The Seeker of Peace

Life’s Little Challenges
May 18, 2009, 8:37 am
Filed under: World | Tags: , , ,

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I was considering become a math teacher. I mentioned then how I hoped I could tell if that urge was guidance by whether it was easy.

I received the word back from the university’s transcript evaluator. It turns out that, despite the program director’s initial optimism, I don’t have enough college-level math classes to qualify for the program. (Ironically, I could easily qualify to teach physics. It’s too bad that doesn’t hold very much interest for me.)

If I want to enroll for next year, I’ll need to go to a community college and retake a host of basic subjects I learned back in high school: algebra, geometry, etc. It doesn’t matter that I took many classes that had those as distant prerequisites; for this purpose, having classes about Fourier series and Legendre polynomials is no substitute for good old fashioned basic algebra!

Going back to school to take four or five basic math classes sounds anything but easy. While passing the class would be easy, since I’ve already learned all of the material, dealing with the excruciating boredom would be hard. I imagine that I could mitigate that by taking online courses and thus not having to sit through classes, but that’s still hardly an example of the universe clearing my path.

It’s situations like these where I struggle with the mindset promoted by the Sedona Method and A Course in Miracles. Both of those suggest that, when you approach the correct goals properly, things should be effortless. If I use that criterion, either teaching is the wrong goal or I’m approaching it incorrectly.

This viewpoint contrasts with decades of training for me. I’ve learned since an early age that obstacles are things to overcome, and that much of life’s satisfaction comes from overcoming barriers. Any number of self-help books and inspirational teachers say the same thing. However, fighting against the tide seems a perfect example of what the Sedona Method refers to as “wanting control.”

I still haven’t decided what to do. Since I have a few months before I would have to register for any of these math classes, I can take some time to think about it. However, given how fundamental the decision is, I’m not sure whether a lot of thought will actually help.


Taking Responsibility
February 6, 2009, 2:17 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , , ,

Lester Levenson said that we were always “demonstrating” (his word for manifesting), and needed to take responsibility for what we were demonstrating.

One of the big shadows in my life has been Crohn’s Disease. It’s not only debilitating, but very painful (to the extent that drugs like Vicodin hardly touch it). I wrote after last Thanksgiving about how I almost deliberately ate poorly to make myself sick. The following week, I realized that, at some level, I wanted to be sick!

That realization brought home how much I used illness as an excuse to dodge responsibility. I faced things head-on, most notably by making the decision to wind down my business. (Being sick was a great excuse not to work.) I tried to remove any motivation for remaining sick. At the same time, I used Sedona Method releasing exercises to release on the goal of being healthy.

This week, I had a wonderful positive development with my health. I stumbled across a reference to a drug that was very safe, and had very few side effects. (Most treatments for Crohn’s have the potential to be as bad as the illness itself.) This drug isn’t even intended for Crohn’s; it’s actually to help people stop smoking. Since there are some reports of it helping others with Crohn’s, my doctor was willing to try it.

It’s only been a few days, but it’s been days with barely any pain or discomfort. This has made it much easier to meditate, do exercised from A Course In Miracles, and otherwise do spiritual exercises. For that matter, it’s made everything easier; it’s much easier to cook dinner when not doubled over from pain!

My guess is that if I were less stuck in a science-based mindset, I could have had this huge improvement without the medication. However, I’m still at the point where I’d be skeptical of improvement with no physical cause. I think that’s why I needed the pills to effect the change. Still, I have to think that the fact I found the pills is due to my preparing myself not to be so sick anymore.

This is my strongest personal experience so far showing that Lester was correct. I really do need to take responsibility for everything in my life, and not use the bad things as an excuse.

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.

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.

Unbalanced Beliefs
November 11, 2008, 12:23 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering, World | Tags: , ,

I wrote yesterday about the great progress I had made on my health goal: I no longer held the destructive belief that my life would be better if I were healthy.

Later in the day, I found myself breaking down crying while talking to my wife about my job. The problem is that much of what I’ve done around my job was not because it gave me pleasure in the moment. Rather, it was investing for the mythical great career I would have when my illness went into remission.

Put another way, I have a set of beliefs about my career. These beliefs were dependent on, or at least intertwined with, my belief about my health. When I got past my health belief, it was like sawing a leg off a table: it destabilized everything.

I’m trying to see this as a gift: I can’t think of any clearer sign I could possibly receive of what I need to work on next. Also, it helps explain why I’ve made so little progress on releasing job issues to date; I couldn’t see the issues clearly through the judgment of my health-related beliefs.

I probably have a lot more beliefs to unravel. For now, it seems best to focus on the one that’s staring me in the face. My job has been a problem (emotionally speaking) for a long time. It’s time to finally pay attention to how I’ve been judging it.

Goal Progress
November 10, 2008, 10:37 am
Filed under: Non-duality, Suffering, World | Tags: , , , , , ,

I wrote a few days ago about my health goal, and the belief behind it. I believed that my life would be better if I were healthy.

I’m very happy to say that I no longer believe that’s true. Combining Byron Katie’s The Work and the Sedona Method has let me free myself of the grip of that belief. As I realized weeks ago, no belief is helpful, and this one was no different.

I see now how destructive my belief was. In many ways, I’ve been deferring living my life, because supposedly things would be easier once I was healthy. I’ve been judging my life overly harshly, minimizing many good things; after all, things can’t be that great if I’m sick, right? I’ve even hesitated from taking some actions that could make me feel better, because I didn’t want to “get into the habit” of being sick.

If a magic genie offered to heal me, I’d still take the offer. However, I’m not emotionally vested in it anymore. I can’t know for sure that life would be better that way. What I do know for sure is that my life is better now that I’ve accepted reality.

I almost broke into tears as I realized how much freer I am now. I’ve spent 15 years fighting my illness – what a waste of energy! (My ego almost tricked me into beating myself up about it, rather than celebrating the progress.)

This is the first time I’ve felt “hootless” about a goal. I can finally understand how someone can just put a seemingly important goal aside. It’s because the goal really doesn’t matter. Our inner peace is available whether a goal manifests or not.

I’ve come full circle now to the post I wrote several weeks ago, seeing a dilemma in goals. Having goals is counterproductive to inner peace. I understand now why Lester Levenson said it was so important to work on goals. It wasn’t so that we could get our goals to satisfy our egos. Rather, it was because getting hootless on the goal dissolves the belief that we need it to be happy.

It’s too bad that the Sedona Method goal process didn’t work for me. I’m just thrilled that I found an approach that does work. Maybe my health will actually manifest now – it’s still amazing to me that I don’t care whether it does or not.

The Beliefs Behind Goals
November 7, 2008, 4:22 pm
Filed under: Non-duality, World | Tags: , , , , ,

I wrote yesterday about how each goal represented a belief that achieving something would make life better. While I had previously thought it best to stop working with goals, I thought I should reconsider. I still felt dissatisfied at the conclusion, since the Sedona Method goals process has made only limited progress for me.

Today, I had an epiphany: what’s important is the belief, not the goal. The goal is a manifestation of a judgment, not the basis for the judgment. My health goal is “I allow myself to have optimal health and abundant energy.” I haven’t been able to become “hootless” (Sedona terminology for emotionally free) about that. But that’s because I have an underlying belief that says, “My life would be better if I were healthy.”

One of the questions of Byron Katie’s The Work is “How do you react when you believe that thought?” I spent a little time, probably just an hour, answering that question about my health belief. All sorts of thoughts came up. I dealt with each one Sedona Method-style by tying it to an underlying want and releasing it.

What a dramatic effect! I’m still not hootless, but that hour spent on the belief has done more for me than the past twenty hours spent on the goal. I think that, for me, working on the goal is simply too prone to my ego playing tricks: my ego keeps reinforcing that, yes, I want the goal. Working on the underlying belief is much clearer: there’s no way for my ego to pretend that I’m not making a destructive judgment.

Ironically, the thoughts that arise when working on the belief are mostly the same ones that arise when doing the goals process, just worded slightly differently. I know the goals process works well for many people, so it must just be a particular twist of my ego that I have so much trouble with it.

I guess that’s the reason that there’s such a proliferation of non-dualistic approaches: everyone’s ego has its own unique strengths at twisting truth. Sometimes we need just the right approach to get around our ego’s defenses.