Thursday, September 13, 2012

Course Note #159: The World on 3 levels

A topic that frequently comes up in spiritual discussions is that of the nature of the world.  This has been the discussion topic that I have been most intrigued by, and I see that the controversy lies in how one defines the word “world”. 
            What I saw early on as a student of A Course in Miracles is that the word is not used to denote the same thing throughout.  It speaks of the world as ego sees it, one of lack, limitation, pain, suffering and death; and then there’s the “real world” that is revealed to us through higher vision, and then there’s Heaven, which is the Course’s word for Reality. 

            Now that I have been doing contemplation and journaling through the teachings in the book, The Seven Steps to Awakening, I see this topic come up again, as to what is the nature of the world.  I came across a great article on this called, “The Three Simultaneously True Levels of Nondual Reality” by Timothy Conway.*  What struck me right away is that it was very similar to the teachings in the Course.
            In his article world as ego sees it is called the conventional level.  The “real world” or the world as Spirit Within sees it is called the psychic-Soul level, and Reality he calls ONLY GOD.

            The mistake that is often made as we attempt to apply this to living our lives is that we can try to be at the Only God/Heaven/Reality level without doing the vigilant practice required while stuck in ego's view of the world.  For instance, something may occur in our lives and we may dismiss it by saying “there is no world”, or “nothing is happening”, but at the same time we’re suffering, or we may judge other people for suffering as we look at them through a superior viewpoint that there is no world.

            In this way, we are in denial and will not move into healing.  In order to undo the ego, which is what healing is, we have to look at.  So if we say, “nothing is happening, all there is is God” then we are not going to look at the ego.  When we confuse levels we may not be kind or compassionate to one another or ourselves.  The Course is not really about teaching us how to love, more profoundly, it reveals to us why we don’t.  We don’t truly love because we don’t know ourselves as Love, and the way we come to know ourselves as Love is through undoing the obstacle to this knowledge, which is ego, i.e, the false self. 

When we accept the three levels as simultaneously true, a shift occurs.  No matter what occurs in this life, or what is seemingly done to us, it doesn’t affect who and what we truly are.  The True Self remains eternally as it is. 
            We can liken world-appearance to a movie.  In the level 3 world of ego/the conventional level, I am starring in a movie and everything that happens in the movie is happening to “me”! 
With higher vision (level 2), I began to see that I was the projector of the movie, projecting all that I see from my mind, and it was from this level that I learned to call on higher vision to see anew.  Recently it has become so clear to me that I am not the actor or the director or the projector – "I am" can be likened to the screen.  The screen simply is, forever and eternally unaffected by the movie projected onto it.

Currently, after many years of spiritual practice the level 1 vision of, I am the screen, is indeed helpful as I look at the world seen by ego and let it be reinterpreted by Holy Spirit which is known as the Great Transformer of Perception.  I can see now how all 3 levels are simultaneously true.

            With a presidential election coming up I have been distracted by politics.  I was beating myself about this a bit because I do see the divisiveness in it, and yet I also don’t want to simply ignore something that I feel passionate about, I want to learn to see it differently.  Sometimes when we turn away from something thinking that it’s not “spiritual”, we essentially close the door on the classroom and don’t learn the healing lesson that is there to learn. 
            So one shift that came up was to focus on what I am for, versus what I am against.  As I did this I was guided to two articles this past week, the one I am currently writing about and also one by Marianne Williamson.**  I found both to be very helpful not only in regard to politics but in this idea of the nature of the world we appear to live in.

            We are not asked to deny the world, or to deny our bodies, but we are asked to see that what we think we see is not all that there is to see.  Currently I am guided to shift my attention from the false to the true.  Our spiritual practice ought to be fluid, not static, and by that I mean: I let myself be guided from within in the current moment.

            I have a friend whom I greatly admire, as she has become not only my friend but also my teacher and mentor.  I have spoken to her about this political topic and she sees it differently than I do.  And, I totally believe that she is authentic in what she sees.  However, one thing I do not do is to try to be where she is, or to pretend that I am where she is.  I recognize that her guidance is for her and mine is for me, meeting each of us where we are.  If I were to adopt her consciousness when I have not yet come to own such consciousness, then I would be simply pretending, and would thus remain in the cycle of denial and projection.  Spiritual pretending does not help one grow up or wake up.
            Over the years, I’ve seen that people try to be where my friend is by saying what she says or doing what she does.  I’ve seen that she is often misunderstood, but what I have also seen is that she has earned the consciousness she currently enjoys.  She has earned it through years of vigilant, daily, moment-by-moment practice.  Never try to be someplace spiritually where you are not, because if you do, you will remain stuck in denial and ego and you won’t know it, although you will feel it. 

            So I need to be where I am and let Spirit Within/True Self guide me where I am right now.  So if currently I am distracted by politics and beating myself up about it, I am looking at the ego with the ego, and this will not undo the ego.
            We are asked to live in the world but not of the world, and how I do this is to look at the world as ego sees it and ask Spirit Within to look at with me.       In this way we come to see the ways that we have been deceived.  Join me in this prayer that came as guidance to RDA in my 7steps journal under quote #580*** and paraphrased by me:

Let me see each time I am deceiving myself.
Let me see clearly.
And then, by grace, I am undeceived.
By grace, I am healed.
Thank you.


Excerpt from article by Timothy Conway:

“When we don't honor together all three of these "levels" or "dimensions" of Reality as being simultaneously true, we tend to fall into a constricted viewpoint. So, for instance, if we ignore the conventional level (level 3 in this model), preferring to ONLY see that "everything is perfect" (level 2) or that "nothing is really happening, only God is Real" (level 1), we can easily fail in morality, compassion and empathy, falling into an insensitive apathy, ignoring the rampant forms of injustice that inflict pain on sentient beings. Furthermore, denying level 3 may lead us to mistakenly believe that being discerning or critical—i.e., critiquing any form of thinking or behavior in the field of politics, spirituality, etc.—is "being negative" or "deluded" or "coming from the head, not the heart." (Actually, a true sage utilizes both head and heart in the context of Awareness.) Yet this is, itself, a negative judgment or a critique. It is a "position" that violates true freedom by constraining us to always only view whatever happens as "perfect" and beyond reproach, or as "nothing really happening." Again, to hold such a position is to constrain ourselves to a uni-level or one-dimensional and limited view of the Totality of Reality.
“Likewise, if we ONLY focus on level 3 and, say, the countless injustices and forms of cruelty to living beings, we can become angry political fanatics, vindictive zealots always finding evil-doers somewhere and throwing them out of our heart with the constricted mind of scornful anger and venomous disgust over what "those sinners" are doing. This can be healed by allowing level 2 and level 1 perspectives to be realized along with a level 3 sensibility.”

Excerpt from article by Marianne Williamson:

“Over the years, many people on a spiritual journey have asked me why I keep going on about politics, and many people involved in politics have asked me why I keep going on about spirituality. Today however, more and more people seem to sense, as I do, that each holds a gift for the other.
“People on a spiritual path -- personal growth, spiritual practice, recovery, yoga and so forth -- are the last people who should be sitting out the social and political issues of our day. And there's an important reason for this: People on such journeys are adepts at change. They know that the mechanics of the heart and mind are the fundamental drivers of transformation. This doesn't just apply to one person, but to masses as well; if you know what makes one life change then you know what makes a nation change, because a nation is simply a large group of individuals. “

This audio was recorded on 9/9/12 and is 55 min. long.  Also includes discussion on forgiveness and how to practice forgiveness, and goes deeper into the articles presented in this blog.  Enjoy!


    MP3 File

Sunday, September 02, 2012

Course Note #158: What is ego?

"To be willing to look at the ego’s preservation strategies is a sign of spiritual maturity." ~ Michael Langford

I have been doing the 7 steps work since January, and I can see that more than anything I have ever done it really reveals ego preservation strategies, or as RDA writes in her journal "ego-feasting" and "ego-maintenance" activities and habits. What I have also observed in the last 8 months is ego wanting constantly to get the upper hand, and sometimes it feels like a juggling act -- ego rises and I use the tools I have and ego subsides, and then it rises again...

While reading my 7steps journal this morning I was reminded of guidance from #182: where I was prompted to page 51 of the Inner Ramana teachings:

"Since the idea of ego has been deeply learned through repetition, deep and consistent unlearning must result."

Reminds me of a teaching in the Course that says the ego will respond viciously when you respond with Love. It's like the deeper I go, the more ego wants to run amok!

For most of us, the ego isn't going to disappear because we read this stuff, it can only be renounced through vigilant and diligent and consistent devotion-practice. I can see that lately I have been very distracted by the world, and every day I tell myself that I will not let myself fall into such distractions and then before I know it... Wham! There it is. Nevertheless, my vigilance and devotion to freedom has never wavered, and sheesh, this world gives me LOADS of practice.

That said my new best friend is Sri Muruganar, as his quotes in step 3 are speaking to me deeply. He speaks of ego in a similar manner to the Course. In just 14 quotes he describes the ego thus: a misunderstanding, impulsive, impetuous, hostile, warring, tormenting, contemptible, poison, an enemy, deceitful...and finally.... ghost-like, which means -- It's Not Real!

Now I see more than ever that after having lived as and with an ego for 55 years, he is absolutely right -- no sugarcoating here~!

Despite the cacophony of the ego, I hear the gentle voice of the true Self whispering:
Let it go.
Turn away from the false,
focus on the True,
and know that All Is Well.