Musings

November 2019 Musings

I am the ritual and the sacrifice; I am true medicine and the mantram. I am the offering and the fire which consumes it, and the one to whom it is offered.
 
I am the father and mother of this universe, and its grandfather and grandmother, too; I am its entire support. I am the sum of all knowledge, the purifier, the syllable Om; I am the sacred Scriptures, the Rig, the Yajur, and Sama Vedas.
 
I am the goal of life, the support of all, the inner witness, the abode of all. I am the only refuge, the one true friend; I am the beginning, the staying, and the end of creation; I am the womb and the eternal seed.
 
I am heat; I give and withhold the rain. I’m immortality and I am death; I am what is and what is not.
— Bhagvad Gita
 
Could your recording of what’s true about you be the above verses? Even if you didn’t stumble over the references to an unfamiliar religion, it would take a level of disidentification from ego-I that few of us have achieved to identify with the “I am” making these statements.  There’s an almost visceral feeling of discomfort when Divinity is attributed to us “mere mortals.” Something in “me” overtly or subliminally rejects as counterfeit the invitation to consider that All That Is is what I am. We so readily disavow that which we are, not because we’re not that, but because we’re so much more conditioned to experience ourselves as what I’m not rather than what IS truly me.  
 
What is your trouble?
Mistaken Identity!
— Wei Wu Wei
 
Perhaps this is one of the reasons why many of us stumble over the Day 16 assignment of the monthly focus in the yearlong retreat, Making a Change for Good: “Record what is true about you, the internalization of which would enable you not to fall for or be tortured by the self-hating conversation.”
 
If you’re frustrated that you don’t seem to be able to do this assignment, that’s good! Because, like all Zen training, the exercise is designed to reveal and stymie conditioned thinking.  In posing the question “What is true about you,” we’re being asked to bring awareness to a process that never questions assumptions. It takes a lot of practice before we would pause to consider…
 
Who am I?
How do I know who I am?
What does “true” even mean?
How do I know what’s true about anything ?
 
… before we do the assignment.
 
So we don’t pause. We just attempt to do the assignment. What happens?
 
Let’s say you begin to describe yourself as kind. As you record about the ways you’re kind, you might notice a voice casually say, “That’s not true. You were mean to that store clerk just yesterday.” Attention shifts from looking for kindness to what happened yesterday at the store.  Soon you’re in a conversation.  “Can I claim being kind as true about me? Sure, I’ve been kind on a few occasions but truth is an absolute standard and one can’t claim kindness as true about me if I’m only kind sometimes. Not to mention the evidence presented. After all, I was unkind to that clerk! How can I deny that behavior?”
 
Blame
Keeps the sad game going.
It keeps stealing all your wealth—
Giving it to an imbecile with
No financial skills.
Dear one,
Wise
Up.

— Hafiz
 
Spiritual victory is ours in this moment if we can disavow the identification with self-hate. If we don’t argue for ego by taking the blame for what ego says and does, we’re training to unwind the process of identification with what I’m not.
 
What actually happened with the store clerk may never be known. But what happened during the recording is pretty clear!  The identification with the conclusion of “not being kind” got reinforced. We ended up with a description of an “I” who doubts its and Life’s capacity for kindness. That description says a lot about conditioning, but it says nothing about the Intelligence That Animates All. Small wonder there is nothing in “me” that can accept the “truth” of “that thou art.”
 
The good news is that if an identification tries to define what is true about Authenticity, it can’t. The dissonance we sense between ego’s lies and what awareness registers as true is something we describe in spiritual practice as divine dissatisfaction. Something is aware of the falsehood of identification with ego. If we can train ourselves to pay attention to that awareness, we are, in Hafiz’s words wising up.
 
It does not necessarily follow that just because we’ve “seen” how ego hijacks this assignment that we can suddenly make a recording from the perspective of the “I am” of the Bhagvad Gita verses. One has to surrender the identification with the “false” self completely and re-identify wholly with True Nature. That’s a process, the practice of which is in the latter part of the assignment of Day 16.
 
To make a recording of what’s true that self-hate cannot refute, we have to rewire our vision to see what is, as is. After being programmed to see only what’s not, it takes practice to develop the receptors to see what’s so. In this quote David Hawkins gives us a hint as to how this alchemy of sight is accomplished.  
 
Love focuses on the goodness of Life in all its expressions and augments that which is positive. It dissolves negativity by re-contextualizing it, rather than by opposing it.
 
Note: If, at this point, self-hate offers itself up to be included in Unconditional Love, claiming that if it exists it must also be Divine, please ignore it!  Arguing whether self-hate is divine or not, or suffering is divine or not, misses the point.  Yes, human beings identified with self-hate do hateful things.  If we attribute “bad behavior” to an absence of love, and have compassion for the human being subjected to self-hate, we’re practicing the re-contextualizing that the quote offers as an option. Divinity isn’t exclusive or dualistic, it’s Unconditional.
 
In our previous example, when I make a recording about “me” being kind, I don’t listen to a voice negate my kindness.  I ignore every voice attempting to trap me into limiting my vision to only seeing egocentricity.  I expand awareness to focus on looking for more and more examples of kindness.  If I’m looking for kindness, eventually Kindness has to be looking in order to find Kindness. And miraculously, when attention is on awareness, there is a recognition of itself as Kindness.
 
The moon's the same old moon,
The flowers exactly as they were,
Yet I've become the thingness
Of all the things I see!

— Bunan
 
Isn’t this alchemy of vision the promise, the possibility, and the joy of spiritual practice?
 
Gasshō
ashwini