Sometimes I get simple enlightenments just as my eyes first open in the morning, and sometimes I capture them as the gift they are, but I confess, many of them slip away as I hit the snooze button. I captured this one, listened to it, and wrote it down.
First thought, on waking: The “I” is implied. Next came the idea of journal writing, and how I start nearly every sentence with I - what I did, what I think, what I believe, how I feel. I realized that in a personal journal, virtually everything in it starts from one’s own personal perspective, so I really don’t need to say “I” over and over. The I is implied. Further, for all of us, the I is implied in the very nature of being. Today on first waking, that dawned on me, and as surprised as I was to suddenly see it so clearly, I was even more surprised that I had not seen it before.
We all operate from a perspective of the self, the deepest “I” of us, but it’s so automatic that we don’t even see it that way. Most of the time we simply assume that our view of the world is how the world really is. Seeing from this “I” center is natural, and seeing from a broader perspective (like considering another person’s perception, another culture’s habits and beliefs) is a little harder. It requires an intentional shift of consciousness.
Seeing or being willing to see another person’s point of view - not necessarily accepting it or endorsing it but just being willing to see it - is the essence of what’s needed in the World Community right now. Willingness to see has been called Diplomacy, or Tolerance, or Grace, or other names. Being Unwilling to see is called egotism, war, racism, nationalism, genocide, and other names.
When we are seeing (only or mostly) in an instinctive, single-vision, one-perspective way from the inside-out, we’re seeing from a view that’s unbalanced. It is a primarily internal perspective. In the world that’s called egotism, and we can expect that a lot of people won’t like us much, at best. On the other hand, there are some people who see (only or mostly) from the outside-in, from a view that’s unbalanced by a primarily external perspective. The extreme form of this is a perceptual mental illness called schizophrenia, which is the unhealthy lack of a secure sense of self. When we are able to see and consider both views in a balanced way, then whatever we are seeing, we're more likely to see the whole of it.
Spirit is the essence of our being, but while we are here on earth we must live the challenges and blessings of community and relationships, practical, personal, and political, with others like ourselves - flawed human beings.
Seeing is a large part of Being. The seeing I mean here is really perceiving, not just the visual, but our whole way of understanding and interpreting ourselves and the world. What we perceive, we believe; and what we believe creates our individual human experiences in the world. This is a basic and fundamental truth about how the universe works. With or without our awareness, the manifesting power of thought is always at work.
Our way of seeing/perceiving our world also profoundly affects what we Do here. It creates who and what we are in the world. But there is a self that is deeper than the ego, and it is our most focused connecting point with God. It has been called our Higher Self, the Christ-self, the Buddha-nature, the I Am, and other names. It comes from the center of our being which is God.
Our essential, eternal self or soul does not change, and cannot change, but our personality in the world can be tossed and blown every which way, not so much by the circumstances of our lives, but even more by our perceptions and beliefs about them and thus our responses to them.
Having a solid sense of “I Am” is our anchor. The strength of that anchor determines the size of the storm it will endure. The sense of self, the anchor, is necessary in the physical world. When you place your anchor in God, truly, nothing in this world can disturb the calm peace and strength of your mind and soul. Or you can place your anchor in ego, or in another person or thing outside yourself, or elsewhere; we all are free to choose.
Spirit or God is recognized by many different names, but it's the same god, the same infinity, and is present and alive in every human being on this earth. You don’t have to be a saint, or even a nice person, to have this. We all have this, as our birthright; we were all created and born into the world with it. Some of us know this and some don’t. Some of us call upon it and use it consciously in our lives and some don’t. But there is no human being who does not have this direct and unseverable connection with God/the universe/the life force.
When we live from our ego-center/personality, it does help us to survive in this world. That’s what it’s for - a tool we can use until we discover better tools and learn how to use them. (Life is all about learning.) There is no sin and no shame in living from ego, but it’s not a very joyful way to live, and it's always characterized by fears and conflicts. Nevertheless, every day of our lives, every one of us begins where we are now, and moves forward. Wherever we are now is valid and valuable; it is both the landing port for our past progress and a launching site for all of our future.
Living from ego/personality and the surface of things does help us make our way along a time-line forward each day. We exist, we have opportunities to learn and grow, and we may or may not be content with that. But because God created us to have dominion on the earth, with the power to create literally as God created, we do create, shape, and manifest our own lives - whether knowingly or unknowingly.
When we seek to live from Spirit, which is our essence, the eternal self of us, we create our world beautiful, safe, and loving. That is the natural result. But this is not a one-time, one-decision process. It is a “way” a “path” and a process of millions of steps, including small daily ones, and millions of moment by moment choices. The secret formula for success is no secret at all, and is wonderfully simple: Use your heart as a guide, and your mind as a tool. Use the heart/spirit/soul-self to choose, and the mind to focus and manifest.
One thing I know with certainty: Life can be small. constricted, and difficult, or life can be vast, powerful, and amazingly beautiful, depending on where you live it from. In other words, depending on where you set your anchor. Living from ego has its own kind of strength in this world; you can see that every night on the ten o’clock news. But ego-self can take us only just so far. It is a journey that’s restrictive and limiting, and shadowed always with fear. Faith in the surface of worldly power is not a safe anchor, and inside us the true-self knows this.
And yet, to unlock and open that inner truth can be frightening too. We don’t know what’s in there, and we naturally fear the unknown and resist change. Often it seems, our lives open up to God only when our physical or emotional existence has crashed and is burning down around us. Often we turn to the help that was always there, only when we have nowhere else to go.
Often we don’t really know our authentic selves, and we’re not sure we want to. It takes courage. What if we find ourselves to be weak? or unbeautiful? or just too different, so that others might not want us? But the inner I Am is not a threat or a liability, is not unbeautiful, in fact it is much more loving and more beautiful than any outer or physical aspect of us.
You can trust that true center, your true self. It is always there and available. You cannot lose it or damage it. It cannot be wounded and it cannot die. That center is the God in you. When you decide and begin to live your life from your own true center, good things begin to express through you. Love, prosperity, health. Things begin to change. Abundance of unexpected kinds will seek you and find you. You will see and experience that circumstances have no control over you unless you give it to them.
Reverend Max Lafser used to say “Nothing can disturb the calm peace of my soul” as a reminder to himself as well as to us in the congregation. That’s the feeling, when you know your safe harbor is in God and your anchor is firmly set there. That’s the ultimate reality that is always there for us, beneath the surface of things. Believe it, and know it is yours whenever you call. Consciously tap that immense strength, and stand in the middle of it. Then no matter what storms rage around you, you are safe at anchor.
Rev. Max had another saying that returns to my mind often. It was: “Move from center to circumference.” In other words, take action from the inside outward, instead of the other way around. If I understood him right, the center he spoke of is this Christ-self, the God essence that is our true and available center. Moving from center to circumference means acting and relating from that center and living, or trying to live, on the higher level of your inner truth.
Instead, most of us most of the time go the way of the world and start Out There. We struggle to fix the problem by fixing the situation or fixing the other person, their habits, or their attitude. That never works, because “the problem” has been sent into our life to teach us a learning that our soul needs. (It’s not about them; it’s about us.) When we shift our own consciousness and decide to act from our calm true center, the Out There amazingly starts to change too, like the mirror that it really is, and eventually the problem fixes itself.
We cannot fix things by working Out There (the circumference of our lives) but we can and do influence what shows up out there by what we are holding In Here. Our thoughts and emotions are the creating force and bringers of change in our lives. We tend to think that changing the situation will change our mental or emotional state. “If only I could get ____________(fill in the blank) then I could be happy,” But in fact, the functional reality is just the opposite. Whatever you worry over, feel a lack of, hate, resent, or fear, you are simply giving away your strength to. Decide instead to reclaim your strength, hold firm to your inner anchor and refuse to fear the storm.
In a while you will notice your seas begin to calm around you. There was never really any need for you to personally go out into the storm, grab hold of the raging winds and wrestle with them. You couldn’t succeed at that anyway; more winds would come, thrashing waves, etc. and you would get terribly wet.
At the eye of the storm, it is calm. All of this is just Life presenting you with challenges and experiences to grow with, and that is the purpose of it all.