Let me welcome our new members, our friends who simply visit, and also those folks who are receiving the main posts via email, but have not joined the site. Not everyone’s picture shows up on the masthead, but you may be sure that everyone is deeply valued in what I have come to call our Awakening Clarity Sangha. If you are receiving AC posts via email, remember that all you receive is the main post. It would be still be worth your while to visit the site regularly, as there is constantly changing material beyond just the main posts.
Event information has changed significantly over the last 24 hours, and I'm piddling with a new topic for the Dualogue that will probably go out over the weekend. It will probably be a bit easier read than the Pick a World series, or so I think, but who knows? I’ve also added a couple of notable books to my AC Reading List, which simply will not dwindle!
One note on the Pick a World (PAW) series: I stated at the beginning that it would probably be a difficult series of postings. I can now say that I understated the facts. I’ve written three substantial postings now, with notes on a fourth, and I'm just beginning to get into the heart of the thing I thought I was going to write about from go. That's the problem when you're the typist and not the Writer: I have pretty much zero control over what happens here. Betsy and I were just in the bed reading when I hit a great line from the Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmananda, Volume 1, and I said, "There! The perfect line for Pick a World! Let me go jot that down, my notes are already pulled up." That was almost an hour ago (as of 10:00 pm 8/10/11).
First I did updates in the Meetings and (Non)Events section, and then the thought arose that I could at least make a stab at polishing off Part III of the PAW series. And the notes I was going to “jot down”? They remain un-jotted. Such is Life when all you're doing is watching it unfold. (So also Life when you think you’re doing it, too, but at least there is cognizance of the true position here, thus I’m less apt to suffer.)
I can absolutely rely on IT to do what IT does, but I can never know what that’s going to be until after it’s already occurred. I then report on it, to you and to me—in most cases two different stories are issued—and then, dependent upon the existing clarity or lack thereof, I claim or issue credit or blame, or I don’t. Here, for this body-mind at this time, I don’t.
Pick a World and Live In It
From the introduction to Notes on Spiritual Discourses of Shri Atmandana, Volume 1:
“The large majority of friends who cannot cease to think in relative terms, even for a short while, are earnestly requested not to dabble with spiritual pursuits. That will spoil even their enjoyment in the phenomenal world.” In that statement, the compiler of those discourses, Nitya Tripta, was advising his readers to “pick a world and live in it”. I get it. Hot on the heels of that very sound advice, we will return to our exploration of this topic.
We here continue with our metaphor from Part II, which presented the teaching-tool-notion that I am viewing the world through a colored pane. Please see Part II for details.
So, I have viewed my personal world, located over there and away from myself, which is over here. Standing in my over-here-vs.-over-there, colored-pane vantage point, I now apparently have to decide how I am going to engage in the world. What action should I take? What kind of fellow should I be? You see, along with the invention of “other”, given that this theoretical other is mine, comes the implication that my world can, should be, in fact must be controlled by the central figure, the leading VIP of my world, namely me. Without my control, this otherness would be entirely unreliable and ultimately threatening.
Thus depending on my conditioning, my automated, unthinking, utterly default programming (which I so love to come in behind and label my choice) will combine with my body’s physical circumstances, and action will simply take place. Entirely contingent upon forces beyond any hope of control from me or anyone else, one of two available forks in the road will be taken. I either appear to elect to join in the fray—dip into the mess—so to speak, or I appear to decide to help clean up the mess. Either way it is viewed as a mess. While I have actually invented the mess via psychological projection, I nonetheless will believe this imaginary world is real, and think it an objective circumstance that I have merely found, or discovered.
Now, it’s advantageous (and humorous!) to note that I feel like I have a multitude of choices at my disposal. I fret. I lose sleep. I call in advisers. I check my horoscope and have my palm read. All this, every bit of it, takes place under the holy heading of “divine entertainment”! I will move in one direction or another and the degree of my move is entirely dependent upon local conditioning. It's letter 'A' or letter 'B'; number One or number Two. No 'C' or '3' is ever available, though it always feels otherwise. There is a yin and a yang, but there is no “yan” or “ying”, so to speak. In actuality there is always but a single available path, but so as not to readily give away the secret of the game to Itself, the cosmos presents the illusion of choice, even to Itself.
This illusion of choice is the central point in our Pick a World series. There lies the rub between our apparently separate worlds of the relative and the Absolute.
For the moment, however, we’ll continue with our metaphor.
If my conditioning sees opportunity for personal advancement through conquest, then I will join in the mess as a Player. The rules of the game are that I will get to think I made a decision, when in fact I did not. Now, once I have joined Opportunity World, then from the Opportunity World point of view--which includes my own evaluation of my own position—I become either a more successful or a less successful rascal, just like everyone else. But at the end of the day, I am a rascal in a rascal's world, however my story turns out. It will all be a matter of degree. Tycoon or convict, we are both playing the same role for essentially the same ends. Butcher, baker, or candlestick maker, it’s all about us. There are more and less effective rules of the game, and depending on what’s chosen for an apparent “us”, we end up with a more or less desirable personal story. The grade we award the story is contingent upon how well we think we played it. None of this is even vaguely related to how things actually work.
If my conditioning sees opportunity for personal advancement through yielding, I will advance upon Problem World and rise above the mess as a Fixer. After all, I'm a good and thoughtful and resourceful kind of guy, and I'm willing to fix things and bring them back up to par, or even beyond! I'll just roll up my sleeves and jump right on in. Of course before I can fix anything I first have to know what's wrong. Can do. While there are certain agreed upon conventions that I hold in a loose trust of convenience with the rest of the world, I always maintain the right of final judgment—the correct judgment. You simply are not equipped to handle that much responsibility. I am. Ah, the joys of always being right...
This jumping in as Fixer is seen as a somewhat “higher calling” by my ego, but only by my ego. It may or may not be accurate at any given time. You may or may not agree with it. If enough people agree with me, they’ll hang a shiny, gold medal around my neck and assign my name to the honor roll. If enough people disagree, they’ll put a noose around the same neck and assign my name to hell. Either way, what it proves out is the power of agreement; neither conclusion has the slightest thing to do with ‘right or wrong, good or bad’, all of which are both entirely subjective and completely time-sensitive.
Let’s take a closer look at me as Fixer of Problem World. Golly gee, I am a nice guy, am I not? I see hunger in the world, for instance, so I make donations to food banks or good charities. I help serve bread lines at the local homeless shelter. I notice that my next-door-neighbor is an invalid, so I mow her lawn and trim her hedges. I see someone driving too slowly, so I helpfully honk my horn to retrain them.
In a similar vein, I know just how you should be living your life, so I helpfully tell you, guide you, push you, even compel you to live it the right way and kindly punish you if you fail to do so. I see someone wearing a religious symbol I know to be emblematic of false and harmful beliefs—beliefs that would lead to an awful eternal outcome for the many lives which I secretly and properly manage—so in a brilliant move of spiritual efficacy I shoot them dead. Might makes right, yes?
No matter which way I decide to engage in the colored-pane world, as Player or Fixer, I am doomed to suffer and so are you. Engagement means I affect my world as well as myself. Sadly, my actions are always coming from a fixed relative position, and thus can only be right or wrong, good or bad, as viewed from that position. I can’t know things from any larger view, and frankly, I don’t want to. Being right is simply too much fun to give up for such small ideals as fairness and accuracy.
“Delighting in rightness” is the chief reason why so few people, percentage-wise, ever wake up from the dream. It is also why so few, in both percentages and pure numbers ever move from having had a pleasant event or series of events into being stable, abiding Awakeness. To wake up, you have to give up. Who wants to do that?
To be continued…