June 23rd, 2010

Hello, Family! How are you all?

To continue my rambling journal, as I mentioned recently, I received a lovely letter from my ex-wife recently, a letter of healing and closure. Pat and I were having dinner in restaurant just the day after and we were chatting about that time. I had met Pat some 15 months after my separation with my wife, and my insides were still quite raw at the time, and the memories very fresh, so she lived through part of that crazy period of my life. Some of the things that came back to me from the last difficult few years of my life with my ex-wife I hadn’t shared with Patricia.

sunrise As I sat there bringing up this or that detail or event, I could feel my insides start to do the same old dance, you know, the ‘victim dance’. If you’re not familiar with it (hmm), it goes something like this: The details of ‘what was done to you’ get dramatically illustrated by noticeable rises in the voice, by eyebrow raises and punctuated breathing. The energy shifts, getting more agitated, and a goal comes into view – to prove a point about your (usually painful) experience of a certain happening. Sitting there at dinner, I fell into the trap. And then we both noticed it – the old game had returned, and we both smiled. I shook my head and started to laugh. How easy it is to fall back into wanting ancient hurts to be real! It’s not that they are real, but that something inside wants them to be real. And if I didn’t want them to have power, then they didn’t. It was a pretty simple choice, actually, on that occasion at dinner. But other occasions make the goal of proving a certain experience more difficult to shake off.

The last few months have been a bit challenging in that way. As some of you know, I stopped my traditional manual trade in February, something I had longed to do for ages. Nothing was clear about what was supposed to happen next, but at least I thought it was pretty obvious that I had to stop in order to find out what the next step might be. Now, you have to know that since my divorce I have been building in one form or another in order to keep my sanity intact. Getting into a serious physical activity like house renovating actually saved me and helped me transform a pretty messed up mind into one that was at least a little calmer and less prone to intense dwelling on hurts and pains. There was no question, building was good for me. You just had to forget your issues if you wanted to do a good job. It required all my concentration in a very non-mental activity, and in addition the body movement meant there was little nervous energy for getting overly agitated and worked up.

sunrise The separation had been excessively difficult for me as I was very co-dependent and terrified of hurting my ex-wife. I knew for the sake of my sanity I had to leave, but it was not an easy decision. I left on December 24th; it seemed that the preparations for Christmas that year just tipped the scales too far and I knew if I didn’t get a break, something disastrous would happen. I left the door open as I said goodbye, unable to bear the thought of closing it shut. I walked down the path from our house in the woods to the village, a twenty-minute walk during a cool winter’s night (we only had one car that I was not about to deprive her of). I think I had in my hands just a sleeping bag and a heavy but useful book (a big blue one) that you might be familiar with. I mention this only because that book became my lifeline during a critical transition time of my life. I had been studying it already for some ten years, but knew there was still a commitment I had not been making to my inner Teacher. I was to spend my time over the next few years joining with him progressively more and more, a relationship that would eventually give birth to the writing of
    Paulo and the Magician

And so the period from 1999 to 2001 had me cycling through phases of intense fear, depression and self-condemnation (for inflicting so much pain on another person, and making such a mess of my life!), and then onward to deep peace, comfort and complete freedom from any implications of harm or damage (hers or mine). It was a crazy time, and I needed something, anything, to ground me. And that was where the heavy building activity came in so tremendously useful. As I went through the motions of finishing my houses, or laying foundations, or hanging some plasterboard, I always wondered what would happen if I ever stopped. It was pretty obvious that the physical work had become a crutch, a way of keeping my mind totally focused on a non-mental activity, since I had a tendency to get too intense about my inner work. One predictable side effect had been that building had become my favorite way of suffering, even though I recognized its therapeutic value.

I have thought for some time that the ego needs to suffer (it is always through suffering that it gives itself a semblance of existence), and that it always chooses one or more of four domains for doing so. These are relationships, money, work, or health. Even when all is seemingly well in these four domains, as does happen for some people, if you really look it is usually difficult to say that such and such person is completely at peace with all these areas, and feeling in harmony with self and God and his place in the (non-material) universe. And so my specially chosen and selected way of suffering and giving reality to my individuality had become my activity, my work. This was a challenging Catch 22.

sunrise If I continued my current work, then I could be guaranteed a certain level of stability and ‘sanity’, but would never make the next step since this work was disguising a number of unresolved issues. But if I stopped, the risk is that I would become intensively involved in matters of the mind and become potentially depressive and basically unpredictable. While I built, my projections were predictable: I was always going to have a problem with this client or this job or that partner, or the weather, etc. If I stopped, where would my projections land before I managed to stop them altogether? On Pat? On my money situation? On my health? As it so happens, it seems the ego has decided to share the fun around, and project onto all four domains in a characteristically random and insane fashion.

And so I return to my point for this little rambling: some situations present more of a difficulty for shaking off the attraction to suffering than others. I’m reminded of a section in ACIM, the attraction of guilt, and I’ve been trying to work with that for a few days. I can get a sense, a glimpse, at moments of this truly comical attachment I have to feeling bad (unjoined from my Creator), even though no true, identifiable reason exists for feeling this way. All I can say is that it is my continuing way of feeling like ‘me’.

If the suffering stopped entirely, if I made that wonderful backdrop of peacefulness and harmony that is unrelated to the circumstances of my life, if I made this my current state of mind now and for always, then where would ‘Bernard’ fit in? Well, he wouldn’t. He ain’t there. We can have either an experience of personal, individual suffering, even if that is just a stubbed toe that we insist feels bad, or we can have a serene experience of letting all this go and welcoming a lightness and happiness completely unrelated to all that is happening, but a happiness that is not personal but completely free of definition or constraints. A happiness and lightness that is just One, with Jesus, with everyone. With everything. No definitions, no separations or differences, no seeking to understand the reason for this or that in order to feel better, no trying to work things out. Just a final freedom from needing to understand or define things. Light, luminous, and free of weight.

sunrise This is my current dilemma. I could say to all the things in my world and life, “I do not need you to define how I might feel. I can feel perfectly free of the judgments and condemnations that circulate in this crazy place (my mind). There is another world in which none of this matters or makes a difference, in the most positive sense. I do not need to understand the next step to feel secure. I do not need to have this current situation work out perfectly in order to feel light and free.” I look at the willingness necessary to make this declaration, and I find something that seriously hesitates. What gives? Why would on earth would I hesitate? And the answer is crystal, pristinely clear.

I don’t want to give up the sense of me. I know it’s totally crazy, but that’s where I am.

Anyone care for a cup of tea? Everyone over to the tavern, tea and fresh muffins on me.

(Any comments here)