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Posts Tagged ‘temptation’

A War Over Food

Posted by Amanda Gray on November 30, 2011

Last night, I was reading page 143 of the text of A Course in Miracles.  It said:

If God’s Will for you is complete peace and joy, unless you experience only this you must be refusing to acknowledge His Will.  […]  You cannot exempt yourself from His laws, although you can disobey them.  Yet if you do, and only if you do, you will feel lonely and helpless, because you are denying yourself everything.  […]  My will is His, and your decision to hear me is the decision to hear His Voice and abide in His Will.  […]  You must accept guidance from within.

I was reminded of an occasion a few years ago.  I was with my family at a Montana’s restaurant to celebrate a birthday.  I was enjoying a half rack of baby back ribs and was becoming full.  I lifted a rib from the plate, and as I considered whether I could handle another bite, a VERY clear voice in my head said, “No.”  My next thought was, “But, what happens if I do?”  Would I be struck down with a bolt of lightning?  It’s only a piece of meat and I’ve already eaten half of this rack, so what harm could there be?  I took another bite… and when nothing further happened, I finished the rib.  Huh.  Strange.  As I shortly tucked into some truly indulgent doughnuts for dessert, I put the incident out of my mind.

As I remembered it again, I realized that it was a case of ignoring guidance from within.  Yes, I can disobey.  It’s my decision to make.  I’m free to do so.  And, at the time, there appeared to be no negative consequences to it.  Yet, the invitation of guidance wasn’t extended to me again for a long time after that.  It was like a test.  Was I ready to follow higher wisdom yet?  No, apparently I wasn’t.  I was like Eve in the Garden.  My garden was Montana’s.  My apple was a luscious, meaty, sweet, baby back rib.  Oh, the temptation!  I realize today that when I choose against such direct and clear guidance, I also choose against my innocence.  The opposite of innocence is ‘knowledge’.  So I’m preferring to think that I know more than God knows.  Yet, it’s just a pretend kind of knowledge, an illusion of ego.

Just like every teenager begins to question authority as they begin to develop their egos, they also suddenly think they know everything.  They stretch the boundaries of right and wrong, good and bad.  “My Dad told me to do it this way, but what happens if I do it another way?  I can think of a hundred other ways to do it, so why shouldn’t I try something else?  Why is his way right, and my way wrong?”  And they quickly learn that they can do it another way and it usually works out fine.  Yet, there must be guilt in those decisions too.  We must choose to believe that the authority doesn’t have our best interests at heart, that they would guide us in a detrimental way.  We must create a division of right and wrong and vacillate as we attempt to decide which is which.  We must give up the innocence of our childhood.  And, as time goes on, we lose that childhood innocence more and more.  And, less and less, we trust the authorities around us.  And as we trust them less, we trust ourselves less.   And, if we’re really hard headed, like I have been, we keep trying to do everything by ourselves, to keep control of every detail, because we know how it should be done, and they don’t.  Ultimately, we trade innocence, freedom, peace, and joy for ‘knowledge’, guilt, indecision and anxiety.  Why would we continue to choose such pain, if the alternative is just to listen to and trust the authority of a greater wisdom?

What does it mean to “accept guidance from within”?  Well, today I understand that it’s not just some mental exercise of words, I have to actually be willing to DO what I’m told to do.  I have to trust the inner wisdom, even if my past experience tells me something different about it.  Do I want to keep repeating the past?  How far has that gotten me?

 

This morning, upon awakening, I started to consider some other food issues.  I realized that often, when my mom cooks food for me, I become bitchy and attack her.  I complain that she didn’t make the food I’d most prefer, or cook it the way I’d most like.  I can observe that I’m doing it, but, for some reason, I can’t seem to curb the negative habit.  This morning, I related the issue back to the time in my childhood when mom tried to switch me from baby food to solid food.  A battle of will ensued between us and she withheld the soft baby food, hoping that I would become hungry enough to eat the solid food.  I didn’t.  Eventually, I became malnourished and had to be hospitalized with a gastro-intestinal infection.  (I mentioned this in my last entry: I Am Content, I Am Tranquil.)

I saw the similarity between the two situations.  Just as my mom ‘withheld’ the food I preferred as a baby, I believe she’s ‘withholding’ the food I prefer now.  Even though I’ve tried to tell her what I like, she continues to make food to her own satisfaction, not to mine.  It’s become the same battle of wills.  As I become more frustrated, I become more bitchy.  And I’ve generated a gastritis condition in my stomach.  Yes, it’s the past repeating itself, exactly.

Then I realized that I’m not the only one complaining over the food.  My mom does it too.  If I cook for her, and she doesn’t give me step by step instructions for how she wants it, she complains about it in exactly the same way I complain about her food.  Often, if we go out to a new restaurant together, she’ll bitterly complaint about the food that’s offered.  I see her inner child come out, whining and crying, because the food is improperly cooked, or tastes bad.  And because she’s stuck in that childish state, she can’t make adult choices to reasonably address the situation – to send the food back, or whatever.  It also doesn’t escape notice, that she also has major stomach and digestion conditions.

Don’t get it twisted, this war is NOT over food.  No.  Food is only the symbol.  This war is over love.  For my mom, food has always been the way she’s expressed love to her family.  She’s been greatly blessed with a talent and joy of cooking that I acknowledge openly.  Yet, when I complain about her cooking, I’m telling her that I’m rejecting, directly, her gift of creation and, indirectly, her love.  I’m also confirming my own belief that I’m unworthy of her love.  If I allowed my mom the freedom to make whatever she choose to, and accepted her gift with total gratitude, we would both experience perfect peace and joy.  We would both be accepting God’s Will (what IS).  We make a mistake when we try to control one another.  We mistakenly put the importance on the FORM (food), instead of on the MEANING (love).  As we both make the error, we both need healing.

We suffered greatly over the food incident when I was a baby.  I don’t remember what I really felt at the time, of course, but I can safely assume that I felt rejected, unloved and abandoned.  My mom has told me that she felt guilt, regret and depression.  Why choose to repeat the past?  Why choose to continue to suffer?  No, it can end.  This morning I prayed and surrendered the error to the Holy Spirit and asked for a healing miracle.  Will I be healed alone?  No, of course not.  My mom will be healed as well.

My Course lesson today adds on page 145 and 146:

Freedom is the only gift you can offer to God’s Sons, being an acknowledgment of what they are and what He is.  Freedom is creation, because it is love.  […]  Your identification is with the Father AND with the Son.  It cannot be with One and not the Other.

My identification is with God AND the Son – the Son is Jesus, or holy guidance within, but ALSO as my holy mother.  I offer her freedom to create as she chooses and I accept her gift of love with gratitude.

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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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