How To Dissolve A Long Standing Grievance

Forgiveness

Do you find yourself struggling in a close relationship? Many of us do.  Despite a long history of spiritual or healing practice, it is not uncommon to yet feel stuck in at least one challenging relationship.  Whether this be with a family member, friend or anyone else, it may seem like this is the one place where there can be no peaceful resolution.

The temptation here is to treat this as the singular exception where we are not responsible in any manner.  But without taking responsibility, we cannot bring in change. Hence, we end up feeling stuck and helpless, blaming the other. We make our lack of influence here an ‘unassailable fact’ instead of recognising that it is our perception of the situation that makes it what it is. 

This ‘spiritual failure’ then lingers in the background.  It occasionally erupts with a surprising intensity that can leave us feeling all the inner work has been useless and we may as well give up.

Well, we need not give up.
Drawing on our deep love of ‘A Course In Miracles (ACIM)’, Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’ and John Newton’s and Gary Renard’s Forgiveness teachings, my friend GD and I spontaneously developed a systematic way to find peace in such situations.  I found it to be effective and am hence sharing the basic steps of this process with you.

Important Note: 

Before proceeding, it is critical to be committed to healing this situation.

Even if painful, old patterns provide the comfort of familiarity and benefits of being a victim, moving ahead is possible only when we see this supposed Achilles heel as an opportunity for significant growth and evolution.

Hence, is essential to honestly uncover and clear all resistance to seeing differently.  There may be various speed-breakers to freedom, for example:

  • The need to be proven right, righteous or superior in some way
  • Mistakenly believing that Forgiveness implies condoning and/or inviting more of the same.
  • Letting go of this would disrupt one’s world views or foundational approach to things.
  • Discomfort with the loss of familiarity and the fear of the consequential unknown (we can grow accustomed and deeply attached to our long-standing complaints)

Pinpoint your own list of resistances and use any healing tools that you are already familiar with to clear them.

Foundational Understanding: 

The key concepts used here are derived from ACIM, namely:

  • Our perception is a projection coming from our own mind. Hence, by examining our thinking, we can control and change what we perceive. 
  • Forgiveness is changing our mind in a way that corrects the errors in our perception. Forgiveness is thus the means to freeing us from all illusion, including that of separation.

Forgiveness is the only thing that stands for truth in the illusions of the world. It sees their nothingness, and looks straight through the thousand forms in which they may appear. It looks on lies, but it is not deceived.” ~ Lesson 134, ACIM

  • Every stressful situation has a singular purpose and that is to offer us an opportunity to forgive and move ahead.  With this in mind, we drop all habits or intent of ‘fixing’ (the situation, the other or our self), all investment in particular outcomes and focus single-mindedly on forgiveness.
  • We have to forgive not only the other person, but also our self. If we find ourselves reacting strongly to some quality, it will be found within us. For what we object to in others is what we reject within ourselves. Projection is used to displace our guilt onto another, thereby avoiding acknowledging and forgiving it within our self.

With this background, we are ready to begin:

Overview - Dissolving a long -standing grievance

1. Choose a person that repeatedly annoys your body-mind system.

Select a person who frequently evokes a strong emotional reaction in you. Don’t look for the one with whom there are one-off disturbances, but the one with whom conflicts show up repeatedly.

2.  Find The Disturbing Quality/Behaviour/Trait Displayed By The Person.

Contrary to habit and temptation, the details of the unpleasant event are not important. Our aim is to identify the quality or trait that triggers all the trouble. 

Byron Katie’s ‘The Work’ looks to find ways we are arguing with reality, whereas here, our aim is to find the quality that we need to forgive this person for.

This is not as difficult as it sounds. It is helpful to pick just one of the most annoying interactions that you have had with the chosen person. Notice which was the trait that they were demonstrating then that triggered a maximal reaction in you. Examples include “unreliable”, “ungrateful”, “irresponsible”, “careless with money”, “insistent”, “stubborn” and so forth.

It is important to find the one quality that provoked maximal emotional charge.  Don’t compromise or stop your inquiry until you find the right one.  Try out similar or related trait descriptions. You will know you have found it by the ‘buzz’, a strong reaction or sensation in the body-mind. Select the word that feels most loaded.

3.  Look Within Yourself For 5 Places Where You Display The Same Trait

An authentic, non-judgemental introspection will enable you to find at least 5 occasions wherein you have been that way yourself. It is quite likely that the mind will first argue against this search.  For example, when we see violent or abusive behaviour, one may feel it would be impossible for us to have demonstrated it our self.  So let us clarify the parameters of this search:

  • Treat the trait or situation as symbolic:  Say it is ‘speaking loudly’ on the phone in public spaces that annoys you.  While you never do that yourself, see if you ‘loudly’ force your opinions deliberately or unintentionally on another’s space.
  • It may be in a different area of your life: If the complaint is “promises but never delivers” on work commitments, you may not be delivering on personal promises, implied or stated.
  • The form may differ:  You may not recall being physically violent with someone, but there may have been many occasions when you were verbally abusive, sharp, deliberately hurtful and so forth.
  • The frequency/intensity may differ:  You may not be the compulsive liar, but are dishonest or evasive on occasion.
  • This was true of you in the past:  Standing up for yourself may come more easily to you now.  But if you struggled with it in the past, seeing someone being a pushover or doormat may still trigger frustration in you.
  • It may present internally but not be displayed externally:  A common example is our self imposed requirement of ‘positive thinking’.  It is human to have negative emotions or a ‘down day’.  But as we try to convince others and ourselves of our positive thinking, we may pose a smiling, cheery appearance at all times.  In such cases, seeing someone ‘faking happiness’ can evoke strong reactions in us.
  • You may want to, but do not give yourself permission to do the same: Using the same example of self imposed positive thinking, seeing someone dramatising their upset may also trigger you.
  • You may have a list of valid reasons to justify your reaction: Rationalising our stubborn reaction can be an unconscious way to keep the trait in place and disown it at the same time. For if one has reasons for blame firmly in place, self examination (and forgiveness) can be avoided.

If done thoroughly, by the time you complete this part of the exercise, the revelation of what was lying unattended within you will in itself give noticeable relief.

4. All Inclusive Forgiveness

This journey of self discovery may now tempt you to judge yourself for having missed all this thus far. Or you may now begin to feel guilt for all the blame and anger you had directed towards the other. Or you may come in touch with the self directed guilt, blame or shame that was hidden all this time.

Do not build any further stories around these observations, nor consider them as definitive or permanent.  Once the seeing is clear, correction towards more loving and harmonious behaviour is easily possible.  Their remaining hidden was what was the problem.

We now draw on a higher power to support the process of Forgiveness, so that we can move beyond all of it gracefully. As Einstein said, “You can never solve a problem on the level on which it was created.  So pray or connect with God (Source, your Higher Self, or which ever higher power you believe in) and go through these steps with as much compassionate intent that you can muster:

(Use the person’s name instead of ‘ he/she’ and the ‘quality’ you found to fill in the blanks below.)

A. (God), Help me to forgive myself for having being blind to all this in the past; For projecting it outwards and not seeing it was something I needed to forgive within myself.

B. For all the times (he/she) and I have been (___),

May I forgive myself,
May I forgive him/her,
May he/she forgive themselves
and May he/she forgive me,
So help us (God).

C. For all the times I have judged (him/her) and myself for being (___),

May I forgive myself,
May I forgive him/her,
May him/her forgive themselves
and May him/her forgive me,
So help us (God)

How To Know The Process Is Complete

The process may seem a little daunting at first glance, but give it a good shot.  It gets smooth, quick and easy after a couple of attempts. You may have to repeat it a few times (with the same person) if it feels incomplete.

When it is complete, there is a sense of wonder, revelation and unmistakable lightness. It becomes clear that nothing really happened – other than a series of judgements and projections that were construed to make a certain story line. When the judgement dissolves, so does that particular story line. From a space of calm awareness, we are now free to take inspired action with clarity and ease.The ‘other’ can now be relieved of the villainous role that they so kindly played for us. This does not mean the person necessarily disappears from our life or that we disengage. But if they stay, the interaction surely transforms into something lighter and truer.

At the end of it, we often dissolve into laughter, having discovered that what was needed was not a pardoning of any ‘other’, but a clearer seeing, understanding and acceptance of our self. 

And if you find yourself struggling even after several attempts, contact GD or Sangeeta for a personal consultation :)

Good wishes!

Forgiveness prayer

Without Apology

Giving and receiving

Someone dear to me is accustomed to saying ‘Haq banta hai’ (I have the right), whenever he requests anything that could be considered an imposition. Even though I often suffered from the story of ‘I am often and easily taken advantage of’ in the past, his saying this never triggered any resistance in me. However, I understood why this was so only recently.

The shoe was on the other foot.  I said something similar to another friend, confessing how I had done something on the assumption that he would back me on it.  I felt neither guilt nor apology, and there was no complaint from him either.  He smilingly said that us taking each other for granted is a given.

So what is the difference between my old ‘story’ and these situations? Having given my old habits due attention, I see that the old story was just one more way for the personality to solidify and make separation real. When I succumb to this particular story, I am operating from the space of being an individual, dealing with another person. This necessitates a constant check and balance system to ensure that both parties feel respected and looked out for. In the latter case, one is resting in oneness and flow is taking care of things effortlessly.

To think of ‘yourself’ alone, or to ‘only look out for others’, are both rooted in an error in perception. What results is a polarised manipulation of resources(including intangibles such as care, attention and so forth), imbalanced by the strenuous attempt to serve a particular individual or group. Consequently, someone is left with suffering, resentment, guilt and or pain, as self-centredness is at the cost of others and sacrifice is at the cost of our self.

Correct perception is in seeing how we all are an interwoven One. Hence, in the larger context, when being and acting from oneness, any improvement in well-being (or alleviation of suffering) is unfailingly beneficial to all concerned: There may be different manifestations in form, but in essence there is only One.

In Oneness is a remembrance of universal, omnipresent divinity. As this eliminates all feelings of lack and inadequacy, what emerges is a natural flow of goodness that brings balance and harmony in its wake.  For now, ‘the cup’ truly ‘runneth over’.   Even if the ‘other’ behaves in a disturbing way, our own response comes from a deeper wisdom and compassion. Our choices and behaviour are no longer ruled by fear based negotiations, but become an expression of love and wholeness.

Just as we use Newtonian Laws at one level of perception and experience in physics, and understand that concurrently, the Laws of Quantum Physics are also at play at a different level, there are different guidelines for our behaviour, depending upon whether we are operating from ego or oneness. Politeness, thoughtfulness, negotiation and protocol all have their appropriate place and bypassing these has its own consequences when we are located in separation.  So it is inadvisable to pretend to oneness and use that as an excuse for disrespectful choices.

However, when we are genuinely centred in oneness, our interactions take on an unremarkable ordinariness.  Wouldn’t it be wonderful to experience this kind of love, ease and simplicity in our lives more consistently?

May this thought provoking piece from Chuang Tzu serve as a reminder to such grace.

Apologies
by Chuang Tzu

If a man steps on a stranger’s foot
In the marketplace,
He makes a polite apology
And offers an explanation:
“This place is so crowded.”

If an elder brother
Steps on his younger brother’s foot
He says, “Sorry.”
And that is that.

If a parent steps on his child’s foot
Nothing is said at all.

The greatest politeness
Is free from all formality.
Perfect conduct is free of concern.
Perfect wisdom is unplanned.
Perfect love is without demonstrations.
Perfect sincerity offers no guarantee.

(Photo Source: Facebook Gratitude)

Poems: Clarifying Love

Roses and Feet by Tanushree Vaidya
Love is not a commodity
To be negotiated over, bartered
Rationed or held within
Its not an investment, dependent
Upon what returns it brings

It’s not to be withdrawn
As a means of punishment
Or offered as a bribe
Allow it to pervade and flow
Set all risk analysis aside

One took form not to seek it
But to be it…
Breathe it into life.

 

How To Navigate Through Significant Change

stepping out by Tanushree Vaidya

While we may prefer that our experience of the world shifts smoothly from one phase to another, in reality we often have to deal with a confusing, overwhelming and uncomfortable state of mind and being, before things start feeling more stable.  Further, as we choose a more authentic way of being, things around us also start changing(often dramatically).  Your work, your residence, your relationships – all of them are affected as whatever is no longer in resonance with your new vibe will fall away and newer people and circumstances more in tune with you will enter your life. All these transitions can be overwhelming.

The following tips may help:

1.  Pay Attention To Who You Are Becoming

We tend to pay attention to what is going on outside and this can make it seem like we are dealing with far more than we can keep track of.  Notice instead which aspects of yourself are maturing, diminishing or developing.  For example, do you find that you are gradually growing less dependent on outside validation?  Or your need for frenetic activity has diminished?  Perhaps you see that you are now more accepting and forgiving of others mistakes.  If you examine such things, it may be possible to pin point key changes in your self that are linked to multiple expressions in your experience.  So the next time you feel “too much is going on”, go back to focusing on this key change and assimilate it consciously.   This can  help you feel more capable of dealing with whats going on.

2.  Create A Sense Of Spaciousness

When things speed up, its time to slow down.  If required, use tools such as Stephen Covey’s ‘Urgent-Important Matrix’.  Keep in the mind the saying, if you don’t have the time to meditate for twenty minutes, then meditate for forty minutes.  Even if you do not sit down for a formal meditation session, creating gaps of non-doing are most useful to process things. Being in nature is particularly helpful and something as simple as watching the clouds or the rain for a few minutes may allow your system to adjust and absorb far more than any obsessive analysis can.

3.  Don’t Jump Into ‘Fixing It’

Our modern day tendency is to look for immediate, quick-fix solutions.  Whereas some things simply require an allowance of the natural order of things.  No amount of rushing is going to turn a seed into a naturally flowering tree before its due time. If you feel too restless, start with a few minutes of allowance: Tell yourself, “Just for the next ten minutes, I choose patience and peace.  Gradually increase this period in increments until you develop the ability to stay with what earlier troubled you.

4. Respond, Don’t React

As one slows down internally, one learns not to react in panic.  Because we are no longer in a tearing hurry to end the discomfort, we are able to respond mindfully.  Victor Frankl famously said, “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.  Choose in a way that supports your return to your true nature, instead of opting for just short term relief.

5. Don’t Expect The Past To Disappear Overnight

Regardless of any conscious changes one may have made, our past actions and choices have their consequences.  Also, all of us tend to be Blinded By Familiarity.  So it may take those around you a little while to see that you have changed.  The momentum of past actions and perceptions may continue to show up for a while.  If you find a ghost from the past turning up to haunt you, or an old pattern recurring again, don’t be disheartened.  Address it with the knowing that this momentum will taper down and disappear entirely, depending upon how calmly and mindfully you respond.  Resisting it or pretending it away will not help.  We can use the recurrence of old challenges to strengthen our resolve and ability to respond differently thereby also building our own confidence in new ways of being.

6.  Align The Outer World Pro-Actively

Just as a great deal of inner work is usually required to bring us to a point where we are singing our own song, outer actions also need to be aligned to this newer, truer you.  Whether it is a change of vocation, city, relationship status or anything else, practical steps need to be taken.  This may be in terms of an exit strategy, seeking a new job, revising old agreements and contracts, etc.  Start implementing these proactively.   You may feel unhappy or ‘not ready’ for some of these auxiliary changes, in which case, actively process your resistance to the same. Procrastinating this may lead to sudden upheavals, for what is no longer in resonance is bound to shift.

7. Acknowledge Grief

Grief is not only consequent to the death of a person.  It can also show up as we realise that a certain phase, project, relationship, involvement, hopes, dreams, aspirations or even aspects of ourselves have come to their end.  Feeling their loss or missing them (even if the dissolution be by conscious choice or an understanding of its inevitability) is likely and should be duly honoured.  Don’t impose unrealistic expectations of detachment or equanimity upon yourself.  Disentangle yourself gently and surely, but at your own pace.

8.  Don’t Throw The Baby Out With The Bath Water

In the course of our self discovery,  we may find some of our past now unpalatable. In choosing differently, be discerning.  For example, don’t dismiss your entire contribution to a project, if you found that you had compromised there in some way. Or look back at a friendship you may have outgrown and judge your involvement there.  Whatever has happened, however long the detour you took, there will be good and useful parts in there.  There is no need to judge yourself or anyone else.  Be kind and forgiving of your history.  The idea is not to jump from identification with a particular trait to rejection/judgement of it, but to see and act with more balance and clarity now.

9. Become Comfortable With Uncertainty

As I wrote in 9 Clearing Statements to Address the Fear of Uncertainty, “[…] any transformation takes us through a period of flux, where things are emergent.  Much as we would like to, we can rarely bypass the turbulence and uncertainty of such times.  The said article provides help for fortifying our ability to get through such times.

10. Celebrate The Shifts

Last but not the least, make it a point to give yourself a pat on the back, even if you make only baby steps in your progress.  Any movement towards a more easeful, authentic and integrous way of being is a step in the right direction. Yes, you may have more inner work to do, but give yourself credit for all the effort you have already put in and the results as they are showing up. The ones who get into a disheartened loop of “Its pointless, there is no end to this.  I am fed up of working on myself.” are usually those who forget to show appreciation and compassion to themselves.

Wishing you a smooth movement towards experiencing your true self!
If you find any of this useful, please share with anyone else who may benefit.  Thank you.

Photo Credit:  Tanushree Vaidya Instagram: Photohappyme
(All rights reserved)

Wait No More

boat by tanushree vaidya

The roots of what troubles us are often deeply hidden from our conscious understanding.  These may sometimes be ancient, including emotions and beliefs that we have inherited from our ancestors or the collective. I discussed this in more detail at Individual Clearings and Collective Consciousness.

Awareness of what is really going on within us and our intent to heal are the two critical components in restoring a sense of well-being.  The beauty of poetry is that it allows us to touch and draw out much of what can be difficult to articulate in words. Pure intellectual analysis or seeking of specifics may sometimes prove too tiresome. Whereas poetry can provide a more abstract but yet effective route to greater self awareness.  I frequently suggest using my poems as EFT tapping scripts as this has the dual advantage of surfacing the challenge more completely while concurrently harmonizing the energies.

The following is an example of how not only our own experiences, but also a thread of collective imprinting may be affecting us as individuals, and how poetry can help us to heal.

One night, I wrote this poem out of the blues. There was no specific trigger or inspiration for me to write it.  Once it was ready, I felt like sharing it with another couple of lady friends.  One of them happens to be an alternative healing practitioner.  The next morning, as she listened to her new client describing her life, she felt called to read this poem to her.  The woman heard it and burst into cathartic tears.  She felt it resonated deeply with her own string of heartbreaks.  Subsequently, the suggested clearing(below) was also shared with her and she left the session feeling heard, understood and much lighter.  After I heard of this I shared it with a few other women and received similar responses.  It may not be universally applicable, but as I feel it may strike a chord for a lot of women, sharing the poem below.

The suggestion is to read it slowly and allow any emotion that wells up to show up.  You can (a) use EFT, (b) simply breathe and release it all with your intention to do so, or use the (c) clearing process given below the poem to help in this. If you feel the need, repeat your chosen way a few times, until ‘waiting‘ no longer carries any sticky, emotional charge for you.

If you find any of this helpful, please share it with other women.
May we all be released from our past and future obsessions, finding peace in the present.

He turned and left.
A little bit of her died
For the sailor
Never returned as promised
By the changing tide.

For right since the days
Of the hunter setting out for food
And the priest marching
To an inner guide

Right from the days when kings ruled
To the corporate whiz today
Eternally on board a flight

The woman has been left waiting
Praying, doubting, not only his return
But his will; her goodness, her worth
All this she has to decide…

For loneliness and or abandonment
Has a strange way
Of making the strongest one question
Whether they were seen. recognized.

If who they are is remembered
Valued and celebrated
Even if it be in the quiet.

These same scars
Of our grandmothers and aunts
Inscribed upon our souls
Tears, heart break, grief and despair
All the consequences of
The tremulous hope

The aging, the waning,
The softening, the hardening,
The breaking apart and coming together again

All the wounds of being the one
Society dictated must wait:
She waits till the end

The fear of loss, of separation
Seemingly a honour badge
To be emblazoned on her chest
For the man the adventures had:

Allowed to seek out his quest
Whether it be for himself or her
His parents, brothers or kids
Whether it be for money or fame
Conquering, God or justice
Whether it be his whim or urge,
His souls purpose
Or a demand from the clan
Whether it be for reasons selfish
Or beyond the understanding of mortal man

By and large
In every age
The woman holds the vigil

Awaiting the return
Of her life, love and faith
For all of them have been gambled

No half-hearted attempts for her
No playing safe
Nothing withheld, nothing denied
She poured it all away

Without life’s grace and blessings
These wounds, this pain.
These sorry conclusions
Of guilt, unworthiness and shame:

On her genes
In her very bones
Etched remain

Until she finally wakes up
From this collective dream
And her Self reclaims.

Suggested Clearing Process

1. Sit upright with the spine straight.

2. Run your attention quickly up the center of your spine and read each of the following with every such ‘sweep':

  • Align to wholeness now.
  • All the events, circumstances, significant events, conditioning, inherited emotions traumas, dramas, cellular memories, auric imprints and future programs that contribute to, solidify, densify and make real the archetype of the waiting or abandoned woman, release, dissolve and let go from the origins and across all time space dimensions now.
  • Disentangle from this archetype morphic field now.
  • Disentangle all residues and fixed points of views around this now.
  • Align to your own energies now
  • Repair energy field now
  • Align to wholeness now.

3.  Stay still for a few minutes, silently noticing the shift in your mind, body and energies.

Photo Credit:  Tanushree Vaidya (all rights reserved)

Prayer of Oneness

Sangeeta:

My wise and dear friend, GD, has been my primary guide in understanding and imbibing Advaita teachings. This he has done not only through his clear articulation but also with his being. Most happy to share this wonderful and somewhat unusual prayer from him. Feel the presence…

Originally posted on superaalifragilistic:

There are times, when even the most sincere seeker experiences ‘disconnection’. This disconnection can last hours, days or even weeks. Many seekers hence follow a daily ritual. Some follow a particular meditation style, some a breathing technique, because a daily ritual has a very simple purpose – it brings you back home.

This prayer was originally written by my brother GD to help a few friends who said they kept forgetting the core teaching; who kept getting disconnected… and needed a simple, short, crisp reminder of their true nature. So GD created this small reminder – in the form of an ‘advaita’ prayer – to help them stay connected to their essence.

Just one suggestion… please don’t rush through it.

Go slowly… and savor each line to experience the true power and energy of this unique prayer. It will reveal deeper meanings each time you connect with it.

PS: For those of you…

View original 25 more words

Material Wealth, Abundance And Spirituality

May your cup runneth over
Abundance, like age, is a state of mind.  Too often, it is thought to be limited to the digits describing one’s material wealth.
  While in fact it is the space from which one operates. Abundance here refers to the experience of ease and flow in all aspects of one’s life.  It is being anchored in a sense of wholeness and completion, a sufficiency that enables graceful flow, harmony and generosity. Where One is not inhibited by fears of scarcity. Trust in Self and life is effortless.

All of this is determined by one singular aspect – the degree to which one is in touch with one’s true nature.  The ‘I’ that one refers to, and whose ideas of ‘mine’ and ‘not mine’ keep it locked in a sense of lack and insufficiency(whether it be of love, time, well-being or money), is in itself a false construct.  It is the misled aspect that has identified itself with a particular body-mind.  This, despite experiencing that like the mind, our body too is noticeably changeable.  Our embodiment in the womb, as infants, adults and then as senior citizens is far from the same.  Even as we observe these changes, we continually, simultaneously re-calibrate our idea of ‘self’ and thereby continue to uphold the mistaken belief that there is a ‘constant’ or ‘consistent’ person here.

As a corollary to this idea of an individual and its sense of separation, we subscribe and contribute to a paradigm founded on transience, insecurity, competition, and nothing and no-one being ‘good enough’ (including our self). 

To fully emerge from these self-imposed limiting beliefs, we need a radical change in understanding. Initially, we tend to work towards improving our idea of this individual through ‘self-development’.  This provides temporary relief and we begin to feel we are winning. But remember that this game itself operates by the rules of changeability and insufficiency.  Hence, the degree of suffering may change, but it continues to feel real. To rise above this game, something different is required.

More often later than earlier, we find ourselves questioning our very self-definition.  We then notice that the only constant, consistent unchanging One is in fact our awareness of this experience.  Relaxing our attention from a limited mind-body identification as ‘self’, to this universal, omnipresent, singular awareness changes everything.

Instead of a world defined by separation and its constant struggle for safety, adequacy and well-being, One now experiences the world from a space of not just sufficiency, but easeful plenitude.  Instead of an isolated, solitary ‘me’ against the world, One operates from the knowing that being Consciousness itself, there is nothing One can possibly lack.  The perception thus shifts from lack and seeking – to abundance and expression of what already Is.

This transformation does not happen instantaneously for most of us.  Theoretically, it can be an instantaneous shift, but in practice, there is usually a gradual unpeeling of layers – involving a systematic unlearning and release of our conditioning, beliefs, habits and cellular memories.  With every inquiry and release, a further deepening of peace, ease and flow emerges.  The one question that can clarify our path at this point is,

Are you seeking self-development or Self Realization?

Remember that self-development looks to improve upon the idea and experience of the individuated, separate self that we have thus far identified with.  It is the seeking of mastery in the illusion, and not its transcendence.

Self-Realization, on the other hand, is the seeing through the illusion of this separate self.  As Adyashanti eloquently says, “Enlightenment is a destructive process. It has nothing to do with becoming better or being happier. Enlightenment is the crumbling away of untruth. It’s seeing through the facade of pretense. It’s the complete eradication of everything we imagined to be true.

The first choice, effectively, is looking for a ‘better’ dream.   But in the world of duality, health-disease, success-failure, poverty-wealth, codependency-loneliness and so forth – all exist in pairs. One cannot eliminate a single side of the coin. As ACIM clearly reminds, “You cannot dream some dreams and wake from some, for you are either sleeping or awake. And dreaming goes with only one of these. The dreams you think you like would hold you back as much as those in which the fear is seen. For every dream is but a dream of fear, no matter what the form it seems to take.

The second choice goes beyond merely manipulating levels of suffering or happiness, to the classical Advaita inquiry, Who Am I?  As a side benefit of this, One tends to have a more easeful and joyful perception of life. Because whatever happens, it is seen to be a dream that cannot define or determine who you really are.  How agitated would you be if the character you were playing in a drama underwent challenges, victories and defeats?  As an Italian proverb says, “At the end of the game, the pawn and the King go back in the same box.

Much of today’s popular spiritual speak often blurs the critical distinction between these objectives.  Added to this is the describing of material wealth as abundance and its thus sanctioned ‘holy’ pursuit.  The result is any number of programs and teachings attempting to meet the insecure needs of our misled aspects (and strengthening them) while deliberately or erroneously presenting these to be means of Self Realization.

Yes, money in itself is not evil. But to substitute the judgments previously imposed on the co-existence of material comfort and spirituality with a focused emphasis on material attainment is simply the perpetuation of a different dream.

My own approach to ‘spirituality’ has been grounded in my experience.  Being honest about where I am has allowed me to accept and adopt whatever practices were suitable for that point in time.  For example, when my husband lay unconscious in the ICU (and all our hopes and savings had run out) it was the least abundant I had felt it in my life.  I walked into the prayer room at the hospital and prayed, “You got me to this. You will get me through it.”  The next morning, out of the blues, a friend of mine came and gave me a copy of John Randolph Price’s “The Abundance Book”.  The Abundance Principals described therein are quite complementary to what I write here.  But it was true that money seemed a life or death requirement at that point.  I did the ’40 Day Prosperity Program’ described in it to honor my friend’s thoughtfulness. Even in the midst of what felt like a crisis, it completely shifted my perception of money and also transformed the situation. While I may have had many other layers and areas to work on, I have never worried about money since I did that exercise. It comes and goes smoothly enough.  In case you were wondering – that was 15 years back. And most of the work I have done since is for free.

This post intends to help clarify any confusion that may be a consequence of simultaneously seeking diverse objectives. The superficial understanding, confusion and guilt caused by chasing all kinds of conflicting material offered under the universal umbrella of “spirituality” today can lead to feelings of self-judgment, stuckness, guilt and even depression.  Deeply examining where you are and what choice you would like to make may release a lot of background stress. It could also help you move forward without procrastination or guilt.  If nothing else, I hope this piece raises some useful questions for the reader to introspect on.

 

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