As we approach Christmas I get a sense that the dial on the world marked 'fear' has somehow got turned up a notch or two this last year or so. This post is my small way of adding a little counterbalance, a message of hope, to all that dour noise out there.
Harry Potter is one boy in a long line of mythical heroes who have reminded the human race that we are so much more than we think we are, so much more powerful than we seem to know. Jesus said that we would someday do even greater works than He; should we not take Him at His word? And should not 'someday' be today?".... Marianne Williamson
The line drawn between which heroes are mythical and which are real can get a little blurry, but debate this and we miss the whole point. Whether it's Yoda teaching Luke, Donald Shimoda's encounter with a disillusioned writer, or a chance conversation with a wise friend, the message from their stories is always the same: It is you we are talking to -- there is nothing special about these powers, they are yours.
But where do you go with this if you have no reference point, no burning-bush experience in your life to guide you? Imagination is useless here, because the thinking mind cannot go beyond itself. Tatiana (in a comment to this post) expresses this question so well:
Many people reach the point of internalising some lessons that are extremely beneficial -- a healthy dissociation from the ego, so that you stop taking traffic jams personally or lose the zeal to fight with your spouse; a few minutes of meditation per day; a habit of reaching out to be fully present in the here and now several times a day. Some deep breaths when you remember, a bit of mindfulness when walking or doing chores.
All of these things are wonderful at anchoring you here and diminishing the incessant thinking, churning, neurosis that is such a part of our daily life. However, reading the same books, listening to the same teachers also points to an experience that started it all -- a flash of understanding, a moment when it all made sense or felt okay to make no sense. For some it was transcendent and full of joy, for others quiet and deep. Some kept the joy forever, others had to find their way back to it. Some reach it in prison or in desperation, others driving a car or sitting on a hill.
But what if you're one of those people that has never had a moment like that?"
The thing about experiences is this: They all change, even the most beautiful and profound ones. So even if it was possible to find an experience that truly satisfied, we'd still be anxious the day that it was gone.
For most of us, experience is God -- we spend our days moving away from those we dislike, and towards those we do. But when we move away from or towards anything, we completely miss what's already here -- we trample on this flower of Beingness that is always present -- we are no longer Self aware. So freedom from anxiety lies in the opposite direction -- turning away from experience as a source of satisfaction, to discover what doesn't change -- this Presence of awareness in which all experiences appear and disappear in -- our Self.
So maybe past experience doesn't matter at all. What if we were already capable of choosing Peace in any situation or circumstance?
The only time that any change takes place is in this moment, and what we are talking about here is simply the recognition of what is really here, right now -- the pure joy, peace and love that emanates quite naturally from our Self. So what has this got to do with anything in our past? There are no dragons to slay, no ego to kill, no practice needed of any kind. It is simply a choice of what we give our attention to. Choosing Peace is both the antithesis and antidote to the ego's debilitating belief that 'enlightenment' is a journey.
But what makes something so simple and natural appear to be obscure and remote, is that we don't believe we can do that. And we don't believe it's possible because we look to our past experience as evidence for it working.
But of course there is little or no evidence of it working there... because it is the choice to be free of our experiences and discover what is fresh, alive and radiant in this moment... untouched by anything in our past.
It is the choice to engage with the world from the opposite orientation to the one we are used to. It's an orientation of openness (from Love) instead of control (from fear). And although it requires us to do nothing, 'do nothing' means letting go of our old fear-based tools of control -- judgment, planning and defence. Love has it's own agenda, which means I must let go of mine. And let's face it, for most of us, letting go of the moment-to-moment control of our life is something we've never seriously considered before.
So lets review this new orientation:
- Openness... a willingness to show up naked, to 'not know'
When we defend against anything we don't see it as is, but how we fear it to be. But the fear is always our own -- to be fearful of anything we must first have judged ourselves as weak and vulnerable. So what we 'see' (and therefore believe is real) is not reality, but the reflection of our own self-belief. Can you get a sense that when we judge anything it is really a judgement on our self?
Truth cannot be defined in terms of what is right and what is wrong because right and wrong are man made concepts. It's in allowing ourselves to open up to our whole mind that we get to see the whole picture. We start to see it in the pure thought and feeling we have when we reach out to each other, and in the presence of joy that releases us from a fearful concept of a separate, vulnerable self.
To show up naked -- to be willing to know nothing, is to create a space that allows the truth in everything to shine true. It's in this openness that we start to see that there is nothing separate from us and therefore nothing to fear. The world changes as we recognise that behind our angst, there is nothing about us that is not constituted wholly of Love. Change the inner script and the outer play must follow. It can do no other, because in reality (seen without the veil of our fearful self-perception), it is all One.
"One should lie empty, open, choiceless as a beach – waiting for a gift from the sea. ".... Gift from the Sea
- Trust.... in the part of us that is real, that does know.
Frank Capra (before he became well know) felt that his inner spirit wasn’t able to be expressed and was in doubt about how to do it. His friend Max Winslow advised him, "There's something in your peasant soul hurting to get out. Let it out. Not as preachment you fool, but as entertainment."
When we invite our real Self into our life, it will find a way to express itself. You don't have to manage it. Just let it have a place at the table and it will be an impeccable guest.
What our judgements hide is the awareness that life delights to lift us free of our fearful self-perceptions. And not on some imagined perfect day but right now, right here in the messy mundane-ness of an 'ordinary' day. In the midst of wining kids, a partner who doesn't really understand us, a sick body, unanswered emails, and a long list of things we'd like to do...... we can stop! Then stand still before them all, and find the honesty within to admit that we don't really know what all this, nor the rest of life, is for.
Then invite Love to teach us. You don't have to develop this Love, it is already developed. You just have to give it welcome and space to grow in you, fill you with what is best for you. And if you do it will judge all things in a new light for you, it will nourish you, guide you, inspire you, heal your troubled mind, and provide the love and power to transform all obstacles for you.
But of course, we have to choose to trust it first.
We think of Love (I'm talking about the real deal here, not that that changes) as an emotion. But actually it's an awareness, a way of seeing without the layer of preconception that the mind imposes. And when you change the way you look at things like this, the things you look at change. But this shouldn't be a mystery to us -- it is simply the power of our choice.
We already have this ability to choose peace and allow it be so... in any situation. We can refuse to be dismayed by effects and choose a different cause instead. We can receive instead of plan so that we can give instead of control. And in choosing this we discover that the law of Love negates all the laws we've come to believe in this world.
This is how we change the world -- not by attempting to carve out a haven of safety or by riling against perceived injustices, but by bringing Love to it instead of fear. We are healed as we let our Self teach us how to heal... and the world, as a part of us, is healed as we are.
This, to me, is the greatest joy of all. I hope you too keep choosing peace this New Year, so everyone can witness that it's the only sane choice there is.
I wish you a wonderful Christmas and a New Year full of miracles.
.. There are many moments in a day when our Self peaks through and we see it's joy reflected back to is in the world. In fact, it is constantly knocking on the door of our conscious awareness trying to get our attention. This is just the nature of life -- what our defences hide. These moments are mostly overlooked as we move through our day driven by the idea of something better (for some the ultimate experience of 'enlightenment' ;)). In our search for the extraordinary, we dismiss the ordinary and miss everything.
Ring the bells that still can ring.
Forget your perfect offering.
There is a crack in everything.
That's how the light gets in.
.. because it is the only 'time' that is real. Both the past and future are mental constructs -- we remember and we imagine. The 'future' is simply a projection of our stories from our past (the next chapter, if you like), and so no different from it. A good question to ask ourselves, one that can slow this crazy hamster wheel call time enough for us to step off, is: Who would I be without my beliefs and my stories?
.. of space and time, reciprocity and friendship, economics and scarcity, justice and karma, health and nutrition.... too many to mention.
- Ms Max for the Peanuts cartoon and for dropping wonderful presents into my inbox all year long.
- Dave Pollard, whose blog inspired the title and idea for this post.
- To all of you who refuse to play victim to the fearful perception of a broken world... and have the courage to look past it to the Love beyond: Thank you so much.
Related Article: The wisdom to Know Nothing