My heart is heavy today. I don’t want it to be, but alas, there it is. I am learning to let go of the myth that the transformation of awakening is one that leaves you “above” the fray of the world. Actually, that’s sort of a lie...I am lamenting that awakening is not a transformation that leaves you “above” the fray of the world. The books by all the gurus (like Chopra, Tolle, Ruiz) -- they paint a picture of awakening as this moment where clarity hits you square in the third eye and suddenly your world is transformed from utter chaos to tranquil zen. They always footnote that they still have to deal with their human emotions, but they bounce back quicker.
I want to shout: LIARS! They lie, they gloss over, they paint a picture that is so photoshopped I want to rip it up and burn it. And yet, when I am in the thick of doubt, of despair, of feeling utterly lost, I go right back to their works: show me, I ask, where am I going wrong?
They don’t write about days like today. They write platitudes about being non-judgemental, loving each other, living in the moment-- but they don’t describe the torturous mirror you have to look into first, about how intense dropping the beliefs and opinions you’ve held about so many stupid little things can be. The mind games that your ego will play with you in its effort to cling to the comfortable reality of the past. That’s my awakening. It wasn’t a flash. It didn’t hit me between my third eye. And I am still waiting for zen. No, awakening has been a daily commitment to digging deep, looking in that awful mirror of my own myths, my lies, my judgements, my contempt for anything that doesn’t play into what I thought or believed was “right” or “good” because those things don’t exist. No, my awakening has been filled with doubt and fear, guilt and shame, and learning to forgive myself and love myself despite the terrible things I’ve done, believed, or thought about others. The gurus tell you what life is like after awakening, but they don’t tell you about the process.
They say that awakening is to come to the truth that we are all connected, that all there is is love. They are not wrong; they don't lie. What they leave out is that there is often a LOT of backtracking -- the need to revisit what we believe so that we can let those beliefs go. We build them based on myths we’ve been told about what is right or wrong, good or bad. And we will defend your myths mightily -- we will use the Bible, religion, God, good ol’ fashioned traditional values, or common sense and we will fall on that sword because we are RIGHT, dammit!
The gurus don’t really talk about the messy process of dismantling that fervor, of just how deep you need to go to love your neighbor -- especially the neighbor you most disagree with. But if you are in the process of awakening (not just spiritual living) -- truly awakening -- you are in the process of wanting to and working to love that person as much as you love yourself and God, to not allow “opinion barriers” to pull you apart. You are in the process waking out of the illusion that you have built your life around. That illusion is strong and it is filled with many, many little lies, including the ones we tell ourselves about the groups of people who disagree with our fundamental beliefs, be they political beliefs or personal relationships with family members with whom you no longer speak, coworkers you vilify for their cruelty or cowardice, or children who don’t appreciate you the way you think they should. The process of dismantling the attachment to defending what you believe is “good” or “bad” is, in essence, dismantling everything you've built your identity around. To let go of your opinion means to let go of a version or definition of yourself, and when you do, what’s left? Who is left?
(with less baggage)
And then, once you’ve dismantled one lie, one illusion, another one rears its ugly head. You learn to recognize them quicker because, often, you feel the familiar tug of intense judgement inside of you in the form of anger or frustration and your need to be right. And the process begins again. Perhaps this is why a spiral is a symbol of awakening: you go round and round and round, slowly uncoiling the illusions from the truth. And the truth really is simple: God is love; our task: be love.
In case you haven't noticed, the world pretty much feels like it is on fire. People are railing at injustices (real and imagined). It is as if God is holding up a mirror for us to really look at a lot of issues that are uncomfortable to deal with. These issues raise our defenses; they create moments where we feel threatened (my rights, my opinions, my wants, my entitlements). And there it is. The real challenge of awakening: If you could truly look at someone or some group who is the exact opposite of you in your opinion about any issue that makes your blood pressure rise with anger and frustration, and not only look at this group or person, but love them fully as they are, reach out to them, honor them, listen to them, embrace them with a full and loving heart absent of all judgement, to see them fully equal and loving and wonderful as you see yourself, or as you believe yourself to be -- could you? What would you have to release in order to see them and love them in the same way God does? Because He does, despite however hard you rail about why your beliefs make more sense than theirs.
That is awakening. That is your mirror. That is what you must release.
No, the gurus never really talk about days like this.