The Seeker of Peace

Provoking the Inner Child
June 25, 2009, 4:11 pm
Filed under: Suffering | Tags: , , , , ,

I have heard many times of the “Inner Child,” the idea that our childlike aspects live on within our psyche. We can think of the Inner Child as an independent entity, one who needs our explicit attention and support to meet his needs.

I’ve done various exercises in the past to connect to my Inner Child. Self-hypnosis, visualizing my inner child, trying to have a dialog with him, and similar techniques all came to nothing. Sure, I could daydream about my Inner Child as well as I could any other topic, but it never affected me more than any other daydream. I concluded that either the Inner Child idea was psychobabble, or that mine was healthy and needed no help.

Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago: I recently joined Facebook, and was reconnecting with several old friends. Out of the blue, in a public discussion, someone I haven’t spoken to in decades says, “Hey, weren’t you the one who…” and proceeded to relate an embarrassing incident from my high school days.

It was an incident that I hadn’t thought of in years. Mental association quickly provided several other emotionally punishing moments I had repressed. Before long, I could actually feel a teenage version of my Inner Child crying inside me, begging for comforting and reassurance. Apparently, I had repressed him along with the memories, and done it so successfully that even deliberate exercises couldn’t break through the walls. It took the emotional sucker punch of a jerk to bring the feelings to the surface.

After giving an internal hug to my Inner Child, I found a wellspring of material to release using the Sedona Method. I realized that these incidents still had the same emotional charge that they did in high school; repressing them and my Inner Child had prevented any progress. With releasing, I could quickly realize how pointless it was to carry around this emotion from long ago. How many people, aside from me and the one person who brought it up, even care about any of this ancient history?

So, in a way, I suppose this old acquaintance did me a favor. Lester Levenson would probably even say that I manifested this now for a reason. I still have a lot of releasing to do on old pains, but I do think that I’ll be better for it.

Cleaning House
June 10, 2009, 7:48 am
Filed under: World | Tags: , , , , ,

Yesterday, we replaced the carpet in much of our house. The preparation for this included emptying half of our rooms. I found this a deeply cathartic experience, in many ways a metaphor for clearing my mind.

It’s stunning to me how much detritus we’ve accumulated after living here only 14 years. Some of it was merely neglected – who can remember everything we stick in a drawer or closet? However, I discovered I was holding onto a ton of junk due to emotional attachments. A combination of Sedona Method-style releasing and physical disposal worked wonders to help resolve these attachments.

There were many books that I was holding onto “just in case.” Most of these were ridiculous. I had books on software engineering that were a decade out of date, just in case I should return to writing software. I had books from a executive training program I took at a large company; they consisted more of corporate propaganda than useful information, but I held on to the just in case I resumed a big-company management track career. The list goes on. As I went through them, I realized that I kept them out of pride in my past work; they were a physical manifestation of how stuck I was in the past.

There was a similar process with the various knickknacks left around. Whether a set of Baoding balls I picked up free at a trade show, or a finger painting project my daughter did 10 years ago, they were all things that had significance at the time. However, that time was long ago. Discarding them was like releasing my emotions: freeing up space to live in the moment.

My wife mentioned how wonderful she found the enforced spring cleaning too. Jews start the Hebrew year with the Ten Days of Repentance ending with Yom Kippur, clearing the guilt from their community. Many Asian cultures start the New Year with a traditional deep house cleaning. I think we miss something not having a set time to do an annual cleaning, whether emotional or physical. Perhaps we would be better at that if the Romans hadn’t changed the start of the year from March to January.

The Consequence of Boredom
April 29, 2009, 10:20 am
Filed under: God, World | Tags: , , , ,

Do enlightened people get bored? Jed McKenna, who claims enlightenment, spends much of his time playing video games. Why would he do that if he weren’t bored?

I certainly don’t claim to be enlightened, yet I certainly share Jed’s sense of boredom. When I closed my business a few months ago, I was so sick that I had very little energy to do much of anything. Now that I’m feeling much better, I feel as if I don’t have enough outlets for my energy.

In this void of activity, I felt a sudden compulsion to become a schoolteacher. Before I started my investment advisory business, I laid down several criteria that were important to me in a job. I had down such things as a flexible schedule, low stress, not having to work in committees, etc. Teaching as a career fails on every count. Yet, it somehow feels right to me.

In what seems an eternity ago, I wrote the fifth post of my blog. In that post I described how I felt an urge to start blogging. I worried whether that urge was valid guidance, or something from my ego, and decided that I could tell the difference by how easy it was.

Now, I have a similar concern. Is my compulsion to teach a form of divine or intuitive guidance? Or, is it my mind casting around for things to do to fill my day? The latter would be a particularly insidious trap. By choosing a career that meets none of my “rational” criteria, my mind could usher me into a situation where I have far too much mental noise for any spiritual practice.

So, I’m going to fall back on my previous insight, and see how easy it is. So far, it appears that it might be almost frighteningly so. I may qualify for a program that would let me take education courses in summer school, and be in a classroom this autumn. When the idea occurred to me last week, I had no idea that I might actually be in front of students four months later.

Now, I’m waiting for the university’s transcript evaluator to decide whether I have enough qualifying college courses in the relevant subject areas to qualify. If the answer comes back yes, then that would be a major indicator that this path could be easy.

Return to Spirituality
March 26, 2009, 12:21 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, spirituality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

In my last blog post, I mentioned that a week away form spiritual pursuits had given me a new vigor. That vigor was short-lived, as evidenced by the fact that it’s been three weeks since then without a post. I again strayed from doing the A Course in Miracles exercises, and mostly stopped doing the Sedona Method.

I’ve spent those weeks in a pattern of distraction and business. How far I had sunk hit home this week. I was reading an issue of Forbes, which had a list of the world’s billionaires. Apparently, the number of billionaires is down dramatically from last year, with most remaining billionaires still having lost huge amounts of money. I found myself feeling a perverse satisfaction that they were now closer to my net worth. How ego-driven can one get?

When I wrote my last post, I thought that the break from spiritual pursuits had helped. Now, I think that was just my ego indulging in self-justification. When I start enjoying the downfall of others, it’s a big warning sign that something is wrong.

This morning I resumed my ACIM exercises. I picked up where I last left off: Lesson #137, “When I am healed I am not healed alone.” Juxtaposed against the Forbes article, I saw a very clear choice: a path of spiritual pursuits and loving others, or a path of materialism and feeling satisfaction and envy.

I am very glad that I had previously made it far enough in my efforts that I was able to recognize the depth of my backsliding. Now, I pray I’ll have the discipline to overcome my ego and continue down the right path.

Vacation from Spirituality
March 4, 2009, 12:25 pm
Filed under: spirituality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

Since the beginning of the year, I’ve struggled on and off with my spiritual work. Sometimes, I’ve felt okay with this. In general, though, it’s been a little frustrating, which I fully acknowledge is an ego response.

When I do Sedona Method-style releasing, the releases just haven’t felt as strong as they used to. The meditations for the A Course In Miracles workbook have been hard to sustain without even more distracting thoughts than usual. It’s as if I’ve developed resistance to the whole effort.

About a week ago, I decided to just indulge my ego. I took a hiatus for a few days from ACIM. I only released when it occurred to me, rather than trying to do it often. I spent a fair amount of time distracting my mind with reading and computer games. I even let myself get emotionally upset about the stock market, although that still produced much less angst than it would have just a couple of months ago.

(I did not, however, lose my recent health improvement. Even when backsliding, one has to draw the line somewhere!)

This break seems to have helped quite a lot. I resumed my ACIM lessons with a new vigor, and they were again easy. I’m still only releasing as it occurs to me, but I can again feel the relief from the thoughts. I feel much less resistant than I did.

Perhaps it’s all an ego trap to think that progress can come from backsliding. In this case, I’m very glad I took a few days back in the thick of the world and catering to my ego. Maybe I just needed a concrete reminder that what I’m giving up isn’t valuable.

Valuation Analysis
February 15, 2009, 11:10 am
Filed under: Forgiveness, Non-duality | Tags: , , , ,

In my training as a financial analyst, a key component is valuation analysis. This is the discipline of figuring what a stock, bond, company, or other asset is worth. As you might imagine, there are many nuances, and different analysts will often come up with wildly divergent answers. The same thing seems true in other areas of garbage, as exemplified by the old saying, “One man’s garbage is another man’s treasure.”

This occurred to me when I was doing A Course In Miracles lesson #133, “I will not value what is valueless.” If people disagree over the value of something, its value can’t be eternal. That’s a good reminder not to become too caught up in the material world.

As the day progressed, I realized that I was valuing some of my memories as much as anything material. I’m not talking about cherished memories here: the awful boss I had in 1996, the high school P.E. class I took, and similar slights. I hadn’t realized before how much such memories pop unbidden into my mind, so I can relive the experience and feel superior, victimized, or angry.

What is the value of a bedwetting memory from when I was five? From the way I clutch at them, you would think it provided some bedrock to my character. It certainly provides grist for the ego, which is arguably a liability rather than an asset. Are these memories compatible with inner peace? If not, they are truly valueless.

This lesson was a big wake-up call. After a year and a half of doing the Sedona Method, I thought I had let go of much of my garbage. Now, I see how much I’m still holding on to garbage. I’m pretty sure that, in this case, my garbage is not another man’s treasure.

Why Do Anything?
January 28, 2009, 1:13 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

For a while now, I’ve struggled with the motivation to do anything. It’s not that my ego doesn’t find worldly distractions to keep me busy. Rather, it’s been hard to see anything as too important. As I wrote three months ago about working in a world of illusion, non-dualistic traditions teach that the world is illusory. So, why put a lot of effort into work, retirement planning, home maintenance, etc.?

There are people who are enlightened (or at least claim to be) and live with very little material wealth, doing very little in the material world. Would that be easier and a less encumbered path? While that didn’t feel right to me, I thought it might be my ego attachment to worldly success.

Fortunately, I had a realization today that gave me new clarity. Yes, the world is illusory and meaningless. However, what I perceive is a reflection of what I do. If I do something that is an expression of joy and love, then my (illusory) world will contain more joy and love.

The enlightened people who seem to tread lightly on the material world are probably doing more than I realize to express their love. Certainly, being apathetic is not an expression of love at all. This speaks strongly towards the importance of doing something that brings more love and joy into my world.

I spend a lot of time doing things that are counterproductive in this sense. Reading the news, which is usually bad news, hardly brings more love and joy. Whereas writing that story that’s been bouncing around in my head, if done with the right attitude, could be an expression of love.

Perhaps this is the explanation of the old Zen saying, “Before enlightenment, chop wood, carry water. After enlightenment, chop wood, carry water.” I had thought that the saying meant that you still have to do your worldly chores after awakening, but now I think it goes deeper. Maybe it means that after awakening, you can do the same tasks as manifestations of your love.

For an unawakened person such as myself, making tasks a manifestation of my love might be a good place to start. As an approach, it’s certainly a way to snap out of apathy.