Posted by: innerpilgrimage | May 27, 2011

Out of the Woods . . . Again

      Being new to OA (in relative terms, my home group has people who have been abstinent for 10, 20, and even 30 years–today’s speaker was abstinent since 1983!), I am enjoying–in relative terms–the struggle between my ego’s drive to use intellect to solve problems that require an inspirational search.

      So, this whole frustration and sliding around in my food plan, in near-relapse (or so I thought–my scale disagrees . . . I was 156.0 lbs. this morning despite adding 500 calories to my food plan), and heading toward a binge I was wholly uninspired to pursue turned out to connect to this drive to learn my purpose and to use external validation in order to internally validate what I’ve learned through prayer and meditation over the last year or so.
      Guess what?
      It doesn’t work.
      The argument I have for chasing things externally is a pretty good one (rationally, anyway). See, I actually am facing what Bill W. faced when his life started changing and he felt like he was going insane. There’s the beauty of the paradox right there–because I’ve lived a life of culturally-accepted insanity, actually going sane feels crazy because it is completely counter to what society tells me I should be and do and have.
      Consider for a moment the message that society tells us: More is not enough. Perfect is the only solution, and to find perfection, we must find the perfect thing, then keep it eternally. This just doesn’t align with any reality out there. If I look at the natural world, the world of the physical and of observation through intellect, things begin and end. Impermanence is the rule of the natural world. What was here yesterday is not here as it was; what will be here tomorrow is not what is here today or what was here yesterday. It all has to do with expectations and resentments, dissatisfaction with life because I am trying to apply a spiritual principle to the natural world.
      That’s not to say the spiritual isn’t in the natural world. The moments of meaning and awe, the ones that draw me into right-here-and-right-now are part of the natural world. They are fleeting and easily missed. But they are eternal in the wonderment they bring with them. But I cannot apply perfection to the desire to hoard, to keep that abundance, to deny others so I can have what I have no use for.
      Possessing a person, place, or situation cannot satisfy the desire to touch the eternal and to have or be or do enough to find peace. And the disappointment when the person leaves or the place ends up not being Shangri-La later in life, or the situation simply changes because a butterfly flaps its wings and the world adjusts to accommodate the new natural reality . . . the impermanence of nature just is part of reality. Despite what the overconsumer-attracting corporations want me to believe (and suffer over when I accept the lie that satiety comes from their product, which often is not near to what is being sold to me), I will never find personal satisfaction in a cookie or a car or a cosmetic procedure. Satisfaction is a spiritual thing, is part of eternity and the endurance of that which can never be taken away even if my freedom or my life is threatened (I learned that one from Bapu, aka the Mahatma, aka Mohandas Gandhi). What I am is defined as what cannot be taken from me . . . and since my body and my mind’s grandiosity or inferiority can be taken from me through the violent acts of others? Those are not part of the I that is me.
      So what’s left if I am not my body or my brain? Well, what’s left is the consciousness inside, the part that is aware and is connected to the source of, well, everything. Which, in essence, can dually be defined as nothing, simply because that’s where everything starts. Basically, forty-three years ago? I was nothing. The germ cell in my mother’s ovary which would divide and become the haploid cell (or ova), was still dormant. The gamete from my father was not even formed at the time. There was a 3 in 4 chance that the gamete my mother produced would not be the cell which proceeded down the fallopian tube. There was a 1 in millions chance that the haploid cell my father contributed would be the one that would create a zygotic cell. And, even more amazing? It took the precise time and place in their lives, mere seconds, for that one haploid cell which could have been recycled into my father’s system or could have not been created at the right time in my mother’s fertile cycle to actually make it there. And even then, the cell that ended up turning into a human being which those two people named “Jessica” nine or so months later didn’t have to be viable. If any of us wants to feel special, the important factor is that the chance that any of us here today would even arrive in life was infinitesimal. As odds go? We all won the life lottery, having the magic ticket of the perfect time and place and contributing factors to be born.
      Quite a lot to consider, if one is looking for everyday miracles . . . like the fact that somehow billions upon billions of somatic cells are willing to hold together today and make up the human being we are. And that, amazingly enough, the one zygote the size of a grain of sand destroyed itself by dividing again and again in order to create a complex human being. The blueprint of that first cell rests in every cell that is part of us today, but that originating cell is long gone–though not forgotten (as any DNA test allows us to observe). And even then, the natural world has mutated us from that original zygote.
      Okay, now I’ve blown my own mind. I see this as another reason that I can’t be my ego–I would have stopped functioning the minute I considered this because my limited ego is firmly planted as my thoughts, attitudes, judgments, and expectations, and it has already undergone change by merely considering how I could so easily lose the state lottery a few weeks ago yet somehow have been able to be at a local convenience store in order to buy the ticket. That lottery ticket, however, had a spiritual value by revealing where I could find gratitude instead of a cash value that would allow me to pay off debt and use physical means to alleviate a spiritual problem–general discontent at what I have and what I do not have.
      As I clear up the ego messages and frustration at the failed experiment that was trying to force an intellectual process to a spiritual problem, I have happily found that I made progress. The only way to find my purpose, to find enoughness, to validate myself (though I’m not a car in a mall parking garage, so validation of this life is a thought-based desire, not a real one) is to look within and trust the answer.
      Now yes, I did get a little external validation that others think like I do. Eckhart Tolle, in his book, A New Earth, addresses that disappointment (and resentment) I deal with when I think of Christianity and organized religions: The grain of spiritual truth is often obscured by the human rules of thought. That bogs the process of enlightenment down and can create a sense of blissless ignorance for those who are trying to find their answers in others’ views of “how to do it”. I also got a key bit of information out of a Tarot reading I did two days ago: the collective intellect as applied by religion is not how any of us achieves enlightenment. The spiritual journey is a journey of individual consciousness–whether in an organized religion or outside of it. To follow something that goes counter to one’s internal consciousness because it’s written in a book (which was written by people, inspiration filtered through the ego) that has been edited by people who were given worldly authority for centuries does not really make it an authoritative source from the Supreme Being. The seeds of faith are in the New Testament, but faith is a living thing and must grow with the individual so the individual can apply it to the individual’s spiritual journey in the physical realm. Add to it that I simply cannot connect love and suffering and come out with an acceptance that love and fear can coexist? And I am left with the acceptance that I cannot follow that religion whatsoever. Plus, since Jesus (who was the physical form of G-d on this world) did not actually write the book, I cannot accept that it is “The Word of G-d”. It is merely observations by philosophers and zealots and biographers, edited by emperors and popes, in order to ensure power over the process of enlightenment for its followers.
      It’s kind-of like China disallowing reincarnation without the state’s permission. A spiritual leader chosen by a government instead of by the ineffable forces that guide reincarnation? That’s . . . well, illogical. Unreasonable. We cannot legislate the spiritual because it exists beyond life, beyond the physical and mental realm. Human laws, thought, and proclamations do not affect the spiritual whatsoever. However, when it comes to the dirt underfoot? Yeah, whatever. This hits right on one of the sayings of Jesus in the New Testament, about giving to Caesar what is Caesar’s and giving to G-d what is G-d’s. The coins of the realm at the time were Caesar’s; the souls of the people walking in that realm were G-d’s. So, let Caesar have the cash in the here and now–he can’t take it with him to G-d anyway, right?
      It’s funny how the only real problem I have with Christianity is the insistence of its followers to insult me by telling me I am wrong, especially since they claim to know their own book yet rarely do. That they take the advisement of a person who claimed authority, follow that person without question for fear of G-d, and hope and pray that by suffering, they earn a place in their afterlife. If that works, and I mean REALLY works? Okay. That’s a lovely path for that person to follow, and more power to them. But to come to me and tell me I have to? That is not Godly what-so-ever. Compassion is not coming in and telling me how I am screwing up my life; compassion is acting with loving-kindness and SHOWING me in the here-and-now how their path will lead me to G-d. That is a damned big chunk of self-deluded grandiosity to tell me that by following a human being, they are closer to G-d than when I sit and meditate with the source then work to align myself to it. Plus, I prayed to the snack food aisle at the grocery store for years and the fridge and cabinets at my home when I wasn’t doing pilgrimage to my junk food Meccas. All I see is that they are taking a book (translated and reprinted by ego-burdened human beings over a thousand years), setting it on an altar, and praying to it. I see idol worship, in the form of a book. Calling it “The Word of G-d” does not change that it is made of wood pulp (or linen, if it’s nice) and glue. Justifying their judgment by saying it’s in that book and therefore is right? That’s why it looks like addiction to me. It is a THING, a tool to begin the journey, not to be the destination.
      Yes, I know that my words are filled with resentment . . . just like some of the writers of the New Testament’s books’ words were. Take a look at some of the nastygrams in a few of the epistles, the accusations that branches of the faith were “doing it wrong” and were facing damnation for it. And even today, the division of Christianity into sects tells me that it’s not a unifying principle–which a spiritual journey should be. To separate and convert instead of unite is not part of my concept of the spiritual journey. And as I deal with my strong opinions and try to disperse them like dandelion faeries onto the wind so I can achieve non-attachment and release suffering in order to align with my spiritual self, I know that all of these resentments and all of this anger and all of this fear which I express when the label-word “Christianity” comes up in my mind are simply illusions. That the suffering I experience because I cannot release my anger at being treated like an inferior (even as I treat them as inferior because I judge them “ignorant” of their own faith) is NEVER going to bring me to that source of creation or love.
      That said? I really like the parables and I absolutely love 1 Corinthians 13. I could scrap the whole rest of the Bible for that one passage, which is–to me–the seed of the religion which gets me frustrated and in a tizzy. To have such a beautiful and inspired passage bogged down by fear-mongering is sad to me. But I have met Christians who live daily in this passage, who connect to the eternal daily in prayer and in meditation (listening to G-d to actually know the Word of G-d from the Source, itself, not from the writings of men), and who live strong lives aligned to the precepts of the book. They tend to ignore the condemnations, or at least they don’t speak them aloud. Or perhaps they simply put them lower on their list of important sections from the New Testament.
      It doesn’t matter. My anger at Christianity is about the select followers who try to push their thought on me and refuse to listen to what I might have to say. Who dismiss me out of hand and trigger the approval addiction hardcore. I will reject any person who does that out-of-hand, and I will justify the rejection by considering them foolish or ignorant–forgetting conveniently that I am foolish and ignorant, as well. And yes, it is thought. Faith is not leaping with a net, it is knowing that when we leap into the void, we trust will be caught and be placed farther along the path. And when we take those leaps? We are always caught.
      In ego, I try to build a net before I leap. The problem is that I may build the net, but I have to get down into the void to place it–which I cannot do. The paradox of building a net to land in is that I have to leap, land in the net that is there, then place my own net over it (pretending what was already there was not there), then theoretically climb back up to where I was before. But it doesn’t work that way. Building a net is simply building the illusion that I can catch myself if there’s nothing to catch me. I cannot jump at all because I end up looking over the edge and try to figure out how to get the net I built down there first. So begins the frustration that is trying to use information (knowledge through form) to achieve an inspirational (knowledge through spirit) answer.
      So, that’s what I was doing. I was putting my abstinence at risk, was withdrawing from recovery, and was sliding back beyond Step Zero, where I find that no, I am not willing to do anything to have what others have found in program.
      I think of all of the times people praise (or even insult me, oddly enough) for being so intellectual. I will tear apart any concept and try to make it make rational, intellect-based sense. I’ve certainly torn apart the 12 Steps and found out why it works. Yet I still won’t take further action on my Fourth Step. I know the value of it–to actively let go, I first actively embrace. I just don’t want to hug all those cactuses to me by choice. Sure, they can float around in my brain and cause me to suffer when the spines hit the walls of expectations and assumptions. They deflate my hopes and dreams, poking holes in them with arguments about why I cannot succeed.
      So, over the last few weeks, I have tried and failed to educate myself into my purpose. I have tried to justify what I learned through sitting in meditation and achieving serenity. I have struggled against the reality that some people will never believe as I do, that I am unique just like everyone else is, that my journey through life is unique just live everyone else’s journey is. And every time I puff myself up and consider myself better than someone because they think I am wrong, I am doing precisely what I am angry about what I perceive others are doing to me.
      Today, in meeting, I learned something I can apply in my own recovery, something which I want to share here.
      Fear, Anger, and Resentments are all about not getting my own way. Resentments are about not getting my own way yesterday; anger, about not getting my own way today; fear, about not getting my own way tomorrow. All three are ego related to how the ego’s drive to control anything and everything over time–past, present, future. All three are suffering. I think of the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi as the source of how I can alleviate these things . . . though a little modification is kind-of needed:
      Where there is hatred [anger], let me sow love.
      Where there is injury [resentment], pardon.
      Where there is doubt [fear], faith.

      What’s cool is that all three are in order in the poem, which goes on to address despair’s solution (hope), darkness’s solution (light), and sadness’s solution (joy). So, I guess I don’t really hate Christianity as much as I hate people desperate to justify their belief systems by increasing the collective intellect. Or adding another tithing body to their church so I can pay for their minister’s very fine suits and cars and home. It’s all about image, see, and image is part of the ego-realm. Authority and submission in the realm of people. I did that for almost 40 years, and that made me want to end my own life.
      These people are asking me to suffer on the promise that I would end up some place I already can reach on a daily basis if I am mindfully practicing recovery. Why live on Earth in suffering misery when I can embrace the promised joy and use that abundance to give joyfully to others today?
      Yes, it’s a process. I’m still trying to prove to myself that what I learned (a physical solution to physical problems; a mental solution to mental problems; a spiritual solution for a spiritual problem) is a truth, not an opinion. It’s definitely showing itself in practice. My body weight is lower than I hoped I could reach in OA, yet I did not find happiness at any number on the scale. My desire to control my spiritual awakening without having to do the steps has left me frustrated and facing down relapses. As for the spiritual? I found that when that was in alignment, I could think clearly and I could eat sanely. I was able to practice St. Francis’s Prayer in everyday life without any trouble because I had faith it was working.
      The moment I doubted my sanity? I started collecting my ego-baggage and stockpiled it all around me. However, apparently I was still moving forward, despite being slowed by all that baggage. Yes, I am back to Steps One, Two, and Three, which I accept (especially when I run off to try to prove I can solve this addiction with my ego . . . like trying to cure being poisoned by gulping down more of the same poison), then pick up my Step Four inventory and act in faith. It will work because it works. It’s worked for others in program; it’s worked already for me on those resentments I’ve written down. The ones I’ve not recorded are the ones I have the worst trouble with. Or, at least, the ones I have not been fully honest about.
      I suppose that’s the point of doing the Fourth Step with rigorous honesty. If I hold something back to myself? I won’t find peace or serenity on a regular basis because I can’t live in honesty, openness, and willingness.
      My name is Jess, I’m an addict of food and approval. Not perfect, but I’m not really supposed to be. I want to be honest about these resentments because I look forward to the day I can write in this journal that it’s not a part of my life any more. I have hope and faith that some day others’ desire to have me think like them (and the corollary desire to have others think like me, for what I find distasteful in others is generally something I find distasteful in my own behavior) will not affect me. And that makes me feel joy, knowing that as long as I keep making progress, that I will reach a day when it will not be part of my Just for Today.


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