I am writing from a personal point of view, but my intention is to point to the impersonal and not be self-indulgent. I remember watching American Idol and hearing Simon Cowell give singers feedback they were self-indulgent. Then other singers would be praised because their performances were transcendent. The transcendent singers were losing themselves in the process of singing whereas the self-indulgent singers were overly focused on themselves. This didn’t mean the quirks and idiosyncrasies of the transcendent singers weren’t apparent. Usually they were glaring. They just didn’t get in the way of the singing.
I use personal stories about my neuroses and shortcomings because they provide a form to jump off from. They are a springboard that helps me point toward the transcendence of the impersonal. I do my best to write in a way that references my experiences, but also points to the commonality of the human experience. My perception of reality, no matter how irrational and limited, is what I get to observe, and I explore how it fits into the larger spiritual context. My hope is that by sharing how I relate to my human foibles and frailties, my writing will point you in the direction of letting go of identifying with the constricting thinking of your ego so you can experience more freedom.
When writing, I often feel vulnerable. I feel exposed. I do it anyway, because I choose to ignore the voice of my inner critic and go beyond my self-focus. My intention is to write as honestly as I can, and to cut through the layers of self-judgment. I love the freedom I experience when I let go of the shackles of trying to look good and get it right. I experience liberation when I allow myself to express naturally, with the least thinking possible about how I am showing up.
I probably get more gripped by insecure thoughts than the average bear. I can get negative, pessimistic, and down on myself. I can also do the opposite and feel super human and optimistic. This is not a sign of mental illness or something that needs to be fixed. This is human. This is standard for the human condition. Experiencing our personal thinking as real is how we are designed. Experiencing the diversity of our thoughts and emotions is customary. Understanding that this is what is happening is unusual, but this is what gives us freedom.
We don’t have to wait for enlightenment to be free. Seeing that we naturally identify with our subjective, fleeting thoughts, and bring them to life so we experience them as real, allows us to take everything less seriously. Knowing that my experience comes via my imperfect, personal thinking frees me up. No matter how painful my personal thinking is, it causes less damage when I know it is not truth, and when I know it is temporary. No matter how intense my feelings are, I know they will pass. My transitory thoughts and feelings don’t define me. I know my thinking will shift and give me another experience in the blink of an eye, if I let it.
If I am feeling angry with my teenage daughter because she has left a mess in the kitchen (again), I don’t need to get worked up about my anger. I know it is not the situation that is making me angry — it is my thoughts. On another day there might be exactly the same situation, and I will have different thoughts about it. As a result, my feelings will be different. I may be amused by her behavior or feel compassion for her. This helps me to see how variable my thinking and experience can be.
It doesn’t mean that I don’t do anything about it. When I understand my feelings are a temporary state that reflect my passing thoughts, I am more likely to be less reactive, and be able to tune into my common sense about what the best way is to approach the situation with my daughter. I don’t need to follow a formula. When I am not gripped by my reactive thoughts, I can respond in the moment and be guided by my wisdom. And, when I do get gripped by my reactive thoughts and act out, I am likely to come back into balance and stabilize more quickly when I understand that I am reacting to my distorted thinking and not her.
That is the freedom — knowing my job is not to try to control my experience or to try to control my thinking. When I remember this, I let go. I allow all the thoughts, crazy and not crazy. I believe as many of them as I do. I have the full range of emotions associated with these thoughts, and I am okay.
I used to believe my job was to get to a level of understanding in which I would only be in a good mood and my peace would never be disturbed. Now I don’t see that as necessary, and maybe not even desirable. I find it much more reassuring to not care about what kind of mood I am in because I am fundamentally grounded in the understanding that I am fine, even when I don’t think I am or feel I am.
This may not sound very sexy or be a gripping headline that will capture massive clicks. People seem to like the “10 steps to feel better” approach to personal growth. Doing something allows them to temporarily forget their negative thinking, but I would prefer a less demanding way to experience peace of mind. I would rather let myself be, allow myself to have whatever experience I am having and experience greater peace because I am not judging my process. I am speaking of acceptance and surrender, not resignation. Resignation has a negative feeling associated with it. In resignation, we believe the illusion of the negative thoughts and feel powerless against that perceived reality. In acceptance, we let go of the burden of trying to change what is, and in the process wake up from our misidentifications so we can see more clearly.
You might think this lets me off the hook to behave badly and treat other people poorly. That was my fear in the past. I thought if I just let myself be I would sink into a never ending, deepening depression. I would never get anything done. I would be rejected by the rest of humanity and left to starve in isolation as I was ostracized by everyone. I can tend to be over dramatic that way. But the opposite occurred. By letting go and not trying to manage myself, my behavior improved. I do have my moments of upset and bad behavior, but they happen less. I get over them more quickly, and my mood is generally better. The opposite of what I feared would happen.
When I saw that my experience isn’t based on anything real. It just stems, from subjective thought. Everything had less weight, and I recognized behind my personal thinking is the formless energy of my true nature. The impersonal fact of thought. None of my thought content is real, but the fact that I think is. With this understanding, I became less attached to the content of my thinking, and more connected with the energy behind my thoughts.
I can’t expect my mood to stay constant. I can’t expect the content of my thinking to be consistent. I can’t expect my level of understanding to stay the same, but I do know the energy behind it all is a constant. I can relax into, even if I don’t understand it. I can trust the self-regulating nature of my innate intelligence.
This points me in the direction of the impersonal. It takes me beyond self-indulgence to transcendence. It lets me be in my human variability with changing levels of consciousness, mood, and behavior. It lets me accept others as they are in the different ways they show up in my life. It gives me permission to be me, and to stop trying to corral myself with self-judgment. I no longer use fear to try and mold myself into a good person. I realize I am just an ordinary person who is good sometimes and bad at others.Independent of this, my value never changes. Behind my personal expression is the unchanging formless energy of pure potential.
The less I judge myself, and the less energy I spend trying to manage and shape myself, the more I get to experience the truth of who I am. It seems the more I relax and let go, the more easily I get over myself and experience my formless nature. This can happen good mood or bad; nice behavior or naughty; mean or sweet; honest or fake. None of that matters. None of it is real.
There are simply moments, we all get to experience, when we are independent of our personal thinking. When we feel something greater flowing through us. When we shift from particle to wave. It doesn’t matter that we don’t always feel this. Our formless Authentic Self is there all of the time. But it sure feels good when we do. It feels great to break free and experience the dissolution of our fabricated self. In the meantime, relax and be you in all the glorious complexity, variety, and flavors that only you can bring to the world. You are not a fixer upper — you are perfect exactly as you are!