The Seeker of Peace

Giving and Receiving
December 25, 2008, 7:02 am
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , ,

For the past few days, I’ve been feeling tense and troubled. There hasn’t been any external reason for this. I don’t have any compelling stories of woe to tell. Being happy and peaceful is simply a choice. For some reason, my ego has been choosing to go the other way. Perhaps I’m punishing myself for winding down my business.

During this period, I’ve found releasing using the Sedona Method to be very difficult. It’s been similarly hard to do the workbook exercises from A Course in Miracles. The exercises I’m on now ask me to spend the first five minutes of every hour on them. I’ve had so much mental noise that it’s been hard to concentrate on them for that long.

Fortunately, I seem to be returning to normal. The ACIM lesson I’m doing today, Lesson 108, has been helping. It says, “To give and to receive are one in truth.” In my current mood, it’s much easier to allow myself to give peace and joy to others. Offering them to others causes me to feel them myself.

I’ve often heard the aphorisms that “You can’t love others unless you love yourself,” and “You can’t give away what you don’t have.” However, my recent experience would seem to indicate the opposite: I can’t love myself without loving others, and I can’t have what I don’t give away.

In a way, this is a reassuring thing to learn. When my ego is in the worst throes of self-loathing, it can be much easier for me to offer peace to others. Lester Levenson found freedom by changing all of his feelings to love. From his description, it sounds as if he started with loving others, and then loving himself came naturally. After my recent experience, I can understand much better how that could work.


Happiness as an Obligation
December 17, 2008, 10:02 am
Filed under: Forgiveness, God, Suffering | Tags: , , , , , ,

Over the past few days, I’ve come to an important realization: we have an obligation to be happy.

I credit this insight mostly to A Course In Miracles. I recently did Lesson 100, which states, “My part is essential to God’s plan for salvation.” The lesson goes on to explain that my part is to be happy. I can then spread joy to everyone else. Seen this way, wallowing in misery is a downright selfish choice.

It’s been hard for me to be happy. Between my chronic Crohn’s Disease, the stresses of my job, and the continual drumbeat of terrible national and world news (which I must follow thanks to my job), it’s been much easier to be sad and depressed.

One of my recurring self-destructive ego thoughts has been that I don’t deserve to be happy. A Course In Miracles addresses this very directly. Sin is not real, and anything undeserving I think I’ve done is merely illusion. In fact, the workbook covers this in the context of happiness in Lesson 101. However, knowing that intellectually hasn’t made it much easier.

However, seeing happiness as an obligation changes the equation. Regardless of whether I deserve to be happy, I owe it to everyone else to be happy! It’s not selfish to be happy, it’s the ultimate charitable act.

Much of the earlier Course material made sense on an intellectual level, but I had trouble applying it on an emotional level. I understood that feeling guilt was pointless, but my ego kept piling it on. Now, I have a very rational counter to the ego: even if there were some value in the guilt hurting me, it’s wrong to let my guilt hurt the world.

Yesterday and today, I’ve been using the Sedona Method to work on the goal statement, “I allow myself to be happy.” I’ve tried to do that before, but my ego got in my way. Now, I’m rapidly feeling happier than I have in a long time.

I finally understand that we can simply choose to let ourselves be happy. I had heard this before and not believed it. Now, I see that I simply never allowed myself to make the choice!

Getting What I Want
December 11, 2008, 9:28 am
Filed under: Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that we always demonstrating (i.e. manifesting reality). To grow, we must take full responsibility for what we demonstrate. This week, I got a clear example of that.

On Tuesday, I went to an infusion center for some iron to treat my anemia. Normally, I’m in and out within about 90 minutes. This time, for a variety of reasons, I was there for several hours. That gave me a lot of time to think.

Since this was primarily a cancer center, most of the other patients were there for chemotherapy. Many of them were visibly much sicker than I. As I spent time sitting among them, I found myself feeling jealous. Unbidden, I kept having the thought “They’re lucky – they have an excuse not to work.”

As I explored this more, I found myself wanting to get sicker so that I’d have a good excuse to leave my job. At some level, I’m sure I’ve been harboring this desire for some time. And, of late, I’ve been getting what I want. My health has been deteriorating consistently. It’s already very difficult to do my job.

The good news is that this thought instantly became absurd once brought to light. I don’t have to get any sicker to leave my job. That very night, I sent a note to all of my clients informing them that I was wrapping up my business and would help them transition their accounts within the next few months.

As I wrote a month ago, I thought I had reached “hootlessness” about my health goal. But it only took me a day after that to realize how much my health goal and my job situation were closely linked. My experience in the infusion center made it clear that I’d slipped far from hootlessness: I wanted to be ill, and severely so, to let me leave my job while still seeking approval.

So, I understand much better now what Lester meant by responsibility. How could I expect to become healthy, when I really wanted to be sick?

I guess it’s time to go back to doing the Sedona Method‘s advantages and disadvantages technique, to see if there are any other reasons I want to be sick. And maybe, if I let go of wanting approval, control, and security, I can allow myself to have what I want without being sick. It certainly worked for leaving my job.

Asking Too Little
December 8, 2008, 10:25 am
Filed under: God, Non-duality, World | Tags: , , , , , , ,

I wrote recently about my attempts to use free writing to get answers from God, first on my job, then on accelerating my spiritual progress. In both cases, the answers were clear, but did not give me specific guidance on what to do in the world. That is, the answers essentially told me to focus on Truth, rather than giving guidance about what to do in the illusory world.

I mentioned last month my desire to have the divine guidance cited by some followers of A Course In Miracles. Helen Schucman and Bill Thetford would even ask for guidance on where to hail a cab or what to order for dinner.

I recently read Kenneth Wapnick’s book Absence from Felicity: The Story of Helen Schucman and Her Scribing of A Course In Miracles. He makes the point that since God deals in reality, not illusion, any guidance we get is necessarily filtered through our separate mind (ego). While the content of the message is always the same, our ego must apply the form that allows it to apply to illusion.

Wapnick even goes so far as to say that students should be “suspicious of any specific guidance they receive.” Apparently, Schucman had a whole collection of scribed predictions, ostensibly from Jesus, of (mostly positive) events that would occur. None of them happened as predicted, clearly demonstrating that she played a active, if unknowing role, in creating them.

This also helps me better understand a conversation I had with a friend a couple of weeks ago. We were discussing spirituality, and I mentioned my desire for divine guidance. He cautioned me, telling me that he knew several people who regularly received guidance, and “their lives are a mess.” I wondered why that would be, unless they were mistaking their own ego’s thoughts for divine guidance. Now it makes sense: the ego’s thoughts have to be involved in any guidance regarding the world, or else the guidance wouldn’t be comprehensible. And that ego involvement can distort the form of the message.

Perhaps I should be glad that my ego hasn’t intruded enough on the purity of my answers to give worldly guidance. Not only might it not be good advice, but after reading Wapnick’s book I would likely be doubting it anyway.

I think the key point here is that I’ve been looking for guidance on petty things. I’ve been wanting guidance on how to deal with a multitude of illusions, whereas there’s only one real answer: embrace reality. While I still need to make decisions regarding these illusions, maybe it just doesn’t matter whether I get divine guidance. Certainly, the more I embrace love and peace, the better I can cope with whatever the world dishes up.

So, I’m going to take my answers so far as a loving reminder that I’ve been asking for too little. I should be asking for the ultimate prize, the only one that really matters, to see the light of reality.

Trying Too Hard
December 5, 2008, 1:29 pm
Filed under: God, Non-duality, spirituality | Tags: , , , , ,

It’s been two weeks since I tried free writing to get a message from God about my job. Since that attempt was so intriguing, you might think I’d have tried again before today. However, I’ve felt tremendous resistance to doing more free writing. I guess my ego doesn’t like my having a competing source of instructions.

I finally tried again today. I wrote the question “What could I do to best accelerate my spiritual progress?” at the top of the page, and cleared my mind. Here’s what came out:

You need do nothing. Your desire for action is the root of your problems. You want action so that you can feel that you are taking control of the situation. Yet the “situation” is itself illusory, and thus any action is counterproductive.

Remember that your ego wants to seek but not find. Your actions reflect this. Allow yourself peace, and I will take care of action for you. Do not let your ego tempt you into activity. Look around you, and see how much of your life stems from darkness, not light.

Relax and embrace the light. Once you stop your ego’s fruitless quest, you will see the light is already there.

That certainly doesn’t sound like something my ego would say. On the contrary, it sounds as if I’m still too prone to falling for ego tricks.

I can’t help but wonder: who is the “I” in this message? My inner self? God? Jesus? (I’ve never believed in the Biblical Jesus, but perhaps reading A Course In Miracles has let me to a Jesus archetype.) This is probably exactly the type of question where I should use the Sedona Method to let go of wanting to figure it out.

Regardless, the message reinforces what I realized several weeks ago when I was feeling stuck: It’s far too easy for me to want to do something to make progress. This message makes clear that I should relax, and try easier.

Making Myself Sick
December 3, 2008, 9:35 am
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering | Tags: , ,

Every year, we spend Thanksgiving with my in-laws. It’s always a difficult time for me because of my Crohn’s disease. Most holiday foods are just not good for me, and holiday activities are more physically demanding. The result is usually that I wind up quite ill.

I realized this year that much of this is simply a defense mechanism devised by my ego. Being ill provides a modicum of control, something in short supply when in a large group. It’s ultimately destructive and counterproductive, but then so are all of the ego’s efforts.

There’s no reason I have to eat the foods that make me sick. Yet I do it year after year. Why? My ego wants me to be sick. Beyond the control, it gets me sympathy, and makes me feel special.

I wish I had thought this through better before Thanksgiving. At least, I can now see another strong attachment I have towards my illness. Deliberately making it worse can further my ego’s goals.

There’s a lot of talk in the self-help literature about self-defeating behaviors. I think that should really be Self-defeating behaviors. These behaviors actually help the ego, while hurting the non-dualistic Self.

I would like to think I’d moved past this kind of destructive behavior. However, I guess the unusual stresses and situations of the holidays provide new opportunities for the ego to reassert itself. It’s an important reminder to me to keep paying attention to my motivations.