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Archive for the ‘Love & Fear’ Category

A LOVE Road Trip

Posted by Amanda Gray on September 27, 2011

I finished my seasonal bee farm job and went straight into a new adventure – driving to Arizona to see the last lecture from one of my most favourite teachers of enlightenment, Dr. David R. Hawkins.  I’d never driven that far by myself and I had many fears going into it, but spirit prepared me with two lessons for the journey: “Don’t be afraid” and “trust your brothers”.  As it happened, that was all I needed to remember.

Every time I got into a driving challenge – like having to pass a huge house in the middle of the road, in the pouring rain, with one windshield wiper – I just remembered, “Don’t be afraid.”  When the road became narrow, and winding, and unexpectedly taking me on a ‘scenic route’ up a mountain in Utah, I remembered, “Don’t be afraid.”  When I got to Salt Lake City in rush hour, so fatigued I wasn’t sure I could make it one more inch, I remembered, “Don’t be afraid.”

Although I had maps available on my cell phone, I only used a general highway map of the US, and then asked people for specific directions along the way – as well as asking for inner guidance as much as possible.  When I asked someone for directions, I simply trusted them to guide me truly and they usually did.  Trusting the directions from others got me directly to my destination about 99% of the time.

As I arrived at Salt Lake City, I stopped at the tourist information booth for help to get my campsite.  The tourist information guy said to take exit 310, but as I checked my AAA campsite book, it said to take exit 308.  Oh no, what should I trust?  Well, inner guidance saved the day.  Exit 310 looked a little too industrial, and I couldn’t get over to the right lane, so I passed it.  At exit 308, I got off, and found myself on another highway going the other direction.  What???  In a panic, I immediately exited.  I saw a Shell station, and decided to get gas and then figure out where to go from there.  Fortunately, the gas pump wouldn’t work (I have no zip code to enter!), so I had to go into the store to talk to the attendant.  While there, I asked for directions.  Miracle!  The K.O.A. was only 5 blocks straight up the street.  Wow!

The Course in Miracles has a lesson: I am under no laws but God’s.  Well, apparently, I’m under no MAPS but God’s too!

There were a couple of times when I couldn’t figure out what to do next.  I was simply too tired, stressed, and couldn’t think straight.  At those points, I simply had to stop, take a breath, and say to myself, “I don’t know what to do.”  My mind would be empty for a moment, and then, the very next thought would solve the entire problem, with almost no effort on my part.  Those were total miracle moments!

My three-day journey to Prescott, Arizona was challenging and stressful, but also wonderful and peaceful.  I had all the inner resources necessary, and then anything else I needed was easily and presently obtained.  In Prescott, I got to catch up with many good friends, and see the most loving Dr. Hawkins one last time.  The abundant love energy in the room was so profound… I cried almost the whole time.  I met a few other lovely people throughout the day, and thoroughly enjoyed myself!

On Sunday, as my main cohort scattered in various directions, I felt uncertain about what to do next.  There was no need to return home at any particular time, so I thought I might travel around some more, but no specific invitation or guidance materialized.  I consulted my US map, but it offered no help either. I was looking for an alternative route to take me up through British Columbia, but the only decent alternative was along the coast, which was much too far out of my way.  The only place that wasn’t out-of-the-way, was Las Vegas.  I hadn’t been there since 1995, so I decided it would be a fun side journey.

A black car without air conditioning is totally masochistic in Nevada.  Just sayin’.  And the Interstate 40 is certainly the busiest highway in the States.  Regardless, it was a short and simple five-hour drive.  I was pleasantly surprised to find free, covered parking at the Treasure Island hotel and signed up for one night.  (Now that I look back, for the measly few hours I stayed in my room, I should’ve just slept in my car.)  I had some nice Vietnamese food for dinner, walked around for a while, chatted with some lovely people, and then took in the Cirque du Soleil LOVE show.  Love was the theme that week, after all.  It was a spectacular show and worth every minute and every dollar I spent.

I awoke early the next morning.  Ahh… what to do, where to go?  I thought I would spend most of the day in Vegas, but suddenly, I couldn’t think of a single thing I still wanted to do there.  There were no matinée shows, nothing I cared to eat, no shopping I needed to do, and no more sites I cared to see.  I was in the greatest adult playground in the world, and I was BORED!  All I wanted was to go HOME.

I made a beeline to the Interstate 15 and gum-booted ‘er.  The trip up was far more difficult than the trip down.  I was tired and sick, and I was resistant to all the hours and miles that were now just in the way.  I didn’t want to drive anymore.  Ah, well.  More challenges, more lessons, and, in the end, I arrived home no worse for wear.

Yes, it was a grand adventure.  Adventures, of course, by definition, come with ups and downs.  I was stretched, mulched, and freed in all kinds of ways.  Am I a little less fearful driving in strange places?  Definitely.  Am I more trusting of strangers?  Yes.  Am I more trusting of my Self?  Amen and hallelujah!  Am I richer with LOVE in my heart? Certainly.  Have I let go of a few attachments and comforts?  Yup.  Then I am successful and accomplished.  Yippee!

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Illusions, Meaninglessness and Silly Putty

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 6, 2011

Funny, the way things happen. I couldn’t possibly have imagined it in this context. A whole series of, what I would normally perceive as random events, were suddenly transformed, and a miracle of understanding appeared. In an instant, what was entirely disjointed and meaningless was weaved together and awash with astounding vibrancy and significance.

1: Out of the blue, my mom received a phone call from the mother of my elementary school classmate, Joanne, and the two boys that abused me when I was nine. The moms caught up with each other in the friendly way women/mothers often do – discussing their own lives and the lives of their kids. My mom never brought up my childhood abuse in the conversation. As my mom and I talked about it later, we agreed that its unlikely Joanne’s mom ever knew about it, and there’s no reason to hurt her with it now. I was interested to hear that Joanne is doing well and that the two boys are now men, the oldest having just turned 50. (When I was first recovering the memories of the incident, I had a dream that inclined me to think the boys had died, but now I know it was just a “wish-fulfillment” dream – an ego wish to kill them.)

2: A teenager at work has been flirting with me, making frequent sexual innuendos and some, mostly playful, physical contact. I’ve been conflicted about his behaviour; somewhat flattered and empowered, yet, at the same time, fearful and vulnerable. Since I’m an adult, it’s imperative that I respond appropriately and set healthy boundaries.

3: I’ve been observing my controlling behaviour at work. Judgemental, controlling thoughts have been, at times, non-stop, and as much as I’ve avoided acting upon them, it’s occasionally more than I’m able to hold back. I’m one of the older people there, so when the supervisors are absent, I feel like I should ‘take charge’ to some extent. Still, it’s mere insanity to worry about the work of others, to try to make them do it in a particular way – the “right” way, or the way I most “like” – instead of focusing on my own business.

So, this morning, I now understand all these events as one thing. One lesson, actually:

  • My own controlling behaviour comes out of a feeling of being “out of control” – certainly a predominant feeling that arose out of the childhood abuse – and the attempt to regain control by controlling the people around me. When others are doing something I dislike, I’m taking it as a personal attack, as if they’re maliciously trying to hurt me, and I’m AFRAID of them. With sudden insight, I understand that the demand for control is only hiding what I’m truly asking for – LOVE. Hidden beyond the desire to make them act as I want, I’m saying, “Please, don’t do it that way, you’re hurting me. Please, do it this way, and show me that you LOVE and ACCEPT me.” Hidden by the cycle of ‘control/out of control’ behaviour is a simple, plaintive ‘call for LOVE’.
  • The teenager at work feels a ‘need’ arising in his mind, and projected on the body, through various impulses, hormones and feelings, he interprets the ‘need’ as sexual. I feel vulnerable with his behaviour because I’m tempted to respond based on old programming – the ‘control/out of control’ cycle – and the various beliefs I’ve held about my body and sexuality over the years. Certainly, I don’t believe it’s my body he’s attracted to. I suspect it has more to do with an energy that assures him that he’s ‘safe’ to express himself that way with me. With sudden insight, I can see that his physical urge is simply hiding the true ‘need’ that’s arising – a need for LOVE and ACCEPTANCE. With that realization, I can stay in my power, accept the innocence that belongs to both of us, and be free to give him the love and acceptance that he is truly yearning for.
  • I now understand the two boys from my childhood from the experience with the teenager at work. At 16 and 17, they were under the same illusions and projections. Now I see that they weren’t EVIL. Misguided, certainly, but not EVIL. They were trying to satisfy that same ‘need’ through sex and control, but, in truth, they were simply calling for LOVE and ACCEPTANCE.

And that’s where forgiveness comes in. When I recognize those boys from my childhood as innocent… as innocent as the teenager at work… as innocent as myself… forgiveness is automatic, and the love and acceptance is automatic too. Then the ‘need’ to get love and acceptance outside myself is erased, because that was the original illusion – the root. I am wholly (holy) healed in my recognition that love is already within me and by virtue of giving it – in this case, to my teenage co-worker – it will be ‘witnessed’ and strengthened.

Illusions are like Silly Putty. As long as I play with the Silly Putty – pressing images from comic books on it, stretching it, mooshing it, caring for it by keeping it fresh in the egg-shaped case, it seems valuable and fun. Yet, if I leave the gob of putty on a shelf and ignore it for a while, it gets hard, like a rock, and is useless. So, if I’m not interested in illusions, if I’m more interested in the truth, then that informs my experience – and ALL experience becomes valuable and meaningful. It won’t be random ‘impressions’ of experience – Silly Putty – anymore.

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Timing is Everything

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 3, 2011

After a highly compelling conversation with one of my favorite spiritual teachers, Tom Glod, I decided it was time to go back to square one. As much as I’ve studied and practiced, practiced and studied, along my spiritual path, I never truly just dropped everything – every theory, every plan and every self-concept – and committed to spirit alone. I scheduled a silent retreat at home, complete with meditations, a satsang (a spiritual gathering – in this case, with my MP3 player and an Adyashanti retreat recording), some kinhin (walking meditation), several outdoor breaks and three meal times.

So, the day went very well. I stuck to my schedule, and was totally peaceful that night as I went to bed, intending to retreat again the next day.

When I awoke on day two, I began on the right track, but I was no sooner in my meditation chair for the first meditation period, when I decided NOT to do the schedule. After all, the day was going to be broken by a doctor’s appointment anyway. And so, just like that, I jumped up and became entirely engaged with all kinds of planning and self-concepts again. My day was also characterized with a great deal of anxiety, fear of (financial) deficiency and self-doubt.

What the heck happened? The tempter came and blasted me right out of my carefully crafted schedule of peace!

I contemplated the issue on the morning of the third day. Perhaps, during my retreat, I had successfully dropped all self-concepts and, perhaps, touched upon the nothingness of ‘no-self’. Perhaps, I touched upon it, but didn’t, at first, recognize how much it terrified me. So, the next day was the response, enacted by terror all day long. Run, rabbit, run! Hmmm…

Then I listened to a ‘Homework call’ by a spiritual teacher named Jennifer Hadley. She talked about some of her own experiences on the path, about how she was often choosing her judgements and opinions over choosing love. It was just the thing I needed to hear. The right teacher, with the right message, at the right time.

I had thought that the nothingness of no-self was the opposite condition of the ego-self. I could have a ‘this’ – the world of suffering and fear – or a ‘that’ of eternal blank emptiness. Yes, of course, it IS terrifying to drop everything I think I know – for NOTHING! But, I was just believing in another ego illusion – the duality of some-thing and no-thing. This was the ego, getting up inside the nothingness and hiding there! And this was the answer to the ‘hiding myself’ concept that I had been wondering about for quite some time too. (I wrote about it here.) Ultimately, the belief in ‘nothingness’ was based in fear, not in truth.

The truth is LOVE. Just as God is LOVE. I don’t have to choose between a ‘this’ or a ‘that’ – I just have to choose the only thing there really is – LOVE. I’ve been hiding from that choice. Love, itself, is the healer, not books, or theories, or knowledge, or ideas, or words, or anything else in the world I’m attached to. I have to give all those things up and commit to choosing ONE thing – yes, that’s right – LOVE.

The ego can’t hide in the illusion of nothingness anymore. I’ve seen through the lie and it’s completely powerless. I CAN choose love, for myself and everyone. When I forgive, I love. When I recognize everyone, including myself, without the burdens of their ‘problems’, I love. When everyone, including myself, is entirely worthy of unconditional love, it will be there.A Course in Miracles

It was also important to learn that if I’m in a downward spiral of fear and lack, I can still be grateful, because it means spirit is rooting out all my worldly attachments. It’s exposing every little illusion from every nook and cranny. As the junk is exposed, I’m closer to a full alignment with love – with God and all that is. Brilliant!

Thanks, as well, to David Hoffmeister, who was Jennifer’s guest for an online ‘Living ACIM’ class, on the previous evening, and who reminded us of this beautiful quote from the Course:

Love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind.

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Hello Self!

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 5, 2011

I have spent the majority of my life hating and being ashamed of myself.  Mostly, I was ashamed by my body and it’s flaws.  Yet, I was also often embarrassed to speak up for myself.  Deep down, I knew that, by speaking, I was lying and betraying.  What was I lying about?  Who was I betraying?

I didn’t speak up because I truly believed I had nothing to say.  That was a smoke screen.  An excuse.  If I have nothing to say, then, conveniently, I don’t have to speak.  I can hide away in my hidey hole and be a lazy lump.  I can envy everyone else out there, having fun and doing the things I wished I was doing.  Why didn’t I speak?  In short, because I was afraid.

Afraid of saying something wrong.  Afraid people would be mad at me.  Afraid of being judged.  Afraid that too much time had gone by and it was too late.  Afraid that no one would listen.  Afraid that I was unworthy.  Unworthy of what?  Life.  So I was living like a dead person instead.  Quite literally, a zombie.

Yes, I had lied.  Yes, I was a betrayer.  I had lived my life in this way for so long that I was no longer conscious of it, and no longer conscious of the deep guilt and shame that it engendered.  A heavy burden, but trapped in my subconscious mind, where the programs could be played over and over, yet safe where the source could never be discovered.  What was I lying about?  My Self.  Who was I betraying?  My Self. 

I put on roles that others asked of me, and then blamed them for being controlling.  I took jobs I didn’t want, thinking that I had to.  I sold my Self out in these and in many other ways.  Yet, deep down, I knew what I was doing, I was just too cowardly to face it.

So what changed?  I was holding a belief system that I had no control of my life.  That, somehow, I wasn’t allowed to choose my course.  That I was just stuck here in a rudderless boat, adrift on a cold, lonely, cruel ocean.  I believed that all the suffering I experienced was because everyone else, and everything in the world, had power over me.  I didn’t think that by avoiding choice, I was, ultimately, choosing my suffering.  “I’m powerless.  I’m a victim. The world is a bad place, full of bad people.”  Yadda yadda yadda.

Oh, it’s so twisted, isn’t it?  (And funny, as I allow myself to speak, to suddenly find that I do have things to say.)  The power of my Self was present within me all along, I was merely in denial of it.

 Hello, Self!  It’s nice to finally meet you.

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