Every so often, I reach a point where I am confronted by the conflicting ideas of being a separate little "me" with the ability to create my own reality (Law of Attraction, a la Abraham-Hicks, etc.) and the idea that I am purely an impersonal, abiding Awareness and that this physical life experience is simply a magnificent, eternal manifestation - God experiencing Itself as God.
I am forever wanting to know what to do. I am forever wanting to know how to be. I'm forever questioning, reading, trying to understand the Way of it all. I try to see where I belong and how to live in That.
I sense that all the spiritual teachings are Truth, expressed in different ways. But every now and then, I'll internally struggle with my indecision over what the "right way" is - meaning how to conduct myself in the Universe. And it doesn't feel good.
Last night I read Gary Crowley's "From Here to Here: Turning Towards Enlightenment." I've read it before and resisted its ideas almost as much as I did reading them this time around.
In it, he explains in a very straightforward way how the idea of us as separate selves with conscious wills of our own is nothing but an illusion. The idea of not being the "doer" isn't new to me. Intellectually, I've understood my sense of separateness is false, but hearing it this time, in this way, really upset me. I actually got a little depressed at the impotence it left me with.
Here I was, excited about the new year and of all the dreams I have for myself, and then I'm reading this book that systematically robs me not only of my little "self" but my power to do anything with it. "Jeff" is being put out of business - and that's more than a little distressing. It's threatening. The ego's resistance is plain as day.
I'll do my best to summarize what the author was saying. Basically, we are all neurological systems, made up of chemical reactions, from our DNA and mother's biochemistry during pregnancy, mixed with the conditioning we meet with along the way. We have no choice in what memories our brains choose to file away and deem important - which are the same memories that pop up and assist the brain in determining how we react in present moment situations. We are in a chain of cause and effect, neurological happenings bouncing off one another, reacting to and fro. To illustrate his point, he tells the reader to decide one subject to think about for ten minutes and then to write down all the thoughts that actually appear. I don't even have to do the experiment to know that thoughts just pop up randomly without my consent. He's stating we have no conscious choice in things. He's saying that our neurological systems can change when they meet with new conditioning - but that the idea or desire to change and the will to change are not our conscious decisions. He says we take those instances where something we choose happens to coincide with what is manifesting, we become aware of that decision made, and then we take credit for them - which is the brain trying to maintain a sense of continuity in time and space, an attempt to keep the illusory "me" propped up. The good news being, that free of the illusion, we are able to reside in what is, which is a state naturally free of suffering; it is Enlightenment itself.
Every so often, I'll mentally creep back over to the concept of non-duality as a way of life, and I'll sit in that for a while. Then I creep back over to my little sense of self and imagine all the fun I can still have playing in the dream of Maya. And I admit that all the while, I'm having fun. It's my Way. So, I wonder where the problem is. What had me so up in arms?
That I would devote even a moment, not to mention blog postings or hours of contemplation, to the idea of Enlightenment, reveals that I'm nowhere near the living of it. I've had glimpses. I've seen through the veil and my awakening has begun - but it certainly hasn't matured. I'm not ready to let go of my "character" or of my story. Like my friend reminded me in her post today, when the ego has come to an end, when my Understanding is complete, the "Jeff-personality" will dissolve on its own. I really do need to just stop and let God take care of it. Some day, some lifetime, I may just notice what "Jeff" used to do when "he" thought he was a "someone" - and simply be astonished.
While I'm not ultimately in control, I still experience the illusion that I am, and in a very elaborate way. So, why not just enjoy the seeming ride while it lasts?
The mind continues to bring up these questions, though: What's the point of doing anything? Why blog? Why read? Why dream? Why have opinions or bother expressing them? Why learn or question? Why even live at all?
Working through this post has restored my peace.
I am able to answer:
Because I am.
Because I do.