Just A Day of Ego at Play

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Blue sky. Apple tree blossoms.  Fresh green grass. Sunshine and gentle wind.

Sounds like heaven, doesn’t it?

“I wish I had worn my Sketchers. These shoes aren’t as good for walking.”

“This is a much longer walk than I planned.”

“My tank top would be cooler than this shirt.”

I noticed my egoic mind chattering, so out loud I said, “I am struggling against what is. Just be with what is real.”  I was proud of myself for that awareness.

And almost immediately,  my mind started turning the moment into a blog. So at that moment,  I was egoically creating meaning from my experience and ironically, STILL not being present with what was.

And so I accepted that. Stopped criticizing myself for it. Settled into the moment. Laughed. The ego will do what it does. I am the one listening to it, experiencing it. And I am the one who let’s it go. I am the field within which all this occurs.

This dance my ego plays of trying to look right (spiritually accomplished? ) on the outside or striving for awakening on the inside is such a foolish use of energy. 

Wrote the blog anyway! Lol!

Truth and Beauty: How Stories Point Us to Divinity

“Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” – that is all
Ye know on earth, and all ye need to know.

Ode on a Grecian Urn, J. Keats

Like many other people, I love to talk about the most recent developments on Game of Thrones.  I have a little “fan club” among my circle of friends. We text about what happened.  We discuss it over tea.  We predict what might be happening and what patterns are being woven. We search the net for more ideas to share with each other.  And we do it all over again each week.

It is fun.  It is exciting to let the mind play.  It provides energetic experiences as we replay what we saw, what it meant, what it could mean.  But, of course, we know it is a story.  We are discussing a story and enjoying the energetic experience that goes along with this. Drama is fun.  It is beautiful.

I heard Adyashanti tell a story of a monk who agreed to raise a child born out of wedlock that was not his.  The mother told the community it was his, to diffuse the social consequences.  In time, she claimed the child and told the community she had lied.  The community started to gossip and rile up.  The monk told them that at this moment, she was doing the right thing.  The time to be mad was over – in the now, she was being noble.  But, the community wanted the ego drama. They wanted to focus on beliefs like “She lied” and “She whored” and “She defamed a noble man and let us do it too”. They didn’t think about things like the needs of the child, or the growth of the woman, or the gift the monk had made in his kindness.  That would not fuel the ego drama – it would be more Truth, and that does not make for good ego drama.

To me, there are two types of stories: ego drama, and stories that point us to underlying truth by connecting us to beauty.  When we are enamored with the pull on our soul from a piece of art, or a beautiful play or movie, what we experience is moving past the Egoic Self, in to the Truth. We are connected to Divinity, and may even be experiencing Unity.  I have read books that took me out of this world, and made me cry, or laugh.  I could not stop reading them, and dreaded seeing the ending approaching – because my experience would be over.

Why do we love great stories? It is not a coincidence that spiritual teachers have used stories to teach.  Whether it is the Bible, or koans, they exist to take us out of egoic mind and move us past self.

In life, when we connect with another person’s story from the heart, I believe we are moving past ego drama to allow the beauty of the story to lead us to truth.  Even stories that are about struggle can have beauty to them.  And in that beauty, we begin to glimpse the essential truth of being.

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After A While

After A While 
   �1971 Veronica A. Shoffstall 

After a while you learn 
the subtle difference between 
holding a hand and chaining a soul 
and you learn 
that love doesn’t mean leaning 
and company doesn’t always mean security. 
And you begin to learn 
that kisses aren’t contracts 
and presents aren’t promises 
and you begin to accept your defeats 
with your head up and your eyes ahead
with the grace of woman, 
not the grief of a child 
and you learn 
to build all your roads on today 
because tomorrow’s ground is 
too uncertain for plans 
and futures have a way of falling down 
in mid-flight. 
After a while you learn 
that even sunshine burns 
if you get too much 
so you plant your own garden 
and decorate your own soul 
instead of waiting for someone 
to bring you flowers. 
And you learn that you really can endure 
you really are strong 
you really do have worth 
and you learn 
and you learn 
with every goodbye, you learn…

Impulse and Intuition

“See those shoes? I bought them because I had an intuition I would need them for a fancy dinner.” Impulse or intuition?

Like many, I have confused impulsiveness and intuition in the past.  I see the difference as related to how much one is tuned in to the Flow, divine currents, or how much one unconsciously responds to egoic patterns.

“When you act on impulse, you’re reacting immediately and subconsciously to an external trigger. An emotion, a place, a person. You don’t pause, sit down and analyse, you just go for it. A shot in the dark. Impulse is an impelling force or emotion that will trigger some kind of reaction from you. It is, in effect, something that overpowers your being, and controls you.” Impulse vs Intuition

Your ego acts from resisting what is.  An impulse often is from a sense of lack, or a set of patterns of fear that trigger a response. “Generally speaking, an impulse is motivated by an underlying thought of lack or limitation. It tells you that if you don’t act right now, the opportunity you are considering will be gone forever! Underlying every impulse is a subtle feeling of fear—of tension or anxiety—and you may feel like your happiness hinges on taking this step.” The Divine Flow

When we listen to intuition, it is gently relentlessly persistent. Intuition has an aspect of knowing, or possibly of recognition, in how it surfaces.  Intuition is love based.  It accepts what is.  If your intuition guides you to something, and you decline, your intuition will draw you to another opportunity.  Intuition is closely aligned with Truth.

Want to be able to check in on which it is? When something presents itself, Stop, Be Silent, Breath, and Be Aware.  An impulse will gnaw at you, fill your gut with angst.  An intuition will feel right and will give you peace when you recognize it.

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The Object of My Devotion

Even people who have had nurturing backgrounds, fulfilling relationships and a moderate level of difficulties will come to a point where this is just not enough.  They desire something more.  
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From time to time, I get asked to deliver a workshop on consciousness and romantic relationships.  I generally decline, because I am not in such a relationship – what could I have to offer on the topic?  But I have reframed that recently – I am an expert at spiritual partnerships.  In fact, everyone is an expert.

Once, twice and thrice upon a time, I was involved in intense relationships.  They all followed the same pattern, even though the personalities of the men were quite different.  Of course, the common element was me.  These relationships had the potential to be perfect, long term, fulfilling and growthful.  One way or another, I said NO to each of them.  Because they were not enough.

I was masking my longing for the divine, for Truth, for ultimate Reality by trying to connect with romantic others.

They became the object of my devotion – my God on earth.  It was not enough for them to love me.  It was not enough for them to support me or challenge me.  They had to be a source of Connection.  They had to be a source of mirroring my spiritual self back to me. They had to be my soul mate, my twin flame.  My healer.  My teacher. It was exhausting for every one of us!

And when the relationships ended (by my choice), I felt the trauma of deep abandonment.  Why had they forsaken me? Why had my “God-figure”forsaken me?

Every relationship is a spiritual partnership, if you come from that awareness. Whether it’s a coworker or a lover, they are a reflection of your awareness and connection to Truth. They serve to point towards any obstacles between you and Truth.

I find I have burned through the need for relationship in its previous form. I have two fantastic spiritual partners; I am part of a kula; I have family and friends. I am in service to the Divine every day.

But…what is the object of my devotion? I may not have One object of devotion. Given my history of projection on the object of my devotion, I find that at this time my devotion is to service and to my practice. I feel a connection to every soul through that.

The object of my devotion is the divinity in me recognizing the divinity in you.

Namaste.

How Deeply Can We Meet?

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Early in my non dualistic Tantrik study, I asked a friend, “But what’s the purpose of relationship?  There is no separation.  It’s all one.” His answer had something to do with learning from each other, which I rejected. We can learn from everything.

Jeff Foster speaks to this experience too. “Yes, nonduality so easily becomes a war against duality. “You’re stuck in your individuality! That’s just a story! That’s so dualistic!” So deeply ironic, once again.

I speak from experience. I have been there myself. I spent a long time stuck in that nihilstic place where nothing matters, where there is no world and no relationship and everything is disconnected. I have written about this ‘Advaita Trap’ extensively. At the time, I thought it was freedom. I see now, it was another identification. It was totally lacking in love and compassion. In the end, it wasn’t nonduality that saved me and ended seeking. It was the discovery of this love beyond form, beyond words.”

I find myself disconnecting from people I love when they talk about their Story. I am very engaged in their soul journey yet I feel like pulling back when their story is filled with what is not True.

My spiritual partner approaches it like a curious spirit having a human experience and witness what humans do, feel, and say. In that way, she can be empathic when she is curious because  she can see how it is affecting them as they tell their story. That is a beautiful perspective.

“Life is a constant invitation, to recognise yourself as the vast ocean of consciousness in which every single wave – every thought, sensation, feeling, sound – is deeply welcome. What you are may be a non-dual ocean of consciousness, but as that ocean, you welcome – apready welcome – every wave without conditions. This is not an acheivement, but your very nature, the way you are actually built. Awakening is not an acheivement, it is a real-time remembering of how you are ‘built!’…

Life gently whispers, always, “How deeply can we meet?” – Jeff Foster

Some part of me denies experience when I tune out of the story because it does not comply with my desire to be immersed in Spirit. It is the ego wanting a spiritual experience on egoic terms.

“Are you able to meet the one in front of you, and for a moment, not try to fix them, or heal them, or spout nondual cliches at them, or try to win some argument, proving your identity? How deeply can we meet?” – Jeff Foster

How deeply am I willing to meet life? Can I let go of even this happening on my terms?

The Demon of Fear of Missing Out

FOMO. The Fear of Missing Out. It is so common we have an abbreviation for it in our culture.  Like BOGO, or YOLO.

In my Tantrik studies, I was introduced to the idea of demons.  These are not the demons we see on Buffy the Vampire Slayer or in the Shadowhunters series.  These are collections of egoic energy patterns that seem to appear in each of us on our Awakening journey.  The book that provides the most insight on this is Opening the Heart of Compassion.  One of the demons is akin to FOMO.

What does it look like? I can only tell you how it manifests in me:

  • I agree to doing things that I don’t want to do. I agree to meetings or dinners, workshops or parties, and when the time comes, I do not have the energy or drive to follow through.  Or if I do attend, it will cost me on the level of well-being. Then becoming angry as the person I have to reschedule is irritated by my sudden change of plans.
  • I engage in stressful thoughts about things that I don’t want or feel drawn to, but worry that one day I will want it and will have missed out.  For me, that is looking for a romantic partner. I don’t want one, I don’t need one.  But I fight the feeling that some day I will realize this was a huge mistake – instead of surrendering to the sure knowing that I am listening to my own truth.
  • I worry about how I spend my money.  I set financial goals, like ordering carpeting for my basement, and then when I have the money for it, I hesitate to spend it in case something more interesting shows up.  Maybe I should keep that money for a trip.  Maybe I should keep it for emergencies.  Maybe I should buy something totally different than what I have researched, visioned and achieved the money to do.

“FOMO is the representation of what I call the “deprivation
mind” in my book, Wild Chickens and Petty Tyrants: 108 Metaphors for Mindfulness.” Are we really missing out? And what is it exactly that we are missing out on? This is a problem that besets us when we look outside of ourselves for fulfillment. The desire that underlies FOMO is endless, a bottomless pit that can have us chasing our tails in pointless pursuit. FOMO keeps us on the wheel like a hamster never reaching that place of satisfaction (at least the hamster is getting exercise). Like everything that arises in our minds, FOMO can be examined as a mental object. We can see it as a production of our brain and not a reflection of ultimate truth. We can challenge it too. What would be so terrible if we did miss out on something? Why is it so important to have EVERYTHING? There is an episode of South Park that features Cartman pacing in front of a game store awaiting the release of the new Wii. Unfortunately for him (and everyone around him) the Wii won’t be released for another three weeks. Cartman grunts, “Come on … Come on … How much longer …” He bemoans his fate, “Time is slowing down, It’s like waiting for Christmas, times a 1000″ Certainly we don’t want to resemble Cartman in any way, shape, or form. So we can look at FOMO as it arises throughout our day and try to touch it with mindful attention. We can breathe into this fear and see what happens.” – Dr Arnie Kozak

I recognize my FOMO as another version of scarcity thinking.  It strikes me right between the eyes, as my abundance has begun to flow and my new issue is determining how much happiness I can get out of spending my money.  It points me directly at how I am looking outside of myself for my happiness and my truth. In the past, my relationships with men have been versions of FOMO.  My work has had FOMO regarding promotions and opportunities.  My desire to travel is FOMO.

Yet, my moments of happiness come from very different spaces: paying for the coffee of the guy behind me at Tim Horton’s, surprising my child with a new decoration for her redesigned big girl bedroom, seeing someone’s world view open up in a conversation with me. Feeling love, acting from love, being love.

FOMO is also about believing the mind.  It is the mind that tells the story about what will happen if you miss out, or what you will be missing out on.  It is the mind that has some level to which your life is supposed to have relationships, money, activity, accomplishments, and anything else that you can define as lack.

And of course, as soon as I label FOMO as scarcity thinking, and ask “Is this true?”, the process of releasing the demon’s hold begins. “Is it really true?” As with any thought I believe, it is illusory and points me away from Truth.