Keep it simple, silly

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Self disclosure

I’ve been given some useful feedback about the Your tag is showing piece I wrote a few weeks back. I thought I would go through it using an exercise I’ve found helpful before. First I look at a statement and see where it’s true – finding three genuine examples of this. Then I find three genuine examples of how the opposite is also true. Aside from being a revelatory and liberating process, it’s also an excellent demonstration of how nothing is entirely true and how there’s an element of truth to everything.

Let’s see how we go.

You have not yet discovered your true direction in life.

1) I can find this. At the moment I am working in a poorly paying job, and although I love it I hardly see it as my entire future.

2) Although I have had some small glimpses of where the inward journey that I have embarked upon (as we all have – some are simply more conscious of this than others) may lead, there is still much flotsam floating between me and my goal, obscuring my view to a point that it’s rarely clear exactly where I’m heading.

3) I often find myself getting caught in the belief that my direction involves making a lot of money / being a success, and yet when I’m at my clearest it is so obvious that the direction that would make me (and those around me) happiest is the one where I am at my most joyful and loving.

You have discovered your true direction in life.

1) Many times! Sometimes it is so clear that my direction points directly to the Source that I can sense the gravity of it pulling me in. This is choiceless – a gravity that is sucking every single thing in – so why fight it?

2) I have been working my way through The Master Key System and its exercises are giving me more focus than ever before. Instead of having a bazillion projects on the go at once and getting none of them completed, I now have just a couple and am directing more and more of my energy there.

3) Today I ran my first A Course in Miracles group, and the experience that gave me left me with little question where my direction lies. It isn’t necessarily in the Course itself (though there’s no reason it shouldn’t be), but in facilitating paths to freedom where they appear before me. It is such a beautiful sight! What could be better than a life full of miracles?

Your path of self-indulgence, self-destruction and dependence on others’ ideologies perseveres.

1) Hmmmm, this is a big one. I’m considering breaking it up into a) self-indulgence, b) self-destruction and c) dependence on others’ ideologies. But I won’t, for the sake of brevity. So I’ll start here with an ‘ABSOLUTELY!’ I would not identify with this ‘self’ if I didn’t indulge it; I am therefore doing what I can to destroy this identification I have with this ‘self’; and in the process I am finding the wisdom and experience of others most helpful (particularly, at the moment, Byron Katie, A Course in Miracles, The Master Key System and Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet; past excursions into the teachings of the Buddha, the Tao te Ching, The Four Agreements and yogic principles (for example) have proved most useful to me as well). Why would I try to find all this invaluable wisdom purely through my own experience when it’s been so many thousands of years, so many lifetimes, in the making? I may be self-indulgent, but I’m not that self-indulgent.

2) And yes, I’ve just taken the kids to Disneyworld. That’s extremely self-indulgent in a world where so many people don’t even know where their next meal is coming from. I continue to bite my fingernails, which is a destruction of a part of what I would call my own self and I continue to drink coffee and have even gotten a little bit drunk once or twice in the past month – neither of which can be good for me. I still call myself Jamie, often believe that I’m a man, and accept without question other people’s names for things – all of which demonstrates very clear dependence on others’ ideologies.

3) The first work I did consciously on this path was reading a series of Siddha Yoga pieces under the collective heading In Search of the Self. Naturally, this was about the universal self, and to this day I continue to indulge this self to the best of my ability. That’s a big goal of mine. However, in my unaware state that I spend so much of my time in – the one where the ego seems to be in charge – I do everything I can to destroy this self, as though it were possible to destroy the eternal: I berate myself; I accuse and blame others; I find fault; I attack and believe I am being attacked. This, I agree, is extremely self-destructive. And in this, I am very dependent on the ideologies of others – I need them to do and condone the same things to make these attacks appear real. If they didn’t believe that attack is possible, it would make it so much harder for me to do so.

Your path of self-indulgence, self-destruction and dependence on others’ ideologies ceases.

1) Sometimes. When I’m clear. It is a beautiful thing to experience, if only for a moment.

2) I have had the opportunity in one of these brief moments of clarity to truly experience ‘this’ as a dream state. In this, I saw how none of this matters because none of this is really happening. I was, ever so briefly, the witness. As the witness it is entirely obvious that my path of self-indulgence, self-destruction and dependence on others’ ideologies has ceased simply because it never existed. This is not an ideology, it is an understanding. The two things are very different.

3) I am only self-indulgent when I am being self-indulgent. I am only self-destructive when I am being self-destructive. I am only dependent on others’ ideologies when I am dependent on them. At all other times I have ceased to be this. I am not even the sum of my parts; I am a changeling; wave motion.

You have a lack of sensitivity for the needs, feelings and personal values of those around you.

1) It’s true. Often, for instance, one of the children will be crying and I just find myself getting upset with them instead of being compassionate and accepting their experience of suffering as genuine.

2) The more I notice life goes on with or without me; the more I see that other people’s experience has nothing to do with me, the less sensitivity I have for these things. People will get upset with or without me; they will be joyful with or without me; they will find someone to blame with or without me. I am happy to be the perceived source of that blame if that’s what happens, for it is none of my business what another person believes or how they deal with those beliefs. I am coming to see through careful observation that my needs are always met, that my feelings are totally dependent on my own headspace, and that my personal values are based entirely on others’ ideologies. Why would it be different for anybody else?

3) This reminds me of an incident at the School for The Work when somebody cried “I don’t care,” as if it was a great sin. Katie immediately asked us to put our hands up if we didn’t care – and most of us did. I didn’t, as I was a bit slow to catch on. Now I’m starting to get it. I have never cared for anyone but me. When I appear to be helping someone, the truth is that I am attempting to help me. Maybe I think it will get me your approval, maybe I’ll be a bit clearer and see that I get at least as much out of giving as I do out of receiving. It doesn’t matter: nobody has ever cared for anything beyond their own self-interest. It’s not possible. If I were to be sensitive for the needs, feelings and personal values of those around me, it would first be preferable to ask myself why: am I doing it to be liked (manipulation) or am I doing it out of genuine concern? Whose business am I in? And if it’s not mine, what right do I think I have to be there? Good questions, all.

You have a sensitivity for the needs, feelings and personal values of those around you.

1) Whenever I travel, I do try to make a point of observing cultural norms to the best of my ability. You know, when in Rome

2) I do my best to allow people their point of view. I argue a lot less than I used to. I prefer to ask questions of clarification rather than tell people they’re wrong. I notice that I am becoming a better listener. I say ‘thank you’ a lot. I try to allow people their feelings without interfering in their experience. I do a lot of things ‘behind the scenes’ to help make people’s lives more enjoyable.

3) The more I realize that those around me are naught but extensions of me, the more I realize the importance of having a sensitivity for my needs, feelings and personal values – as this directly affects everyone around me. I have noticed that when I am upset, those around me reflect that; when I am happy, their behaviour becomes delightful. I am cause and everything else is effect. Compassion, like everything, starts here.

Your recent public “revelations” may have given you some instant gratification and notoriety.

1) Yes! It is such a relief to get this stuff out. I’ve been holding onto most of it for over a decade.

2) I hadn’t really considered the notoriety, as many people who read this blog can probably identify with most of my ‘revelations’. Indeed, many of my readers were probably disappointed at how tame they were compared to their own experiences. And still, I can see how they could have appeared outrageous to others. I can’t take that away from them: if they want to identify me as notorious, they will.

3) There was definitely a time when I would use this sort of information for the instant gratification of notoriety. Now though, it all seems so passé. I look at the time when I had a ‘bad boy’ self-image and feel compassion for someone who knew no better, for a man who thought he needed to impress others. Naturally, I still suffer from this affliction, though nowhere near as severely as I did then.

The effects on those close to you could prove disastrous to the point that you destroy everything you have created.

1) They could. The subheading to this blog is ‘Nothing’s personal.’ This is something I have been learning for myself, and it is in many ways something I want this blog to demonstrate. However – and this is something I had not previously considered – while there is one person in the world who does not share this understanding, then there is the very real possibility that someone might want to use this information against me for ‘personal’ reasons. That would not be fair to those close to me, especially my wife. For this reason, I have now made this blog as anonymous as possible: no names, no location and a blurry photo that could be of just about anybody (it’s me, is it true?).

2) In many respects, this was exactly the intention. As per an earlier point, I am working on destroying everything I have made: every story, every belief, every idol. That exercise was just one small step of the process.

3) One thing we do in The Work is to look at the worst that could happen and find ways in which it could be the best that could happen. I’ll attempt that now with ‘E and I are separated and I am forced to leave the country’:

a) I would have just had the most incredible learning experience;

b) It would be an enforced new beginning. The goal is for every moment to be a new beginning, to live in the experience of total innocence – and such an event would invite such an opportunity;

c) I would be free of all the restrictions I impose upon myself to help make this family environment work.

The effects on those close to you could prove successful to the point that you create everything you have destroyed.

1) Again, they could. Although there is nothing in here that I have been trying to keep from E and her family, what I have been finding is that there can be many benefits to opening up and being as honest as possible. There is a lot of freedom in having nothing to hide, and it is in freedom’s space that miracles happen.

2) How do I know that what is happening is what is meant to be happening? It is happening. Whatever comes of this is a manifestation of perfect order, and who am I to fight that? Can I know that I would be less happy if what I imagine to be the worst that could happen actually happened? Of course not. I can only know that this is happening now, and notice this. It is not my job to judge what is better and what is worse – I lack the necessary qualifications!

3) Creation seems to be inevitable – the way of it. Like it says in the introduction to A Course of Miracles: “Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.” If nothing real can be threatened, then nothing real can be destroyed. Only creation is possible.

You will only perpetuate and intensify your lack of self-esteem.

1) That, I have found, certainly seems to be one of my ego’s primary goals. It’s what keeps me in check, subservient to it. So yes, ‘I’ will do this. It gives ‘me’ the illusion of control.

2) I wasn’t really aware I had a lack of self-esteem, and now thinking about it I can find it. At my low points I do get pretty down on myself, and at times like this I seem to do everything I can to perpetuate and intensify my lack of self-esteem.

3) My goal is really NO self-esteem, so yes, absolutely, I will do everything I can to perpetuate and intensify a lack of it. Self-esteem is purely ego gratification. It is confirmation and justification for the ego’s existence. In a state of no self-esteem, no ego gratification, I am at complete peace. I have nobody to impress and nothing to be. Yes, this is most definitely an objective of mine: a complete lack of self-esteem.

You will only perpetuate and intensify your abundance of self-esteem.

1) Over the past few years, as I’ve delved deeper and deeper inside, I’ve felt better and better about myself. With low self-esteem I found myself with a determination to be important, to prove myself. As I feel better about this one, I have less and less to prove to anyone, and ironically success is becoming more and more probable as a result. I love irony! It seems the truth lies in irony more often than not.

2) With low self-esteem I was much more inclined to keep secrets from people, to only show the part of me I thought might impress them. Again, ironically now that I am willing to share more of me with the world, the better I feel about myself. There is little shame left now - there is nothing to be ashamed of: the person I present to you is always one from the past, never the one here right now. Once it is written it is over; goodbye; never to be seen again in exactly the same form. How can there be shame when the person I am talking of no longer exists?

3) You know, I just have too many reasons to feel good about myself. I am doing my best, and that is always good enough. And when I’m clear, I’m so grateful to be in this one’s shoes.

Perhaps it’s time to break the cycle by taking a very close look at what you have done, and acting on that.

1) Of course! When does such a time not exist?

2) I do The Work (Inquiry) regularly – at least a few times a week. This always entails breaking the cycle by taking a very close look at what I’ve done, and a natural repercussion is often acting on that. This is not lah-di-dah stuff – the deeper I go, the heavier and more revelatory it can be.

3) I have discussed the post in question with E, and as a result the aforementioned anonymity has been introduced. Names of my family members and myself can no longer be found on this blog. There was nothing else she felt was necessary.

Perhaps it’s time to mend the cycle by taking a very close look at what you have done, and acting on that.

1) Yes. I love this. So much of my time as this ‘self’ is spent interfering with natural cycles, and yet I have noticed that allowing a cycle its space is what actuates flow. The time has come to mend the cycle, and part of the process could well be taking a close look at what I’ve done, and acting on that.

2) This reminds me so much of the Making Amends step in 12-step programs. I’m not into these programs for reasons of my own, and still I can see their benefits. Making amends is one of the most effective ways known to mend past hurts, to mend the cycle. If I can make amends to you, please let me know how, and I’ll see what I can do to honour that. So long as I can stay in my own integrity by doing so, I can see no obstacles to this.

3) When I take a close look at what I have done, I see so much good coming from it. I have done a lot to improve people’s well-being and I have no intention of stopping. Improving well-being must surely be a way to mend cycles, I would imagine.

If you can’t see the damage you’ve already done to E and her family by divulging such personal details on the internet while living in a small town, then you hardly deserve their love and trust.

1) You could be right. I, for one, would agree that I don’t deserve their love and trust. It is not mine to have unless they are willing to give it, which they currently appear to be.

2) I am looking for the damage I have done to E and her family by divulging these details about myself, and I am struggling to find it. If she or her family feels that I have done damage to them and I still can’t find it, then of course I wouldn’t expect their love and trust. At this point in time, they haven’t given me any cause to believe that they do feel I have done them any damage. And I am open to them doing so.

3) I am finding that love and trust come hand-in-hand with the truth, and that these things are eternal. I don’t deserve their love and trust, it just comes naturally. Like Katie says, “I’m very clear that everyone in the world loves me. I just don’t expect them to realize it yet.” You see, they don’t have a choice!

If you can see the benefit you’ve already done to E and her family by divulging such personal details on the internet while living in a small town, then you easily deserve their love and trust.

1) This may be a small town, but it’s largely a liberal small town. People move here because they identify with the place and its people. I am one of these people. The few locals who actually read this blog (and I used to keep an eye on the hits – there are very few, and I know who most of them are) would not, I imagine, find anything too surprising or objectionable in what I’ve divulged. If anything, it is probably most likely that if any ‘damage’ is done, it will be done to me, not to E or her family. They have lived here almost two decades, and as this is a small town, they are well known for who they are and what they’ve done here – it’s highly doubtful they will be judged on my merits.

2) As mentioned earlier, I have been finding that the truth is a wonderful panacea. It seems to break down barriers and open things up. With this sort of information readily available, little room is left to doubt me or my motives. A confidence in my honesty can be fostered from this point, and the reader can rest assured that any questions they may have about me are likely be readily and honestly answered.

3) As per the corresponding point above, I deserve their love and trust just as much as anybody does. True love is unconditional and unavoidable, for love is truth and love is all. It’s not about me being special, it is simply about me being.

You have little respect for them and their values.

1) I feel I have a better sense of them and their values than most readers of this blog, and still I’ll try and find this. Let’s see, ah yes, E and her family make a number of lifestyle choices that I don’t have a lot of respect for. I won’t discuss these here because they’re not my business and therefore most certainly not yours.

2) Let’s stay here in my business for the moment. I am finding that a surefire way to experience stress is to get into someone else’s business. Worrying about other people and their values is getting into their business. And what I notice is that when I do involve myself with others and their values, that I spend at least as much time disrespecting them as I do respecting them – probably a lot more.

3) Values are idols. I have little respect for idols.

You have lots of respect for them and their values.

1) If I didn’t respect them, then why would I still be here?

2) E and her family have a lot of values that I don’t agree with, and still I respect the fact that that’s what they choose to believe. I do my best not to try to change them, to allow them to walk their own paths, and it seems to me that this is a strong sign of respect.

3) I have bundles of respect for these people who have been living the way I have chosen to live for so much longer than me. Over and over I learn things from them that had been lost on me previously. What comes to mind immediately is the way they raise their children: the freedom that E and her brothers, and now her children, are given is something that continues to amaze me. And seeing the wisdom and beauty that comes from this is a wonder to behold. Yes, the gratitude and respect is strong here.

Why then should they love and trust you?

1) Because they have no choice.

2) Because that is what they choose to do. (Don’t you just love the apparent dichotomy between these two? Ah, dualism is so much fun.)

3) Because I do.

Why then should they hate and distrust you?

1) Oh, let me count the ways. If you could read my mind at its darkest, you wouldn’t like me too much either.

2) Because I have revealed things to them far more disturbing than what I wrote in that post.

3) Because that is what they may choose to do. It is quite common.

Soul-searching may be beneficial in the consulting room and the fishbowl, but not on the internet.

1) I would agree that if you believe this then it is definitely not a good idea to do it or to read it.

2) It’s true. From what I can tell, the primary uses for the internet are much more pragmatic than soul-searching. That is, if you can call porn pragmatic.

3) Yes, and I can’t afford the consulting room!

Soul-searching may be detrimental in the consulting room and the fishbowl, but not on the internet.

1) Yes! Especially if you’ve got one of those therapists that encourages you to blame other people. That’ll keep you in therapy for a lifetime.

2) I am soul-searching as much for you as I am for me. This takes us straight back to the ‘Nothing’s personal’ subheading. The whole point of this is that there are no new stressful thoughts – I’m not writing anything here that you can’t identify with if you put your mind to it. If you don’t believe me, try this exercise yourself, and see if you can’t come up with three ways in which each of these comments are true for you too. This blog is a demonstration of a process, that is all.

3) There are a lot of blogs, and a lot of them are ‘personal’. Check out the blog links to the right for some good examples. It seems that the facts point to a lot of soul-searching going on here in cyberland. Soul-searching, to me, seems like a good thing to do anywhere. If it brings peace, even if it is a step on the path to peace (and who’s to say it’s not?) then to me it’s a good thing.


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