Sunday, January 19, 2014

Allowing Rather Than Doing

I haven’t done exhaustive research in my files, but if I had to guess, I would conclude the most often asked question or comment I get has to do with someone wanting to implement changes that will alter their perception of a situation, person or event. Representative of these kinds of comments is one I recently received from a subscriber in the UK:
[With her permission]: “I really look forward to reading your posts. Thank you. You talk lots about if I change my perception my world will change.  I think I’m beginning to get it. I am starting on a new endeavour to keep my focus on the better aspects of my life, rather than focusing on what drives me bonkers.“
I’m pleased my posts or messages are resonating, and I am pleased at the willingness this writer has to change her perception. However, when we do this – and believe me, I’m just as guilty as anyone – we have put the cart before the horse. We don’t change our perceptions. We allow it.
I remember when I used to believe and state: My spiritual “job” is to shine my light. Then it was pointed out to me: “That belief, Don, still leaves you in control. Your ego is still running the show” 
“What do you mean?”
“Your ‘job’ is not to shine your light, but to allow your light to shine.”
Over time I began to understand the significance of making that little shift.
Grammatically, the sentence moves from active to passive – and that is truly significant on several levels. I really do become passive. Not in a namby-pamby way, but in a manner that underscores “I am not in control; my ego is not running things.”
How do I do that? How do I make that shift? How do I make myself passive?
Technically, I don’t. My True Self is an already-loved eternal spirit full of loving light. The ego-thoughts I choose to keep in my focus dims this loving light. All I need to do is be willing, ask the Holy Spirit for a different way of seeing, and still my mind enough to hear the whispers of guidance. That’s it. That’s what ACIM suggests. But that’s really tough for me to do – especially when I’m in the middle of sitting on my pity-pot, enjoying my martyrdom, or relishing my righteous anger.
Sometimes, I do not literally ask the Holy Spirit for a different way of seeing things. The Holy Spirit responds to an honest and willing desire to change. In my case the very first time this happened to me the words that came out of my mouth were not, “I need to see things differently,” but: “I can’t do this anymore. I need help.” Simple. Honest. Sincere.
That straightforward surrender (being Honest, Open and Willing – HOW) was the beginning of a 4-month process that started with getting a personal accountant to put me on a budget and ended with beginning my recovery from alcoholism.
Whenever I try to change my perception, that’s exactly what happens. I try – emphasis on “I.” My perception doesn’t really change. My ego has usurped my willingness and taken control of the process. It says to me: “I know what you need. Put yellow ‘stickies’ all over the place. I’ll find a mantra you can recite twice daily. I’ll make sure you feel better because I’ll make sure you are convinced you’re doing the right thing and are better than that ‘idiot’ you work with or more magnanimous than your partner.”
When I think this way about changing my perception, it suddenly has become a task for me to accomplish rather than a shift that I have allowed. When shifting my perception is a task for me to do, the shift never occurs. I get even more frustrated, angry and exasperated. It is still ego-driven. When the shift I have allowed to happen actually occurs, I’m generally not even aware of it.
I remember when I first realized my compulsion to drink was lifted, I was not aware of how and when that happened. I was in an AA meeting and someone was sharing about her compulsion and wondering aloud when it would disappear. I suddenly realized it had been a long time since I had felt the compulsion to drink. No thunderclap. No singing angels. My compulsion had just faded away. The 12 Steps had promised me a new sense of spirituality, if I was honest, open, willing and diligent in working them. That sense of spirituality did indeed occur – but when? Where? How? I can attest to the reality of my spirituality (in fact it is the basis of my current, 20-year spiritual path) but I have no clue as to exactly what happened to me. All I know is that I worked the Steps and I am different.
I remember sitting with a subordinate at work – a fellow I had worked with several years earlier. He told me, “Don, what has happened to you? I knew you back then and know you now. You look the same but you are totally different. I didn’t like nor respect you then. I do now. I wanted you to know that.” I answered him by telling him of my journey in recovery and the personal growth that was occurring.
I have experienced the reality of changes in my perception when I have allowed it. I have also experienced the frustration, anger, and disappointment when I have labored to make my perceptions change in ways that are meaningful to my ego.
You’d think I would have gotten the message by now. Think again. I still fall in the trap of trying to figure out how to better my life. Trust me – I’m still very familiar with frustration, anger, and disappointment!
I hope this helps.
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 January, 2014

Copyright, 2014

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