I am a long-time student of Truth having started back in the 70’s. I have struggled (as we all have) with finding and applying the Truth in order to free myself from my ego mind, it’s fears, it’s constricting and self-defeating beliefs, and the general sense that I will never be anything but a small limited creature, doomed to die before I have any real understanding of what or who I am.
In my journey it seems that I struggled greatly with my “feelings,” which seemed to toss me around like a wet rag. When spiritual teachers taught the idea “It’s all about watching your thoughts”, I could never make that WORK. I would practice watching my thoughts and surrender them when they began to contain Self-defeating ideas and still find myself in feelings of depression or fear. Eventually I could see that it was beliefs that unconsciously directed our thinking toward ideas that supported the beliefs. And even later I saw that it is our self-concept that engenders specific beliefs that are in support of our self-concept. Once beliefs become a part of my idea of “who I am”, it becomes threatening to try to remove them because it feels like we are trying to tear out a chunk of “me”. This then becomes a job for the Holy Spirit, which by surrendering to this larger Self, is able to remove our false beliefs while giving us a deeper sense of being loved (although this doesn’t necessarily happen quickly or completely without fear) . In this way it is easier (not “easy” but “easier“) to face our fears without cataclysm. While this is helpful, there was still a piece of the puzzle I did not have. The question remained; HOW do I do this? What METHOD or technique do I use to become the awareness that my Teachers always talked about? While Trusting and surrendering to our Holy Spirit was very helpful I have recently learned of two things that are huge.
If they are not totally relevant to the place you find yourself, that’s ok. They probably will be later on. At least take these ideas in and consider them;
1) REAL Forgiveness frees us to remember our original identity instead of struggling to become it. This identity (Love) does not struggle with thoughts or feelings or beliefs because it already knows its identity. It does not need to struggle to replace “old thought habits” or develop new ones because it knows it is not an ego. Instead of trying to overcome fear it simply sees fear as false and gently looks right through it because it has a deep certainty of what it IS. Recently I have been reading Tom Carpenter‘s book; “The Miracle of Real Forgiveness” and it has been very helpful in moving beyond an intellectual understanding of Forgiveness and really living it. Our real identity will be seen as we remove the blocks to Love by forgiving. Then, instead of feeling like we are trying to BECOME Love, we will know ourselves AS Love.
2) We must walk this path toward freedom with the idea that our purpose is to join WITH our brothers, not to find enlightenment for ourselves alone. We are awakening together. In “The Holy Spirit’s Interpretation of the New Testament” by Regina Dawn Akers is this statement: “When one forgets the one purpose of oneness and communion, you have forgotten who you are.” Having a “WE” perspective instead of a “ME” perspective automatically unifies us with a larger Self. One then begins to feel a desire to unify instead of judging.
I highly recommend Tom Carpenter‘s book for developing both of these ideas beyond mere concepts and making you aware of the beautiful Self living in your heart.
Forgiving helps us to remember our Real Identity, which is Love. As we slowly begin to wake up and remember that we ARE Love, we begin to regard the thoughts of the ego with less credibility. Thoughts which used to have great sway over our feelings about our self begin to fade because Love sees right through them. It is literally unaffected by the old ideas (thoughts) and beliefs of our self-concept (ego). This does not happen overnight but with determination, faith, and trust, our inner Guide will bring us to that place. In fact THAT is it’s job and it is VERY GOOD at what it does!
Love, our real identity, does not have any roots in a “self-concept”. Whether we thought we were flawed, fragile, grandiose, intelligent, stupid, or “whatever”, those descriptions of us are unimportant. They don’t mean anything. Yet they seem to mean EVERYTHING while we live within the self-concept. These ideas about the “self” create it’s entire world. What ever ideas the ego holds as true, it will see these ideas as Truth and project them into the physical world. They will drive it’s world and do so in a chaotic fashion because they have no anchor in Truth and because of this, there will be no peace to be found.
One of the most basic feelings and ideas the ego holds about itself is that it is “flawed” at a fundamental level, that “there is something wrong with me”. If you have feelings that you are not complete (and we all do) then you are experiencing this idea. The ego will then seek to complete itself by it’s own means, which can manifest in a myriad of avenues. Acquiring more possessions, more education, a special status of some kind, a special relationship, anything that: 1) makes “me” special and 2) is an attempt to “fix” the underlying sense of incompleteness. Eventually we all come to see that these attempts do not fix the problem. In fact, since these actions are born out of a sense of separateness they may actually amplify the idea that we are alone and leave us with MORE emptiness.
Because of what the ego is (an attempt to make a self that is independent from wholeness) it will always feel incomplete. The practice of forgiveness as well as that of Faith and Trust in our Guide will eventually return us to the peaceful awareness of our completeness. Real Forgiveness and the purpose of joining are what allow us to stop TRYING to be a spiritual being. Again I refer to the statement up above: “When one forgets the one purpose of oneness and communion, you have forgotten who you are”. We cannot find enlightenment by ourselves or for ourselves alone. We all try and strive and push to become a spiritual being…free of our limitations. Ultimately we will make progress but the real progress comes by the willingness to include everyone in our journey toward freedom. As we become more inclusive and practice (without “striving”), forgiveness, we begin to identify with Love, which removes the aspect of separation from what we ARE, which is Love.
An important insight for me personally was this; Our torment does not come only from our thoughts. Our overall self-concept finds certain ideas (thoughts) more credible than others and finds them easier to “energize” (by believing in them) because we identify with those thoughts. For example, if I believe I am “a dummy” and someone comes along and tells me to my face “you’re stupid”, it’s likely I will energize that idea by believing it is true. The evidence of this will be that I feel hurt or angry. Thought after thought, belief after belief, will arise to be painful (or, for positive ego thoughts, a source of temporary happiness) when we believe that we are separate from God and each other…when we believe we are only our ego. By practicing forgiveness we begin to identify with a greater, forgotten, part of ourselves that is NOT SUBJECT TO ideas and beliefs based in limitation and separateness. This begins to eliminate the struggle we experience on the spiritual path because Oneness transcends the effort of trying to “become”.
Having said that, there is the unpleasant aspect of “refinement”. As we move toward freedom, our self-concept will rebel, become afraid, and vomit some really unpleasant stuff into our awareness. These things come up into our conscious awareness because we have “requested” healing through our willingness to be healed. It is only when we are consciously aware of them that the Holy Spirit can begin to eliminate them. This means we must “feel” them, which is usually unpleasant and can be scary. Anchor yourself in the knowledge that the Holy Spirit/God/the GodSelf knows exactly what it is doing and is on your side. He will succeed. And as Jesus said; “I will never leave you comfortless”. These things pass because, as real as they seem, they do not have an eternal reality. After the rainstorm comes the rainbow. We are then closer to realizing the purpose of our journey here on Earth.