Burning the Past (3/20/08)

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anna
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Burning the Past (3/20/08)

Postby anna » March 20th, 2008, 8:10 pm

For all of these years we were dirt poor, and there was even a point when we sold all our silver as well as gold that we had in our possession, to purchase something or other that we deemed necessary at the time. There was even a moment when we appraised my diamond engagement ring in anticipation of buying a goat to supply milk. That fortunately fell through, because I could not bear the smell of day old goat milk, and some wise local suggested we visit a goat farm and purchase some goat milk before following it to the end of the road. I still have the engagement ring, so it was obviously not to be.

Of course, we could have both gone back to work. S did for a time work in the back room of the Ellsworth American Newspaper, helping in the printing room, menial labor, and a not particularly happy workshop. But that was not the priority, and so instead, in a pinch, we went through all the many pieces of sterling that we had received as wedding presents, as well as gifts in the Foreign Service. During this time, due to heavy speculation in silver, the price went up to $16.00+ a pound, and there was a dealer in gold and silver who bought the pieces outright for their weight. Looking back, it is rather sad to consider how many beautiful pieces of silver were melted down into bullion, among which some of them were ours. This was a great teaching for me in particular, who clings to things and collects beautiful things just for the sake of them. It wiped out that possessive inclination quickly and easily, and after selling them, I found I did not miss them at all. The inclination, however, is still there, and I found that eBay provides a huge stash of junk from which I can once again act out the DNA with which I was born. This confirms for me that we cannot get away from our DNA, no matter how hard we may try, and no matter what truths we may discover about the world and its entities. Actually, from the proper distance or perspective, it does not really matter.

Toward the end of 7 years, it was almost inevitable that Nisargadatta and Ramana Maharshi would eventually fall into our hands. Nevertheless, it would take many, many years after that introduction to begin to bear fruit, because it demanded of us to investigate and question the very foundations upon which we had built our new life and spiritual understanding. What we had learned those seven plus years in the woods was that there was indeed a God, and it was composed of both mother and father, and that life, if dedicated to that concept, would unwind graciously and magically. All that was promised in so many books in the search of God was true. Each and every one of them that we had read, we discovered to be literally true, reflected outwardly and manifesting accordingly, depending upon the reader’s faith and certainty. In addition, all the authority to make that determination rested within each individual, and was firm only if it came from the individual’s inner guidance and certainty. It could not, in other words, be coerced, done by another for us, transmitted by another, nor simply dabbled in, nor did it bear fruit unless some kind of discipline was followed conducive to changing one’s perspective, one’s conditioning, enough so that expectations would blossom as a result. This was not an occasional event, but a new way of living for us. Moreover, it would not manifest firmly or consistently unless the individual was firm in her expectations and disciplined in her choice of priorities and attention. All of New Thought we had discovered was accurate. (Although many in the New Thought movement tended to forget the priority factor, and often focused on health and wealth, forgetting that first get God and all else will flow.) All of the great old teachings were equally accurate. Even the Bible agreed with everything we had discovered, and that was that there was not any reality in the manifested world that was not possible, nor untrue. And the choice was each of ours.

It was just prior to this formulation of what we had discovered that we had come to a point in our inner work where we were questioning everything we had believed, and everything we had valued. It finally reached a head when we looked at all the “stuff” we had accumulated, despite the sale of silver and gold, and we determined, out of nowhere, that it was time to burn everything we owned that reflected the past. Therefore, we set a bonfire, and threw on that fire all the diplomas, the state department documents and accolades, our wedding pictures, our photo albums, and all the rest of the memorabilia that reeked of the past, and reminded us of it. It was an extraordinary event, and a truly liberating one. Once started, we were positively gleeful in heaping upon the fire whatever we could find in files and cabinets to add to its glorious blaze. I cannot remember just who or what generated this event, but neither of us objected, and both of us were gleeful about pursuing it to its end. We told no one of this, as it seemed inappropriate to do so. It was a shedding of layers of conditioning, and somehow needed to be externalized in an outright act of burning. The process of stripping down is a kind of fiery process, and it was obviously necessary to act out what was essentially internal. In addition, the Indian term for the spiritual process and the work involved is called tapas, which involves actual heat in the body and mind sometimes; certainly, it was a burning of the old into ash. And it was after this event that we found ourselves beginning to consider re-entering the world bit by bit, bringing with us what we had so far learned in our own solitude to share with others. Interestingly, we thought that we were at the end of our journey, in many respects, and in retrospect, we were actually just at the beginning. Our 7 years was a process of shedding, but we were to discover years later, that it was only a few layers of the onion that had been peeled away, and much of the core remained.

It was also during the end of our idyllic time in this first house, that S started to write his first “spiritual book”. We published all of his books ourselves, as we were wont to do in all our undertakings, learning the entire publishing business from inception to end including not only the writing of the books, but the typesetting, the design, layout, artwork, printing, and binding. It was the distribution that confounded us, and we eventually stumbled upon the original printer/distributor of A Course in Miracles, who, if memory serves me correctly, looked us up for some reason and offered to distribute them for us. This person, who has since died, was the impetus in many ways for our leaving Maine and returning to Honolulu, selling our lovingly built house, and selling everything in it, leaving us with only about five cardboard boxes, mostly books, and four pieces of luggage. And on the way to Honolulu, via the West Coast, in our old Volvo with, at that time, 300,000+ miles on its speedometer, we decided to drop in at Unity Village in Kansas City to attend one of their week long summer retreats. This was one of the New Age organizations that had blossomed during this time, and much of its literature appealed to us. It was a propitious stop, and would underpin and support our period of public speaking and teaching.

Our visit to Unity Village in Kansas City, on the way to Honolulu, was an archetypal example of the spiritual seeker’s reluctance to surrender. Indeed, it was an archetypal example of the acquisitiveness of the ego or mind that wants the power of knowledge, but does not truly imbibe the knowledge, but instead adds it to her already cluttered library of knowledge. Kind of like building a sand castle with higher and higher towers, but the foundation, which is also made of sand, is becoming, or has become, concrete, and will not wash away in order to build an entirely new edifice. Every spiritual seeker must cross this threshold of emptying the mind before further filling it. If she does not do so, she carries with her the very blindfold that prevents her from any kind of transformation. Of course, ultimately, there is no refilling, but only emptying.

When we first arrived at Unity Village, within the first 24 hours, we decided to leave! We were uncomfortable with the ambition, all around us, that many of the attendees exhibited. At the swimming pool, we were amazed at the machinations and posturing that the participants expressed. There was a good deal of”I know the answers, and you need to hear them from me.” We also found to our astonishment, that there seemed to be a large emphasis among the attendees on pairing, or seduction. It was a kind of eHarmony.com before the advent of the internet! Somehow, this seemed to be at odds to what we thought Unity Village was all about. Of course, we were often naïve about these things, assuming that the outer would always be reflective of the inner, and the inner, to our way of thinking, was not about sex, but about God. However, many had not come, apparently, to find God, but instead to find a partner. This was not our purpose, and we found it not only absurd, but also discomforting.

Actually, this was our first introduction to what we were to find throughout our travels on the spiritual circuit. That was that the combination of spiritual knowledge and sex is ubiquitous, and dangerous, and this particular group was our first introduction to how pervasive it is. We were to discover, for the first time, that spiritual knowledge, because it is equated with power, is often confused with sex, because both are expressions of power. Indeed, one of the greatest seductions that spiritual seeking offers is power -- it is one of the lures to get the ego on the path toward its own transformation, or, dare I say, annihilation. It is almost inevitable that sex will jump into the fray as well. Where the ego plays, all its games and promises come with it. Moreover, most humans do not consciously differentiate between the various expressions of power, so all too frequently they fall into liaisons and confused expressions and seeking of that power. This was an archetypal vision of the ego, under the guise of spiritual knowledge, flexing its muscles. And sex is only one obvious expression of that ego’s accumulation of power.

Anyway, because of this perception, as well as a vague discomfort with the entire mood which we perceived to be counter to what we thought we came for, we decided that the following morning, we would cancel our room and move on to Honolulu. It was decided. This decision was, in retrospect, simply an example of resistance to the inevitability of one’s life and journey, and the refusal to surrender to the discomfort was a clear moment of how we obstruct and refuse our destiny, instead of surrendering to the moment and the situation at hand. It was not the mood or the apparent superficiality of the attendees that put us off, though we grasped at that as justification, but it was discomfort with change, of any kind. We used the perceived attendees’ behavior as an excuse to resist immersion in something unknown and new to us. We run from the leaping off points in our lives, primarily out of fear of change, but frequently out of stubbornness and hubris. We think we are the director of our lives, we think we are in control, and we do everything in our power to maintain that illusion, thereby obstructing the grace and light by which we were originally destined to live.

However, I dreamt that night of talking to an individual I had never met, did not know, but before whom I was in tears, and who told me not to be afraid, that I was among good company. I relayed this dream to S, and we took this to mean that we should not leave, despite our discomfort. Give the place a second chance. After all, we take our dreams to be hidden information, right?

The first lecture we attended, there on the podium, stood the face of the man I had dreamt! I burst into tears, as did S, as this person spoke, and as each word he spoke, resonated and filled both our hearts with brightness and understanding. The subject was curiously about the Old Testament, and extremely scholarly, and thus, to many of the other participants, dry and boring, and yet, everything he said, hit home for both of us. We both felt that we had returned somehow, to a long forgotten past, and that this was a kind of moment of homecoming to which we had these past years been building. Indeed, this speaker was speaking AS us, not to us! Interestingly, this was the only speaker that truly touched us. The others were interesting, but this man represented to us where we had been, and it was lovely. It is not incidental that he was teaching the Old Testament. Were I to have arranged the symbology of this entire encounter, the Old Testament would have been fitting. It was closure, and it was stirring. At the time, of course, I did not understand the significance of the moment, nor did I recognize to what it was pointing. I only knew that it was momentous and necessary. Of course, much later in my life, I was to realize that indeed, I had arranged it, as each and every one of us arrange our lives to unfold as we direct them, only we are unaware of this power, because we are unaware of who and what we are.

From Unity Village, we drove to the West Coast and then flew to Honolulu, anticipating that we would find a new home in Hawaii, perhaps on the Big Island, and continue our back-to-land efforts, but in a tropical paradise that would permit easier living, and less concern about weather. As we had sold almost every bit of our belongings, the move was simple. We had merely to find a place to either buy or build, and start from scratch. It was another “jumping off place” for us, whereby everything was in turmoil, turned inside out, and the future was virtually unknown.
Last edited by anna on August 16th, 2008, 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

jenjulian
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Joined: July 20th, 2007, 11:46 pm

Re: Burning the Past (3/20/08)

Postby jenjulian » March 24th, 2008, 2:59 am

"... Every spiritual seeker must cross this threshold of emptying the mind before further filling it. If she does not do so, she carries with her the very blindfold that prevents her from any kind of transformation. Of course, ultimately, there is no refilling, but only emptying."

I like this passage a lot.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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anna
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Re: Burning the Past (3/20/08)

Postby anna » March 29th, 2008, 6:30 pm

Good to hear it resonates! In my own personal experience, early on the purpose of spiritual seeking was, although primarily unconscious, a seeking of more power and control over my universe. In other words, despite my avowed turning to God, I was really trying to get from God power; it was not a relinquishment of me, mine, and ego, but an accumulative process whereby I thought I would gain something from all of it. After all, in the world of knowledge, “knowledge is power” -- isn’t that what we are taught? Therefore, presumably, the more knowledge I had, the more powerful. Indeed, I wanted God’s knowledge, didn’t I? Talk about hubris and megalomania!

What I did not know at the time was that there was never going to be a time when I knew what God knew. Just practically speaking, there was no way that a tiny limited mind such as mine could possibly embrace, let alone tolerate even a modicum of God’s knowledge. Actually, in fact, God knowledge is God being God and it is not knowledge as we know knowledge. Plus it has nothing whatsoever to do with the small separated person. However, the lure was there, so I cannot fault it. With lures, seduction occurs, with seduction, ultimately surrender. And with surrender, the small separated person begins to disappear, and God shines forth, as She does anyway, but the blindfolded person remains in darkness until she herself disappears.

Nice to see that you have found Nisargadatta. Now there’s a living book! There is a paragraph in I am That, his book, where he warns his particular listener, who arrived full of knowledge and certainty, that he (the listener) might be better off if he left, because if he remained, there would be "nothing left of him”! This was not sarcastic or admonishing, but simply a statement of fact. There was a time in my life when I would have run out of that room like a scared rabbit as well! Isn’t it curious how buffered we are from the obvious gateways to liberation from ourselves, and yet, once we set out in earnest, we inevitably seek our own demise? In the beginning, we do not recognize that the problem is "me". Indeed, we think the problem is out there, everywhere else, and we are victims of a cruel universe, or at the very least, a hostile one full of dangers. Why else, after all, would we turn to a power greater than ourselves, if we didn't feel vulnerable? And yet, paradoxically, when we are informed that the problem is not outside, but inside, and that we cannot have it both ways, remain inside, but bring the universe inside as well, we hide behind the curtains and resist the inevitable anyway. We are such fools! :frog:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth

jenjulian
Posts: 137
Joined: July 20th, 2007, 11:46 pm

Re: Burning the Past (3/20/08)

Postby jenjulian » April 4th, 2008, 5:02 pm

Nice to see that you have found Nisargadatta. Now there’s a living book!

I agree. It truly does feel like he his here, alive, teaching me. The only other teacher that has done this to me was Simone Weil. She talked directly to me through her writing and my view of life has changed so much since I read that first book.
This is what is happening to me. I read a section and I say AHHA! WOW, I get that...then I put this 'ahha' in a nice little boxed up idea and proceed to another section and he strips away the box and the idea, again and again. It is a stripping away process, much as the emptying process you are speaking of. I'm three- fourth of the way through now, and he is wearing me down, I'm starting to give up boxing up ideas and am trying to stay open. It is a challenge. He is amazing, and this is a book that will need to be read many times.

I stalled out on ACIM, so I've been doing the daily readings off of Elsa Bailey's site, little thought for the days and exercises. This is working much better for me, than trying to read the main part of the book. I think this was recommended by Stephen here on ZooFence, but I thought, of course, that advice wasn't for ME. :clever:

Thank you for sharing this blog with all of us Anna.
"I am what I am."--Popeye

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anna
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Re: Burning the Past (3/20/08)

Postby anna » April 9th, 2008, 8:01 pm

Yes, his book never grows old. Sometimes when I read it, it feels like I am swimming in light! I pick it up anywhere, any time, open it any where, and it is like reading it the first time. I have found that sometimes it pays to read the paragraph backwards, in other words, start at the end of his statement, and read each consecutive thought in succession, from bottom up, particularly if the mind is struggling with integrating the concept. I don't know why this worked for me, but it did, at least for me.

If you can remember that he is not speaking to the small egocentric I, but to the light of the I, the source, who you truly are, many of his comments are clear as air. You need to keep in mind that occasionally, however, he does speak to the smaller I, in particular to those who are frightened by something, so there will be contradictions from time to time. I have managed to resolve that problem by recognizing, of course, that reality is reality to each and every one of us according to our own lights, or own expectations, so there really isn't a contradiction, but instead multiple I's. And if he is reflective of reality, which the greatest of teachers always are, he will respond accordingly. He of course would respond to my observation of multiple I's, " there are truly no multiple I's", but the way I see it, until we are there, there will be multiple I's. :uhh: In some respects, this lets us have our cake and eat it too! :laughter:
The world is too much with us; late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers........Wordsworth


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