I’m kind of an asshole…

Chapter 5, section 5 “The Ego’s Use of Guilt”, paragraph 2, sentence 3:

“What is truly blessed is incapable of giving rise to guilt, and must give rise to joy. This makes it invulnerable to the ego because its peace is unassailable.”

I really liked the idea of a peace that is unassailable. Wouldn’t that be nice? Not to have to worry about being attacked all the time? I’ve written about this earlier in regards to schizophrenia, where I have this feeling that someone can annihilate me. Attack me at the deepest level.

So this kind of set the stage for the following:

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“If the ego is the symbol of the separation, it is also the symbol of guilt. Guilt is more than merely not of God. It is the symbol of attack on God.”

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Oh man…. I had never looked at it this way before. As an attack. But I think it’s totally appropriate.

In high school I was on the golf team, and there was a ladder system to where every week you would challenge the person above you to work your way up the ladder. One week during a challenge I was in charge of the scorecard, and towards the end of the round I erased one of my earlier scores and dropped it down by a stroke. The dude caught me and called me out, but I ended up winning anyway so it kind of got dropped.

But this is something that has left a deep wound in me. Whenever my thoughts drift to golf, they undoubtedly hit on this incident and I ruthlessly tear myself up for it. I’m trying to separate myself from that action. That I am not that person. I am something better apart from them. That I will punish myself harsher than anyone else ever would, so that I might be acceptable in their eyes. It’s like “You don’t have to punish me! I’ve already taken care of that 100 times over! You can approve of me now, right?…… Right?”

This all set the stage for the following, which really hit me:

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“The guiltless mind cannot suffer. Being sane, the mind heals the body because it has been healed. The sane mind cannot conceive of illness because it cannot conceive of attacking anyone or anything.”

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So……. this is huge for me. I’ve been dealing with chronic pain for 5 years now. Every day. It’s totally changed my life. In many ways for the good, but I’m so fucking tired of it. I feel I’ve learned the lessons and am ready to move on. To not have to constantly deal with this.

And in reading these passages, I realize that I have had a very victim mentality with this. It’s like I was at the whim of my body. Unable to control this pain. It was doing it to me. Poor me, right? BUT… I think what was actually happening here is I’m attacking myself. And wow, that is not fun to think about. To go from being this innocent victim worthy of sympathy, to being the kind of person who is so viciously attacking himself that it manifests physically and persists for 5 years…. That’s quite a shift. But I think it’s the absolute truth. It’s like I force myself down into this little ball, and whenever I reached out trying to express myself, I would ruthlessly attack myself until I shrunk back and hid again.

While getting a massage a few months ago I had this image of my inner child trapped in my right forearm (which is the main source of my chronic pain). He had built himself a fort out of Legos and completely walled himself off inside it. He wanted nothing to do with me because all I ever did was attack him. This little innocent kid, and I would just ruthlessly assault him. Now that I think about it it’s like “Well no shit, of course all this is going to lead to illness, emotionally, mentally, physically…” But my ego likes to cleverly disguise this so it can be the “good guy” somehow.

So that’s pretty fucking depressing right? Admitting that I’ve been enthusiastically beating up a little kid all these years? But what often happens with the course, is that it shows you both how twisted you can be and then the moment after it liberates you from it. So right after I had all those dark thoughts I realized “Well… what am I really attacking here?” And the answer is nothing. I’m wrapped up in this ego illusion, and whenever that is the case nothing I do is real. So I’ve been attacking myself for years, but there’s nothing to really atone for. I can drop it in an instant because none of it was real. The ego doesn’t like that because it wants to perpetuate the cycle because it feeds on it, but I think it’s entirely possible to see this for what it is and let it all go.

And I feel much more in charge when I realize that my illness is a result of my own doings. It means I have the power to release it. I’m not a victim here.

I’m seeing a pattern that goes something like this.

Step 1: Admit I’m an asshole who does some pretty twisted stuff.

Step 2: See that I’m not really an asshole, that I’m really free and have done no wrong.

I think a lot of people would rather skip step 1 and just emerge in this space of being innocent and holy, but I don’t think this really works. Or at least it doesn’t for me…

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monster movies and ego bags

I saw Pacific Rim tonight, and it was pretty god-awful. Acting was horrible, just horrible. The visuals were okay, but overall just a pretty stale experience. But irregardless of that, it still accomplished what I was hoping it would. Movies are a way to forget about myself for a couple hours. I’m not trapped in my usual thought systems. It’s one of the few times I’m really free. Or… at least not actively engaged in one of my ego illusions.

After I walk out of the theater something interesting happens. I’m in this odd state where I’m totally present. When I get in my car and drive home it’s a totally different experience. I’m so connected with my car in a way that I never usually am.

And eventually, I get to watch my ego systems come back online. I get to watch the ways in which they try to trap me. This usually leads to some pretty significant insights, and tonight was no exception.

I got this very clear picture of my ego. It is a master story weaver. And it’s story is contained within this bag.

small bag
Whenever I look at someone, especially someone who really troubles me, the ego holds that bag up to my face. As I look into it, I can see this story unfolding, and I usually jump right in. Latching onto this story and letting the ego pull me in and wrap me up inside of it. At this point I no longer see the person. The only thing I can see is this story. The ego’s illusions.

Once the ego has trapped me, it does everything in its power to keep me in that story. To feed off me.

The course does a really good job of training you how to disentangle yourself, and back out of this bag. The ego fights with everything it has to prevent this. The last post I made is a perfect illustration. As I started to realize that this bag, this story wasn’t real, the ego attacked me with a different story. One of loneliness. Trying to pull me back inside.

Now that I’ve started to spend more time outside of this bag, I’m getting a taste of a different reality. I think this is what the course refers to as the Holy Spirit. If we were fish, it’s like the water that we swim in. It’s everywhere, underlying everything. We just can’t see it when we’re caught in those bags. And I think people can sense when others are connected with it, but I think we are misguided in our pursuit of it. We see it as being “over there”, like that person has a hold on it. So we flock to gurus, priests, whomever, and ask them to show us. But what we don’t see is that we all have the same access. The water they are swimming in is the same that we are. We just need to pull ourselves out of that bag, and it’s only a matter of time before we naturally realize this ourselves.

This realization puts some of what I read a while ago into a new light. Actually, it’s putting almost everything I’ve read into a new light, so I’ll just highlight a few things.

Chapter 4, section 1 “right teaching and right learning”, paragraph 8, sentence 5

“You are part of reality, which stands unchanged beyond the reach of your ego but within easy reach of spirit. When you are afraid, be still and know that God is real”.

Yup. There is a reality that exists outside of that bag, and the ego can’t touch it. And the way to access it is to be still, see that the story is an illusion, and slowly back out of the bag to embrace what is real… God.

“God is inevitable, and you cannot avoid him any more than he can avoid you.”

This is what I’ve seen. If you dissolve that bag, your reunification with God is inevitable.

“The ego is afraid of the spirit’s joy, because once you have experienced it you will withdraw all protection from the ego, and become totally without investment in fear.”

Yuppppp. Once you’re out of that bag, it becomes a lot less appealing to go back in it. Especially after you’ve tasted the divine.

“Leave it behind! Do not listen to it and do not preserve it. Release yourself and release others.”

When I’m able to look at someone while residing in this holy space, outside of the ego’s bag, there is nothing but pure joy and love. It doesn’t matter who it is. My heart opens for all. And for those that I’ve resented, hated, it’s like I’m seeing them for the first time.

only this is real

I was at my brother’s wedding this weekend, which was quite the extravaganza. Like, it probably could have been on a TV show about million-dollar weddings or something.

To give you an idea, here’s what the head table looks like (13 bridesmaids and groomsmen + dates)…

head table

This is not an environment that I often find myself in. Too much of everything. I was sitting in my room before we left for the church, and could feel myself getting more and more overwhelmed. I was running through everything that needed to happen, and it was spiraling out of control because of just how massive this wedding was.

I took a step back and told myself “only this is real”, like only this moment, me quietly sitting alone in my hotel room. All of that stuff that was running through my head didn’t exist. It didn’t matter. But my ego didn’t like this very much. And it wasn’t even so much that it wanted to churn through all this wedding stuff, as it just wanted to occupy itself with something. When I said only this is real, it was like “NO! I need to always be improving, contemplating something, trying to understand more and learn something.” It wasn’t happy just existing, because this is essentially the death of the ego. It can only exist in time. In one of its self-made illusions.

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chapter 4, section V “the ego body illusion”, paragraph 6, sentence 4

“By becoming involved with tangential issues, it hopes to hide the real question and keep it out of mind. The ego’s characteristic bussy-ness with nonessentials is for precisely that purpose. Preoccupations with problems set up to be incapable of solution are favorite ego devices for impending learning progress.”

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This significantly helped with the worry surrounding the wedding, but repeating “only this is real” still made me very uncomfortable. And when this happens, I’m like a little kid who found something interesting on the bayou, and keeps poking it with a stick until his curiosity is satisfied.

So tonight I was on a walk, pondering that statement, and I noticed that when I told myself that only this moment was real, this sidewalk… trees… shoes… breeze… it led to a serious feeling of loneliness. That it’s just me. Isolated. This is an emotion that has plagued me since I was a child, but tonight I noticed something for the first time. This loneliness was a creation of the ego. It wasn’t real. It’s a device the ego uses to perpetuate itself. To perpetuate separateness.

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chapter 4, section 6 “the rewards of God” paragraph 4

“The ego and the spirit do not know each other. The separated mind cannot maintain the separation except by dissociating. Having done this, it denies all truly natural impulses, not because the ego is a separate thing, but because you want to believe that you are. The ego is a device for maintaining this belief, but it is still only your decision to use the device that enables it to endure.”

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It’s hard to illustrate how big this is for me. Loneliness is probably one of the most often used weapons of my ego. Something I’ve been trapped within my whole life. Loneliness and isolation are like cornerstones of my identity.

Or… at least they were a year ago. Recently, as I started to develop much closer friendships, this has significantly diminished. It would still pop up pretty frequently, but didn’t have the same grasp on me that it used to. So it’s been gradually weakening, and tonight was a major blow to what was remaining. It’s like the ego is dying a slow death, and is pulling out its biggest most reliable tools, but is finding that they no longer work as well as they used to.

Loneliness isn’t real… how… freeing…

And isn’t is it cool to see how the course keeps facilitating this new understanding? I read both of the passages quoted above a week ago. They struck me as being important at the time, but it’s like a gift that keeps on giving. There’s an initial understanding, but a continual unfoldment after that as you witness the truth in action.

where the rubber meets the road

I realized tonight that an essential aspect of any system is how well it interacts with the real world. That a healthy system cannot be isolated to the mind, untested from fires of relationship.

I spend soooooo much time establishing these belief systems, and then use them as the foundation on which I base who I am. Since they are such an important part of ME, I need to hide them when around others. I’ll just comfortably drift through interactions with others, never really saying anything important, never really engaging, never really exposing what I truly believe. This might leave those systems brittle and untested, but at least there is a semblance of stability there.

This all changed a few months ago while working on a very intense project with a group of people. I was essentially forced to get these systems out into the open and see how well they meshed with others. Surprisingly, it went pretty well. It turns out all of this knowledge that I’ve built over the past 7 years really came in handy. But there were some glaring weaknesses. There were a few key conflicts that really made me step back and reevaluate large parts of these systems. Which was a very humbling process.

A very vulnerable process. I had to let go of that foundation that I had been clinging to for so long. To kind of float in this unknown space, disconnected from what I had known. But this allowed that system to break apart and readjust itself based on these conflicts. To learn from them. To take that experience and use it to make that system more dynamic. Flexible. Able to fit into more scenarios and mesh with more people.

The process lasted for a few months, which I think reached some sort of conclusion tonight with me realizing all this. Looking back, the system that I had before this project happened was very untested. I was very unsure as to its stability. It was appropriate for the specifics of how my mind works, but would break down when interacting with others. Or in scenarios I was unfamiliar with.

Now, it’s so much different. It’s not something that I’m clinging to. It’s not my foundation anymore. It’s more of a tool now. Something I can draw upon to understand a situation. To figure out how to relate to someone.

And it’s no longer something that I’m afraid of exposing to others. It’s been tested. I know how strong it is. And now that it’s been broken apart and reformed, it’s not as rigid as it once was. It’s come back together, but in a very fluid manner. So now it’s much easier to expand and reorganize this very quickly based on what’s happening. So it doesn’t take months of contemplation to try to rebuild it, it happens in the moment, on-the-fly. There is still that feeling of vulnerability. Like I’ve temporarily lost my foundation when I’m shifting it around. But I’ve become much more comfortable in that scenario. And it’s almost like I have a different foundation to pull from.

My foundation is now deep within my core. The divine. The system is now just a way to translate this so that others may see it easier. A way for this divine to interact in the physical world. Yeah… It’s a direct extension of the divine. Ideally. As long as it’s flexible and I’m not relying on it to establish who I am.

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I almost forgot to mention this… The whole “getting your systems out into the open and interacting with others” is one reason I’m so glad there are a lot of discussion groups set up in Austin for a course in miracles. I’ve attended a few of these, and am about to start my own (with the help of a good friend 🙂 ), and they have been so instrumental in my understanding.

If you’re in the Austin area, and free Tuesday evenings, consider yourself invited:

http://www.meetup.com/A-Course-in-Miracles-Tuesday-evening-study-group/

A Course in Miracles, Schizophrenia, and Einstein

Schizophrenia has been a deep interest of mine for quite some time. Reading “The Divided Self” by R.D. Laing was a hugely transformative experience. It explained so much of my structure, of my struggles with extreme vulnerability, of feeling like I didn’t really exist.

Tonight while reading the course I came across the following: chapter 4, section 3 “Love without Conflict”, paragraph 9, sentence 2:
“God has given you everything. This one fact means the ego does not exist, and this makes it profoundly afraid.”

“The ego does not exist” was like a lightning bolt going off inside me. It was the link between all of this knowledge I have on schizophrenia, and what I’m learning through the course. It spun everything into a new light.

One fear that has constantly plagued me throughout my life is that others have the power to completely annihilate me. To cease my existence. To shatter all that I am with one look. This is an incredibly vulnerable position that leads me to retreating from the outer world.

This is a very schizoid structure, and one that I now see is very close to the truth. Feeling like I don’t exist, like others have the power to destroy me, is actually true in regards to the ego.

It’s perceiving the truth but still being trapped in that illusion. I think most “normal” people don’t have as intimate an understanding of the truth. They have more fully convinced themselves that this illusion is real. They might have some doubts, but they aren’t as fundamental. A schizophrenic is aware of the illusionary nature of our world at its very foundation. They KNOW that it isn’t real, and regardless of how hard they try, they can’t suppress this fact. Can’t resolve this split.

So in many ways it seems like they are on the precipice of fully awakening. They are aware of the truth, but can’t quite let go of illusion. They fear their annihilation, their death, and this is accurate. For the ego does die when the truth is fully embraced.

Chapter 4, section 2 “The Ego and False Autonomy”, Paragraph 10, Sentence 3:
“The ego cannot survive without judgment, and is laid aside accordingly.”

So it’s like they understand 99% of the puzzle, and are one small step away from liberation. But the problem is that the world tells them that what they are correctly perceiving as illusion is the truth. That they are wrong. That they ARE really their ego. Everything is reaching out from this illusion and pulling them towards it, and they are all very convincing… and have deeply embedded hooks… and pills… and authority… and numbers… and “facts” on their side…

It seems like if the schizophrenic is left to their own devices, this process will naturally resolve itself because the pull towards truth is stronger than illusion. But the system is set up to pull in the opposite direction, so delays this healing process.

Which is where the miracle can come in. Divine intervention. Because once that schizoid individual tastes the divine, I think there is a recognition there. A truth that they have always been aware of, but have finally tasted. Something that helps release the illusion, and quicken the pace towards truth. I had an experience like this at 20, and it very much had this effect. I was rocketed towards truth, and the pull toward illusion lost a lot of its vehemence.

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I’m friends with a lot of psychics (check out travelingpsychicsupperclub.com), and we often talk of receiving information. I’ve always felt somewhat inadequate in this regard because this doesn’t often happen for me.

I’m in the process of reading Einstein’s biography, and earlier tonight I really resonated with the following “Einstein would develop a lifelong devotion to field theories as a way to describe nature. Field theories use mathematical quantities to describe how the conditions at any point in space will affect matter or another field.” p.13.

I realized after connecting my knowledge on schizophrenia with my knowledge of the course that this is my gift. Understanding complex systems, then linking them all together to form a unified understanding. It’s like Einstein’s drive to find his theory of everything. He wanted something that would connect all of these systems he understood. I think in this we share the same goal. I’ve always had this drive in me, and never quite understood it until now. I’m just trying to fit all these pieces together.

“Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God.”

This is another big one for me.

Chapter 4, section 1 “Right Teaching and Right Learning”, paragraph 7, sentence 1:
“Your worth is not established by teaching or learning. Your worth is established by God.”

Phew… How well I learn is such a huge part of who I believe myself to be. And it’s not surprising, because this has been pounded into all our heads since we were babies. It’s about learning how to speak, how to walk, how well you do in school… So much praise and attention is devoted to this. And then when we get to a point where we can start teaching it very much falls into this same structure. Where WE are now the ones in control, deciding whether to dish out the praise to those underneath us.

And this flows to everything we do. School, work, hobbies, relationships, and so naturally it also taints a spiritual journey. Which is definitely the case for me. I pride myself on how quickly I can pick up these concepts, and when I would “teach” it was very much from a place of “Look how great I am! Let me impress you with how well I understand this.” The focus was very much on me.

So I ask myself “What would it feel like if your worth had nothing to do with how well you learn or teach?”

What a relief… It takes that anxious drive behind my learning and dissolves it. I can relax and sink into the knowledge, instead of focusing on how to grasp it so I can use it as a building block for my ego.

do work son!

Some serious work goin on tonight…

Got the text, highlighter, pen, large note card, small note cards, and notebook…

course tools

Really digging in and tackling it like this is so much fun for me. My personality type is INTJ which is all about system building and understanding puzzles. What better challenge than ACIM…

Here’s a pretty good rundown of INTJs if you’re curious:

http://www.testsonthenet.com/type/reports/intj.asp