Awakening Our Gifts Part 5: The One and the ALL
There is splendour behind the illusion.
It is all around us and everywhere we look.
It is unfortunate that it gets lost in the looking.
There is mystery in the seeking,
A game of hide and seek with ourselves
We will poke and prod and see what we discover,
Until it’s time to step aside
So that the hidden can speak
And silence the hunger
That keeps us from being
The subtle touch is unyielding
And a quiet refrain for the distracted
It hides in the echo behind a joker’s grin
And dares the willing to unmask
So many lines cross, and where they meet
Lies the choosing but there is no choice to make
The past’s collar has already chosen
We are either on lines that limit
Or one open to ALL
And we are never free without yielding
Not to others - to the splendour all around
Where our magic was lost in the looking
It is now found
We have covered a lot of ground in the first four parts of this series starting with the first one where I introduced ten areas we need to work on to develop our gifts, our awareness. These ten areas can be grouped into three categories as follows:
- Modification: The creation and development of rational mind
- Preparation: The impact of our thinking mind on us (how it affects our thoughts, energy and awareness) which we can change
- Alignment: Developing and expanding our relationship with the Cosmos
So far we have covered the first two, and part of the third, leaving two areas in the last group to look at before we bring it all together. The first group is about modifying our way of reacting to experiences, which changes how we integrate them. This is an essential step as the illusion is created by a conscious mind that is underdeveloped in this area. The second group is about working on our minds, to rework poor programming so that our minds are more consistent and able to take on the broader concepts of self needed to expand our awareness.
The first two groups set us up to work on the last group which deal with aligning our minds and thereby us with the way the Cosmos works, as what liberates us from the shackles we have created is being in harmony with the ALL. Within the last group of four areas, the last two points could be called the points. At one time they said “All roads lead to Rome”. The same can be said of the last two, especially the final one.
What I am referring to is being in harmony with and fully aware of the ALL, though getting there is a long process, it is not the task of a single lifetime. Only a Master is truly in harmony with the ALL, the rest of us develop our alignment in degrees. This is because our degree of harmony correlates inversely with the “size of our ego”.
All I can do is share what needs to be done; the rest is up to each of us to actually come to terms with and act upon (1). And, as I have mentioned, the goal is not to reach the end, for we will all get there in time, it is to find ourselves moment by moment. If we work on what life presents to us then we are doing what we need to. We do not need to forget about the future, we just need to not be concerned with it for our lessons exist in the now, not tomorrow, next week or even next year.
The last two areas are:
- Seeing oneself as being separate from others and the world around us
- Underdeveloped compassion, devotion and love for ALL
How we see ourselves is far more complex than most of us realize. We rarely see our beliefs, we get hints about them. For example, can we articulate our belief about the nature of our existence, "What am I?", when the answer to such a question has many components? If you want to answer such a question you must know what you believe and what you believe affects what we are aware of and our thoughts at every level. We are restricted by beliefs that are not “aligned” as energy follows attention hence it will follow what we believe, whether it is "true" or not.
This is where conflicting beliefs become a problem as it is like being pulled in different direction by elastic bands. If you have two beliefs, A and B, and they are in conflict, the more you try to follow belief A the more belief B pulls until eventually you cannot proceed further. This can lead to confusion and the inability to make a firm decision. This is because conflicting beliefs block our awareness and if we don’t believe something we may not even be consciously aware of it.
For example, lets say I believe that I can do anything I want to, and I also believe that I should avoid risky actions. Now, if I were to consider skydiving a risky action and I went to do it I would find myself very nervous, apprehensive or ever fearful. These feelings could prevent me from doing it even though I want to. This is also how our beliefs can affect not just how we react to what we experience, it can also affect whether we even try certain things at all.
Consider the question of "What am I?" and whether your answers about what we are are and try to articulate your answer. When you examine your answer is it detailed points or more vague notions. Is the question one question, such as what is 2+2, or does it have many facets like the question we are considering? Of course, it is obvious that the answer to the question "What am I?" has many aspects or facets. That is to say, in order to answer this one question you would need to have answered other questions first. If our beliefs regarding any of the facets are in conflict with others then we simply cannot answer the question.
A short list of some of the additional questions that affect ones answer to the question of "What am I?" might be:
- Are we purely physical beings such that our consciousness is the result of brain chemistry or are we a consciousness that uses a physical vehicle to express itself?
- Where does our consciousness reside (in the brain, the mind, the soul or...)?
- Do we have a soul?
- What is the nature of that soul?
- Is the soul eternal?
- Do we go to heaven after we die and stay there or are we reborn or do we simply die and that is it?
- Is there a GOD who created the Cosmos?
- Is GOD a separate being with a body of some form and we are distinct from GOD or is GOD all that is and we are part of GOD or of something else?
- Are we all “connected” and if so how?
If you think about this list, and it certainly is not definitive as everyone would likely have ones of their own that are not listed, you will realize that any one single belief is related to many others. Further, since our beliefs are a mix of ideas they must be in alignment (not conflicting with each other) otherwise, as I have explained, they become blocks to our awareness.
The Buddha spoke gently, "Once a person is caught by belief in a doctrine, one loses all one's freedom".
When one becomes dogmatic, that person believes his or her doctrine is the only truth and that all other doctrines are heresy.
Disputes and conflicts all arise from narrow views. They can extend endlessly, wasting precious time and sometimes even leading to war. Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path. Bound to narrow views, one becomes so entangled that it is no longer possible to let the door of truth open." ~Thich Nhat Hanh
Now, you might be inclined to think that it is impossible to answer the questions I mention, that is you may be asking “How is possible to have answers to all these questions?” The reality is we do not need to answer all these questions; however, the challenge is that we do have answers or at least beliefs about them and typically, they are not in agreement. Despite what people think, definitive beliefs about the nature of our existence are restrictive by their nature and the fact we become attached to them. Blocks are created when we believe something to be true and yet have other related beliefs that conflict with it. What we ought to do is to consider them and where we find we have a definitive belief we should admit that we do not actually know for certain.
Earlier I mentioned vague notions can be a problem if one is trying to develop their awareness, and therefore the last statement above seems contradictory. While this appears to be the case, it is not. There is a world of difference between a vague notion about the above questions and a thoughtful consideration of them. We do not need to believe something is 100% true before our minds can assimilate the concepts and “take advantage of them”. A fluid mind is a more powerful and receptive one.
We have vague notions at the conscious level when our minds have not fully integrated an experience, we have not thought about something before or perhaps we have never tried to understand it or spent much time thinking about it. We are not even likely to notice doing so. That often happens when we experience something new and our mind does not have sufficient related thoughts to integrate it yet, or we have existing and conflicting thoughts related to the experience or it does not catch our attention sufficiently to warrant considering it further.
Now, when we turn our attention to the first area, “Seeing oneself as being separate from others and the world around us”, we need to consider our thoughts about what we are. Our answers to the questions I listed are directly related to how we see ourselves. How we see ourselves is based on the beliefs we hold. If we are to awaken our gifts we need to reduce the conflicts among our beliefs; however, to try to examine every single one and thereby work through all the possible conflicts between them is a daunting task.
What is far easier to do is to begin to establish a new idea, in this case the idea being one such as “I believe I am connected to others and the world around me”. When we do this we are creating a new thought (remember a belief is a complex thought). We do not need or want to be more specific than this; however, we must put our will behind the thought and reinforced it through actions. We also have to have a firm idea what we mean when we use the phrase “I am connected”. Namely, the thought must include the idea that there is a very real connection and that we are interdependent such that what we do affects others and vice versa even if we do not know how.
So, we create the thought, but the power of a though is dependent on how firmly we hold it, how active it is and the strength of the emotions it invokes (2). As a result, we also start to try to both feel and see the connection between us and others. For example, when we are out and about and observing we should be trying to imagine our connection with people, try to “think” about them as part of us which means we should stay in observe mode and not judge them in any way, shape or form.
Now, when we do this, conflicting thoughts we hold will begin to surface. This needs to happen so we can address them as they arise. An example would be that we are observing someone and find that we think “What happens to them does not matter to me” or “Why should I care?” or even “I have better things to do”. The reality is that you are observing and not judging so it is not really a matter of caring what happens, it is merely allowing the awareness. We may or may not be able to do anything for them or to help them; the fact is such thoughts are moot. Further, if you have made modifying your beliefs singularly important and are committed to it, then the idea that you have “better things to do” should not be true.
All of these thoughts are examples of conflicts with previously held thoughts and the ones that surface will, more often than not, be the result of the strongest pre-conceptions we hold about our separateness. You may not even be able to put what you feel into words, in this case it is helpful to merely remember how you felt about it.
When we react like this, we should go back to our new thought and reinforce it by restating it and feeling our personal commitment to it, including how important it is to us that we do so. If it is not important or of value to us we will not be able to make the new thought strong enough to override existing beliefs. Do not forget that thoughts are “things”, just not of the physical variety and we must treat them as such. If I want to move a chair I have to exert physical effort to do so, when I want to move a thought I must use other thoughts to do so. You can only address them as they arise, and this can happen in two ways. Either you encounter them as you go about your daily life, or you can meditate on your beliefs and draw them out that way.
You must make this a lifelong commitment and not just something to do for a while. Such beliefs are core constructs that must become part of our mental house and not just add-ons. Without doing this the thought will not have sufficient power to become “permanent” and in addition, it will not be seated high enough in our mental house to cause conflicts with the old beliefs we want to find and modify.
Whether we can see it or not, whether we believe it or not, we are not separate. We are all part of a swarm, or group of souls if you will, that are learning and evolving together. My thoughts, your thoughts, indeed everyone’s thoughts are part of a common pool. We have the same vehicles; variations in physical attributes do not change this. We also know from science, that by observing an event we affect the outcome. This can help us to rationalize the truth of the statement.
Do not make this something you do from time to time. Be committed to it and want to start to feel the connection we have with each other and everything else in the world regardless of whether we can perceive it or not. Look for opportunities to nurture and strengthen this belief each and every day, if possible even moment by moment. You will find that this thought will also help you to be more compassionate, caring and sympathetic with others, though be careful to not buy into the idea that you must rescue people from their troubles. If it is your place to do so, and you are paying attention, you will KNOW from your intuition whether you should or should not. Act on your intuition and try to not override it. I mentioned this in the previous part of this series (2) when I stated:
“One time I was walking along the sidewalk downtown just as the daily rush of cars and pedestrians was slowing down. As I walked a though surfaced that I should just stop right where I was and wait. With it came the thought of not just stopping but sitting down right there in the middle of the sidewalk. I did not have a particular destination in mind, however, I had some plans and the sidewalk was fairly busy so the idea of simply sitting down was odd and part of me thought it silly to do so. After all, what would people think if I just sat right there?
I resisted the urge for a few moments but the feeling remained and so I stopped. Once stopped I again thought about how silly it would look for me to simply sit down right in the flow of pedestrian traffic; however, I had learned that while intuitions don’t always make sense they had always benefited me when I listened.”
This process takes time, how much depends on how firmly we manifest the new one and how many conflicting thoughts we have and how empowered they are. If our existing beliefs are very strong we may not fully deal with them in this lifetime; however, we do not know this and even if we do not fully purge the thoughts we held, we can still begin to awaken some of our gifts by doing this.
Being connected to others is only part of the process; the other part is to work on the nature of that connection. Hence, working on the last area, “Underdeveloped compassion, devotion and love for ALL” is closely related to the one we have been examining in this composition.
In the previous one we are working on eliminating the idea that we are separate from others. With this one we are working on the nature of our connectedness to others, that being the relationship we have with everything that is “not us”. Doing so requires us to begin to address the elephant in the room, our ego.
It is our ego that creates the illusion of separateness. Our ego is not some separate aspect of us, it is the result of the thoughts we have. If you are seeing a pattern here, namely that so much of our awareness relates to thoughts we have about us then you have been paying attention! In order to embrace ourselves as being part of the ALL, we must begin to examine our ideas around the notion of “personal will”. This is arguably the single most challenging belief to deal with. Everything in our lives tends to tell us that we have freedom of choice; that is we choose what to do and what not to do because we are individuals. This should immediately raise a red flag for if you have been working on the eliminating the separateness between yourself and the world around you then you should have already considered that what we see as self is an illusion.
Ask yourself this, “Can we have a personal will if indeed we are not separate from the world/Cosmos around us?” Do not take this question lightly for it goes to the heart of everything we believe about who and what we are. Indeed, it is something one must contemplate and even better, meditate on. What truly separates us from the world, Cosmos and even GOD, is the idea that we have personal will. Everything we do appears to tell us that we do. We appear to choose to do one thing and not another, we make personal choices even if we consider others in the choices we make, but do we?
We are born into a particular body, family, time, place and culture and with certain mental and emotional attributes. These are not determined by us; they are determined by karma and establish the basis of our lives. We manifest energies in our lives, and these energies are either in balance with the nature of the Cosmos or they are not. Where they are not, there are lessons to be learned, and there are a great many to learn. Our karma is what determines what we need to learn, therefore each life, while it becomes precious to us, is simply one of many that our higher self goes through to be free of karma - to awaken.
We are here to learn certain things in order to balance out the forces we have manifested; as a result we experience what we need to. We integrate our experiences and thereby program our mind. Our programmed mind determines what we are conscious of, and our reactions to subsequent experiences are based on this same programming.
We have particular skills, come to like certain things and types of people and so on, and each of these have an enormous effect on what we tend to believe are personal choices. The past is what guides our choices, but the past is “gone” and all there really is only now; hence our choices “now” are the result of the past. How much free will is there in that? We carry on as if every choice we make is somehow an independent one, based on our ability to choose, yet if our choices are restricted by what we have experienced are we really choosing or merely doing what our programming has established?
It is our egocentric view that is the single greatest block to our gifts. It is this view that creates the illusion that I am referring to and what you hear so many wise people talk about. We do have the ability to choose freely, but rarely exercise it. Instead we make choices dictated by the past. In addition, when we start to realize that we are all connected we start to understand that there is more to what is than “I” and that the notion we act independently is an illusion. To develop our gifts or to enhance the ones we already have we must break free from the illusion and work in harmony with nature and the Cosmos.
Our ability to use our gifts depends primarily on how transparent we are or can become. Going back to the analogy that our mind is like a crystal analogy (3) what we are seeking to do is have the structure of our crystal match the structure of the Cosmos around us. This will mean that that the light that enters passes through in harmony and unobstructed and we can amplify in by our consciousness (the crystal).
We are an expression of the Cosmos and each life is established as a result of the needs of our higher self not the lower self or “us”. If we want to fully develop our gifts then we must come to understand this and align ourselves with it. This is not easy to do for we have lived our whole lives as if we independent and are free to make choices and our ego’s become quite strong. The ego protects itself, it wants to remain in control; however, our awareness is restricted by the illusion of “I” we have built, and this illusion must be torn down in order for us to have greater access to our true gifts.
We get beyond this by aligning ourselves with the Cosmos, even if we do not quite know what that means. If you have started to work to reduce the notion of independence from everything then the next step is to embrace the interdependence or inter-connectivity we all share. This requires us to realize that everything and everyone is important, that they matter. And with this realization we begin to understand that the struggles we all go through are a necessary step in the process of our higher selves awakening. This leads us to compassion for everything and everyone, and to extend our love beyond ourselves and a few select people to ALL.
Earlier I mentioned that expanding our awareness requires us to open up to the greater whole and that this is not easy to do. One way to do this, and there are others, is for us to work with the idea of “the circle of caring”. This is not my idea, though I do not know where I picked it up. The notion is that we each have a circle within which reside those whom we care about and love and mean love without restrictions. Someone is in our circle of caring if we can still feel unconditional love for them even when believe they have hurt or betrayed us. An example would be the love of a mother for her child even if that child has committed some crimes.
Generally speaking ones circle of caring is limited to friends and family with whom we have developed strong trusting relationships, though it can also include people such as those whose ideas we feel aligned with. The average person’s circle of caring is small; many include only a few dozen people at most. If one wants to expand their awareness the circle has to expand as well. To do this we must reduce the reasons we use to not love or care for others such as we do not like, we do not know them, they are mean people, they are different, they are from another country, they do not believe what I do and so on.
The reason we want to expand our circle is relatively simple, the growth of our awareness is tied to our ability to be open to others and to love without conditions. If I am not unconditional with people then I am judging them, not only that it is my ego that is judging them so by doing such things we empower our ego which is the exact opposite of what we want to do. We judge everything to a certain extent, but we judge those outside more than those within. As a result, clarity of perception is reduced, and such judging is a conditional action and conditionality is by definition restricting.
I am not going to be able to tune into others by doing this. What I perceive will be tainted by my judgments. Further, if we are connected then what we do affects everyone else and what they do affects us. To awaken our gifts these walls must come down and the illusion of personal will is part of that wall. Our lives are an expression of the Cosmos, of GOD if you will, so the longer we hold onto the idea that we are what matters then we remain separate. When we change this and begin to feel compassion for everyone and become less conditional with them we are on a path break through this barrier. If we cannot imagine ourselves embracing anyone, even our "enemies" then we have work to do.
To work on this one we must continue to expand our circle of love and this is not something we can do without caring for others as we care for ourselves. We do this gradually, by continuing to reduce the negative thoughts and judgments we have of others or even of what life throws at us. Can we love those that seem to hurt us? Yes we can, if we realize that we attracted the experience that resulted in the hurt and that neither we nor those that hurt us really chose that experience.
People are not hurtful because they choose to, they are hurtful because their minds have been programmed that way by their experiences and if you continue back it was “determined” by our karma. This passage from The Cosmic Doctrine by Dion Fortune explains this as follows:
“It may be asked how then is it that men make for themselves suffering and limitations which they could not desire? It is because they do not reap the fruits of fantasy but the fruits of actuality. They are given the results of that which they have permitted themselves to desire, not the thing they desire.”
We are all part of GOD’s expression and therefore we are all evolving in tune to GOD whether we believe so or not. GOD is not a “being”, we are not separate from GOD for this is part of the illusion. To awakening our gifts we must start to we accept this, there is no other way. Being connected to the world and all things, being compassionate to the point of truly caring about another and loving without conditions are not acts we can do by thinking about them. They must come from our core, our being and you cannot get there, bring them to the highest level, by thinking about it.
We cannot know how others feel or be of assistance to them on their journey when we ought to if we are not transparent, that is if our ego interprets and decides for us. Awakening our gifts comes about as we attain more power and we cannot attain this by seeking it directly. This passage, also from the same chapter of The Cosmic Doctrine, explains this quite succinctly:
“...the man who desired power would obtain vanity. To obtain power he would have to desire that qualities which confer power – strength, foresight and wisdom. The man who desires power builds for himself the consciousness of the vain egotist. The man who desires strength, foresight and wisdom, builds for himself the consciousness of power.”
We are here, incarnate, because of desire, and it is our desire that leads us astray. We will continue to incarnate until all the possibilities of our desire are burnt out. At this point desire remains only as an abstract idea and part of our individuality; and we die to the lower desires but continue to live in the higher desires. This passage is also from the same chapter of The Cosmic Doctrine:
“These in their turn he learns to be finite and mortal (re: the higher desires) and constitute a barrier between us and our Father “whose face he would behold”, and he desires to escape from them. He would no longer love with the personal love which loves a person, but the higher manifestation of love which is love and loves no person or thing but is a state of consciousness in which all is embraced.”
It is the desire of our higher self which leads to our incarnating as on the plane of desire a state of consciousness is a place, and as we desire so we are reborn, thus each man makes his own karma. We transcend the physical plane yet we do not realize this because we are limited within an incarnation to the impulses of the desire that led to being incarnated (born). These must be “burnt out” by our realizing that it is our desires that hold us back, and within an incarnation these desires are related to our notion of personal will. We all will give them up at some point and be freed from the cycle of incarnation.
Now, it is not reasonable to think that we are able to attain this within a given lifetime, which is why we incarnate many times. What we can do within in a given lifetime is work to reduce our personal desires so as to more into closer harmony with universal ones. That means we work to embrace the ALL as we are not separate from it save by the illusion created by our egos. Wanting for ourselves is part of this illusion, and our gifts are restricted by it. When we shift and start to embrace everything as if it were us we begin to break free of the restrictions of the ego. By doing so we begin to know what we were not even aware of before as we hear what the Cosmos and everything in it has been saying to us all along. This is how we unlock our inherent gifts, which come when we develop an awareness of others in the same way we are aware of ourselves.
End of Part 5
==> Continue to the Conclusion: Seeing and Knowing
© 2012 Allan Beveridge
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