I guess I’m not in control after all…

I feel like I constantly come from this place of desperation. Like I have to have certain things happen or I get frustrated, depressed, angry…

A couple weeks ago I had one of these ideas really built up, a lot of energy invested in a certain thing happening… And then it didn’t. But it was weird. It didn’t affect me like it usually does. I went for a walk afterwards and noticed that for the first time I felt like I had some weight. Some substance. Like I could actually feel my body.

And from that foundation, I no longer felt like anything really had to happen. There was a calm contentment. There were still things that I definitely wanted to happen, but this newfound groundedness wasn’t dependent on it. It was more like I just wanted to enjoy these things. Express myself through them.

I also noticed there was a feeling of expansiveness that coincided with this weight. Like I was coming through my body and then expanding outwards into my environment. I could feel the objects of the room that I was in. I had a feeling that I was occupying space in this environment. Before I had lived in a complete vacuum. Unaware of my body or what was around me.

This also fits right in with what I’ve been reading in the course.

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Chapter 8, section VII. The Body As a Means of Communication, paragraph 12:

“Learning must lead beyond the body to the reestablishment of the power of the mind in it. This can be accomplished only if the mind extends to other minds, and does not arrest itself and it’s extension. This arrest is the cause of all illness, because only extension is the minds function.”

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It’s a routine of mine to check out The Cosmic Path’s free weekly astrology forecast. It’s usually totally relevant for what I’m going through. And this week was no exception, as it was all about expansion.

Here’s a little snippet:

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“While others are struggling with challenging circumstances, you’re in major expansion mode. This may be because you have so much experience with the challenging circumstances scenario, but whatever it is, your work right now is to remain centered and neutral in your considerably empowered self, and allow your world to continue to deliver its miracles to you. “

http://www.thecosmicpath.com/category/wh-capricorn

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When I read this I was like “Hell yes! How spot on!” But didn’t put too much thought into it after that.

Then tonight while on a walk I realized something very interesting. This shift that has happened the past couple weeks, I very much felt like this was a result of all of the work I’ve been doing. Like I am getting better at releasing the ego, I’m reading the right books, have the right friends. I was priding myself on how good I’m getting at releasing control and letting the Holy Spirit take over!

But then I realized “well…. that astrology forecast said the exact same thing. So is this expansive state really just a result of the stars aligning in my favor? Is it not really me doing this after all?”.

The ego can use anything to build itself an identity to preserve its existence. Even releasing the ego to the Holy Spirit. I had built up an identity that I was “good” at doing this. It’s like I was releasing control with one hand but clinching even tighter with the other. Realizing this astrology stuff had a role in the expansiveness I’ve experienced had the effect of suddenly releasing both hands. It felt like I was floating. Still very grounded, but totally unclouded. Seeing clearly.

I see now that it’s silly to think that doing A leads to B. I have such a small picture of what’s actually going on. To think that what I’m experiencing is influenced by the stars…. Even as ambitious as the ego is, the thought of trying to control the stars is a bit beyond it 🙂

So you think I’m an asshole? Yeah… you’re probably right…

So good…

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Chapter 8, section V. The Undivided Will of the Sonship, paragraph 5:

“Whenever fear intrudes anywhere along the road to peace, it is because the ego has attempted to join the journey with us and cannot do so. Sensing defeat and angered by it, the ego regards itself as rejected and becomes retaliative. You are invulnerable to its retaliation because I am with you. On this journey you have chosen me as your companion instead of the ego. Do not attempt to hold onto both, or you will try to go in different directions and will lose the way.”

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Wow… That’s pretty ruthless. To basically say you have to abandon the ego. This brings up all sorts of unpleasant feelings. The ego usually masquerades as a helpless child, so initially it makes you seem like an unholy asshole for abandoning it. For even thinking of abandoning it. What kind of heartless creature would leave behind a child? One who needed its help? Who was desperately reaching out, crying, beaten, tormented by life? Could you possibly live with yourself if you turned your back on this?

This is obviously a trap, but it’s a damn good one. I think in a lot of ways this is a good illustration that to follow a lot of this course stuff, you could legitimately be called an asshole when being judged by the normal standards of society.

And I think the trick is that you have to be okay with this. To be okay with living outside what most people consider to be decent. To not conform to what is “right”. To be an outsider in this insane society.

And the greatest ally in maintaining this position is the Holy Spirit, and the perspective it brings into this. Like I quoted above, this is a journey to peace, to truth. You can’t bring illusion with you, it must be abandoned. But these things have no real substance. You aren’t actually abandoning anything. It’s just an illusion. The guilt that comes with this is just a trick to get you to turn around. It’s perfectly okay to feel happy as a result of this abandonment, as bizarre as this might sound when viewed through the lens of what society normally thinks…

I’ll quote one more passage which is from paragraph 6. It’s hard to describe how badass reading this makes me feel (which I’ve done probably 20 times now).

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“Never accord the ego the power to interfere with the journey. It has none, because the journey is the way to what is true. Leave all illusions behind, and reach beyond all attempts of the ego to hold you back. I go before you because I am beyond the ego. Reach, therefore, for my hand because you want to transcend the ego. My strength will never be wanting, and if you choose to share it you will do so. I give it willingly and gladly, because I need you as much as you need me.”

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Awwwwwwwwwww yeahhhhhhhhhhhh, I love that!

Split mind and “minor” miracles

This is a perfect example of how unique and valuable the course is. I originally read this a month ago, and did get quite a lot out of it, but I reread this passage in a study group this morning and had a completely different understanding. That’s why you can never really be done reading this book. After only a month this little idea has changed so much. And this book is like 1,000 pages long…

The course often talks about a split mind. On one side we have the ego, and on the other side we have our spirit. This naturally produces a lot of friction, as these two sides seem to be in direct opposition to each other.

This is a fundamental concept that is talked about in pretty much every spiritual system, and it seems like everyone has a different solution. Some say to eradicate the ego, that ego death is the ultimate goal. Some say you have to retrain the ego. Force it to produce different, loving thoughts. Others say this split is irreconcilable. That it has to be accepted for what it is and lived with.

I’ve tried all of these, but ultimately they did very little to help. They actually probably did more damage than anything else. I realize now that self attack is never a solution, which was my approach to the ego for some time.

The course lays out why trying to resolve this split on your own is a lost cause.

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Chapter 4, section 1 “Right Teaching and Right Learning”, paragraph 2:
“Nothing can reach spirit from the ego, and nothing can reach the ego from spirit. Spirit can neither strengthen the ego nor reduce the conflict within it. Your self and God’s Self are in opposition. They are fundamentally irreconcilable, because spirit cannot perceive in the ego cannot know. They are therefore not in communication and can never be in communication”

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These two minds live in completely different worlds. There is no frame of reference for either one. You can’t teach the ego anything.

The course poses a different solution.

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“If you are willing to renounce the role of guardian of your thought system and open it to me, I will correct it very gently and lead you back to God.”

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Hmmm, that’s a new one. I don’t fight the ego, I don’t try to change it, I let the divine take care of that. Another burden dropped. And this is actually something I’ve been witnessing within myself for years. Where I will start having a very ego-based thought loop start, then all of a sudden I get this completely different thought dropped in that breaks that loop and brings me out of it. It’s like a friend is reminding me “hey, you don’t have to do this, let me lift you up out of here before you get sunk in too deeply”.

Sometimes I go right back into the loop, but most of the time I smile seeing how silly it was. I’d always kind of thought this was dumb luck, or just a random coincidence. But now I see this was the divine reaching down and helping me out. This intervention has happened to me a couple times today, and afterwards there has been immense gratitude and appreciation that wells up within me. It’s such a validation that the divine is connected to me, helping me out in my day to day existence. On the surface it might not appear to be some huge miracle where I am walking on water, or emerging from an accident unscathed, but to me these gentle reminders are just as special.

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“And gratitude to God becomes the way in which He is remembered, for love cannot be far behind a grateful heart and a thankful mind.”

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This is so cool to me. For the course to explain something that is already happening. So I can consciously direct it. Put more energy towards it and see the results.

It feels like so many solutions that other spiritual systems propose are creating something out of nothing. It’s like you’re almost going against your nature. Fighting upstream. Trying to force these changes. I’d much rather just tap into something that’s already happening. Especially something that allows me to relax. Drop burdens and responsibilities instead of adding more. The more I can offload onto the divine the better… I’m tired of fighting upstream…

All aboard!

Every Tuesday evening I hold a course in miracles study group in my apartment. This past Tuesday as we were having a discussion I had a very acute awareness that I was splitting my mind. One part was present, engaged in the conversation, while the other was trying to figure out what each person was thinking. How they were feeling. Analyzing the dynamics between everyone.

After watching this for a bit I realized it was totally unnecessary, and that I had the power control whether this happened. That I could instead pull this back and be fully present with these people. This really allowed me to see everyone. Not as some mental fabrication that I constructed, but who they actually were. They really started coming to life, and I really started to enjoy myself.

Since then I’ve been constantly playing with this idea of a split. Watching myself as it happens. Seeing how it makes me feel, and then bringing it back home. When I am able to bring that split back and consolidate myself, I feel like a different person. A person I have seen flashes of over the years, but it’s never been consistent. And I realized tonight that this split represents a transition. A passing of the torch. A death and a birth.

Growing up, I built my identity based on isolation and video games. It was rigid, nervous, static, “safe”. It was like wearing a thick hoodie that I was hiding within. Trying to make sure no one could see me.

kinoninja3

I feel this identity is very much represented in that split. Whenever I see the split happening, I feel this identity in my body. How uncomfortable it is. How rigid and compulsive it’s thoughts are. How it’s trying to categorize everyone into little boxes so it can “understand” them. So it knows how to behave to evade any real interaction. So it knows how to avoid being seen.

When I pull this split back, there is a new identity taking hold. Instead of this restrictive, rigid winter jacket, it’s more like a lightweight jacket. Something both casual yet a little dressy. Easy to move in. It makes me feel confident, loose, clearheaded, calm.

carey-mulligan-ryan-gosling-drive-feeding-ducks-03

This new identity has been building its strength for a while now, and is ready to take over. It doesn’t need that old structure anymore. It’s still fighting to hold on, but we can all see that it’s over. It’s time has passed. That there is a new life waiting for me now. Joy and happiness to be had right here. Dangling at my fingertips. Things that were completely unknown to me with that old identity, but that I am now ready for. Especially now that I have this slick new jacket that I can really move around in.

It feels now like I’m saying goodbye. Not angrily, or like I’m in a huge rush. The train is slowly pulling out of the station and this old self is still running beside me, waving, trying to catch my attention. I’m smiling and waving back, knowing that the train will soon pull out of the station, pick up speed, and that I’ll never see him again.

I’m not sure where this train is headed, but that doesn’t concern me. It just feels good to be moving again, windows down, wind whipping through my hair, getting to see the countryside and interact with some new people. I’ve made some wonderful friends already, and we’ve barely just left 🙂

trains-round-up_20682_600x450

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.

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.