Encounter groups, the est Training, enlightenment intensives, Zen, karate, Vipassana, History, Sociology, Anthropology, Personnel, Change Control, Journalism, the Immigration and Refugee Board – all of them contributed something that I’m drawing on now.
(I hope you didn’t overlook the humor in that list of disciplines. According to the Boss, I’ve been on Earth eight times. What else would a veritable newcomer study but History, Sociology, and Anthropology? Anthropology? The study of humanity? I love it. I think it’s quite funny.)
I find myself turning to these disciplines as the unwanted conditions of awakening present themselves for recognition and processing.
By “unwanted conditions” I mean the thoughts and feelings that nobody likes that may accompany a spiritual experience. The sweetness and light are fine. No problem there. Bring it on.
But a spiritual awakening reorganizes the self and brings up all kinds of unwanted feelings and rejected thoughts. Those are not as easy to deal with.
And like so many others, I start out being enrolled in them. I act as if they are me and that I have to act them out. Then at some point I remember: hey, these are upsets and they need to be processed and they cannot be processed unless they are up. I have work to do. I need to process this upset.
This morning it was arrogance that shook loose. And that had to be processed carefully. To discuss arrogance requires discussing why one would be arrogant in the first place and that is a very delicate discussion.
When that was complete the next unwanted condition presented itself: loneliness. Loneliness is another very difficult matter to discuss. No one wants themselves to be seen as arrogant and lonely. We all want to be seen as balanced and popular. But we get what we get and that is what we have to process. So tonight it was loneliness.
And at first I did what we all do. I phoned my friends to help me ward off the loneliness that had been shaken up by this spiritual experience. Luckily they were all busy on a Saturday night which obliged me to actually face my loneliness. At the point when I had finished calling my last friend, it suddenly struck me.
Steve, you’re having an upset. Loneliness is an upset. Process it. Give thanks that you’re having an upset because you can only process it when it’s up. You have the opportunity to complete the experience of loneliness. Don’t pass it by.
I should add that I’ve done my major processing of loneliness. When I separated from my wife some seven or eight years ago, I remained with the experience of loneliness for six months, at no time trying to do anything to ease it, but remaining in the experience of it until it lifted. It took forever, but finally one day it did lift. And I knew that after that any future experience of loneliness would be a piece of cake because of that mammoth session.
And tonight gave me an opportunity to prove that theorem. Ordinarily I would have to be with the loneliness, get an image of the original incident in which I experienced the loneliness and refused to complete the experience, and then be with the original incident until I found myself on the other side.
The original incident was the death of my Mom in a housefire. Oh, here come the tears again. Whew! My brother and I were together when we got the news, listening to a new Leonard Cohen album, with Suzanne on it. You know the album. The one with the woman on the cover, standing in the midst of flames? Great album to be listening to when you receive the news that your mother has died in a housefire.
I failed to grieve. I simply got in my car and drove across Canada to begin university in Ottawa, ignoring the pain. I became a dark and brooding young man, angry at life, split off, mixed up – well, a normal guy in his mid-twenties with an arrow in his heart.
And oh so lonely for his mother. How much we’d been through only to have it end this way. Story, story, story.
So at the base of my loneliness was missing my mother.
These unprocessed upsets are the stuff of our unwanted conditions which come back at a moment like this, a moment of awakening, shaken up from the mud and clouding the water.
I know I’ve successfully processed that upset because this present bout of loneliness began at around 6:00 this evening and it was over by 8:00. It did not require me to find the original incident and be with that incident until the feelings were complete. I merely had to recognize that I was in an upset and remain with the feelings until they lifted. That’s a mini-process, as far as I’m concerned.
So far I’ve had to process arrogance and loneliness as a result of this awakening. If someone didn’t know what I know about processing upsets, right now they’d be fighting with their spouse and contemplating divorce. So I count myself lucky.
No, more than that. I’m selling myself short and I have to stop that. I actually invested tens of thousands of dollars in growth groups while other people were buying houses. I made the right choice. I’m tired of not acknowledging myself. That behavior pattern has to stop.
But the thing I want to focus on is that events like awakenings, not so much transformational moments which are usually entirely blissful while they occur, are not uniformly pleasant. They may have unpleasant side-effects. They may raise to the surface feelings that we don’t want or like to feel.
But it’s exactly those feelings that we need to experience and complete. This sounds crazy because who wants to endure a feeling that doesn’t feel good? And yet we must if we are to complete them. Because I spent six months enduring loneliness after my separation, I never need to be imprisoned in it again. That’s the value of completion. Too bad we don’t teach this in school.
And this very subject is what you hear Gabriel, Hilarion, Melchizedek, the Arcturians, Pleiadians and everyone else coaching us on. They are all telling us: complete your old business. Now you see how my old business came up after what most of us consider a wonderful event – an awakening. So this is one example of how unfinished business can come calling and make itself known at the worst possible moments.
There is no substitute for standing in the face of our unwanted conditions and experiencing them through to completion. Fear, arrogance, loneliness, hatred, and anxiety are all unwanted conditions that must be experienced through, “sourced,” flattened, not projected outwards, not worn as a mask and spoken through. They must be observed, experienced, and known completely, This is what Krishnamurti meant by “passive awareness.”
Who knows what will come up next? I feel more stable now, but I may not be out of the woods yet. This is the work that must be gone through after an experience. It cannot be ignored or avoided. It comes calling, like an orphan, wanting to be understood, loved and accepted.