The social environment I was born into took for granted that I would identify with 'my' name and body and understand these things as my 'self.' Likewise, it took for granted that I would identify with 'my' bank account, and understand this as my worth. Living in this environment resulted in a deeply-felt yearning to connect to something much more integral and essential than my name, body, and bank account. Investigating this yearning-feeling within me led me to a deeply-felt knowing - I am not my name or my body, nor is my bank account my worth.
These are not mind-blowing revelations, it's pretty run-of-the-mill sort of stuff. However, to extrapolate from those two understandings and to then make decisions and live one's life holding an entirely different understanding as 'true' IS mind-blowing. And that's what I've been doing.
I have been cultivating a new perspective, investing my self in the cultivation and stabilization of an entirely different way of living my life. Not simply an intellectual understanding that denounces identification with name, body, and money, but an understanding grounded in experiential truth. And the only way to cultivate that understanding is to take risks, to see what holds up and what doesn't. I have been cultivating this new perspective, primarily, by investing in my prayer life, as well as my meditation practice, my relationships, and the work of TaKeTiNa. (Which is, essentially, a contemporary expression of an archetypal shamanic journey most probably performed by all of our ancestors as well as indigenous peoples worldwide.)
The systematic and, above all experiential dismantling of externally-imposed belief systems within me, and the replacement of those untruths with consciously chosen, True beliefs: this, in a nutshell, has been the point of my journey. So, what have I dismantled, and what have I cultivated instead?
Our worth, along with our ability to experience happiness, joy, abundance and prosperity, has nothing to do with our monetary value. We are our worth, and to that worth nothing can ever be added, nor taken away. Much of our society is based on the notion of accumulation, which is a fallacy - we collect nothing. Our possessions, learnings, experiences and relationships are all passing through us as we are passing through them - part of the ongoing continuum of giving and receiving.
Our essential nature, which is the same as the essential nature throughout all of creation, is a temporarily individuated facet of the Whole, born into linear time and physicality and imbued with free will. This free will allows us the possibility of consciously expressing that which we have always been, are right now, and always will be: God. This thus creates the possibility of God experiencing itself as God, while simultaneously knowing that it is experiencing itself as God.
God, un-individuated, knows itself as God yet it is unable to experience itself as God - it is simply abiding as what it is. By individuating itself into multiple expressions, thereby creating the possibility of relationship, the possibility of simultaneous experiencing/knowing arises. This opportunity necessitates free will, for if we had no choice but to express ourselves as divinity incarnate, we would not know that we were doing it - we would be the equivalent of a computer program executing it's commands.
In order to experience ourselves as God the many obfuscations, confusions, discolorings, and wounds that we have experienced throughout all of our previous and current incarnations must be integrated and healed. Paradoxically, these energies, which initially appear to keep us away from knowing ourselves as divinity incarnate, are in fact the bridge to that very knowing. It is by 'sitting in the fire' - by fully and consciously accepting, experiencing, and expressing our pain - that we move through it, it moves through us, and our experience of ourselves grows into something greater than it was before. Without the *apparently* contrasting experiences of disconnection from / connection to our true nature, there would be no possibility of the conscious recognition and knowing of our essence.
This apparent contradiction - THIS is God, THAT is not God - could, perhaps, be said to be the source of our collective disillusion... our collective 'forgetting' of our true nature, and thus the true nature of existence. By living our lives and making decisions from a polarized belief system which categorizes certain relationships and experiences as good and others as bad, we have already separated ourselves from the truth that God is all things, just as God is us and we are God. By seeing a particular person as undesirable or bad, we immediately create the possibility of having a 'bad' experience. Fundamentally, this results a perpetual need to pursue good experiences and avoid bad ones, leading us into a never-ending downward spiral of misunderstanding.
There is, of course, still choice - leaving us with the question of how to make choices from a non-dualistic perspective. The answer is to go within - to tune into the energetic currents of one's own being. These energetic currents, being always in communication with the energetic currents of the wider world, will constantly be offering guidance to our conscious mind. By tuning in, we can feel a flow which is always in motion, and choose to allow ourselves to 'go with the flow.' It is by honoring the flow of our intuition that we discover the possibility of living a life beyond the confines of duality. As Rumi said:
"Beyond ideas of rightdoing and wrongdoing, there is a field.
I'll meet you there."
This, essentially, is what he was talking about.
The hardest part of cultivating this understanding is stepping into the living of this truth. To trust that everything will be ok if we do tune in and 'go with the flow' can be the biggest challenge of our lives, especially if 'the flow' seems to be moving in a direction that appears unsafe. And indeed, as we commit to this path there will be many, many moments that feel unsafe, many many moments when it will feel as if we have decided wrongly or moved incorrectly, many moments when 'the flow' may lead us to a particular place, person, or experience, only to seemingly vanish, leaving us stranded, wondering if, in fact, we're just fucking crazy.
If one is persistent, and continues to trust, what eventually arises is the realization that THE FLOW NEVER GOES AWAY. What occurs whenever we feel disconnected is the triggering of our 'stuff:' our emotional baggage, karma, issues, neuroses, fears, whatever. Because 'going with the flow' means flowing in the direction of our true nature, it is inevitable that along the way we will encounter e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g that stands between us and our true nature, which gives us the opportunity to fully experience these emotions and energies, allowing us to integrate them. It is by not fully experiencing something that we allow it to come between us and the conscious experience of our true nature.
In my own life this time around, by far the biggest example of this is the psycho/sexual abuse I experienced as a child. As a child, there was no way I was able to stay present and allow myself to fully experience those moments. This resulted in those experiences lingering on as energetic baggage, and it is only by allowing myself to experience the *energy* of that past trauma that I have been able to integrate it and it has dissolved. The word "energy" is highlighted to differentiate "experiencing the energy of a past trauma" from "re-living a past trauma."
Traditional therapeutic approaches often maintain that people need to talk about their past trauma, to go back and re-visit the experience. Unfortunately, this can often re-traumatize people and doesn't necessarily lead to the dissolving and integrating of the energy. What has worked for me has been movement practices, prayer, and TaKeTiNa: safe spaces wherein I can allow repressed energy to arise, and as it arises I can then fully experience it and allow it to move through me as I simultaneously move through it. This often looks like screaming, wailing, sobbing, and thrashing, and the result is remarkably effective. I have consciously gone into, and cleared, close to 100% of my current-life and past-life energetic 'baggage' with this approach.
To offer a clarification on the way in which we experience ourselves as individuated expressions of the One True Thing - it is what is commonly referred to as the ego which allows us to know ourselves as individuals. If I was not able to experience myself as 'me,' I would not be able to experience you as 'you,' meaning I would not be able to enter into a relationship with you... leaving us in a state similar to the un-individuated One True Thing, knowing itself as God without experiencing itself as God. The ego is the self-aware component of our consciousness which enables me to know that I am me, and therefore to experience you as you, therefore creating the possibility of experiencing both my self and your self as divine while simultaneously knowing that I am experiencing both my self and your self as divine.
Obviously, from many perspectives one could say that our world, currently, is pretty fucked up. To cultivate and sustain this understanding while simultaneously engaging in the wider world, without turning away from all the pain and suffering, is not easy. Yet it is the only real way, because if we were to isolate ourselves for the sake of being able to sustain our perspective, that would indicate that we have labeled certain parts of life 'bad,' and thus launched ourselves back into the never-ending downward spiral of duality. God is all things.