We explored some interesting territory this morning. One of our classmates expressed a learning experience a short time ago, realizing the infinite spaciousness of the universe we live in, and how insignificant we are in comparison.
Here I am sitting in a room, which is part of the condo that Margo and I are living in, which is part of a neighborhood, which is part of the city of Louisville, which is part of the state of Kentucky, which is part of the United States, which is part of North America, which is part of planet Earth, which is a part of this solar system that we travel around this rather insignificant star called the Sun, which is part of the galaxy we call the Milky Way, which is made up of millions and millions of other solar systems, and the galaxy in which we live is only one of millions or perhaps billions of galaxies.
And here I am, thinking that I am the center of the universe. Now, that's only funny to my awareness of my connection in the Divine to all creation. To my personality or my ego-self, even a hint of that thought of insignificance is horribly frightening.
I'm reminded of a quote from A Course in Miracles:
“This fragment of your mind is such a tiny part of it that, could you but appreciate the whole, you would see instantly that it is like the smallest sunbeam to the sun, or like the faintest ripple on the surface of the ocean. 4 In its amazing arrogance, this tiny sunbeam has decided it is the sun; this almost imperceptible ripple hails itself as the ocean. 5 Think how alone and frightened is this little thought, this infinitesimal illusion, holding itself apart against the universe.
…Do not accept this little, fenced-off aspect as yourself. 2 The sun and ocean are as nothing beside what you are.”
Now before you get too caught up in insignificance, please note that the sense of significance only lies in our identification with the ego or personality self. When we are speaking of the true self or the higher self or our divine nature, it surpasses all of these limited distinctions.
If you want to play with an even deeper awareness, along with the seemingly infinite nature of the material universe, beyond what the mind can comprehend, there is also the thought then we have been here, in existence, for many many many lifetimes. So not am I only not the center of the universe, this particular lifetime is not it either. To put that in perspective, the Buddha suggested to imagine a mountain a mile High and a mile wide and every hundred years or so a raven flies over the mountain with a silk cloth held in its beak and rubs it across the top of the mountain. How ever long it takes for the mountain to be smoothed over, that's how many times we've done the journey.
Again, I would suggest to the personality or limited ego consciousness that is an awful and discouraging image and realization. I can almost feel the weight of it on my shoulders, but again, here we are challenged to know ourselves beyond our limited awareness, and that all of these journeys in the material and immaterial world, all of this essentially is the evolution of love, the evolution of creation, the evolution of God.
I do not claim to understand that, but I do know that the fear, the apprehension, the heaviness of that sense of insignificance only perpetuates more fear and heaviness. I can look at that as being true or I can allow myself to be embraced with the Divine truth of who I am.
Now, we are we suggesting that even when we identify with our Divine Nature, our fears will not necessarily disappear. Fear or lack or separateness will still need to be contended with as long as it continues to play a role in our lives here on planet Earth.
“As you stand in this vibration, you must demonstrate it, and to do this you need to give yourself permission to dismantle those creations that have been used to stand in the way of your expression as love. Now, why would anyone create an expression to oppose the vibration of love? Why would you build a house and shield yourself from love? Well, you do this because you have been taught that it is not safe to allow others close. You have done this because you have had experiences that proved that to be true. And as you create a wall between yourself and your fellows, you preclude them from expressing themselves as love to you, and vice versa. As you realize what we teach, and by realize we mean “know in your expression,” you may understand that the invitation of others to be loved, to be seen in love, will amplify your consciousness in ways that you may know and demonstrate.”
One of the first things we noticed here is this word or concept of “dismantling.” The concept has been expressed before and the suggestion is that our negativity or our self-created barriers do not simply disappear because we want them to. The process requires work. A few aspects of the work include 1)accepting responsibility for these destructive patterns of thought and behavior forgiveness for those who might have passed them on to us; 2)acknowledgement and awareness that these patterns are ours now and 3) the recognition that they no longer serve us. Along with that is the willingness, not only to let them go, but to allow a more positive power or pattern to take its place. In this act of awareness and surrender, we realize that the newly-created pattern that will take the place of the old cannot be a creation of the intellect or the personality self. In other words, it must come from our own Divine being that “wee small voice.” These are simply some of the stages in dismantling old patterns and allowing new ones to take their place.
If we simply think that old patterns of thought and behavior will disappear because we want them to, we will find ourselves submerging them or simply covering them over, stuffing them into the shadow bag, without realizing that they still have a mind and power of their own. Guaranteed, if we use the “cover-up” method, it will come back and bite us on the behind, sometimes when we least expect it.
Most of us grew up in an atmosphere of conditional love-- “I will love you if; I will love you because…” which might have been overly stated or was part of the covert message we heard from our parents, our church, our teachers. Conditional love carries with it a deep level of conscious and unconscious fear that “you must do whatever you can do in order to gain another person's love and do whatever it is you need to do to try to hold on to it.” The “paradoxical knot” is that if you are not well equipped to gain someone's conditional love, there must be something wrong with you.
You can probably notice from that circular argument, how any one of us can be caught in that fear-based experience of life.
We say all of this, to carry the awareness that much of our fear based activity is an attempt to protect ourselves, to keep ourselves safe or to try to make ourselves as lovable as we can.
As always being given some of these words on Sunday morning, I recalled a few lines from Paul Simon song “I am a Rock.”
“I have my books in my poetry to protect me. I'm hiding in my room; safe within my womb; I touch no one and no one touches me, I am a rock I am an island. And a rock feels no pain and an island never cries.” And yet each one of us realizes the ridiculousness of that. What a difference it is to truly not feel something as opposed to covering up my feeling/emotional nature with a deep sense of separation and denial.
“What am I protecting myself against? Why do I wrap myself up in this need for safety?”
Here is another paradox of conditional love-- that it never feels safe; it is always contingent on known or unknown factors and therefore could be taken away at a whim. And because of this drastic uncertainty I feel horribly vulnerable and terribly unsafe.
I realized in my own life, living out this frightened theme of conditional love, the being loved or being accepted or being okay, and having all of that dependent upon other people's response to me, or my interpretation of other people's response to me, was an extremely fragile structure. And because of its fragility, it needed to be reconstructed everyday. And even though I realized it was a house made of twigs, it was all I thought I had.
We speak often speak of loving others and loving ourselves, and more often than not, we will suggest to ourselves then we can love others pretty well, but we have a difficult time loving ourselves. I would like to challenge that for a moment.
We do love others, but we love them selectively. We might love them as unconditionally as we can, but they are more of what ACIM calls “special relationships” rather than an expression of love to everyone and everything. I would suggest, because of this selectivity, it is one of the major reasons why we might have a difficult time loving ourselves. Loving ourselves and loving others is always a matter of degree. “I love you because… also means “I love me because…” Do you see we've already created a reality.
Jesus pointed out “If you love only those who love you back, what good is that?”
We continue to learn and relearn that unconditional love is also non-exclusive. You either love everybody that way or you don't. You will either be in the experience of conditional love or unconditional love, and whichever experience you are in will flow or emanate from you. In the words of the text above, your experience of the kind of love that you are embracing will express itself through you. It cannot be any other way
And so here we are again, coming to this place, this space of willingness, I am willing to love others unconditionally and to allow myself to be loved unconditionally as well.
You see you do not love yourself unconditionally because what that turns out to be is the personality-self attempting to love the personality sel- unconditionally. It doesn't work that way: can't work that way. Experiencing unconditional love is opening ourselves up to the possibility and allowing ourselves to be embraced by it.
I am loved unconditionally and so are you.