This is a time when those of our remaining vasanas (or core issues) which can make our Ascension a difficult passage are being raised to our awareness. You can see that mine are coming up with regularity.
Usually, however, the hardest part is to share them. Oh, I did this. Eeek, I did that. We don’t like to discuss our missteps.
So I’m going to discuss one of mine to break the ice. You’ll notice that I survive the experience.
I found myself in conversation with a friend the other day and the conversation reached a fork in the road.
And I watched myself choose between two options: I could start the next round of the conversation by registering a complaint or I could, as Kathleen says, choose the highest.
I actually caught myself looking at them as if they were two different instruments on the table: say, a spoon and a fork. Either choice would have been just fine with me. I was neutral about them.
As it happens, I didn’t get to choose. I was dumbstruck seeing myself considering making a choice to complain, aghast to realize that I had for so long been making that very same choice. As routinely as if I were buying a loaf of bread.
How could I possibly equate complaining with choosing the highest? The one just kept spinning misery and the other just keeps spinning joy.
Later: This is a moment of seeing how one has lived one’s life. It’s not the quick life review that happens near the moment of death or the full life review, called “the Judgment,” which happens much later, but a moment of clear seeing nonetheless. Both of the former reviews are like movies. This one was like a snapshot.
Seeing what I saw showed me that I needed to unravel the conditioned behavior called “complaining.” Len called it our “programming” today. I have to deprogram myself here. I’ve been making the wrong choice for most of my life.
Let’s start by unravelling the vasana. I looked for the earliest incident of it (going for its origin). I saw myself as a young child (runt of the litter) adapting to not being listened to.
I learned to complain. I saw that that got me the attention I didn’t get as a natural consequence of being a member of the family.
I did other things as well – I put a stick in the wheel; I feigned not caring; I fell back upon myself for most things, etc., etc.
My conclusion was no one cared about me; I’m alone. My decision was to fall back on myself and let others do what they wished. The consequence was that I became a complainer and a loner.
So here I am, having reached the end of the normal, Biblical span of life for a man (three score and ten) and, Steve, how did it all turn out?
I have to say I made a really bad choice in choosing to become a complainer. I need to look at this one.
Granted that, by working on my vasanas, I escaped the worst displays of complaining (well, except for a feeeeeeew egregious times), still I must have been a great burden to whomever I was with, a drag on things, a heavy weight. No gravitas here; just dead weight.
I certainly denied myself love, happiness, aliveness, satisfaction, and full self-expression. Bliss, peace, and joy – all the higher states.
I robbed myself of all the pleasures of life for the entire Biblical span of a man’s life.
I never got below my vasanas. I never escaped my conditioned responses. I never dropped the role and act of chief complainer. I proved an obstacle to relationship and ended up in a miserable place.
The fact that I woke up after the normal span of life is in a sense a bonus, an unexpected windfall. Had I dropped dead on my seventieth birthday and was now reviewing my past life with my spiritual directors on the other side, I would see my life to that point as having been a failure.
Yes, I also contributed in many ways, not saying I didn’t. But the fundamental challenge that faces all of us – to get below our vasanas and conditioned behavior – I did not succeed at.
Fortunately I didn’t keel over at age seventy. Apparently I’m not going to keel over any time soon so it’s time to drop the choices that never worked and make a few that will.
At the same time, I’m actually getting below a few of my core issues and lots of my conditioned behavior and making a few productive choices in sacred partnership.
I hope I’m through the Valley of the Shadow of Death that precedes acknowledging one’s act, script, number, racket, etc., on the way to becoming aware of them, and actually stopping what didn’t work.
But, oh, what a shock to catch myself in the act of actually considering running my misery-producing number and regarding it as one legitimate choice among many, when it’s the source of so much hardship.
Catching myself creating hardship. Granted it was only for a moment, but … oooooo…. that hurt.