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Posts Tagged ‘life’

Early Childhood Progress Report

Posted by Amanda Gray on August 9, 2014

Alright… movin’ on…

Here I am, in this paradise city they call Vancouver, British Columbia, surrounded by massive luscious gorgeousness of every kind; a boundless shining city offering more opportunity than I dare fathom with my pretty little head.  And in this new cornucopia of plenty, I’m conducting a serious reassessment (sigh… again???) about who I am, and whittling down what I really want to do with the narrowing years of my life.  I’m carefully weeding out extraneous self concepts and interests where my motivation is limited, or where the realities become severely diminished at my age.  For example: I’m not going to be a Rock Star.  I can’t even play an instrument.  I tried.  I’m terrible.  Please, give it up, Amanda… your time is OVER… please, just… STOP.  And, as much as my intentions have been earnest to relearn some computer programming, after applying myself to a course of study on two separate occasions, and both times experiencing my interest completely vanish shortly along, I have to concede that this activity doesn’t float my boat as much as I might wish it did.  Curses!  Foiled again!

It’s quickly becoming a precarious position, as I attempt to reconcile myself with the genuine motivations of my heart, and yet, secure an actual paying position.  I’ve always been interested in many things.  I’ve amassed a vast wealth of experience in applying myself to many functions and roles.  And, because I’m smart and resourceful, I’m capable of doing exceedingly well at these many things too.  But I’ve been like a canon that fires balls in all directions.  It’s really not the most useful contraption!  And employers don’t like it, because they can’t easily classify me into a tiny, miniscule, microscopic box.  So, I have to learn to fire my canon in ONE direction.   There’s some job ads I look at and think, “Yeah, I could do that, and I’d probably enjoy it too,” and I apply.  No problem.  And there’s other job ads, things I could definitely do, but, my heart recoils into the bitter cage of my chest, and I feel like I’d rather kill myself than apply!  Crap!  I mean, I NEED A JOB!!!  This is getting REAL here, people!!  I can’t continue to be this picky… can I????  Not for long, as my financial condition is fast transforming into a stuttering, stumbling, black-blooded zombie – no pulse, no life, no hope!  ACK, BLECK, &%%$** slobber **&*%^^%$, GLOOT!!!

This morning I came across some report cards from my early childhood.  Hmmm…  what did others say about my young, most natural, being?  Might they reveal some clues as to my most dear personal leanings?  I’ve transcribed the reports completely, for posterity, but I’ll highlight the most positive points in red.  Also, note that I was called ‘Ann’ back then.

Edmonton Public Schools

Early Childhood Progress Report

School – Delton

Grade – 01

Principal – G. E. Eliasson

Teacher – Miss J. Hawkins

First Report Date – Nov 20, 1975 Second Report Date – March 12, 1976 Third Report Date – June 23, 1976
Social and Emotional Development: Ann is a cooperative and capable student.  She behaves responsibly towards school rules and gets along well with others.  Ann puts forth a commendable effort on all her projects.  [Yes, of course.  I still do.  Potential employers: please read.] Social and Emotional Development: Ann continues to show persistence in her work habits.  She participates actively and has made commendable progress.  Ann is developing good work habits. [Potential employers: please read.] Social and Emotional Development:  Ann has been a capable and cooperative student.  She has put forth her best effort throughout the year.  Ann has been an asset to our class.  Good luck to her in her grade two year.
Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann is developing good speaking and listening skills.  She has made very good progress in the reading program.  Her printing is neatly done. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann enjoys reading.  She has learned her sounds and basic vocabulary well.  Her oral reading could be more fluent.  Ann continues to work carefully on her written projects. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann has made commendable progress in word attack skills and reading comprehension.  Her oral reading has good expression.  She can use her spelling vocabulary to compose simple stories.  [Expression… yup.  Still true.]
Mathematics:  Ann is learning the numbers to thirty.  She is developing a good problem solving ability.  [All the better to computer program with, my dear!] Mathematics: Ann knows her numbers to 100.  She is learning her basic facts to 8.  We are now practicing the counting of money.  [Yay – money!] Mathematics:  Ann works quickly and accurately with numbers.  She has had no difficulties in the grade one arithmetic program.
Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann is a very good participant in group activities.  [Collaboration is important to me.] Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann shows much initiative in her independent projects.  She enjoys group work but could show more maturity when working with others.  [Note that I was an only child.] Social Studies – Science – Health:  [Blank]
Physical Education:  Ann participates willingly.  She is a good sport during these activities. Physical Education:  Satisfactory participation. Physical Education:   Satisfactory progress.
Art – Drama – Music:  Ann has made very good progress.  She enjoys these subjects and puts forth her best work.  [Naturally.] Art – Drama – Music:  Satisfactory work. Art – Drama – Music:  Satisfactory progress.

 

Edmonton Public Schools

Early Childhood Progress Report

School – Delton Elementary

Grade – 02

Principal – G. E. Eliasson

Teacher – Mrs. M. Kaastrup  [I called her Mrs. Ketchup!]

First Report Date – November 26, 1976 Second Report Date – March 11, 1977 Third Report Date – June 30, 1977
Social and Emotional Development: Ann is becoming much more responsive to reason while still maintaining that great sense of individualism she possesses.  She has proven herself capable of producing very neat and presentable work when she so chooses.  Although, Ann accepts the responsibility for completing her assignments, she should concentrate on using her free time more constructively and minimizing the tendency to socialize.  [Haha!  Nothing ever changes!] Social and Emotional Development: Ann’s vivacious and enthusiastic disposition are most refreshing.  She possesses the courage to speak her mind.  Ann is very pleased with her increased effort to respect the rules of the classroom more conscientiously in the past few weeks. Social and Emotional Development:  Lately Ann has taken considerable more pride in the appearance of her work.  She has also displayed better judgement as to which projects should have priority at a given time.  Her greater willingness to co-operate has been much appreciated, not to mention her vitality.
Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann is developing an effective speaking vocabulary.  She shows determination in reading a library book.  Her recall of sounds is acceptable but when attacking a word she is not always as conscious of the letters involved causing her to say ‘was’ for ‘has’, or ‘his’ for ‘this’, or ‘cops’ for ‘cop’.  Ann could improve the accuracy of her comprehension by attending to details. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Ann takes great pleasure in reading expressively.  She has made great strides in distinguishing the long and short vowel sounds.  As well she has become much more accurate in word attack and less inclined to confuse words similar in structure (example – went for want).  Her comprehension skills and ability to follow written directions are maturing very acceptably.  Ann is capable of producing printing of a fine quality when she chooses to exert the effort; however frequently she does not take enough care with slant. Language Arts – Listening, Speaking, Reading, Writing:  Since the beginning of the term Ann has made a marked improvement in her accuracy in word attack through the development of very respectable decoding skills as well as greater concentration.  Her ability to make inferences and read critically are up to par.  She can capably interpret literal meaning.  Ann’s effective use expression makes her oral reading pleasant to listen to.  As of late, Ann has improved her printing considerably.  She delights in new words. [YES!]
Mathematics:  Ann capably handles ordering series of numbers, supplying numbers missing in a sequence & counting by fives & tens to 100.  Her rate of recall for addition facts to 10 is acceptable. Mathematics:  Ann has mastered the properties of addition and subtraction studied, the concepts covered in hundreds, tens and ones, as well as the types of problems she has encountered.  She can readily tell time on the hour and the half.  Ann could make an effort to increase her rate of recall for addition facts to 18 (example 5+8=13, 7+9=16 etc.) Mathematics:  Ann has a sound grasp of the concepts covered in grade two mathematics.  Encourage Ann to form the habit of starting in the ones column when adding or subtracting 2 or 3 digit numbers as this will be essential for success in grade three when she will be confronted with ‘borrowing’ and ‘carrying’.  Her accuracy of recall for facts to 18 is good, but she should strive to increase her rate. [I still, most naturally, add & subtract backwards.  And, yes, in grade three I was completely lambasted in math!]
Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann has developed an acceptable understanding of the concepts of change that result in various forms of life with the advance of fall.  Although she was active in the related projects, her enthusiasm for becoming involved in discussions tended to fluctuate from day to day.  Science: Ann participates well in class activities.  She does, however, find it difficult to remember the task at hand.  She has an excellent knowledge of living/not living, symmetry, names of shapes, measurement and negative numbers. Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann has done excellent work in our units on information, magnets and balance scales.  She did good work with our weather, volume, measurement, color change and graph units.  In Social Studies Ann has been studying People and Their Feelings. [I imagine I enjoyed that.] As well she has had the opportunity to gain greater experience in co-operating as a group member, still thinking for herself, but at the same time, respecting other people’s opinions. Social Studies – Science – Health:  Ann showed great enthusiasm in our units on shadows, angles, time and area.  She has a good knowledge of those concepts.  Ann gained some experience in written and oral reporting in connection with the unit on Fables.  She enjoyed writing book reports on fables she had studied on her own.  Ann could have accepted more responsibility for bringing in material on the Supermarkets so that she could have participated more effectively in the unit.
Physical Education:  Ann enjoys participating in phys ed.  She has been active in solving tasks in gymnastics as well as refining her skill in handling balls. Physical Education:  Ann has developed reasonably good control in dribbling balls. She has applied herself diligently in solving tasks in gymnastics and obviously has much increased body awareness as is evidenced in the various combination of body parts she uses in travelling and balancing.  Ann should make an effort to develop more sportsmanship with regard to who her partner is. Physical Education:  Ann delighted in communicating ideas through body movements.  [Oh, yes, always love expressing IDEAS!]  She developed considerable skill in the paddle bat activities.  As well Ann has been involved in track and field events.
Art – Drama – Music:  Ann displays a tendency to overlap colors both while painting and crayoning which in many cases makes her work more realistic.  As well she enjoys experimenting with the development of various textural effects in both mediums.  [I still LOVE color and texture!!] Art – Drama – Music: Ann is in her element when she can be involved in art projects.  She is beginning to depict more detail in her work and to use facial features to convey emotion.  In modelling Ann showed an awareness of the great textural possibilities.  In drama, Ann is most expressive and a natural at providing appropriate dialogue.  Music – Ann appears to enjoy music.  She is progressing very well. Art – Drama – Music:  Ann continues to plan her work ever more consciously utilizing more realistic proportions, and introducing more than one baseline where she deems necessary.  Music – Excellent.

 

SUMMARY:

Hasn’t it been said that we learn everything we need to by Grade 2?  Or something like that?  I wonder if this would get me a job if I transcribed these reports word-for-word on my resume?  LOL!

It’s no surprise that I had lots of interest in reading, speaking, art, drama and music.  I enjoyed being independent, studying on my own, and communicating ideas.  I enjoyed working with color, shading and texture.  These qualities are all still applicable for me.  So, it must be true that people rarely change much over a lifetime.  I thought I did, but perhaps I’ve just become more conscious of traits that have always been.

There’s a couple more reports that are relevant to this discussion.  These are from my teenage acting classes:

 

The Citadel Theatre Drama Classes

Final Report

Age Group: 13 – 14 Beginners

General Remarks: An outgoing and exuberant girl.  A natural ‘clown’ but must learn to discipline herself and concentrate.

Attitude: Good – very interested – as she gets older she will I think understand what I have tried to tell her all the season – the importance of discipline in the art.

Ability: A natural performer – if interested enough will develop well.

Recommendation: Advanced class next season.

 

Citadel Theatre School Student Evaluation

Class/Level: 2B

Voice:  You have the ability to achieve great heights Amanda.  Very insightful and moving work was accomplished.  I am so sorry you have decided to side-step an acting career, I know you’d be successful.

Improvisation: A good talent. Watch the trap of being caught impressing the class – work for yourself – develop knowledge and understanding.  Term 1 was unfocused and more work in term 2 would have allowed greater benefits.  Keep up the journey!

Movement:  You actually made some remarkable progress in movement, Amanda!  You move well when you allow yourself to do so, because you seem to have convinced yourself that you can’t do it!!  That makes you undermine your own work with lack of focus & concentration – but you DO have the ability!!  Hope you use it in the future.

 

SUMMARY:

A natural CLOWN – haha – no JOKE!!  It’s true – but humour can also be used as a defense, or to ‘people please’ (impressing the class) – so I have to be conscious when it’s going that way.  It’s also interesting to note that while my participation in phys ed was completely normal in Grades 1 and 2, I installed a block about it by my teen years.  And you’d think that all that good work with balls and dribbling in Grade 2 would have made it easier to learn to juggle – but it didn’t!  So… boo… whatever.

Today, I was considering applying for Cirque du Soleil (they’re auditioning in town soon), but because their shows are so physical, I don’t consider it a realistic path.  As much as I’m happy to stretch myself into more physical expression as much as I can, and while I’m generally relaxed with facial and upper body movement… I’m not likely to roll on the floor, do somersaults, go to an aerobics class, or shovel gravel anytime soon.  And that’s just how it is.  I think I’m more interested in expressing myself with words and ideas.  Or with color and texture!  🙂

I have a fondness for thinking of myself as an ‘actor’.  This is a self concept I’m pretty attached to.  Yet, several times in my life, apparently including my Citadel 2B class, I decided to ‘side-step’ an acting career.  As much as it calls me, it also seems to repel me.  My recent 12 year gap from acting has impacted greatly.  Even while I dip my toes in the possibility by doing some background film work, overall,  it’s not coming easily or naturally.  Ultimately, I feel like I lost my best chance, and now I’m too old and fat, and it’s too late.  And now I’m afraid in ways I never was before.  Like when I do improv – I’m good, and relaxed, and I’m in it — and then, suddenly, a wall comes down in my mind and I get totally shy!  I’m letting go of the limited idea that the only work I’ll be happy with is ‘acting’.  I could happily communicate in many occupations.  In fact, everything I do in this world can accurately be called acting.  We all take on various roles in our lives: parent, teacher, mother, child, etc.  Grocery store clerk, blackjack dealer, blogger, data manager, etc.  And I’m pretty sure my ego is simply attracted to the role of ‘actor’ as a method of ‘specialness’.  Fame as a method of world domination – lol – no, but of being ‘loved’.  It’s the ‘seek but do not find’ routine.  And, this, I have to weed out.

EDITED:  Yet, here’s where I’m most deeply conflicted.  It feels like this is the very thing my heart most wants.  ARGGGGGG!  Again, when I go back to my earliest childhood, I pretended at characters all the time.  Coloring, Barbie’s, and acting out characters.  So what if everyone on the planet wants to be an actor too.  So what if my ego has come in and bastardized an entirely natural drive.  So what if it’s so obviously an attempt at making a body ‘special’.  But I CAN’T STOP MYSELF!!!!  No matter how much I try to surrender the desire, it comes back.  And here’s something I learned about desires that won’t go away – sometimes you just have to LIVE THEM OUT.  Allow them to EXPRESS.  The only way out is THROUGH.

So… maybe I can’t get a job.  Maybe I can just do what I want.  *BOINK*  *blink*  *blink*  I tried doing some of the audition they want for Cirque du Soleil in my mirror last night… and it surprised me.  And inspired me.  Hmmmm….

A few days ago, I was watching Jerry Seinfeld in Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee.  He was interviewing Jon Stewart and he asked, “Do you think actors can play comedians?”  The both agreed that they couldn’t.  And I see their point.  There’s people who can be funny (like me, once in a while, usually by accident) and then there’s FUN-NY PEO-PLE.  They’re a particular breed.  They think in an entirely particular way.  And if you’re not on that level, well, you’re not.  So that’s another one of those things I’m weeding out – I’m, clearly, not going to be a comedian.  Or a clown.  For real – it’s an unnatural stretch.  I’m glad I took the clown class, and there’s lots that I’ll be keeping forefront in my mind (like playing!), but clowning’s not going to be my whole thing.  I always get excited about stuff at the beginning, like it’s finally the thing that’ll save my life, finally DEFINE WHAT I AM, but then it never does.  I have to quit looking for that.  It’s not going to happen.

So, OK.  Weeding out and weeding out.  Eventually, I’ll have a direction to aim my cannon.  Then, look out!

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A Formula for Life

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 25, 2014

Tremendous bit of news to start: I moved to the most beautiful place on Earth!  I am now living in the stunning and mind-blowing Pacific Northwest city of Vancouver!

Vancouver Seawall

Yippee!!

Getting here, mind you, has been a challenging exercise, and the city hasn’t quite opened it’s great arms to my full participation yet.  I’ve been applying energy in every direction I can think of; dipping my toes into a wide assortment of potential activities, tippy-toeing down myriad paths of possibility for groups and collaboration; and after 2 months, I still haven’t quite got my groove on. 

The main thing, of course, is for some income. My mom and I have both been bleeding green for months now. I keep reiterating that it can’t go on like this forever, that money has to flow back to us eventually. It’s the fundamental nature of energy.  It’s science. It’s truth. And yet, every day continues to show itself as another day of spending, spending, spending. Yikes!  Ok. Fine. I repeat my favourite mantra; TRUST. I have to trust.  Everything is being taken care of.  Worrying about it will make no difference.  The energy will move when it does, and not a second sooner.  But it’s wearing on me – on us.  And we’ve had many, many moments of anger, and disagreement, and fear, and frustration, and tears, to tangle with, then to release, discuss, and forgive.  So, if nothing else, we’ve certainly been doing our spiritual work!  Continuous and ongoing!

I had one job interview.  Only one – but it’s a super good one – for a job I would REALLY enjoy.  At a gorgeous new arts centre close to home.  I don’t think I could do much better – it aligns so clearly with all the aspects of work I’d want. It finally seems that I’m ready to clear away some majorly dysfunctional divisions in my mind, and, in particular, an idea that I could have a Mc.job that paid the rent OR I could have creative work that I wanted, but never both. This idea kept me in jobs that I didn’t much like, always craving to be someplace else, but never able to get to that mythic holy land of creative fulfilment. If I created or performed, it was a hobby, enjoyable and collaborative, but short-lived, and almost always zero budget. If I earned income, it’s often been with repetitive functions, with little opportunity for creative expression or collaboration with others, and, usually, short-lived as well.  You see, because I was never truly committed to either side.  Both sides presented some difficulty or danger.  I get money, but sell my soul – I express myself creatively, but starve to death.  Jeesh!

Well, now I’m finished with all that nonsense.  Now I’m simply asking for EVERYTHING I want.  I want work I can approach with my WHOLE MIND.  My logical, analytical, technological left brain AND my playful, creative, spontaneous right brain – all together for the first time in my life!  I want to collaborate creatively with others, take responsibility for a bigger picture, use technology to organize data and create networks, and to challenge, play and evolve every day with something vivid, fresh and delightful!  This word – evolution – it’s a PARTY in my mind right now – I want to EVOLVE in every direction all at ONCE!!  I feel ready to push through all barriers of dualistic thinking, and move in a whole new way – EVERY WAY – ALL WAYS!

As I recently created an infographic resume (using easel.ly), I developed a motto for my work – actually – in fact, it’s more of a formula that encapsulates my recent philosophy of life.  It goes like this:

 

care + attention = excellence

 

This simple formula can be applied anytime, anywhere, with any thing, person, object, goal or activity.  In every way.  In all ways.  It will always ensure the same result.  It’s science.  It’s truth.  It’s the formula for my life now.  Income, or no income – all I need is to look around me – at the stunning creation that’s springing to existence in this marvellous city at every remarkable moment – to nod an acknowledgement to it’s shining divinity – to bow in awe at it’s unknowable, vast, tumult – it’s light-speed velocity – and remember that I am ONE with it.  I can’t be left behind.  When I open up, relax and go with the flow; give this moment, every moment, my full care and attention; allow myself to expand, expand, and expand some more; then the excellence of life surrounds me, invites and welcomes, and embraces me.  Ahhhh….

 

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Acceleration

Posted by Amanda Gray on April 19, 2012

Zippy! Zoom!

It’s a common idea among spiritual students, at least the ones in my circle, that a retreat begins the moment one commits to it.  This has certainly been the case before I’ve gone on retreats in the past and it’s been particularly noticeable for the past few months since I decided to attend a retreat that will begin in two weeks.  My lessons have accelerated and deepened.  There haven’t been the kind of startling revelations that usually inspire me to write a blog post, but it’s more like I’m swimming in this gentle pool of ideas that are shifting, swirling, inviting, welcoming.

The first thing that’s been going on is that I’m looking closer at my sleeping dreams and my waking dreams, and rather than examining the details of a particular dream, I’m considering the activity of dreaming as a whole.  One of the things I learned early on about my night dreams, is that when I was lucid, I seemed to have the capacity to “change the channel” of the dream, but I had no control of what would occur on the next “channel”, nor was I able (except once) to stop dreaming and wake up.  This is similar to my experience in waking dreams (the ‘real’ world) in that I can make a decision to change my life situation – a new place to live, a new job, a bigger house, a different boyfriend, etc. – but I can’t predict the outcome of that decision, nor, no matter how much I try, can I stop the dream from continuing.  Every time I open my eyes from a sleeping dream, a waking dream begins.  Therefore, dreaming, as a whole, is an activity that seems to proceed outside of my control.

This morning, upon waking from my sleeping dream, a thought arose: I’m still believing that I’m the hero of the dream.  Usually, my sleeping dreams revolve around the central character of “me”.  I might be an observer of the dream, like watching a movie where the activities of the characters have no effect on the “me” character, or I might be a participant in the dream, where the activities strongly affect the “me” and provoke the “me” to feel things and act in various ways.  There’s almost always a sense of urgency in the dreams in which the “me” is a participant, and fear is often the central emotion.  Sometimes, the observer “me” is outside of the body I would normally recognize as myself. 

Comparing this experience with my waking dreams, it’s very similar.  In the ‘real’ world, I identify myself with this body – mostly inside this body, but, on occasion, outside it – and the activities in my life situation provoke various feelings and actions. I can choose to stand back and observe the world or I can get involved as a participant.  In both dreams, waking or sleeping, I’m the hero.  No matter what happens to the other characters in the dream, I only care what happens to the “me” character.  I want only positive situations and pleasurable feelings to happen to the “me” character, and I act defensively if negative situations, or uncomfortable feelings, are happening to the “me”.

Which brings me to another idea that’s been shifting around in my consciousness: competition.  I never considered myself a particularly competitive person.  I’m not interested in sports or games, nor do I care who wins or loses in these types of situations.  Yet, if two pieces of pie were being served in a restaurant and I received a tiny piece, while someone else received a gigantic piece, I would be steaming mad!  If someone buds in front of me in a line, I would openly complain and verbally attack them.  Why is this?  Because I feel attached to this particular body, as the hero of the story, and I compete with others to ensure this body’s (perceived) gains and defend against its (perceived) losses.  The competitive feelings arise when I’m making a comparison of two things and perceive that something unfair is occurring.  If, instead, I realize that this body is no different from that body, that both are meaningless forms in a meaningless dream, then all impulse to separate, individuate, and compete is meaningless too.

Which then brings me to the idea: I must think I can create myself.  A few weeks ago, I was thinking about the beginning of my spiritual search 10 years ago when I completely abandoned my acting career. For some reason, at the time, I decided that acting and spirituality were incompatible and I totally tossed the baby out with the bath water.  For 10 years, while I focused on the self-concept of “spiritual seeker”, I rejected the self-concept of “actor”.   So I realized that there was a huge, for lack of a better way to express it, actor “energy” that I had been repressing.  I can’t help but notice that the repression of this energy in my waking life merely pushed it to express itself regularly in my sleeping dreams (see A Night at the Improv).  Reclaiming the actor energy, I experienced a strong desire to act again… specifically, to do improv.  Shortly following, I received a very clear instruction to put together an improv workshop in my town and invite one of my improv friends to come and teach it. 

I immediately set about all the preparations – renting a space at the school, placing advertisements in the local paper, hanging up posters – and the workshop is supposed to take place two days from today… except that… no students have called to register.  Huh.  Well.  That’s disappointing.  Why would spirit instruct me to set up this workshop, if it’s not beneficial for others to participate in?  Was I mistaken with the instruction?  Finally I asked spirit to help me see the situation differently. 

I realized that I was just attaching myself to self-concept again and that I needed to see beyond the borders of ALL self-concept.  A self-concept reflects the desire to create oneself in a particular image.  Which means that I must first believe that I CAN create myself… attaching myself to this particular body, defining what I want it to do, and then creating a situation that will satisfy whatever objective I defined.  Creating self also means I must assume the boundaries and limitations of my specificity, as it excludes other possibilities.  What happens if I take off all the boundaries?  What happens if I don’t call myself a “spiritual seeker,” or an “actor,” or a “body,” or even think of myself as the “hero” of the story?

Was the workshop arranged solely for the purpose of my awakening?  Was it a dream arranged only so I could recognize my faulty idea of self?  So I could see that I’m not inside the “idea” of “me”… or even “inside” the “me” character… or even “inside” a dream?

The dream continues… but if I’m not the hero of the dream, what am I?

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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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A Night at the Improv

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 8, 2011

Act I

I’ve been on retreat as much as possible this week. On Monday, June 6, I experienced a lot of generalized anxiety throughout the day, although it abated in meditation. As I got into bed that night, I addressed the anxiety. I asked it:

What are you afraid of?

It answered:

I’m afraid of myself.

Hmmm… that didn’t make any sense to me. Perhaps I heard wrong, or asked the wrong question. I tried asking different questions, but I was only getting confused, so I gave up and went to sleep. Around two in the morning, I woke suddenly with the thought:

…because I did it to myself.

Then I understood (speaking as the fear/ego):

I’m afraid of myself because I did this to myself – but I don’t know how I did it and I don’t know how to stop doing it.

I got up, wrote in my diary for a while, and went back to bed.

Act II

In the morning, I woke from a significant dream:

  1. It’s afternoon, and I’m visiting the Varscona Theatre in Edmonton, Alberta. I meet The Improviser Guy and we chat for a bit. Suddenly, he has a big idea and asks if he could use me in his improv skit that evening. I agree. He says that we need a third person, and runs off. He returns shortly with another talented actor, I’ll call him ‘George’, who asks me why we chose him to work with. I tell him enthusiastically, “You were hand picked, baby!”
  2. It’s evening and the actors are gathering at the theatre for the Improv show. I meet The Improv Guy downstairs and sit next to him at a long table. I whisper something in his ear. His wife suddenly comes around the corner. She lunges in, sits down almost on top of me, and asks jealously, “Do you even know who his two favourite teachers from school were?” I genuinely want to assure her that I have no designs, whatsoever, on her husband. I reply, “No, I have no idea. Really, I never listened to a word he said when we went out.” The Improv Guy is completely unconcerned with the interaction between his wife and I.
  3. It’s time for the show, and the actors line up backstage in order of their skits. I stand anxiously with The Improv Guy. It’s been a long time since I’ve done any improv and I’m not sure I’ll be able to do it. I ask The Improv Guy how he wants to start. He says, “Just go onstage and walk around. Walk like you’ve been walking forever. Then I’ll come out.”
  4. There’s a family of guinea pigs backstage. They’re more like guinea ‘teddy bears’. The mom is taking care of her babies, licking them. I pet the mom guinea.

Interpretation:

  1. I’m at the improv. This means that I’m surrendering the idea that I should have some sort of script for my waking life and I’m willing to get involved in the moment-to-moment ‘improvisation’ of the journey again. ‘George’ is someone I did improv with, once upon a time. I had difficulty working with him, and I found myself regularly blocking his suggestions onstage. It was this experience, partially, at least, that led to a loss of confidence in my improv abilities. Ohhh… wait, I remember now… I was also angry with this guy for making me uncomfortable to attend the improv as an audience member. I haven’t attended a Theatre sports show since. So, it’s a forgiveness issue, and that’s why he was ‘hand picked’ for the ‘dream team’. (Sigh… letting that go now.)
  2. I understand that The Improv Guy character represents the ‘Holy Spirit’. The ‘me’ character in the dream is willing to work with him, so it means I’m interested and willing to work with the HS in my waking life. I understand that the wife character represents my ‘Shadow’ or ‘ego’ side. The ‘me’ character doesn’t have any meaningful relationship to the wife, so it indicates that, while I’m not preoccupied with the shadow-ego of my consciousness, I’m still sensitive to its various difficulties. The attitude shown here is one of compassion. In my experience, a dream shadow is usually annoying to the dream ‘me’ character, so it’s curious that this wasn’t the case in this dream. The shadow-wife thinks she loves the HS-husband, but really, she just wants to own and control him. She’s totally terrified of losing him and she immediately jumps to conclusions and projects guilt. It’s my understanding that a dream shadow character generally shows up to indicate aspects of self that have been repressed. So, I gather that there’s a desire to possess the HS and use it for selfish/narcissistic ends – or fears that it could happen. The dream puts the shadow-ego and the HS in a married relationship, which indicates a move in consciousness toward whole being. (The wife asks about ‘teachers’, but I’m not getting any specific understanding about that bit.)
  3. So, here’s the ‘me’, about to go onstage with The Improv Guy-Holy Spirit. I’m completely willing to go forward, even though he’s giving me very little guidance, I’m facing the complete unknown, and I’m worried that I’m not as capable as he thinks I am. I’m willing to face my fear and do it anyway! Gung HO! I’m also willing to play the ‘straight’ role, allowing the HS to swoop in, land all the punch lines, and get all the glory (indeed, as it should be). I’m told to ‘walk like I’ve been walking forever’. Well, that pretty much sums up most of my existence to this point, now, doesn’t it? Ha ha. Funny guy.
  4. About that guinea family… well, it was later discovered to be prophetic. During my day, I visited a pet store and, completely unexpectedly, got to pet some guinea pigs (one that was the exact colour of the one in the dream – reddish-brown) as well as petting a mom cat and her brand new litter of kittens. Awe! (Dreams have a tendency to moosh things together in weird ways.) But, see, that’s the thing with prophetic dreams, at least the ones I have – I don’t know they’re prophetic until the event plays out, and it’s usually rather meaningless anyway. So what’s the point of them? Hmmm… perhaps that’s a good question to pose to spirit.

So that’s an example of the way in which dreams can provide information into the development of conscious awareness. I didn’t make any effort to remember the dream, or to analyze it intellectually, I simply asked the HS to show the meaning to me. I sincerely love the truth and anytime I’m allowed to glimpse it, in whatever way, I’m extremely grateful and happy.

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Dreaming, Acting, Living

Posted by Amanda Gray on June 5, 2011

The most important point to understand about dreams is that all the characters and symbols are aspects of the dreamer. So when I dream about a boy – it’s me, a teacher – it’s me, a house – it’s me, a bear – it’s me, a jewelled necklace – it’s me, etc. If I cast myself as a jewelled necklace, what does the necklace say about me? Am I a sparkly, diamond necklace, or a dull, unpolished necklace? Did I steal the necklace, or was the necklace given to me as a gift? Every aspect of the necklace may be considered, and what I learn will shine light upon the particular fragment of myself that’s showing up as a jewelled necklace.

Dreams that are most common to me are ones where I’m performing in a theatrical play or in a film, or where I’m participating in an acting class. Sometimes I’m trying on costumes, or I’m auditioning for a part, or I’m observing other actors as they perform. Sometimes, in nightmares, I dream that it’s time to go onstage, and I suddenly realize, in terror, that I haven’t learned my lines and I have no idea what to do!

As I discussed my theatrical dream anxieties with my family this morning, we learned that we all have the same dreams, in slightly different forms. My Aunt dreams that she’s in school, but hasn’t prepared for an exam. My Mom dreams that she’s supposed to cook a meal, but doesn’t have any groceries in the fridge. Does everyone have the same complex? Does everyone harbour fears of the same impending disaster?  What do these dreams say about our lives?

Then I started thinking further about life as a play. Like Shakespeare’s “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” Just as a dream at night is a microcosm of our ‘dream of life,’ so a play on a stage is a microcosm of our ‘play of life.’ I thought about how I’ve often judged the characters in the play of life, including myself, or times when I’ve judged the script, or the playwright (God). Then a number of questions arose in my mind:

  • Do I fear that I don’t know my part or my lines?
  • Am I afraid that it’s my fault that I didn’t study my part in advance?
  • Am I afraid to accept the part that was written for me? Am I afraid I’m unworthy of it?
  • Do I fear that the lead in Hamlet is too much responsibility for me?
  • Am I afraid that I’m unsupported by the other actors?
  • Am I afraid that I’ll make a mistake and ruin the whole play?
  • What if others find out I didn’t study my part? What if I’m a total fool in front of the entire audience?
  • Am I trying to control the play and the other characters?

Two of the most mystical experiences of my life happened when I was performing on stage. The first time, I was performing the lead role of Rose in the play “A Shayna Maidle” in theatre school. It was a short run, only 5 or 6 performances, and I realize now that I made the most mistakes on stage ever during that run. It was my habit to memorize my lines immediately, word for word, and so thoroughly that I rarely, if ever, called for a line during rehearsal. Yet, on the first performance of this show, on preview night in front of an audience of critics, I blanked, and had to call for a line. Since the Stage Manager was no longer ‘on book’ – we all had to wait an extraordinary length of time to get back on track. I was so embarrassed! On another night, I broke a ceramic lamp onstage and neglected to address the problem in the moment, by improvising some other way of turning on the light, or by taking the time to clean up. My acting teacher gave me heck after the show. He said that the audience expected me to ‘live’ in the moment of the play, and that I was cheating them if I ignored the moment, in favour of sticking blindly to the script. The mystical moment was when I had an ‘out of body’ experience – I found myself watching the show from the front row of the audience! I came off stage that night and complained to my teacher, “That was my most horrible performance ever!”

“No,” he said, “It was your BEST performance ever.”

“What? I wasn’t even THERE!”

“Yes, that’s exactly why it was so good.”

The second mystical experience was quite similar to the first. This time I was performing a monologue in a ‘contest’ for actors, models and singers. There was a judging panel and a full audience comprised of performers family members. Now that I think back, I remember that I also performed a song, and that the last note of the song was a horrible disaster. I can’t remember if the song preceded the monologue or vice versa, but never the less, about halfway through my 3-minute monologue, I left my body. I hovered high above myself, to the right side, and I became aware of this amazing energy. The energy was flowing out of ‘me’ toward the audience, and then, I could feel it flowing back to ‘me’ from them. I was fascinated with watching this energy flow back and forth. I remember seeing a lady with glasses sit forward in her seat, listening intently, and I remember looking down at my body, still doing its thing while I sojourned like a balloon in mid-air. Next thing I knew, I was finishing the last line of the monologue. I did as I was taught, to ‘throw and keep throwing,’ and then, I bowed my head and took a small step back. Suddenly, to my unbelieving surprise, the audience exploded with applause, cheers and hoots – more than I’d ever heard in my life! Apparently, when I’m not there – the body is an amazing actor!

Performing allowed complete control and safety. I knew the script, I knew the lines, everyone was going to do exactly what I expected them to do, and we were all going to do it the same way over and over, and over again. Within this perfect bubble of certainty, I didn’t feel afraid and could completely relax. I trusted the time and space inside the bubble, and I think that’s what allowed for those mystical out-of-body experiences.

What would it take for me to trust life in the same way? Must I have the same level of control? Must I have a perfect a script for every word I speak, or every action I perform? Do I have to ensure that everyone else is performing the same script? Must I automatically judge the ‘play of life,’ as it is, as inadequate and in need of my help? Do I have to become the playwright (God) as well as the actor? Yes, that is, exactly, what the ego would try to do.

What would happen if I didn’t judge the production? What if I didn’t have to control the play or the other actors? What if I just TRUSTED the playwright (God)? Even if it seems that I don’t know the play, or the lines, or my role, or every other actor’s role, do I really need to know? What if I could surrender my need to know? What if I allowed myself to drop my idea of the script entirely? What if I drop all the ideas of all the characters I would play? Could I simply improvise? And allow others to improvise? Could I allow the play to be written fresh in each moment?

Just as all the characters and symbols in my nightly dreams are aspects of myself, so all the characters and symbols of the play are aspects of myself. The stage – is me, the audience – is me, the candlestick and the mistletoe – is me, the other actor – is me. Is my fellow actor dressed as a Jesus or as an alcoholic? Do I invite him onto my stage to share the spotlight, or do I banish him off into the darkness of the wings? Could we both play the same part? Could we play the part so well, we stop acting? If we stop acting, could we wake up, entirely, from the play?

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Talking to Myself – My Self?

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 30, 2011

I’m afraid.  Afraid of losing something.  When I open my eyes in the morning and feel anxiety scraping a hole through my stomach like steel wool on cheese, I’m afraid of losing my peace.  I think that when I get up for the day, I’ll lose my peace.  If that’s what I think – then it’ll be so. 

How can I lose something I already haveWhy do I choose to give it away? 

Because I want to keep believing I’m weak and a victim.  So I replace peace with fear.  When I know that peace is mine, then I can’t give it away, nor can it be taken.  It becomes the peace that passes all understanding.

Am I afraid of light?  Am I afraid of losing darkness?

I feel safe in the dark – whether asleep or in deep meditation (nothingness).  In the light I have to do stuff that I don’t want to do.

Do I?

I don’t know God’s Will, but… why would God want to make me do things I don’t want to do?  That’s more like a devil.

Can I trust that God wants me to do things that I want to do?  And BE peaceful?

Yes.  I can believe that.

*** [break] ***

I notice that I’m judging the present moment as being undesirable or unsafe.  That I have to do something to ensure the safety of the next moment. 

Do I resist mundane activity itself?

Yes.

What haven’t I seen in mundane activity?  What is it showing me?  Why do I feel anxiety when I’m in a very busy or stressful situation?

Time pressure… a belief that I don’t have enough time.  Desire for more time.  Angry that I don’t have more time.  Greed for more time.  But I am an INFINITE being.  Time is infinite.  I already have all time.

Perhaps I hide from my Self because I want more time here – more physical life, or more time in peace (as darkness)?

Activity = < time + < peace + < life.  I don’t want to waste the limited time I have on pointless activities.  More time to do what I want.  More time to be lazy.

Why be lazy?

To conserve energy.

Why conserve energy?

More life.

Why more life?

I haven’t done what I came here for.

What did I come here for?

To be free.

Am I free now?

No.

Why not?

Because I don’t live in love.  I’m selfish.

Is it true?

 

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The Riddle of the Chicken and the Road – Part 2

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 24, 2011

Spoiler Alert! Please read Part 1 before continuing.

Why did the chicken cross the road? To get to the other side.

So… did you do the exercise? Did you hold the riddle, lightly, in your mind and let it percolate? What did you discover? Have you solved it? Have you found a truth at the heart of human experience?

The wisdom I received for this riddle entered through a back door. It came while I was asking something else. I was in my meditation chair, intending to meditate. Yet, my mind was noisy. I had worries and problems that tumbled around incessantly, like socks in a dryer. After some time, I was frustrated, and asked myself, “If it’s true that I create my experience, then why would I create obstacles? Why would I choose to put a mountain in my way?” I didn’t think about it, the answer simply popped into my head: To get to the other side. In an instantaneous download (prajna), I understood the chicken and the road riddle completely.

The chicken is me. A chicken. Not a horse, or a dog, or a lion. Why am I a chicken? What qualities does a chicken have? If I call someone a chicken, I’m calling him or her a coward. Chickens are afraid.

The road is an obstacle. A road to cross, or a mountain to climb, or a problem to solve. If I look at an obstacle from a chicken’s perspective, I’m afraid of it. I want to run away from the obstacle or avoid it completely, but I can’t, because, like the road stretched out infinitely ahead and behind, it now dominates my whole world. If the obstacle can’t be avoided, there’s only one other way to run: cross the road, climb the mountain, or solve the problem.

Like a terrified little chicken, I run for my life across the pavement and into the ditch on the other side. Whew. Made it. I got to the other side. Yippee!

A road, like any division in the mind, always separates the problem from the solution, the question from the answer. The chicken crossed the road to solve the problem, but has the problem really been solved? What happens when the chicken turns around? ACK! The road! It’s still there! An ominous beast of a thing… but now the chicken knows what to do. It can run across the road, and so it does. Whew. Made it. Yippee!

Just like the hamster wheel I’ve talked about in a previous post, the chicken could keep running across the road, infinitely. Tracing the same steps, never really going anywhere. So, fear keeps me running: away from something I think I don’t like, or toward something I think I do like. The ‘other side’ is an illusion, another riddle, and it has to be solved too.

Avoid the problem = no. Attack the problem head on = no. There is a third solution that can’t be seen until division is removed from the mind. Fear and division go hand in hand. If I’m a chicken, is fear intrinsic to my being? Can I become something other than a chicken?

‘Chicken’ is a label, a symbol. It doesn’t mean anything unless I decide it does. Am I really a chicken? No, of course not. I’m ME! I simply decide not to call myself a chicken. Poof!

Now I’m no longer approaching the obstacle with fear. The road has no power over me. My choices are not limited to this side or that side. Now I see the third choice. Something so overwhelmingly obvious, I’m rather disgusted I didn’t see it sooner. I pause, for a moment, to kick myself, and then…

I take my place, boldly, on the centre line and walk, peacefully and happily, along the road.

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I Want to Live in a Wigwam

Posted by Amanda Gray on May 15, 2011

I don’t know what Cat Stevens (a.k.a. Yusuf Islam) was thinking about when he wrote his song about living in a wigwam, but, for me, it’s about chasing fantasies and trying to find a comfortable lifestyle in the world.  Sure, Cat, I’d like to live in a wigwam, or ride in a caravan like a gypsy, or live in a commune like a hippie too.  Just like Cat, I wouldn’t want to live in a barracks or in a jailhouse.  Like the song suggests, there are idealistic, romantic life situations that I’d like to try, and other situations that I would rather reject – some acutely so – like if I was conscripted to the army or sentenced to a prison term.

My life has been very much like this song.  It’s been a continuous sampling of situations and roles.  Some situations I was excited about trying, and some I wasn’t thrilled about, but gave ’em a go anyway.  Since I never knew what I really wanted to do or what would make me happy, I was willing to try anything and everything.  At first, it was exciting to take on diverse challenges and adapt myself to whatever the role required.  I soon learned that I could easily play any part and be anything I wanted to be.  I was a little like the main character in the movie “Catch Me if You Can.”  I never went to the extremes that he did, becoming a forger, a doctor, or a lawyer, but I played at disparate occupations such as pastry cook, PC support technician, and insurance agent.  I’d study my topic, adopt rather stereotypical characteristics, be what everyone would expect, and then, by God, they’d believe me!

I’d believe it too, for a while.  But then, it’d start to fall apart.  Eventually, I would feel the cracks forming under the surface.  Sometimes, the role would slip, and I was sure people would see through me.  Oh no!  I couldn’t let them see through my carefully fabricated lie!  I couldn’t let them know that I wasn’t really this perfectly coiffed concoction of lipstick and hairspray!  I would become so embarrassed by my slip-ups, those little imperfections in the carefully crafted script in my head, that I would, very quickly, transition to something else.  Another situation, a new role, and one more chance to convince others of my worth.

Yet, as time went on, I became more insecure, and more out of control.  Every role I played was like something I was conscripted to, or a prison cell I couldn’t get out of.  My heart was gripped by intense suffering; my gut, by intense anxiety.  I felt like I was loosing my mind, and instead of convincing others that I was perfect, or even reasonably well-adjusted, I was finally just trying to convince them that I wasn’t, underneath it all, certifiably insane!

I was on a hamster wheel.  Run, Hammie, run!  Always in the same place.  With no way to turn, go forward, back, or anywhere.  Eventually, I was exhausted.  No matter how I acted, it was still just acting, and it took a lot of energy.  I didn’t know how to be a real person!  I fell into a deep, clinical depression.  But even that didn’t stop me for long.  I tried again, and again.  Beating the same ol’ dead horse.  Trying to play the same ol’ games.  Stabbing at the same ol’ empty space in the same ol’ dark room.

In the second part of Cat’s song, he sings:

             We gotta get our heads up in the sky
             We gotta get a heaven, get a guide

To me, this is about getting off the hamster wheel.  I learned that I can’t run away from myself and I can’t, satisfactorily, define what I am by playing a role.  Yet, I don’t know what I am or what I’m here to do.  How do I find out?  What happens if I put my head up in the sky, get a heaven, get a guide? 

A Course in Miracles corroborates, saying, in Lesson 135 on page 252:

A healed mind does not plan. It carries out the plans that it receives through listening to wisdom that is not its own. It waits until it has been taught what should be done, and then proceeds to do it.

Well, all my own planning has gotten me nowhere.  Time to stop running, Hammie.  Quit acting like a hamster while you’re at it too.  Just stop, and ask: what am I, really?   What happens if I just look at myself?  What happens if I let others see me?   If I ask, perhaps I’ll find out.

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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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