Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Attachments and My Frame of Reference

I recently read a great little book by Don Miguel Ruiz, Jr. It is called The Five Levels of Attachment – Toltec Wisdom for the Modern World [Hierophant Publishing, 2013].
Writing in the Foreword to his son’s book, don Miguel Ruiz [acclaimed author of The Four Agreements] stated: “My son has spent a great portion of his life silently rebelling against the way other people live, creating many judgments and opinions. He did not realize that in doing so, he was becoming attached to those judgments and opinions, and his emotional reactions were becoming increasingly intense.” [Page ix]
“…Although we live in the present, our attachment makes us dream of a past that no longer exists, a past that is full of regret and drama. Our attachments also take us to an uncertain future full of fears that do not yet exist, making us feel unsafe.” The book goes on to explain “… how your belief system has been making all the decisions in the story of your life. … how you create your identity based on the opinions and judgments of others around you…. how our beliefs become intimately connected to our identity; or who we think we are. This belief of what the truth is in turn creates all our attachments and all our emotional responses.” The Five Levels of Attachment, pp x,xi
A Course in Miracles (ACIM) states throughout that we interpret our past in ways that support our life story. If we think of ourselves as a victim, we interpret our past that way – it supports our life-view. If we think of the world as dangerous and we must always be on the defensive and ready to attack any suspected aggressor – be they store clerks, county officials, salespersons or business owners – we will base that frame of reference on our interpreted past. By so doing we are continuing to live in our illusionary past. ACIM goes on to say that this selective interpretation of past events controls how we perceive things, events and people now. However, we believe to live this way is to “learn from our mistakes,” is normal, and is the right thing to do. ACIM reminds us, however: “The one wholly true thought one can hold about the past is that it is not here.” [W-1: 8: 2,1] If I cannot let go of my past, that’s where I will continue to live – over and over and over again.
In AA I learned a very similar message: “If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got.” Although primarily on a superficial or behavioral level, I began doing different things and began getting different results. I have since learned that this truism is applicable on far deeper levels. Rather than using this axiom for behavioral changes, I’ve used this on emotional levels, as well. When a strong emotion occurs in me I look for the “trigger” that also occurred. My emotion is real (e.g., as they are in a nightmare) but often the “trigger” is based on a selected memory of my past, which is as illusionary as my nightmare dream. If I can do something differently – deal with my trigger and not my emotion – I will begin getting different results.
The ACIM Text, in many places, puts it this way: “God knows you now.  He remembers nothing, having always known you exactly as He knows you now. The holy instant reflects His knowing by bringing all perception out of the past, thus removing the frame of reference you have built by which to judge your brothers.” [T-15: V, 9, 1-3] (emphasis mine)
My attachments or my frame of reference limit and constrict. As an illustration, Christianity, as lived by Jesus of Nazareth, can instill in us a wonderful sense of gratitude for a visceral experience of God’s love for ALL of humanity – including me. In gratitude we embrace the Golden Rule (Do Unto Others…) – the second of Jesus’ three commandments to His followers. In gratitude we live, day-by-day in the Now, in a faith that has banished our fears.
Or ….
Christianity can be a terrible fear-producer. It can reinforce my perception of myself (and all humanity) as an unworthy sinner, falling short of the glory of God. It can reinforce the concept that “evil” is real, independent, a force against God, that lives outside and independent of me. As such, evil is beyond my control and is a force I must always fear and protect myself from. Consequently, if I don’t understand you, I can feel threatened and frightened. In my selective interpretation of past events I have learned to associate that feeling of fear as an indication of the presence of evil. As a result I become convinced that I fear you because you are evil. Even though I say the “correct” words – “I love the sinner but hate the sin” – my actions betray my faith in the power of Love that God has shown me.
For example, if we’re talking about homosexuality, which many (not I) believe is a sin, how can we say we only hate the sin, when we’re working so hard to banish the sin as expressed by the sinner? Oh, yes we love the gay guy, but hate his gayness. In the meantime, we will keep our kids from him, support efforts to get him fired from his job, and continue to castigate him and all he does. But we say we really love him – we just hate his sin. What mental gymnastics we go through!
Instead of homosexuality, I could have said the same about general religious tolerance or intolerance. I could have said the same about Right-to-Life or Freedom of Choice. I could have said the same about supporting the less fortunate or punishing them for making poor life choices.
The following two quotes are among my favorites and say much the same thing in very different words – words that may resonate better with you:
From Mahatma Gandhi:
Your beliefs become your thoughts;
Your thoughts become your words;
Your words become your actions;
Your actions become your habits;
Your habits become your values;
Your values become your destiny.
From Earnie Larson, Stage II Recovery – Life Beyond Addiction, Harper & Row, 1985, p. 30:
What you live with you learn;
What you learn you practice;
What you practice you become;
What you become has consequences.
All this judgment, analysis, comparison, condemnation – of ourselves and of others – is based on our selective interpretation of past events. We have put these blinders on all by ourselves, as we were “socialized” by our parents, friends, teachers, ministers, relatives, movies, television, politicians and employers. Toltec wisdom calls this socialization process “domestication.”
We put the blinders on and we can begin removing these blinders, as well. We just have to be willing and not be afraid to ask for a different way of looking at life.
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 Jun, 2014

Copyright, 2014

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