Childhood: Learning to be a limited body-mind personality
We are One, we are many. We just cannot be explained.
We were born living as a number of paradoxes, which are impossible for the logical mind to comprehend. The most basic is the paradox of being both the finite and the infinite simultaneously. Because most of us were not greeted into this world by parents who recognized their own infinite nature, we were never fully welcomed in a way that acknowledged all of us. This has led us to deny parts of ourselves by either dismissing our own experience or interpreting one dimension of experience in terms of the other, thus “explaining away” things that pointed us to a fuller experience of ourselves.
When we were small children many of us had access to these aspects of ourselves. I’m not saying that children are born with a total sense of their divine natures, that takes further development. What I am saying is that children can often be in touch with natural dimensions of the soul that adults have lost touch with. Many children experience themselves as being something completely other than what their parents see them as. I can remember looking into the mirror as a child and thinking, “Who is that? Oh! So that’s who mommy is talking to.”
Our parents understandably believed that it was their job to pull our heads out of wonderment into the very real and limited human reality that they were experiencing. They told us who we were and drew our attention into identification with a body-mind personality.
The fact that we were also infinite, unfindable consciousness was usually ignored. The result was a feeling as a child that only our limits were being acknowledged and that we were not seen in our pure potentiality, which of course was true.
For many of us as children there seemed to be a sense that we were vast, indestructible, magical, beyond the limits of gravity, time and other so-called laws of the universe. It seems to shock some children that when they test the limits of their own powers their parents end up “being right” about reality. For many children this is quite a surprise, because they intuit that they are more than what they appear to be. The feeling that there is something wrong with our picture of ourselves gets to be too much, so eventually we “sober up” and trade in our sense of freedom and power for our parent’s version of reality. It was too uncomfortable so we began to discount our sense of our unlimited nature and pushed our feeling of being misunderstood deep down as far as possible. Nevertheless something always remains feeling not quite seen in our identity.
Because we are so much more than can be said and because we are such a Mystery no one could have possibly conveyed what we are in words.
Our parents may have been very loving people and yet for most of us, at birth we are not given This Welcoming ( but rather mad ) Message:
“Welcome! You are The Divinely Human Mystery of both Emptiness and Form.
You are an absolutely unique Incarnation of the Soul of the Universe.
You are The Heart, The Divine Person, Beyond all You see and feel!
You are also Living Spirit, The Divine Pulse, Flowing in all You see and Feel!
You are also Flesh and Blood, Living Earth reduced to all you see and feel!
You are somehow both The Vast Infinite Empty Space of Consciousness as well as finite limited phenomenal matter.
Amazingly even your phenomenal nature can also be experienced as a multidimensional field of energy!
All the many experiences and realms are available for you here! You are here to explore all and be all that you can be. Welcome to life, welcome to life as a human being!!”
The internal sense of identity in the child is confused because of being in denial of these other intuited dimensions. Children are very adaptive and take on their new roles, often with great enthusiasm.
And yet there can also be a feeling of something not quite all there. For many of us this developed into feelings of being not enough, which then manifested as low self-esteem, and for some of us it developed into over-accomplishment (as a cover), to achieve a sense of solidity and convince ourselves that we are really here.
What are we?
The Embodiment of a number of logical contradictions.
These dimensions of Being are logical contradictions. Because this can be confusing to the mind we tend to want to cling to one of them as being really true and deny that the others exist. This seems to be necessary in order to sort ourselves out and see the reality of each dimension. We attempt to clairify one aspect of our reality at the expense of the others, until we can hold paradox.
At a certain time when we are beginning to identify with our body/mind personality and the “mundane realistic reality” it engages in, it may be important to dismiss other higher soul dimensions as “fantasy”. At another time when we uncover the spiritual energetic soul dimensions it may be that same body/mind personality is seen as “the flesh” or “mortal” and is then considered our “lower self”. And at yet another time it may be that when we discover our nature as Conscious Emptiness beyond form, that not only the body/mind personality but even soul nature are seen to be illusion or “maya”.
This is all true enough for the sake of comparing one dimension with another, for the sake of discrimination. But fully acknowledging all that we are requires that we embody and live every dimension, regardless of the paradox of being contradictory truths all at once.
Embodiment means to be all of it: Empty Impersonal, Energetic interpersonal and individual personal.
Even when we realize emptiness there may be the annoying sense that we keep showing up and behaving as if we have or are “a self” even when we’ve discovered the truth beyond that. This can be quite frustrating and cause us to doubt what we know.
Because our total Being is a stretch beyond logic there is a sort of identity crisis which must happen for full embodiment , an identity shift even beyond recognizing emptiness or no-self into recognizing the Onlyness of Emptiness and Everything (including our human sense of self).
The fact is that we are both beyond our personal stories and we have personal stories at the same time! This can be confusing to a mind that feels that life must be understandable logically.
What about ego?
Some of us tell ourselves the story that we have no story.
Some of us would like an easy straightforward solution to paradox.
Many spiritual folks believe the reason for the confusion is simple: you are struggling with the feeling that you don’t exist simply because you don’t.
They feel that If you would just acknowledge that you are not a “little me in a body” and continue to deconstruct the sense that you are an individual separate being until it totally dissolves then you would be free of all conflict.
Yet it seems to me that this can become just another form of seeking for perfection in form even after we’ve realized emptiness. If we are clear that we are not confined to our personal human nature, why should it be excluded? It really can’t be.
My own clear sense is that unless and until this “little me” is recognized, encouraged and welcomed into full existence then one of the most important pieces of conscious embodiment is left out. This is exactly what needs to be welcomed!
We need to be careful that the notion that the “little me” or “ego” or “separate I sense” does not exist does not become a new fixed position, a new dogma that we cling to in hope for relief. The new story for many of us then becomes that we don’t have a story or that we are not our story. And of course we aren’t, and we are!
Do we exist?
I find that arguments about whether we “exist” or not really miss the point. For me it is more useful to ask “What are the ways in which we exist, and what are the ways in which we don’t?”
Of course at one level we can say that nothing exists, because everything is made of other things. However, it is equally true that everything exists AS being made of other things.
Even so some folks claim that the ego does not exist in a special sense, even though they will acknowledge the existence of their body.
The argument usually goes something like this: “Isn’t the sense of being a person just made up, just a story made up of thoughts?”
My sense of that: True enough, yet the operating system on a computer is also just insubstantial information strung together. If you say that your OS doesn’t exist, then you should try running your computer without one. Similarly, the “ego/ personality” is made of thoughts and feelings and it also exists in the same sense as your operating system: as software, not hardware.
And yet the small sense of self can open into a larger sense of itself if it is seen and felt and acknowledged. The small sense of self is not a fixed entity and it is effected and changed over time by both being held and loved. It is also effected and changed when attention rests in the The dimension of Emptiness. This is an organic process that does not reject any part, but rather transforms everything by reaching into the Transcendent “higher” without aversion to the human “lower”.
It doesn’t look a certain way.
Some folks think about embodiment as a kind of “walking your talk”, saying things like “You know that you’re One with everyone, now act like it”. But while Embodiment (as I mean it) does involve an ever evolving sense of honesty and integrity, it is wholly organic and not necessarily the result of superimposing any ideal on yourself. It is an ongoing individual transformation born of internal friction ( an inner fire) that is primarily experienced by you and may never be recognized by others, because it does not necessarily fit any model of spiritual behavior that others may have.
Part of embodiment is allowing ourselves to feel and be present in the body, allowing energy and attention to penetrate all of us. Encouraging people to allow this is a part of the total process, but there’s more to it than that. Our sense of ego must be included into this total life of transformation.
Unless this “Little me” is recognized, invited in and celebrated we are not talking about a fully embodied realization of consciousness. When we do include it, because the “Little me” is not a fixed “thing” but a living process there is an organic transformation that happens over time such that the smaller sense of self opens into an integration ( and even surrender) into the Total Being of Onlyness. That’s where this leads.
Be As You Are and Be All That You can Be: Living Paradox
A fully embodied realization of consciousness is a continuous process of embracing every apparent limit that we find ourselves to be involved in and through that embrace bringing it into an ever expanding sense of ourself. I would like to invite every aspect and possible sense of yourself to come forward and be alive as this life now. Let there be no part of you that is held back from it’s full flow of being. This is our birthright and is possible through the graceful transmission of Total Being.
Be as you are: Simply Rest in Consciousness,
As an individual: Radiate forward to be all that you can be.
In a nutshell
We are first of all:
1) The Timeless Unmanifest: The infinite expanse of formless conscious space: Emptiness.
2) The Manifest in Time: That which is arising in the midst of the formless consciousness, that which has form and is experienced in two ways:
a) As a separate individual material person in a world of other individual separate objects and persons.
b) As energy that exists in a field of mutually interpenetrating fields of energy or presence.
So we are three different dimensions of being which are altogether contradictory but all equally what we are:
1) We are a Dimension of Conscious Emptiness.
2) We are a dimension of Conscious Spirit or energy.
3) We are a dimension of Conscious body/mind personality.
The trick is that we are all three of these simultaneously. Clarifying and deepening our experience of being all three of these is living as the paradox itself.