I host or moderate a small group of sincere spiritual seekers through the format of email exchanges on a weekly basis. What’s shared below is the response Mike, a member of the group, gave to three of the others. I think these responses are so apt and well articulated that anyone interested in spiritual development will benefit from them.
Onion layer blind spots
Dear Friend, number 1
Don’t forget about your onion layers, tricky ones can cover up a lot! When I was 40 I would have banged on about all the different ways frustration was giving me a hard time. I was mostly somewhere between angry or indifferent towards anything divine back then, even though I had a seekers ‘relationship’ with it. How could I entertain any ideas about how things really tick when I was so insistent & preoccupied with jugging several differently sized, textured & weighted ‘my will’ balls misbehaving badly most of the time! I was always feeling hard done by, feeling that I had put in so much effort & deserved better, several times over!
We can be relentlessly hard on ourselves & not even notice it, not seeing that our heart is relegated to the status of a walnut dominated by the all knowing head that thinks it knows what’s best for the heart. Our ‘problems’ reflect out & then reliably reflect back, the world we ‘make’ sees us back at ourselves, self fulfilling prophecy. Stuck in a blind loop, there comes a point when we’ve simply got to turn down the constant heat produced by the imbalance of it all if we know what’s good for us. Something inside is trying to tell us that things just aren’t right & we can’t put our finger on it, we are at dis-ease. The shores of contentment we create in our imaginations are false & only provide a temporary relief, we know we must find the true shores that are within us but ‘because’ of our struggle, we fail to ‘locate’ them.
Hopefully we realise there is a need to change tack, otherwise the carpet keeps getting pulled from under us until we simply can’t get up & then we are ‘forced’ to ponder or re-evaluate our psyches’. This is a major crossroad for us in awareness, are we able to allow ourselves to see choice here while in convalescence?, are we so uptight we can’t get a glimpse at our imbalance behind our juggling?. The more obstinate of us after regaining our strength, resolutely get back on our horses of insistence & carry on regardless after missing a great opportunity presented to us, heading straight back into the imbalanced & arresting juggling loop.
Others question the role of their ego, they detect the hardly noticeable but desperate cry of their closeted heart. The blessing is in what takes place in the rapport thereafter, true kindness. When we ‘find’ this space for grace, through this proper kindness we can now take real stock, focus on our true sensibilities & find that we can begin to become a really good friend of ourselves, a foothold is found within, our first true shore of contentment. The juggling stops & the balancing act starts, the mindset softens & the heart stuff grows.
What seemed ardent becomes more ghostly, a power shift, you get to look at everything with new eyes. Not only that, you also find that deeper, more refined fundamental considerations come to the surface, a bit more of the real you. It was onwards & upwards for me after this, a life with a constant relief factor to some degree that I hadn’t ‘allowed’ in myself before. The whole ‘purpose in life’ question takes on a more refined hue. The whole deal of doubt, worry & expectation transmutes toward surety, carefreeness & freewheeling.
The sooner you relax off a bit about everything the better, we are all in the same boat here effectively, there are no guarantees for any of us. Part of your juggling act reveals itself in how you compare where you are to others, it’s just more rubbish thinking, it ‘is’ this that arrests you. Just keep doing the do, learn not to take yourself too seriously, & probably most importantly, know that we are all trying to liberate love capacity in ourselves by not entertaining things that disturb us.
If you can allow yourself to walk your life in this way, & learn to adopt easy, unforced kindness toward yourself with every step, grace will eventually present to you the maturity you’re looking for.
The ‘trouble’ is, your mind wants to know all this from where it currently stands, let go, do the above.
I’d like to give you a lasting hug of reassurance just now, with all my heart I will reflect in my world that grace visits you with proper kindness toward yourself that you can keep xx
To Friend number 2
Aloofness, & the reasons for feeling that way. I always felt uptight until I learned to be ‘two people’, a useful ‘tool’, perspective wise, to allow yourself space to operate more effectively in two worlds, most people don’t find, through grace, a choice at all!. Two people in two worlds, the company you keep. This group world & the teaching we share is your true sounding board where you can properly express & ‘better’ yourself, the ‘gross’ world that you can’t ‘share/extract/grow/satisfy’ from is only your deceptive reacting board, full of well meaning pontificators, bolshy know it all’s, mediocres & shallows. All this is just illusion too, annoying isn’t it!
I can think of loads of examples of my mis-firing, even with my closer friends & family in the ‘gross’ world, but I’m trying to keep what I have to say simple. It’s a hard, subtle lesson dealing with all this that’s for sure, ANYONE outside this group is ‘gross’ world mate, the closer the relationships you have in it, the harder it is to resist deep, challenging conversations with, they are the ‘lesser’ company you keep, however you slice it. I had to fall over a lot before I realised that patience & a method was the key, it’s not that long ago either I felt ‘topside’ on this!, the whole thing gets more subtle as you go along, the feeling of the need to satisfy that constant hunger a.s.a.p. is hard to resist, especially when feeling relaxed sometimes & the lightening just strikes. Lack of consistency is a huge blind spot. I don’t claim to be a perfect example of dealing with this, but I very rarely get anywhere near uptight about it & there is no lightening. There is a process of alignment with all this, once recognised.
In ‘How to attain enlightenment’, James Swartz does a brilliant job of highlighting ‘who to avoid’ in the sincere search, hard knocks already taught me this before I read the book, I wont try match his take on all this even so, it’s all very well described in his book. From the perspective of ‘you’, I suggest you just practice being a nice fella in the ‘gross’ world, tell jokes, do favours, keep it light, do whatever it takes to fill the gap of keeping your distance until over time it eventually becomes comfortable. Explode if you need to when it’s group time, until over time, that eventually gets comfortable. Patience, with a method. There is a ‘Rob Peter to pay Paul’ ( outside this group, I don’t mean to confuse you! lol ) gap to start with, but like any new concept, it gets easier to do with practice. I feel like one person nowadays & hardly notice the ‘shift’ between myself, most private relationships & general relationships & how best to behave in them without upset, the alert discernment is now permanently active. You can be relaxed & friendly with all of it eventually.
I think it is a good idea to cultivate your own private teacher inside yourself too as you go, I had conversations with myself when no-one was around to let off steam at the start of this, got caught out occasionally! Then I eventually realised that I liked what I had to say to myself better than what others had to say as my ‘mood’ improved. Learning a couple of sayings of wisdom helps too, or keeping a small book around you that you know calms you down, to keep you tied over until you get back to the sanctuary of the group.
I feel most fortunate that there has been at least one truly sincere person near the same page as me since my mid 20’s, they are VERY hard to ‘find’, but you know who they are when grace ‘provides’ them. Still, I was ignorant of discovering this method right up until I learned to practice befriending my ego in my early 40’s! Talk about inch by inch, millimeter by millimeter was what it was like for me before I could eventually find the friend of myself, in myself. Since TAT, I have now become a kind friend of myself. I hope there’s at least a tad of resonance in what has flopped out of me as a response to what you wrote, or maybe you can pick out a method that works best for you.
Wishing you peace & consistency in yourself dear friend.
To Friend number 3
Somewhere in my early youth I came across a saying that burnt itself on my psyche, it was the method I used for all future engagements in life. It also taught me that if you’re going to do something, give it the best you’ve got, or don’t bother at all. Trouble is, it was all practiced in ‘my will’ land, but I think in the long term it’s done me a lot of good.
‘know exactly what it is you want, be prepared to go through whatever it takes to get it, accept it fully when it arrives’.
‘Intention, Confidence, Gratitude and Indifference’ (Betweeness as described by Richard Rose)
Maybe I had to wait 40yrs for grace to supply the ‘indifference’ ‘thy will’ part. Still, they are both manifestation statements.
“I am convinced that intense self-introspection does not require large amounts of time. It requires only short meditations which regardless of the form they take, in essence, amount to a prayer — a plea to the higher self for help and guidance. This sets in motion a direction so that amidst busy-ness and hard work — that higher self will manifest and the inner man will get through to communicate — which you will experience as insight or mini-realizations — that translate into a change of being.”– Bob Cergol
from The Direct Mind Experience by Richard Rose :
“The path to Truth, or Reality or Essence is very simple:
It requires a Selfish man, an individualist not afraid of the annihilation of individualism, a fearless man not afraid of powers within him that are much greater than himself, and a man of suicidal relentlessness once his commitment is given.
All that is necessary to find the Truth is an unconditional commitment, — not putting a time upon the commitment nor a greater value on any other desires or fears. If a person sincerely makes a commitment he automatically becomes a vector in a sure direction.
But if we wish to see the commitment become an Absolute result in this lifetime, we must be conscious of our limited time, and of ways and means to expedite the realization. All energies must give priority to the vector. Every hour must be used in a way to expedite the success.
So that as soon as the general commitment is made, we should immediately commit our energies which are generally used for anger or pleasure so that transmutation will bring Intuition.
The voice of Intuition will be our most valuable teacher. It will furnish all future planning for the campaign. But do not rest. Make violent efforts but do not disturb the sleepers.” (P. 315)
“The daily remembering and clear admission of our internal angst is key to the eventual ability to face the moment. It gives us energy and incentive to separate from being identified with the psychological manifestations of personality in the drama of the sleepyhead-knucklehead, and how this misidentification traps our attention in the illusions of the mind. Once relaxed, we can jump straight into the still, aware silence: the listening attention. In other words, we go straight from personality right back up to what we really Are. We go from being a very complicated psychology, to being a very simple two-way seeing. We learn how to listen, to just look at the facts always in front of our vision, while simultaneously looking back at what we really Are. Psychological work is used only to show us that we don’t have a quiet mind, no freedom of attention, and thus cannot tell the real from the false. Once we realize that having a quiet mind is something you simply find, it’s always there just under the surface, you no longer have to think about it, put effort into it, build it up. It’s a retreat from complicated error and projection back to the simple truth of ourselves as aware capacity, indescribable and real”. Bob Fergeson, The Listening Attention