In the comments of the preceding (October) entry there are some questions that I never got around to answering. It has been a very busy time with me, but a fun time, as I have gotten to spend some time with all three children. In addition, I have put a lot of time and energy into the lessons of the Course. Anyway, I am trying to catch up on some things, including answering these questions from the blog.
You can verbalize a question that you already know the answer to. If someone asked you that question you'd give them a perfect answer. However, making the effort to sincerely verbalize a question opens us up to a new and deeper or more refined understanding of the answer. We can only grow in sadhana or self-development by being open to seeing or experiencing something new. Sometimes this rattles our pride by having to admit that a cherished belief is not actually true. When we do this an ever greater reality can replace it.
Q: I have a question about something you said in my current lesson. Someone asked if we are free of samskaras when we leave this body. You noted that a samskara remains with the subtle body. What I didn't understand was your distinction between anger--a samskara--and "desires and passions" which "remain behind at the time of physical departure." How is a passion or desire different than a samskara like anger?
A: You are asking a question that comes from lessons later on in the Course, and might seem irrelevant to those who have not gotten to that section of the Course where we explore the kama rupa. Anger, a common samskara, or subconscious tendency, is indulging in negative energy because God has created His creation imperfectly, and we get angry because we don't accept the way it is. 'Reality' cannot be anything other than what it is meant to be. It is our work on ourselves to be completely in harmony with it, regardless of how it manifests at any particular time.
Anger does not fit in among 'passions and desires,' which make up the kama rupa, which departs from the subtle body and hangs around for a while as the physical body decomposes. It is where the idea of 'ghosts' came from, as they can sometimes be seen by someone with subtle vision. Since it is a body of passions and desires, the 'ghost' will probably appear as unpleasant or scary, which we tend to associate with ghosts.
There is a lot to learn about the phenomenon called 'death,' as in reality there is no such thing as 'death' and nothing ever 'dies.' The consciousness or soul that occupied that physical body during a cycle of karma simply goes through a transition of 'shedding' the physical body much like a snake sheds its skin. As you know, we explore all this quite thoroughly in the lessons of the Course.
Q: When I read "We create our lives through whatever we think and believe in the moment." my mind tells me we just react to whatever appears in the mind. The true creator is the one who makes thoughts appear in my mind. If there is any good I can do it is living consciously, so that I have experiences and I can learn lessons from these experiences, which then enable me to have better preferences.
A: Since you didn't really ask a question, I'll ask you a few: 'Who' reads and comprehends what is read? 'Who' is it that thinks, believes, or creates? 'Who' is the One that makes thoughts appear in the mind? Is it totally coincidental? 'Who' is it that lives consciously, that has experiences, or that can learn lessons from these experiences. If we don't understand 'Who' it is, we're just repeating words, and everything else repeats itself as well. When we discover 'Who' this is, we break free from all other stuff, and see that it was an imaginary and temporary appearance. Perhaps this isn't an 'answer,' but it gives a lot of juicy stuff to contemplate and meditate on. The ultimate answer will come from within yourself, from higher Mind.
Q: How do we know when something comes to us unsought? We still had to create it all on one level, right?
A: Ha, very good question, but very subtle as well. We know when something comes to us unsought because here it is. Whatever life situation presents itself to you--as karma--has mostly, if not entirely, come unsought. The best way to free ourselves of 'unsought karma' is to be in harmony with it and detached from it--so that its existence has no impact on our experience.
It is true that we created it all on one level. So, regardless of whatever situation or relationship is present now, it was created by us on some level, perhaps unconsciously, and it all led up to this.
Even though its origin was our own creative energy organizing itself into particular thoughts, which became habitual and predominant, and these thoughts manifested themselves as our physical reality today, we can still remain established in equanimity, untouched by any temporary appearance or assumption.
So, on one level, everything comes to us unsought. And on a physical, objective level, whatever feels real now was at some point, (perhaps prior to this incarnation, or at least not consciously remembered), what we did to initiate this particular karmic vision or experience. Very rarely, and only with a refined intellect, can we make conscious connections between the cause and the corresponding effect.
In truth, it doesn't matter if we know the original cause of whatever is affecting us now. Our primary aspiration can simply be to be in harmony with all the 'effects' that temporarily determine our present experience. All we have to do is to simply remain in harmony with it, so that we are never personally affected by some objective condition we have identified with as part of our own individual life.
So much more can be explored on this subject. This takes place over the process of participating in the Course. The feedback we receive from many participants around the world speak of all the ways participating in the Course has transformed their lives. Because it has the power to transform and lighten the lives of those who openly and sincerely participate, through word-of-mouth others can learn what is available. There are no teachers or students. We are all participants, and before long we realize we are all simultaneously participating in this great game of Life together, some, perhaps, more consciously than others.
Q: My current lesson urges me to maintain my highest state regardless of whatever challenge may arise. It's been fruitful to contemplate "highest state" as that implies a judgement of high and low and thus duality, and "maintain" implies I can actually "do" it. I've become aware of a sense that I can't actually maintain such a state but rather, it in truth maintains me. I may appear to fail again and again, slipping into reactivity, yet something else waits, sustaining me until I'm finished, ready to welcome me when my pride is beaten once again and I let go of trying so hard. So--is it just about awareness and identification? Identify with the one that waits for me, and bring my awareness back to it again and again even as old tendencies arise and play out?
A: You are seeing the limitation of language. Of course there is no 'high' state or 'low' state, and of course you can't really 'do' anything to maintain it. Of course you identify with the One that waits for you, but to do that you have to realize there is no 'me.' It's not waiting for anyone, and sooner or later, depending on our openness and consistency, we realize fully that we are the One we always thought was waiting for us; we realize no one was waiting on anyone. In reality there is no such thing as 'waiting,' except as a state of mind.
There are two people in a 'waiting room' somewhere. One is bored and restless and itching to get it over with and get out of there. The other is focused on her own inner bliss, on the divine joy that exists without any cause. Bliss is an aspect of our true and eternal Self, and never fluctuates. Only our attention on it fluctuates. It is up to us to determine at any given time how we will focus our attention.
There is an important, even essential, section of the Course titled "Attention, Conscious Intent, and Will." The section explores the connections and relationships among these three significant qualities. It very much addresses the essence of this question. If you are currently in this section, be aware that it is very important to understand this section before we can go much further. If you haven't gotten there yet, you have it to look forward to--meanwhile focus on your current lesson. If you are already past that part of the Course, you might be well served to go back and review those particular lessons. You'll be surprised at how much you understand in a deeper way, and even how much you'll understand for the first time. If you don't participate in the Course, well, what can I say? I suppose you could at least contemplate the relationships among those three qualities--Attention, Conscious Intent, and Will. We have to understand these relationships in order to know how life really works.
Q: My current lesson has me realizing just how attached and based in perceiving ‘oppressor/oppressed’ or ‘villain/victim’ my ego is. This way of perceiving and conceptualizing entirely dominates how I understand and relate to life. Although I have made a small and comfortable, cautious dent in changing this, I realize how deeply entrenched in this perception that I am. I deeply base identity and choices on this basis, I let it dominate my outlook and my choices, and wonder, "can I drop this?" Yet I am eager and enthusiastic to change this endless cycle, this addiction and habit of 'pleasure/pain', 'good/bad', 'win/lose' to equanimity; how refreshing, rejuvenating, inviting, restful, and wondrous this realm feels as I approach it.
A: You had to engage is some meaningful contemplation to have expressed all that you spoke of in your 'question'. It is very good that you had some realization regarding "‘oppressor/oppressed’ and ‘villain/victim.’" These are very alluring roles and make for some good drama. Never be the oppressor, and never be the victim.
Some people can't keep from being the oppressor, and they (subconsciously at least) have a strong desire to be in control, even if it includes manipulating others. When we try to control or manipulate another, or the way he or she lives, we create very unpleasant karma for ourselves. It is very important to learn how to simply 'live and let live.' Being judgmental and/or self-righteous is so contracting, we have to actually go into a space of pain in order to experience them. See everything as God's play. If we can do this, we can flow along with all that life has to offer with great serenity, which leads to unconditional love.
I feel we have covered a lot, certainly more than anyone will grasp with a single reading. But it is here if you want it. It is not light reading. It is perhaps more than a total 'beginner' is ready for, although who knows for sure? If you enjoyed this blog entry on any level, and don't yet participate in the Course, please at least read the introduction and complimentary first lesson. If something is certain to be helpful in unexpected ways, why not give it a try?
To get the introduction and complimentary lesson, simply write to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The lessons are also available in Spanish and French.
Above all things, enjoy a great and happy New Year. The way we begin a New Year sets a course of action for the whole year, so be at your best. In fact, if you ever really start being at your best, you might never want to stop.
Love to all.