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Posts Tagged ‘Adyashanti’

Back on the Bus

Posted by Amanda Gray on January 18, 2015

I had interviews last week for a new employment position.  Just before my second interview, I had an interesting dream:

I’m shopping with my mom, when, suddenly, I remember I have an interview at 11:30 AM.  As I look at my watch, I think that there’s no way I’ll be able to get to the interview on time.  I consider calling the employer to tell them of my mistake, or to reschedule, but then I remember that there’s a direct bus that could work.   

I find myself on the bus.  There’s several other people, but it’s not too full or too empty.  I start a conversation with someone next to me (a male).  I share my earlier fears and reveal my next fear: I’m wearing my shabbiest clothes – not at all appropriate for an interview!  I consider what I can do.  I decide that I’ll try to buy a nice jacket when I get off the bus, stretch the time, and be, perhaps 5 minutes late for the meeting.  There’s also some kind of discussion about my favourite movie of all time, which I decide is Star Wars, Return of the Jedi.  I consider that I should bring a DVD of this to my meeting – and I think I take a ‘back in time’ aside in order to pick it up at home.

As I get off the bus, I see that I have two minutes.  I race around the mall stores, but there’s too much choice, and there’s no jackets quickly apparent on the front racks. I’m wasting too much time.  So I decide to just take off the shabbiest clothing item I’m wearing, which is a white, threadbare vest, with several black marks on it.  

I get to my interview, which now appears to be with spiritual teacher, Adyashanti.  I join a group of students on the floor in front of Adya and his presentation whiteboard.  I have my DVD of Return of the Jedi and I notice that I’m wearing a nice, bright orange jersey top.  A perfectly sensible outfit for a spiritual student.  I’m entirely relieved. Edmonton City Bus

The dream tells me that I’m back on the bus – involved again with a community/group journey.  The bus isn’t parked anymore, nor is it predicting some sort of ‘end of game’ scenario (see post Erasing Programs, Rewriting Software).  It’s also interesting how every time my dream character thinks there’s a problem, it falls away with no effort.

The next item for attention is clothing.  Clothing has to do with the persona: anxieties about fitting in and being ‘well-suited’ for a new role.  Focus is on the upper body, which may be related to the heart.  White – the vest – is a color of light, purity, newness, and awareness.  But it’s also dirty and old, and I’m ashamed of it, indicating some self-worth issues.  And then I’m throwing it away, indicating a willing transition, and letting go of the past.  Discarding the shame.  Orange – the jersey top – according to my favourite dream resource (Cloud Nine – A Dreamers Dictionary) – is a color of “Balancing, creative expression, cutting through/penetrating, and female strength.”  Another book considers orange to represent nervous energy/anxiety.  I like the color, and it’s definitely energetic.  It also brings to mind ‘safety clothing’, fresh citrus fruit, and carrots.  So, I consider it a positive symbol in this context.

At the end, my meeting is with Adyashanti.  A symbol of spiritual guidance, enlightenment and love.  I become a student in the dream.  This, to me, indicates a very positive teaching/learning situation.  A decision to abandon little ego choices and choose, instead, with the higher holy Self.  I take this as a sign that I’ve truly kicked my ‘actor’ addiction – an egoic fantasy to ‘create’ myself.  That actor stuff never seemed to come naturally, and it never brought me much peace, just lots of effort.  So, I truly don’t want the egos tiny, self-serving goals anymore.  They’re not ever intended to be reached, actually, anyway.  Now, what I REALLY WANT is to cooperate with the universe, and trust that what’s simply given will bring me the greatest eternal gifts: peace, freedom, and joy.

Return of the Jedi was a movie I particularly loved when I was 13 years old.  This symbol comes up, first, because it may indeed be my favourite movie of all time, but also because it might be pointing to something specific about that TIME.  So, something that was happening around that age that’s arising in consciousness for healing now.  Emotions to be resolved.  What I can think of, that’s significant, is that it was the time of my first crush – with Luke Skywalker.  Something in his mysterious, dark cloaked entrance before Jabba the Hutt, his power using the force, and his brave actions saving everybody, really addled my hormonal and spongy teenage mind.  It was my first experience with ‘love’, and I think I felt that a movie character was ‘safe’ to love.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Since this dream, I’ve been hired for the company that was interviewing me.  Yippee!!  I feel like this dream was already predicting success, and showing me that it’s ‘safe’ to proceed.  I’m SOOOOOOO READY!!  And THRILLED.  And ON BOARD.  There’s also several symbols of the job situation itself that are interesting:

*  Keys: “A key part of yourself, the crux of an issue.  Keys unlock the doors of mystery; expose hidden/secret knowledge; lead to awareness/growth. They can represent release/freedom from entrapment, power, authority, honour (‘keys to the city’).  The union of opposites, therefore reduction of tension.”  I’d also add: security.  It also makes me think of the ‘Keymaster’ from Ghostbusters, who, in union with the ‘Gatekeeper’, opened a powerful portal.  And the Keymaster from the second Matrix movie, the one who had the key for Neo to get to the Architect.  Highly symbolically interesting!

*  Justice:  “Bringing equality, harmony or stability into a situation or relationship.  Asserting our rights and upholding the rights of others.  Balance in consciousness.”

*  School:  There’s that teaching/learning situation. Curiosity, play, and discovery.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

In reference to the ACIM passages I listed in my last post (Erasing Programs, Rewriting Software):  Yes, symbols are meaningless, ultimately, but it doesn’t mean spirit can’t use them while we have need of them.  Everything is a message from spirit, if we take it that way.  All pointing to our ultimate function – the unification of consciousness.  And THAT’S my REAL job. 

 Red heartIn love

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Follow the White Rabbit

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 13, 2013

So I finally have the job situation I always dreamed about – working 3 days a week, at something generally enjoyable (customer service) – and having 4 days off – to do whatever I want.  Yes, I finally have the perfect work/life balance situation… but what have I done with my 4 days off every week for the past 2 months?  Nothing.  All inspiration has completely dried up!

So, my left brain has done what it’s always done: tried to fill the perceived lack.  It frantically sought for an activity to inspire and fill my free time.  First, I thought I’d make another short film, but I couldn’t come up with any interesting ideas.  So then I looked to the past: I bought a book and downloaded some software, hoping to resurrect my computer programming skills from 13 years ago.  Yet, the ambition has been sporadic.  I dug out my cooking books from when I was a professional pastry cook 19 years ago.  I examined the recipes, thinking that I might rent a kitchen and make some cakes to sell.  But that ambition dried up too.

Then I was invited to guest teach a drama class at the local school.  Again I picked a few books from the bookshelf, dusted them off, and resurrected my professional acting skills from 21 years ago.

The day I spent with the kids was amazing.  First, I spent a couple of hours trying, with difficulty, to motivate, a very unmotivated, group of teenagers.  I did my best, and enjoyed the experience with them, for what it was.  Still, at that point, when I might have felt disappointed with the outcome, I was asked to present my acting exercises again with a larger group of, far more motivated and energetic, junior high kids.  Later, when I considered the two, highly contrasting, experiences, I could see how the aperture of life – energy, experimentation, and joy – that the younger group displayed with abundance, can close down in our teen years – just as we start to feel self-conscious and begin to judge ourselves (and everything else).

I can now see how the teenage period of life can magnify a fear of expressing.  For most, it’s a fear of judgement, or rejection by others.  What if I say the wrong thing?  What if I hurt someone’s feelings?  What if they misunderstand me?  And mostly, in my life, I’ve preempted my self expression right off the bat – just blocked it, entirely.  When I look within, I find nothing… just a solid black wall… so I believe that I have nothing important or valuable to express.  As I became habitual in my disregard for my own creative imagination, and established a belief in creative poverty, I spent my life searching for a specific form (i.e. “acting”) that could restore it.  Always regurgitating someone else’s ideas and words, yet desperately wanting to create something unique – and express my true self.  Yet, I felt that I couldn’t: What can I say if I don’t have anything to say?  On the other hand, if I don’t value my own ideas, who will?

– Now I see why I developed a major migraine at the monastery last year when I was helping to paint the tipi.  I became sick as a denial of my creative expression.

– Now I see why I couldn’t stay to participate in the Strawberry Fields Music Festival.  Because I was jealous of the ones who could openly express themselves.

– Now I see why I had to meet Ben when I went to San Francisco.  He’s FULL ON expression, all the time!  And because I could see my greatest desire in him – to express without fear – I loved him and was able to join with him in the spirit of that love.

Furthermore, as I’ve continued to inquire into my desire to express, I’ve used the population at large as an experiment group.  One day, my question was: How honest can I really be with my customers at work?  All day long, I allowed myself to say whatever was on my mind – even if it was, in my opinion, rather rude, and, in the past, I would’ve censored it.  Surprisingly, I learned that people could take all kinds of honesty – and even seemed to appreciate it – as long as it was said with an attitude of humour, a tease, or a wink-wink, nudge-nudge.  Then, it didn’t come across as rude, it was funny instead, and a shared ‘truth-joke’ between us.  My experiment failed only when my statements were fuelled with a sour attitude, a judgement of the other person, or anger used to defend and attack.  Then I was belittling, or patronizing, and it was no fun at all.  I judged myself most harshly when I made the mistake, felt horribly guilty, and expected to be punished.  I wasn’t punished, thank God, but I had to move quickly into forgiveness to restore the situation, and I learned that no one is ever fooled with the underlying intention – particularly myself.  Acting shmackting!

And I started to ask: what does it really mean to express myself?  Does it require a particular form?  If I’m walking, talking, moving, thinking, drawing, singing, working, doing dishes or shovelling shit – am I not always expressing myself???  I listened to an Adyashanti radio show where Mukti (his wife, also a spiritual teacher) said, “We meditate to express ourselves.”  I had never thought of meditation in this way before!  Could I be ‘expressing myself’ in meditation?  Well… not if it’s only FEAR that’s allowed!  That’s the nothing – the black wall – that I’ve experienced within.  I’ve been afraid of myself!!!  I’m blocking myself!!!  From what I really want!!!  ARRRRRGH!!!

– Now I see why I kept manifesting painful pimples around my mouth.  I felt guilty that I wasn’t participating in the ego story: that I be an actor (or artist, or rock star, etc.) – and then I’ll be great and famous – and then people will love me – and then I’ll feel loved and be happy.  I was fixated on a particular and preferred, but also very limited, ‘form’ of expression – and when I participated in activities that haven’t perfectly matched that form, I felt guilty and punished myself with pimples.  I felt envious of the creative expression of others (also in particular forms)… and punished myself with pimples.  The bottom line, of course, is that I’ve been denying expression that could’ve been going on all the time, regardless of form.  Also, I’ve been more interested in ‘getting’ a particular outcome (ultimately, love) than I’ve been in the expression itself.  Which – paradoxically – can only come from a natural extension of our truth – being LOVE.  Haha!  Twisted!

DSC04120

What if… I open my mind… and remove all limited ideas of a particular form or activity for my life?  What if I allow my burning desire to express, allow it to arise from the depths of my guts, and ask it how IT wants to move?  In THIS moment?

What if I follow the White Rabbit down the rabbit hole?

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Three Miracles

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 8, 2013

While I’m still experiencing a general malaise toward creative writing, inspiration is still full blast for making short videos. I collaborated with a local band to create a music video, which then spawned three full versions, as I experimented with my new editing program, Sony Vegas. It’s about a light years advantage over the Win XP Movie Maker I was using before! I took some film at my birthday party in October and created a promo for the restaurant. And, recently, as I reviewed my last video blog, posted here about a year ago; and attempted to make another, which turned out poorly; I was inspired with a little story that I could easily perform and film myself. I dressed up, arranged scenes, filmed for a day, and now I’m into the, rather complex, edit, which is proving a delightful challenge! I look forward to posting the finished product here soon. Wait ’til you see! The project uses SO many of my skills and interests – I truly never imagined they could be combined into such a perfect package of unlimited JOY!

Today, I’m inspired to share three experiences from my visit to San Francisco at the end of November 2012. They were three lovely little miracles!

1) On my first day in San Francisco, I left my hostel at Fort Mason and wandered down to Fisherman’s Wharf. It was such a beautiful, sunny day and there were endless moments to capture on my new handycam. Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz Island were in the distance, and boats and swimmers were in the foreground. As I travelled along the waters edge, looking for my next vision of loveliness to put on film, I heard quick footsteps behind me. A thought came up in my mind, “He’s going to snatch my bag off my shoulder.” I turned quickly and looked the man full in the eye. “You better not be thinking what I think you’re thinking,” I chastised him in thought alone. He stopped suddenly and his face widened with shock. I’d evidently caught him at something. There was a short, narrow cement wall along the sidewalk near him, and he sat down, like a little boy who’s just been smacked. I paused, with my hand shading my eyes, pretending to look over the water, but keeping an eye on him, and thinking, “No, no punishment. I don’t need to punish you.” After a moment, the man stood up. I knew that all notions of theft had left him, and he simply passed behind me and carried on up the hill.

What’s especially interesting about this experience is that it confirms a specific lesson for me. Throughout my life, I had a terrible fear of danger coming up from behind. It was a common theme when I was at the monastery in Utah: mice attacking from behind my head, curtains being bumped into me by the wind, a bee stinging the back of my neck, etc. For me, it was like death was always lurking behind my right shoulder. At one point, I realized that even though I believed that my vision was limited by a body – with a front and a back, and one side of which is unprotected and vulnerable – spirit could NOT be limited this way. This incident proved that spirit could, indeed, watch my back. Wow!

2) The next day, when I left the hostel at Fort Mason, I encountered another man on the street. This guy was old and dirty, and loud and shouting. As I passed him, he said something derogatory about tourists. I paid him no mind. As I got to the bus stop, about 15 yards away, I turned my luggage to face him. Although his shouting did make me feel intimidated, I thought, “I’m not afraid of you.” My energy became defensive. “No,” I told myself, “Not to defend. Not to challenge him. But to be peaceful with him.” And so, then I was. A young man pulled up on my left side. He had a bicycle like mine at home, so I struck up a conversation with him. All the while, the loud street person was coming closer, trying to demand our attention. Some buses arrived on the street to my right, and one of them was mine. It was at that point that I noticed the street person had gotten quite close and I had to pass him directly to board the bus. Yet, I was completely unfazed – still totally secure and unafraid. Without incident, I boarded my bus, sat at the front, and watched placidly as the man shouted at me from behind the closed door.

A few days later, at the Adyashanti Retreat at Asilomar, Adya talked about a Buddhist deity called Manjushri. With a delicate hand, Manjushri wields a

Buddhist Deity, Manjushri

fiery sword of truth and cuts illusion clean away. This was the perfect description of my experience with the man on Fisherman’s Wharf and the man at the bus stop. What beautiful miracles provided to heal a couple of my most basic fears!

3) After the Adya retreat, I met a fellow that I only knew from Facebook. Ben struck me as an “enlightened” type, so I trusted, as I made arrangements to meet him, that it was by divine appointment. And it sure was! I expected, at first, because I was a dim-witted tourist, that he would travel downtown to meet me, but he defined such careful directions to Berkely, I decided on the adventure to get to his neighborhood.

First, I was misdirected by the clerk at the hostel, who said it would only take about 10 minutes on the BART. Wrong, because it was a weekend. Anyway, as I contemplated the system map at Powell station, a lovely girl, named Irene, asked where I wanted to go. She told me that I’d have to change trains to get to Berkely, but that she could show me where because she was going to the same stop. We travelled together and chatted. She even walked me all the way to my meeting place. By this time, I was more than 25 minutes late and was worried that my friend would already have given up on me. But he was there! (Late, himself too, as I found out later.)

“Bye, Irene. Thank you!” I waved, as my sweet BART gift carried on to her yoga class.

Ben and I fell right into step, electric essays filling the air between us as we strolled around Berkely. Honestly, I remember very little of the neighborhood because I was so engrossed in our exchange. We had smoothies and encountered a friendly squirrel. We met friends of his, shared an umbrella as we shared philosophy, and walked innumerable blocks. Eventually, we sat at a pizza place and shared a mushroom pizza. Our conversation slowed. I felt slightly awkward then, and breathless. I searched for something to say… but he tapped my hands on the outer edge of the table, “Stay with me,” he urged. My mind was tilting at an odd angle, but I righted it, and then stayed. Still. …and then gentle laughter bubbled up from within. His face filled with delight! We stayed together like that for a while, laughing and looking at this new, open place in our mind.

“It’s not even ‘nothing’,” I noticed.

He exclaimed, “Yes! Music to my ears!!”

“It’s just the laughter.”

On our way back to Berkely station, a blind woman asked us to help her cross the street. Ben took one side and I took the other. It was like the greatest joy in my life to be with that woman crossing the street in that moment. She thanked us for helping her and Ben thanked her for asking us to help.

As she carried on, I laughed and hugged Ben, “That’s IT too!” I cried, “It’s SO wonderful! Thank you!”

“Well, you did it.”

“Yeah. I guess I did.”

By divine appointment. Indeed. I now call it our “Mystic Pizza” moment. Wonderous, even as I remember.

God bless you all, readers.

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I am Here Only to be Truly Helpful

Posted by Amanda Gray on March 9, 2012

A Course in Miracles

Thus begins a prayer from A Course in Miracles, in the Text on page 28.  I’ve been considering this phrase a lot recently.  What does it mean to be TRULY helpful?

 A few days ago, I travelled to the city with my mom.  When we arrived, I dropped her off to spend the night with her sister, while I went to stay the night with friends from my meditation group.  The next morning, I arose early and picked up mom to take her to three appointments.  At first, I thought I would be early enough to grab a quick chai latte, but an unexpected traffic jam delayed me.  Then, I was angry that we had to crisscross half the city to go from one appointment to another, in no reasonable sense of driving order.  Also, it was snowing and the road conditions were less than optimal.  Grrr.  Well, from there, the whole day just spiraled down into more feelings of anger, arrogance and blaming.  I could observe what was happening, and I took responsibility for it, apologizing to my mom several times, but I couldn’t seem to shake the negative attitude either.  The verbal attacks that sprouted from my mouth like a bunch of thorny weeds – aimed at, pretty much, any excuse I could concoct – felt like it was completely out of my control.
 

As I thought about the day later on, I wondered why I hadn’t remembered some lessons from the Course, designed for these very situations.  I could have used, “I am not upset for the reason that I think“, or “I do not know what anything, including this, means“, or, failing to recall precise lessons, I could still have just stopped and prayed at any point.  Any words would have been fine, but I didn’t do it.  Instead, I let the negativity grow and grow, until I sucked my mom into its insidious gravity so we were both in bad moods, and then I juiced the situation for every drop of dark satisfaction I could get.  The bottom line is that I WANTED to juice that negative energy.  But WHY???

It was really hard for me to understand the underlying motivation of it, so I used a technique that Adyashanti recommends: to talk to the anger.  Anger said that it didn’t want to do things it didn’t want to do.  It didn’t really want to help my mom.  It was too much trouble to do all that driving, especially when there was nothing in it for ME.  Anger only wanted what benefited its own selfish little self!

So, somewhere along the line that day, I went into resistance about helping my mom, and then I couldn’t help but operate out of the internal conflict.  That’s why it felt so “out of control”.  Resistance occurs when we’re doing something we don’t really want to do – or not doing something we really do want to do.  Doo-doo-de-doo, de-doo-de-doo-doo.  If I would’ve just been honest with myself, as rude and embarrassing as it is to admit the truth, the whole negative condition would’ve melted away.  If I would’ve allowed myself to feel how I felt, been OK with it, then I could have made an active and free CHOICE to help my mom anyway.  At that point, feeling fully engaged and positive about the choice I was making from an honest place of power.

This morning, while I was doing the dishes, thoughts of complaint and blame arose again.  Right away, instead of trying to ‘figure out’ why I’m so bitchy about dirty dishes, I just surrendered and asked spirit to see it differently.  I admitted that I truly didn’t know why the dirty dish conflict kept rising in my mind, and I dropped the whole problem into silence.  And, from silence, the answer came.  I could see that it was the same issue as the travel day with my mom.  Oh, for Pete’s sake!  For so long, I danced around the issue because I didn’t really want to see the truth.  It’s not just about being frustrated at chaos – although that may be part of how I was perceiving it – it’s more about being selfish.  It’s hard to admit to being THAT selfish.  After all the things my mom does for me, totally unconditionally, why don’t I have the same generosity toward her?  No, my helpfulness definitely comes with conditions.

I was watching Nadia G’s Bitchin’ Kitchen yesterday (she’s like a female Andrew Dice Clay and she kills me!) and she said that she’s an only child and that she’s grown up used to doing everything she wants for herself.  Yup.  Me too.  She made me laugh about it, which was good, so today I can look at this monumentally selfish beast that I have been and I can forgive myself. 

The truth is that I don’t know how to be unconditionally helpful.  I don’t know how to do things for others without expecting a quid pro quo…

… BUT I AM WILLING TO ASK FOR HELP.

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A Course in Miracles - The Movie

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It Doesn’t Matter (Part 1)

Posted by Amanda Gray on July 21, 2011

I have so much gratitude. So many revelations – miracles – have been shown to me this evening. One of the compensations of spiritual work is that, when you get it, you really GET it! A whole new vista opens up within you; a dimension of liveliness, loveliness and acceptance that feels… blissful.The Razor''s Edge

I watched the movie “The Razor’s Edge” yesterday.  (The photo and link are to the original story by W. Somerset Maugham.)  It’s a very spiritual movie, but its messages are exceptionally subtle. So subtle, that the first three times I watched it, I didn’t understand, but this time, the actions of the main character (Bill Murray) finally made sense to me. Another character does something horrible, but all he says is, “It doesn’t matter.” What could he mean? How can it not matter?

But it’s true. I get it. It truly doesn’t matter. None of it. This entire world and all of its participants – none of it MEANS anything. It’s only a thought that thinks it means something. Only a thought that ‘decides’ whether something is good or bad, right or wrong, likeable or detestable. And I don’t have to believe the thought. I don’t have to believe ANY thought. NO thoughts are true. When a feeling arises, it’s just an energy being released in that form (anger, fear, grief). I don’t have to believe it MEANS anything. It doesn’t. NO feelings are true.

The other day, I went out with my Mom. The entire day, I struggled with judgements and grievances. It seemed that all day, we just couldn’t communicate, and couldn’t decide together on anything. I wanted one thing, and she wanted something else. What can you do when each wants something different and no compromise is possible? I watched my thoughts carefully all day, recognized my resistances, surrendered my judgements, and at the end of the day, I recognized something truly significant. When I wanted something but then couldn’t get my way, I would blame my Mom for ruining my PEACE. I tried every way to Timbuktu to project the blame on her – but it wasn’t her. It was me. Holding the desire was ruining my OWN peace. Being in resistance ruined my OWN peace. It could’ve been a very nice day – but within me, I resisted and struggled. Me. All me. Outwardly, everything was fine. There was nothing to complain about. Does it matter if it’s ‘her’ way or ‘my’ way… if, in truth, we’re ONE, and that there is only, in truth, ONE way?

Today I started a new job. It was very physically taxing, and I’m not fit at the moment, so it was a real challenge. Like Adyashanti often recommends, I simply accepted everything just as it was. If I was tired, I accepted being tired. If my head hurt or my neck was stiff, I accepted it. I thoroughly enjoyed working with the team, and I accepted each person in each moment, just as they were, and whatever they were contributing. (Of course, it’s generally pretty easy to do that with complete strangers.) I accepted the job as it was, even though, normally, as a very lazy girl, I wouldn’t put myself out that much. Normally, I’d resist and make excuses to get out of doing things I didn’t want to do. I took one of the tougher jobs and gave it everything I had. When I wanted to trade out of that particular position, but was assigned to continue, I accepted it. What I learned at the end of the day is this: if it truly doesn’t matter what’s happening or what I’m doing, I can just do the best I can, I don’t need to worry about the results, and I can believe that I have everything I need to do the job. If I decide I CAN do it – then I CAN.

Today, I also learned that when a truth is revealed, it can be enjoyed in the moment and then soon forgotten, or it can be integrated into my life, thereby making it a PERMANENT transformation. I learned yesterday, from that movie, that all this stuff of nonsense just doesn’t matter, I integrated that into my day today, and all the hard work was made light.

It just doesn’t matter. Thank God!

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How do I Live an Authentic Life?

Posted by Amanda Gray on July 6, 2011

A Course in Miracles, Text, page 550:

Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping up to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do. But it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road that leads to nothing and that has no purpose.

The past ten years of my life has been primarily characterized by a single goal of enlightenment, and it’s ‘process’ of separating the meaningful from the meaningless, the truth from illusion. I live for this work. I love this work. In the quote above: Nothing you undertake with certain purpose and high resolve and happy confidence, holding your brother’s hand and keeping up to Heaven’s song, is difficult to do. That’s how I feel when I’m meditating, or when I’m contemplating/praying about a stressful event from my day, or when I’m at a spiritual group meeting, or when I’m attending a retreat. Essentially, when I feel closest to spirit. The second part of the quote has characterized, pretty much, the rest of my life: But it is hard indeed to wander off, alone and miserable, down a road that leads to nothing and that has no purpose. Certainly, I’ve lived enough for three lifetimes, but it’s been, almost entirely, dissatisfying! I’ve done everything I can think of to do. Do, do, do. Learn, learn, learn. For what? I’m in the same place. I never ‘went’ anywhere. I never ‘got’ anything.

While the ego does an amazing job of substitution, it’s incapable of real and lasting love, peace or joy. Its selfishness, greed, hatred, and destruction are its only foundations, built entirely on shaky ground, but while these qualities are cherished, they can block the truth of the underlying Self. I have chased egoic illusions in the world, thinking that I could find the truth in the ‘right’ job, or the ‘right’ teaching, live in the ‘right’ place, or that the ‘right’ person could give me the ‘right’ answer. There has been no purpose to these wanderings and they have always ended painfully, just to shift again to a new, but similarly unsatisfactory situation. Will I continue to believe there’s someone out there who can tell me how to BE? That’s crazy!

I will not go one more step forward in the world to mis-create more suffering for myself and others. I will stop now and do the consciousness work that must be done. I feel that I’m at a major juncture and the choices I make now are crucial. I can continue with meaninglessness – taking ‘safe’ jobs and barely scraping by in poverty, mediocrity, and apathy – or I can, for the first time in ten years, define what is meaningful to me. If I’m ever going to take the risk of being myself, now is a very good time. If I set a true, meaningful goal now, then I can move forward with complete certainty. I’ll be able to disregard all thoughts of ‘getting’ something from the world and from others, and focus instead on what I have to give to them. I’m asking: what is my gift of true giving? How do I live an authentic life? How may I serve?

Adyashanti often asks his students, “What do you know that you don’t really want to know?” Right now, I would answer that I suspect I’ll go back on stage. I’m afraid of it, though, and when I think about performing, I feel a kind of ‘evil temptation’ with it. A mischievous smile will play at the corner of my lips, and it’s somehow associated with ‘acting’ and with ‘lies’.The Compassionate Samurai

I’ve been reading the book, The Compassionate Samurai by Brian Klemmer.

This stood out on page 83:

A person may become accustomed to telling people what he thinks they want to hear. When he does this, he’s really hiding. He’s not only hiding the total truth, but he’s also hiding a piece of himself that he really doesn’t want others to know.

Yes, that’s what comes from that ‘actor’ self – the ‘evil temptation’ to lie about myself – yet another part of me must have been aware of the lie and allowed it. If my higher self never stepped in to ‘save me’, it’s only because I never invited it to. Anyway, whatever’s being held back, it’s something that’s ‘bigger’ than the little egoic me, bigger than I’m comfortable with.

I quit acting ten years ago because I didn’t want to play a part anymore. I wanted to be myself. This time, I won’t go on stage hiding behind a role, promoting a fantasy, or speaking the words of another, I’ll be my Self and I’ll share the true gifts of my unique being. How? I don’t know. It’s not challenging to come up with ideas, I have a million, but what’s challenging is to pick one and stick to it. I often lose the motivation for an idea when I think about how much work is involved. Or how much I’d have to do by myself. Or how much it’ll cost. Sometimes I just hit this wall of “I can’t”. It’s almost like, if it’s something I really want… I can’t. Why can’t I? What am I so inspired by that I won’t lose motivation or energy for it overnight? What’s truly worth doing?

I recognize that, recently, my desire for spirit – to know myself, truth and God – has made me neglect and eschew my practical responsibilities. I’ve attempted to separate spirit from the world, but, yeah, I know it’s a mistake. Although I might wish it to be, enlightenment is not an ‘escape’ from the world. It’s true that in spiritual work, it’s necessary to surrender attachments and desires, but it’s also necessary to surrender resistances, and as long as I’m resisting mundane worldly experience – the action of love in the world – I’m missing half of the story. I’m missing “the forest for the trees.” I’ve been obtusely fixated on finding the ‘right’ tree (job). What qualities would make a ‘right’ tree anyway? The type of tree, or the shape of its boughs, or the colour of its foliage? Will the ‘right’ tree make me perfectly happy? No, I just set myself up for failure as I immediately focus on what’s wrong with each tree. Darting from tree to tree, I’m confused by the content of myriad details, and I miss the context of the fantastic forest around me – of wildlife, plants, flowers, insects, and rainbows. I put undue pressure on myself to find the ‘right’ tree, when I might just need to lean against a tree that’s right, for right now, and enjoy the moment in the woods.

I also see that I’ve got to quit trying to be perfect all the time. This is probably why I’ve been regularly haunted by a feeling of ‘impending doom’ at work. The doom is when everyone finds out that I’m a fake, that I’m not perfect, and that I’m pretending to be interested what I’m doing. I’ve taken work for the past ten years, almost solely on the basis of it being ‘safe’. Well, that’s over, I can’t choose that way anymore. I can’t force interest anymore. I’m no longer motivated by money, or position, or by being liked; I’m only motivated by something within me that says, “Yeah, this looks like fun. I want to participate in this game with these people.”

On page 71 of The Compassionate Samurai, Brian says:

When you live with death in mind, you’re not trying to preserve your life and simply survive, because you know it’s a lost cause. You play full-out because you don’t have anything to lose.

That’s a massive paradigm shift for me! Yes, I have merely tried to preserve my life, doing as little as I can, playing it safe. I used death as an excuse: if I’m only going to die anyway, why bother doing anything? But Brian clearly explains that death doesn’t have to be an excuse for a living death, it can be the reason for a full, passionate life.

Fascinating. These have all been awesome lessons.

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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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No One Can Fail Who Seeks to Reach the Truth

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 11, 2011

Today I seek and find all that I want.  My single purpose offers it to me.  No one can fail who seeks to reach the truth.
A Course in Miracles, Lesson131, Pg. 240

Last night, I listened to a recording by spiritual teacher, Adyashanti.  His teaching, like the Course in Miracles, is very direct.  It brought up some intriguing questions and inspiration:

  • If I’m waiting for the mind or my feelings to still, I’ll wait forever.  No waiting is necessary.  The truth – on every level of being (physical/spiritual) – is available immediately.
  • How is my apathy (anger, fear, etc.) seeing the world?  What would it say?  My apathy says, I don’t want to be here.
  • Then: Is it true? (That I don’t want to be here.)
  • Then, an inspiration: When did I first decide not to BE… HERE?  (Here, in the Self.)
  • Then: When did I first choose to hide my Self?

I’ve been working with this riddle of ‘hiding my Self’ since it first came up in a dream about a month ago.  Several of my consciously developed friends pointed it out as well, and I make it a policy never to ignore advice that’s corroborated by a couple or more sources.  I agree that it’s an important area to examine, but, so far, I’m not getting anything.  So, alas, it’s still percolating.  Perhaps the more direct questions, as above, will help further.

Adyashanti also said that the ‘instantaneous downloads’ of knowledge I’ve experienced on occasion, are natural to the Self, and that it’s actually natural to get them all the time.  Adya called it PRAJNA.  Yes, please, I’d like to have more prajna.  Continuous prajna.  That’d be awesome!

Also, after some further thought about the Course lesson from yesterday – about surrendering all value I’ve placed in the world – I remember that, yes, that is how it goes.  I had forgotten.  Of course, I can continue to play in the world, keep seeking endlessly for useless trinkets, and delay myself for eons, even, if I really want to.  But do I want that?  NOOOOO!!!  Because I really want the ONLY useful, meaningful thing there is: the Self.  I want to rest in the source, the ground, of my being.  It is, absolutely, the most important thing to me, but sometimes, it seems I forget, and then I have to re-focus and re-establish my intention. Adya suggested that it’s painful to leave the Self – and yes, I think that perhaps I’m conscious of that when I’m wandering and getting wrapped up in goofy worldly distractions.  Perhaps it’s related to a particular anxiety I’ve experienced lately too.  Perhaps seeking out in the world has truly become anathema to me now.  Well, that, or I’ve become agoraphobic.  So, really, I don’t know.  I’m just guessing.  Is it appropriate for me to relinquish the world at this time?  Is it natural to have lost most of my interest in it?  I want to take care that I’m not creating aversions, or rejecting it, or hiding from it, but it’s true that I see very little point in most worldly activities – and I don’t think it sees much point in me either, frankly.  That sounds funny, but it does seem to be letting go of me, just as much as I’m letting go of it.  So, it’s a mutual relinquishment.

Like my Course lesson says, I can’t fail.  Whew.  Good.  I’m really sick of being a total failure.  The spiritual path is sometimes difficult, and it’s certainly strange, but there’s nothing else for me to do.  Spirit has it’s own energy now and I simply need to follow… or I’ll be dragged.  Yeah, I think I prefer to follow willingly.

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