I thought I was through with the shock of seeing myself without my self-serving lens. But evidently not.
And, anyways, the occasion is too rich in learning to pass by so soon. All of life is only about learning anyways. Learning who we really are.
When I really get that, life becomes a sabbatical in the university library – turned loose and on my own – rather than a chore.
The change is similar to what Shankara says takes place when we become dimly aware of the Self or Atman:
“Once we become conscious, even dimly, of the Atman, the Reality within us, the world takes on a very different aspect. It is no longer a court of justice but a kind of gymnasium.
“Good and evil, pain and pleasure, still exist, but they seem more like the ropes and vaulting-horses and parallel bars which can be used to make our bodies strong. Maya [illusion] is no longer an endlessly revolving wheel of pain and pleasure but a ladder which can be climbed to consciousness of the Reality.
“From this standpoint, fortune and misfortune are both ‘mercies’ — that is to say, opportunities. Every experience offers us the chance of making a constructive reaction to it — a reaction which helps to break some chain of our bondage to Maya and bring us that much nearer to spiritual freedom.” (1)
That fits my own experience as well.
Here’s what happened since yesterday.
No sooner I had I written the article yesterday than I went to the supermarket and had a stack attack en route. A stack of vasanas went off. I couldn’t ignore it.
What I saw was: After having been shattered by the experience at age 7 of my Dad shouting at me from point-blank range, I constructed a facade and presented it to others as my real self.
I hid safely behind it, hoping nobody saw me.
I was dissociated, shattered, fragmented. And things seemed to settle into a pattern where I had a relatively-wobbly private and public self. No one knew the private self but me (who is that me? I never asked) and the two sides never met.
An illusionary self constructed another illusionary self and tried to sell it to others as the genuine article. Hmmmm… What chance does that have in the world of our future?
Having lost touch with my original innocence once already, I multiplied the damage by constructing a totally off-balance, dual image of myself in response. Privately angry and self-isolating; publicly generous and gracious.
I was Mr. Nice Guy at the office and the Old Troll at home.
I’m not concerned with Mr. Nice Guy. He gave at the office. Time, energy, caring. It’s the Old Troll at home that I’m concerned with.
I was an angry man in my relationships. I was a total pain to a lot of people. They in turn were very gracious in the process of bidding me farewell, I must say. I knew something was “wrong” with me but I never knew what or what to do about it. I chose to remain confused. (Confusion = Aware of my choices and not liking them.)
All the while of course I continued studying the literature of enlightenment, growth, and spirituality. My research was everything to me. Oh, it went well. But it was the only thing in my life that did.
This passed as “a life.” If one needs to get a life, this is not the kind of life to get.
Anything I say by way of explanation would seem self-serving. And rightly so. What was it Jim Carey said? “I find myself in contempt.”
I’m going to be merely descriptive to minimize my excuses.
I used my irritability to force other people around the Monopoly Board and on to the squares I wanted them to go to. I used it to wall myself off when I wanted time alone, which happened a lot.
I resorted to it far sooner than most people and went further than most. I was downright growly when I wanted to be alone (to research). And at other times.
I actually imported my dissociation into my marriage. Where before there were two of me – a public and a private me – my marriage now became the private me and my work life became the public me. I was not the same in both.
I was therefore living a lie, something I swore I’d never do. I lived a lie with my parents: The lie that everything was OK when my Dad was clobbering my Mom.
I vowed I’d never again “keep family secrets.” (Vasana.) I’d never live a lie again. And yet here I’d created a double life – angry at home and nice at the office – my reputation depending on keeping it hidden.
Gawd, this is painful. After years and years of enlightenment intensives and awareness workshops, I’m only now seeing how things really were. It’d take a ton of garbage lying on top of this to keep it hidden from my awareness through all the workshops I’ve done.
Someone once said that the truth will set you free but, before it does, it’ll piss you off. I’m going through several stages with this core issue (anger, grief, denial) and being pissed off with myself is definitely one of them.
It’s as if all the voices in me are having their say, everyone who wants to take a kick at me is having their turn – inside me – until all is quiet again.
And, if I just be patient enough to hear it all through, it’ll reach its natural conclusion and go on its way.
Resist and it’ll persist.
I regard what I’ve just said as what Sociologist Erving Goffman would have called a “deep, dark secret.” Survival depends upon me not revealing it to you. Taboo. Verboten.
There. I revealed it.
I feel the whole issue, the whole explosion of realization, with its aftermath of assimilation and response, has now passed through me like a wave. I’ve recovered my balance. The storm set off by seeing myself without my self-serving lens has passed.
I hear Werner saying, the truth is what’s so. It’s also so what? Now that I’ve experienced it through to completion, it fades away into memory like yesterday’s news.
I’m best advised to let the memory go and not repeat my error – or conditioned behavior.
My apologies to all I’ve been a total pain with. You were kind enough not to say it to me but I do get it just the same.
The process I just went through shows as clearly as I possibly can how the rising energies are squeezing everything hidden, denied, or misrepresented in us out of us before – as far as I’m aware – setting us free.
If we can only allow it to pass through us without resisting, simply observing everything we can about it, even the most shocking of realizations will pass through us and, in many cases, not return. And we’ll be left with the learning … and humility.
[A day later.]
I feel greatly benefited from having seen the truth of my past.
My knowledge of it went from the intellectual through the experiential to the realizational. Speak of a “bridge to now.”
Seeing the truth of a situation serves as a bridge to now.
I’m now more present. I’m even less attached to … almost anything … than I was before.
I feel humbled. I demonstrated the total banality of the Third Dimension while all along thinking I’d escaped it. I lived an inner life that was totally in opposition to the outer life I led and thought nothing of. As long as no one saw, I was OK.
None of that was what I set out to do in life. I’m sure of it.
But then again, maybe the assignment was to get thoroughly ensconced, screw up royally, and find one’s way out of it.
And write about it.
(1) Shankara in Swami Prabhavananda and Christopher lsherwood, Shankara’s Crest-Jewel of Discrimination. Hollywood: Vedanta Press, 1975; c1947, 24.