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“The only sin is self-hatred.
We call it sin but its true name is Delusion.
We have got to get ourselves back to the Garden.
We are in the Garden.
Let us open our eyes.”
It is helpful now and again to remind ourselves of the basic requirements necessary to be a contented human. Since we have a particular brain that essentially never rests, the first task is to confront that reality.
The key word for this method is Identification or Awareness. With whom do we identify? We wake up thinking and we think all day long and as we fall to sleep at night we are thinking and then the brain switches to dream-space which is just another form of thinking or cognitive imaging.
All the while there is this “I” that thinks it is thinking. We take her or him for granted. Who is that “I”? Who do you think you are? You think, therefore you are; we are told by other thinkers. But does thinking tell us who we are? Or is it merely one of the many things we do?
Are we our brain? Is that who we are? Where is the center of the self? Is it physically housed in the electro-chemical neural transmission within three pounds of matter resting in the fluid-filled cavity of space inside our skull? Is that all we are? Or are we more? Perhaps much more?
When we identify with our thinking self, we embrace smallness and limitation. Our thinking brain is a useful tool, a great little servant, but the minute we let it think it is us and it is in charge, we’re all in trouble.
As much as we can, we need to identify with our observer self, the part of us that is Pure Awareness. The thinking self judges, evaluates, compares, resists, craves, rejects, regrets, pines, lusts, hates, schemes, manipulates, plans, solves, reminisces and fears. And it does all this without our conscious control at times. Much of it is automatic and if we surrender to it and identify with it, our appetites and emotions command our ship and rudely, stupidly steer it into the rocks of conflict, depression and pain.
Our true self rests in Pure Awareness. This part just notices. It does not judge or blame. It accepts and understands. It does not resist or struggle. It is completely willing to let this moment be as it is and since it is not bound by time or space, it possesses endless patience. It is our choice with whom we identify.
Along with Identification with Pure Awareness comes Separation or Defusion. As we accept there is a difference between thinking and awarenessing, we can separate ourselves from our thoughts. Instead of fusing or identifying with them, we can refuse to fuse and decide to defuse as we step back and see and notice them as if they belong to another.
Our thoughts are mere suggestions sailing and streaming through the caravan of self, useful offerings scattered among nonsense and irrelevancies. Sometimes they may contain words of wisdom and treasured truths from the whispering gods and other times, they are just inane dogs incessantly barking at the empty sky; shifting bits of dumb data, nuts and volts our inner squirrel thought shiny enough to sally into our conscious mind.
After Awareness and Separation comes Acceptance. This is extremely important. Many of us walk around blaming, resisting, judging and criticizing self and other with shoulds, buts and expectations. There are three words we must carefully memorize and repeat continuously: “And that’s ok.”
The attitude behind those words is an all-embracing, receptive hug of Reality as it is at this moment. This attitude is especially vital toward the self. When we possess a deep, spiritual and unconditional acceptance of ourselves, we can begin to grasp that our perfection is in our imperfection and our imperfection is our perfection.
Perfect forgiveness is like a camera or a mirror. These objects see, capture and reflect what is without adding or subtracting. They do not judge. They are mute messengers that merely show. When we are “with” Reality without any of our dust, dirt or commentary, we can actually see it for the first time. We can be reborn every minute of our precious existence. A-wake. A-live. A-love. Now. Now. Now.
It is us and we are it. As I move through the world, I move through mySelf. We all move through our infinite Self together, sleeping strangers participating in a dream-ballet we carefully choreographed a few fragments of forever ago and then foolishly forgot. Whether asleep or awake, it is a joy to be here with you, my heart-held friend. I will be here when you awaken. We will all be here.
Another essential method of joyful living is Presence. Our thinking mind invented time because it is necessary means of chopping up the world into manageable chunks but it is not real. Not really. Time is an illusion.
When we are present in this moment, transfixed by our darling child or our lover or the sweet sounds of a mystical violin echoing through stone canyons of city buildings scraping the smoky sky, we forget about time. It ceases to be. We are here and now: transfixed, transcendent and true. We are beautifully and bountifully alive. We do not need our thinking mind in the Presence of the Now. Here we find our peace, so much peace, we are overwhelmed. We can have this now or we can have it now. But why not have it now?
Another essential Method of Mindfulness is Valuing. What do you most value? What is most important? What do you want people to remember about you when you finish with this frail and fleeting form?
And finally we have Action. We are meant to move. Life does not stand still so why should we? Thought captures and grabs reality by the throat and thinks it has something it can hold and keep but nothing stays; nothing remains. Everything dances. Everything sings. Every material object is made up of atoms in constant motion. Your cells ceaselessly celebrate as they send and receive essential, sentient nutrients. And they transform as they do and die, flip and fly, soar and sigh.
There is a time for stillness and a time for action. We remain quiet so the spirit can speak through us and then we dance the hell out of this life we have been so gloriously gifted. Purpose away. Run your experiments. Forget perfection. Embrace failure. All are welcome here. Our doors are always open. If we keep working, the rightness we’ve been seeking will arrive. And then we’ll know. It was always here.
Be well. See. Be.
Doug Craig graduated from college in Ohio with a journalism degree and got married during the Carter administration. He graduated from graduate school with a doctorate in Psychology, got divorced, moved to Redding, re-married and started his private practice during the Reagan administration. He had his kids during the first Bush administration. Since then he has done nothing noteworthy besides write a little poetry, survive a motorcycle crash, buy and sell an electric car, raise his kids, manage to stay married and maintain his practice for almost 25 years. He believes in magic and is a Sacramento Kings fan.