Self

11 11, 2010

Status: The measure of value we present

November 11th, 2010|relationships, Self|4 Comments

One of my loves is the theatre.? I’ve studied acting, clowning, and improvisation, and I’ve performed onstage for years, everything from bedroom farce to Dracula to Shakespeare.? I love it because it brings me to a heightened state of aliveness.

My love of acting has little to do with the adulation that comes from the applause for a good performance, but it has everything to do with acting’s relationship to an inner exploration.? In acting, you explore your very identity.? You explore creation.? You explore going within yourself in order to be someone else.? You find other beings and energy inside yourself. By doing this, you expand yourself – and expand everyone else who watches.

All of the other actors I know who value this aspect of acting as I do are also very spiritual people.? We may not write inspiring prose and we may not belong to any congregation, but we see a temple in the exultation of unhibited emotion.? Having surrendered within to our many selves, we’ve received a firsthand glimpse into the oneness that we all share.? And through all this, we’ve learned incredible amounts? about ourselves through the intricate tapestry of our most visible measure of ourselves: relationships.

It would be too much in this one post to recount the many lessons in the playfulness that is theatre, so for now I’ll focus on one critical element any actor learns quickly: status.


Status as a Flow of Energy in Interactions

It may be unfashionable to mention status in the politically-correct culture of the “land of the free”, but we are all influenced by it on some level.? We know when we are speaking to an “important” person.? We are affected by this knowledge.? The energetically sensitive feel how energy naturally flows to the “higher status” person.? There’s always a reaction to this.? Sometimes the effect is on our emotional reaction, from admiration to resentment.? Sometimes the effect automatically creates a dynamic in the relationship: subservience or combativeness.? Not everyone reacts the same way, but everyone feels it.? We react to it even more because we’re not supposed to notice it.

Education, on the level of status, has made us blind.? We’re supposed to believe that the homeless person living in a cardboard box is a human being with the same value and perfection we have, but I have yet to see someone interact with a homeless person on that level.? In my experience there’s disgust, aversion, or pity – all signs of the perception of status and the flow of energy from it.

In this competitive world, the cultural model is built around status.? It governs the intrinsic framework of relationships.

Most of us notice status but don’t think of it consciously.? We want to “succeed” but in order to do so we must go up a rung on the status ladder.? Being “successful”.? Owning a house, or a nice car.? Being respected by others.? Showing mastery in something and being able to come across well at social events.? Academic success.? Even spiritual mastery is subject to the concept of status — the idea of “ascension”, or “old” souls being somehow better, are perfect examples.? Being accepted as “enlightened” is very high status.? But we don’t think of what status truly is, and especially not what the ultimate expression of status is.

Exploring Status Yourself

One exercise in theatre is to “play” status.? Everyone is awarded a different number between 1 and 10, with 10 being the highest status.?? I invite you to play this at a party; it’s great fun and a wonderful tool for growth.

panhandlerNumber one, the lowest status, takes as little space as possible.? Shame is the sea in which this status swims.? It’s as if you were homeless and were just waiting to be rounded up.? You make little eye contact. Your motions are hesitant. You are beaten before you even begin.

As the status scale increases, there’s increasingly less shame and an increasingly strong, proud, engaging bearing.? Yet while going up the scale, you’re always in a state of comparison.? You notice your relationships with others: who is lower status and who is higher?? You need to please the ones with higher status.? You give in and give them energy.? Life force flows to them, leaving the lower status empty. At the same time, you must protect your place from those “lower” than you are and maybe even get some energy from them. Yet you remain ever vigilant against them, happy when they appear to be in their “place.”

As an aside, it is for this reason that it’s no accident that it’s those on the lower status of society that are most angry towards illegal immigrants.

What is interesting in this game, and is the reason I’m mentioning this here, is what happens at the top of the spectrum. These are the people with ultra-high status.? If you’re close to the top, you know you’re above most of the world, but there’s still insecurity and full of comparison.? There is still someone above you, somewhere, somehow. You are still comparing. In our society, this might be the ultra rich — they know they have status, but they are still in competition and are looking for some way they can finally feel above it all.

At the very top, however, is a paradox: the ultimate status is with those who move beyond it. ? To these people there is no such thing as status.? The person with the “highest” status is unconcerned with games of comparison or worthiness.? They know their value.? They see their importance.? It is indisputable.? There is no question and no game.? They can be who they are without any reluctance, guile, or mask.? They can relate to others as they are. They can be in torment and doubt, and yet still be they are, without shame, and know it has absolute value. ?It is as if they were born into unspoilt royalty.? Life is full of bounty and beauty, and there is no question that the universe finds them full of value and their desires welcome.? This is true status.

enlightenmentWhy do I mention this?? Because it is inextricably linked with the western spiritual quest.? There are thousands upon thousands of blogs on personal growth and advice giving.? In my experience, very few of them give from a sense of complete fullness.? Instead, there is a desire to feel good from having others appreciate the inspiration and insight.? (One of the reasons I stopped writing for a time was because this impulse was very strong within me.)? This is status: the more others appreciate you and give you applause and energy, the higher your status.

And yet, part of this is the problem of Arrogance: when you gain energy from putting forth something that is not fully who you are, not from true vulnerability, then you keep yourself from the highest levels of status and worth.?? By trying to raise your status out of lack, you entrench yourself as “lower status”.

The idea of the ‘evolved person’, the manifested man, the enlightened one, is also intrinsic to the highest status.? The manifested person is at the highest status, wherever he is.? He could be among nobles or beggars — it doesn’t matter.

My ‘ideal’ of how to live within status is the ideal of living in the highest status and treating every other thing in the Universe as also in that status.

Imagine this for yourself.? You are at the highest status.? Everything supports you and naturally gives you energy without depleting itself.? The universe responds naturally to you.? And yet you interact with everything as equals.? You see the smallest blade of grass as also of the highest status.? There is nothing to defend against, no lack, and even no status.? There is only plenty.

In short, the ideal is to live in beingness — fully vulnerable as who you are. This is the ultimate expression of status.? Think of Siddhartha by the river in his old age. He shows his perfection as he is whether he is surrounded by adulants or insects.? It is an expression of completeness.

Many people on a western spiritual path use the greeting ‘namaste’ without really considering what it means, but it is another way to express this ideal. Your highest nature welcomes and greets the highest nature of that which is around you. You welcome and embrace all that you are, and you treat every other thing in the Universe as reverentially as your own highest nature.

So I say to you all:???????? Namaste

I now ask you: from your own deep honesty and vulnerability, what is the truth of how you view your status in relationship with the world?

7 01, 2010

Forgiveness

January 7th, 2010|pain, relationships, Self, transformation|7 Comments

I recently read Urban Monk’s post on forgiveness and it brought thoughts of my own, some of which I commented on there.

statueOne of the disagreements I have with what some people write about forgiveness is the idea that it??s about letting go of hatred. ?Hatred, in that mindset, is an evil which must be expunged. ?To me, that??s a misguided idea of what hatred is.

Forgiveness is simply letting go. That??s it. ?No more than that. ? And by this, I don’t mean “getting rid of”. ?Letting go means a positive non-attachment. ? It beings being ok with things being there, but letting go of the need for anything to change. ?Being fine with the present moment – whatever it is. ? Hatred can still be there. Hatred is not incompatible.

When we think hatred has to go for forgiveness to exist, we pretend forgiveness.

If forgiveness has to look a certain way, of course we’re going to fake it. ?We want to look that way too.

30 12, 2009

A feeling of power achieved by surrender

December 30th, 2009|beliefs, dealing with life, Self, transformation, wholeness|0 Comments

I think everyone’s life can be summed up by a few sentences.

This may seem limiting. A label. Not to me. It’s like saying that every life is a poem. The words aren’t always a prison, but instead are a beacon, a lighthouse, a cry that lets others know what the rallying call is. It’s like an archetype that brings in the numinous. It’s both a lesson and an energy source to the deepest soul. It’s like the recognizable “hook” in a song or a symphony. Beethoven’s Fifth has thousands upon thousands of notes and progressions, but we all know it by just four notes. Those four notes conjure up an entire world of emotions and ideas when we hear them, even out of context. To me, a life’s phrase can be like that.

One of my inner rallying calls is, “Power is achieved by surrender.”

At first this sounds trite. It’s a common spiritual aphorism. It’s simple and may even be simplistic. But that’s also what archetypes are — through the simple we can access the numinous. It is easy to take words as limiting rather than accessing the preternormal. I first heard this concept that power is achieved by the deepest surrender before I was ten years old. I heard it without thinking about it at all. I saw more of the energy behind it when I watched the movie Gandhi in my teens. Something ineffable touched me in the moment when I saw how powerful that man was. He invited others to show the violence in themselves upon his own body, surrendering to their physical power but in the process bringing forth something exponentially more.

Gandhi had shown me a different side of Power, but at this time it was limited to an intellectual concept. It lacked any sense of the sacred, that access to thaumaturgic change that touching something transcendent can bring. This took time to access for me, through my childhood into my adult life.

In my childhood I was surrounded by family members who seemed overly powerful — at least to a child. My mother was a very aggressive person who didn’t respect boundaries at all, and even took them to mean a personal attack. “I’m your mother!” she would yell, as if that meant she had rights over every aspect of me. Every aspect of me: my body, my space, my mind, and my emotions. I was her life.

Acting powerful in an outward sense did not help. Screams or a stubborn “NO!” made it worse, even to the point of threats of being kicked out to the streets at a young age. So I became a bit of a martyr; I gave in before conflict could arise. I split myself; a part of me would be the mother-pleaser, The Explainer, who would present me to the outside world in a logical, sensible fashion with no rough edges. The appeaser. The rest of me could be screaming, hurt, or could be feeling any other emotion including joyful ones. I was still there, but unconscious. I was filled with a kaleidoscope of exploding emotions, but through The Explainer’s voice those emotions came out as reasonable and confident, and explained things so they wouldn’t trigger much in the people around me. There were times when the glass walls around The Explainer wouldn’t hold, but largely they did. I survived.

This was the beginning of my focus on Power. This was an intensely disempowering state. I walled away much of myself — and thus my power — in order to be safe.

After I left home, the sense of imbalance related to Power was palpable almost all the time, like a steady drop of acid within my stomach. I accumulated skills through universities and I learned more about social interactions and transactions of status. I studied the times when I felt powerful and when others felt more powerful than I. I wasn’t interested in being upwardly mobile or accumulating money — I simply wanted to experience what it felt like to feel powerful, irrespective of what others did and irrespective of what importance they accorded me. This was what made me notice the difference in a few spiritual teachers, such as Krishnamurthi and Ramana Maharishi, whose ashram I stayed in for a while in India.

Do I contradict myself? Very well, then I contradict myself, I am large, I contain multitudes.

– Walt Whitman

One of the barriers I felt was simply in how little I connected to myself. I explored my splits, the cuts I made in myself. These were the subpersonalities in me, or even sometimes what Jung would call a complex. These are far, far more common than we think. Who is truly whole within themselves, in all their selves? For me, The Explainer excelled in mathematics and computing, the dry emotionless presence that could be as close to a computer as a humans can be. I grew up in an autistic household — it seemed natural to me. Other parts of me also wanted to feel powerful, so my inner protector emerged that could ward off others by planting bombs that scared them away.

But other parts of me also wanted to come out and play. I studied acting to give expression to many other emotions and the selves connected to them. I studied monologues that helped bring these aspects out. The abandoned child raging for a connection. The schizophrenic looking for something solid to hold onto. A man stepping off his heavy-trodden life and starting anew, boarding the nearest ship that would hire him.

Surrender in an Indian dance

My teachers never taught it as such, but I would say now that great acting is all about surrender. It takes great surrender in order to let a very real but different self to come through. This was why I was never a great actor then — only a good one. I wanted to drill holes in my psyche to access myself, tight steel lustrous pipelines that would erupt emotion on command, like a geyser. Others were supposed to feel that it was real, and feel awe. But something made of steel is always built around control. To surrender would have been to turn the world upside town, to bring the underworld into unbounded air, not to send emotions through a rigid pipeline. Surrender would have meant not treating the director as God, but treating being real as God. Truth is God, whatever it may be in that moment.

You can see the idea of surrender appear here in my life. Surrender is connected to acting for me because this is where I was first taught it on an experiential level. My best example was through a clowning teacher. I saw many spiritual teachers, read many books, and got involved with many groups such as Gurdjieff and the Michael Teachings, but surrender goes beyond any teaching. It’s like diving off an airplane.

My idea of surrender has changed through time. It ranged from the physical, to the emotional, to the conceptual. That is, it held the ideals of ultimate relaxation, peace, and seeing all sides and beauty in everything. But these were ideals, and so The Explainer clung to them and protected the inner selves in the only way it knew how. Words can be a defense when they protect you. They don’t have to be at all, as I’m learning.

Now I’m going to another level of surrender: the surrender to myself. To allow the different selves in me, that label of subpersonality, to dissolve those glass walls and roam free. And it is scary, like all freedom is. Going to London Drugs in the post-Christmas rush, did I really know if I would bring someone out from inside me who panics under that Group-Think rush to buy? I looked down and noticed my arms protecting the shell of my chest, but I didn’t feel like screaming.

Part of me resists: “I am a teacher. I can channel great wisdom. I can help others. I can see others clearly. The labels I put on what is underneath imply that I am screwed up for the rest of my life, and I refuse to be that.” We think teachers should conform to a definite image.

So now, if I feel like a drowning man within my ocean of emotions, I let myself feel it and cry desperately to be saved even if another part of me knows it is already perfect as it is. It is All That Is. It’s about the experience, not desperately clinging to the part of me that truly does know. I already am the teaching I seek — but there’s more wisdom in letting go to the unknowingness.

This is how my life has shaped around that phrase, “Power is achieved by surrender.” Saying that to myself has as much power as the mantra “I AM”. Or for the gnostic Christians, “I AM THAT I AM“.

What are some of your life phrases?

5 03, 2009

The Most Important Being in Existence

March 5th, 2009|dealing with life, emotions, love, non duality, Self, spirituality|0 Comments

It’s been a long, long time since I wrote anything here. Quick update: yes, this illness is still going on and there are many times I can’t write, and some times I find it hard to speak. It’s also intensifying the inner journey and transformation. So it’s not a bad thing.


Here’s another confession I have: I dislike affirmations. Like the following:

 

I am important. I am the Most Important Being in Existence.

This is so because of the oneness of All That Is.

What’s there to disagree with? It goes to the heart of what humility is, what false humility is, and addresses that the perception of separation is what creates problems in the first place. It’s not about arrogance, but about letting go.

The problem is that it’s nice in theory, but the execution of getting to truly know this has its own problems.

My first taste of affirmation was as a teen. I was in a fairly screwed up family dynamic: the pushy, British stiff upper lip Borderline Personality Disorder mother (not to use labels or anything!) and being expressive, I showed my pain. This was uncomfortable for those around me, so I was sent off to healers who of course focused entirely on me. One of them, a rebirthing therapist, actually helped by doing rebirthing (conscious, connected breathing) gave me an experience of what it was like to feel intensely without too many labels. Yet another thing she did was to send me home to do affirmations. 30 of each one, handwritten on paper.

Lines.

All of them were positive, like above. All of them sounded good. Yet they also felt like punishment. Like what teachers made you do when you did something wrong.

That’s just how it was introduced to me, of course. But it’s also the essence of what an affirmation is.? It is the intellect telling the heart and body to learn something. “Hey, you! There are problems here! Learn this so the problems can go away.”

But how do you learn about the oneness of the universe and the importance of Who You Are, if you treat parts of yourself as separate from others? By shouting a command from my mind, I was treating my heart as subordinate, as the one making mistakes. And of course my heart retreated. Nothing likes to be given orders like a punished child.

919567_innerpeace_1There are, of course, ways to talk to the heart. And to the body. Ways in which speaking and listening become the same thing. Talk without words. Desires without expectations. Paulo Coelho calls it “The Language of the World”, the universal language. It’s the same language that enabled Siddhartha in Herman Hesse’s book to understand the universe from the sound of a river, by understanding it through this language.It’s the language of the trees in the wind when your mind stops and just observes and feels. When the mind feels and the heart thinks, and you are completely present in your body. It’s the language of Being.

So now, when I tell myself “I am important” the sense of the affirmation above, I deeply listen to the reaction of my heart. I’m not telling myself to do anything. I know I’m not mistaken or wrote in the perceiving that I’m unimportant, or even the times that it seems like this statement is a complete falsehood. I am opening myself up to Truth, which means opening myself up to my heart as well as all the reactions that come. It’s the big-T “Truth” that encompasses all the little truths, such that my heart feels pain when I really let in that possibility.

So now a conversation with my heart may look like this:

I am important. I am the Most Important Being in Existence.

Are you sure?

No. But I know it’s Truth, and I want to live it.

I know it is too, but I’m here to make sure you know it.

Is that what all this confusion and pain and believing the opposite is about?

Sure. You have to what’s not the truth before you can see the truth for yourself. For ourselves.

Even in this conversation, it is implied that my heart is something separate from who I am, and that’s obviously not the case. But that’s part of the journey of life here: we experience something as separate so that our mind can grasp just a little part of what the universe is.

It’s not equipped to see too much. But this helps us look at the little truths with more passion. The truth of the dandelion swaying in the wind. The truth of childlike wonder in running through a summer’s sprinkler and pointing it toward others in play. The truth of our own hearts. The Language of the World.

That sort of exchange is more of an affirmation of life than any exercise from an external source can be.

The bottom line is no one can truly know their importance, in an ultimate sense, until they also know that they are the universe. That is the nature of Being.

5 03, 2008

I ‘should’ heal and grow.

March 5th, 2008|channeling, love, Self, transformation, wholeness|16 Comments

I’m in my own process now, getting physically sicker, and wondering why there’s no shifting in this. This led to the following channeled question which I think is rather universal, so I’m posting it here.

Question: I am really frustrated at my progress towards inner peace and balance. Why is this not ‘working’? What am I not doing or doing to sabotage myself? It’s all very well hearing and writing about my own wholeness, but it seems that no matter what I do, I feel more disconnection with my self and others, more pain, more isolation. What good is inner work and channeling if it doesn’t actually produce positive change? Please feel free to tell me ‘as it is’, without walking around anything that I might be afraid to look at. I want to know.