I’d probably find it interesting, but it turned out I just couldn’t get past those visuals. (Yes, I am totally that shallow.) So I slipped it discreetly to the bottom of the homework stack, where it languished for at least six weeks. And then the guilt of keeping the book too long finally got to me. I pulled it out and began to read.

Wow. This ugly little volume turned out to be jam packed with electro-buzz recognition, even as it spoke of completely alien concepts like: God is real and the world isn’t; (Really? Seriously? God is real?) And: We are not separate people who live in separate bodies. In truth we are one Being.

And then there was this one, which seemed the total opposite of everything I’d ever been taught: It doesn’t matter what we do (or do not do) in this world, because none of it is real; only God’s perfect unconditional love is real. And nothing can exist outside of God, because God is everything. So only unconditional love exists…

Freaky, right?

Yet, as it turns out, all true.

I swear, you can’t make this stuff up.

How do I know it’s really you? (How to tell Spirit from ego)

Recently someone on Twitter asked me this: “I sometimes feel that Spirit is speaking to me, but I’m never really sure if it’s Spirit or just my ego mind playing tricks. How can I tell the difference?”

That’s such a good question. Rather than answer it myself, I’ll just quote Spirit, in this passage from the book in which I asked the very same thing:

As wonderful as this new and improved communication channel seemed to be, I wasn’t entirely sure I could trust it.

“These conversations are great,” I said to Spirit, “and it’s always a pleasure to hear from you, but I have to ask: How can I be sure it’s really you talking and not my ego mind? We both know the ego is a master impersonator, and it’s capable of slipping in to hijack any discussion without me realizing it.”

It’s very easy to tell the difference, My dear. Just listen carefully to everything that’s said.

If what you hear is loving, gentle and designed to lead you toward ultimate freedom, you’ll know it’s Me talking.

If you hear the slightest judgment, or a single word that lacks pure unconditional love you’ll know it hasn’t come from Me, for I’m incapable of anything less than total love for you.

Be vigilant in each of our conversations, and soon you’ll be able to trust wholeheartedly in your ability to tell the difference.

Following that advice, I taught myself to pay close attention to the meaning behind every word, and soon found it easy to tell each time a bogus thought or idea was planted within our conversations.

And as I learned to trust in my own ability to recognize the words of Spirit, I also began to relax and trust more deeply in the lessons being offered.