It is not so unusual that we struggle with what we have been conditioned to be, with the feelings and emotions that come out of that, searching to find something authentic in what we have come to be. It can all be so confusing. We have all attempted to find our way in a world that seems to be in chaos. Our efforts to find some meaning, security and comfort in our ways and routines are often not enough in addressing our confusion about it all. That we grasp on to our fixed and insular ways of seeing ourselves and the world is pretty understandable in that it is something concrete that we feel that we can grasp on to. But there are consequences for this static and insular envisioning and for me the most significant one being that the reality and truth of it is extremely questionable.
In the book “Entering the Castle” by Caroline Myss, she writes about a man who doesn’t feel that he has what it takes to be more conscious because it involves feelings of being alone and being treated unfairly and
why should he be one of the few that acts in a responsible way when others can be free to do what they want.
Acting in a conscious way isn’t rewarded in that it is not seen in a positive way by most and having to be non judgemental is not easy as he can’t see how he can forgive certain behaviours and actions by others and the way certain individuals are, nor does he want to see it differently. He as well can’t see letting go of pleasure producing things and ways and of feeling better than some others because he has achieved an education and earned status from hard work. He says that he can’t let go of deception of minor lieing in social avenues because it is a required thing to create a perception of what one is and it is important in getting ahead. He ultimately perceives himself to be moral and ethical in the way he is refraining from criminal ways.
Caroline doesnt criticize this but reflects that becoming spiritual is not about perfecting ourselves but about practice. We practice in ways that expand our consciousness, that means beyond the limits of the world and I that we have come to believe in. And all the things and ways that he grasps on to and desires fall away as we authentically look at our fear and how it binds us. In so doing we grow in our consciousness. We dont willfully eliminate things about ourselves or make effort to be other than what we are. The expanding of consciousness occurs in a more natural way when we authentically examine ourselves and our life in ways that promote a more experiential understanding than we have known. We ultimately examine our beliefs because we understand that belief is passive. Faith is active and examining belief involves actively questioning our ways and the concepts and thinking behind them and what we are and believe ourselves to be in a way that is open and authentic. It is an inward examination not subject to the scrutiny of a checklist or another authority providing an external opinion of whether or not we are spiritual or a good person or not.
It is not an easy thing to step away from conventional ways of being, relating and understanding until we begin to see that they reinforce a false sense of security, and limited sense of reality that we have not in the past questioned largely because we do not want to face the fear that underlies it all. Unfortunately it really was not our choice to be conditioned the way we were. Prior to the memory of it occurring I am aware that I resisted the conditioning imposed on my development. I was despondent in that insularity and disconnection that was being imposed on me and I found it extremely difficult to find deep meaning in life. Unfortunately given the collective consciousness there were limited options. So I understand that when we do find meaning in a concrete notion of our self and family and nation that it can be a frightening experience to have to let go of that.
So what can we do but practice and be honest in examining our perceptions and beliefs and try to be open and authentic in our exploration and dialogue with those who we have an agreement to do so with. We will find ourselves clinging to a certain fixed sense of self at times and the ignorance that is part of it. We can meditate or pray as a way of opening and readying ourselves to letting go in order to face deeper truths. That is what we must do if we are to deepen our consciousness.
In deepening our consciousness and understanding we come to see in others what we have experienced and it can contribute to a more compassionate understanding and way of relating. The alternative is a very static and closed response to others taking refuge in a fixed and unexamined notion of self that tends to be rigorously offended and defended, the ultimate consequence of this being conflict. We all have this quality of defending that is a part of our conditioning. Fortunately with practice it can be easier to become aware of and move beyond it.