Psychologist John Enright used to say that “being wrong is to the ego what death is to the body: it is ego-death to be wrong.” (1) And waking up can often look as if it’ll involve us in being or seeing ourselves as “wrong.”
We may find ourselves in the position of looking as if we’ve been wrong for a very long time, which no one likes, but the sooner we cough up the truth, the sooner we stop continuing to be and look wrong, so to speak.
Werner Erhard used to argue that even rats were smarter than we are. They learn not to keep going down a tunnel with no cheese. But we go down the same tunnel with no cheese forever. Hiding the truth about ourselves and acting as if it isn’t so is going down a tunnel with no cheese.
Nothing can be scarier and look as if it promises more significant harm than to wake up to something embarrassing about ourselves and come clean on the matter. Oooooh, how we’d rather run away.
But, in the end, it takes only an instant to cough up the truth and it ends the pain forever whereas, if we hide the truth, we feel the pain forever.
Prior to getting into the habit of calling myself on my own stuff and lies, primping and image management, I used to think I’d die from the experience of fessing up. But we don’t die. And in fact, after a while, it isn’t even very hard or painful to call oneself on one’s own stuff.
I remember breaking through the barrier of waking up to my own ways in the three-month encounter group I did at a residential growth center in around 1976. I spent what seemed like endless weeks pfaffing around, avoiding the issue (whatever the issue was), and then suddenly I got the hang of it and began to reveal myself more and more.
And not only reveal myself but listen to others reveal the most intimate details about me after our love-making or call me on stuff I hoped beyond hope was invisible. But nothing was invisible. Everything went into the pot and got stirred around.
And finally none of it mattered. If someone had told me I had a … well, a male appendage for a nose, and it was true, I wouldn’t have blinked an eye. (Can’t speak as freely as we did then.)
The very first insight I came to in that process was that we were only invisible to ourselves. Everyone else saw us plainly, or so it was in the encounter group.
Once we’ve accustomed ourselves to telling the truth about ourselves, we find an unaccustomed freedom from bondage to the lie, the cover-up, the constraints of self. We emerge from the box I call the constructed self and find ourselves to be more supple than we could possibly imagine.
As I said in an earlier article, (3) I use the practice of testing something out and trying it on to gentle myself into the truth of the matter. That could be trying on what someone else says about me. Or it could be trying on a status or a role that Archangel Michael or the Arcturians are trying to wake me up to.
If I can grow into what they say, if the way is clear and insights come to me consistent with the role or status they talk about, then I provisionally accept their account. And by living from that space, I gradually awaken into it.
If I can expand into it, then that’s a pretty good indication that what they say is probably true. If it doesn’t fit, or I don’t resonate with it or expand into it, then I toss it aside.
Waking up is hard to do but it’s where the real power in life lies.
(1) John Enright, Talk at Cold Mountain Institute, April 10, 1976.
(2) est Trainer Randy McNamara, est Training, 11 Jan. 1981.
(3) As discussed in “How to Work with the Novel and Strange,” July 14, 2013, at http://goldenageofgaia.com/2013/07/how-to-work-with-the-novel-and-strange/