Tuesday, February 2, 2010
A ghost in the house - shaking up the "I"
Last October I asked my Akashic Records how I could live from a place of deeper clarity. The answer was surprising: “Be willing to be wrong – about everything.” What?! I had to ask for clarification. The reply: “Being willing to be wrong doesn’t mean you are wrong. It means you give up the need to be right, which is holding you back. It means shaky ground… Release the need to be right.” All my life I’d seen knowledge as a reinforcer of my worth. Being wrong was to be avoided at all cost. But what the heck, I was intrigued. Besides, I could always go back to being right if it didn’t work out. What I got was a big surprise. As I let go of the need to be right, something shifted inside. It was like when you’ve eaten too much and then you loosen the button on your pants – relief! I understood it later as being freed from the constant effort to protect and reinforce my “I.”
Sutra II of the Yoga Sutras describe the five klesas as the sources of our discontent, the obstacles to freedom. The klesas are: avidya, or not knowing our true nature as beingness or oneness; asmita – identification as “I,” “me” or “my”; raga – desire for pleausre; dvesa – aversion or avoidance of pain; and abhinevesa – fear of death. When I first read this sutra and the notion of the identified “I” as being problematic, I thought that was ridiculous (those crazy cave-dwelling yogis – what would they know about real life?!). After all, who would I be without a sense of my own individuality? If I let go of that I’d be left with nothing – I wouldn’t exist! At the very least it seemed to me a prescription for mental instability. I didn’t realize that even that resistance was the manifestation of this “I.”
Dzigar Kongtrul in his book It’s Up to You suggests: “This mind that we identify as the self, which we could call ego-mind, controls everything we do. Yet it can’t actually be found – which is somewhat spooky, as if a ghost were managing our home.” Michael Stone in The Inner Tradition of Yoga describes asmita as a storyteller, and the stories as a rubber band ball, wrapped around and around with more and expanding preconceptions about ourselves. Even when these stories cause us suffering and separation, we still hold on because we identify them as who we are. A Course In Miracles Lesson 69 begins: “My grievances hide the light of the world in me. My grievances show me what is not there, and hide from me what I would see. Recognizing this, what do I want my grievances for? They keep me in darkness and hide the light…”
So last month when I decided it was okay to be me, I found she was very elusive – like mercury, hard to pin down. At the same time I found the klesas. Ah the humor of it all. It’s been fascinating - sometimes funny, and sometimes really unpleasant - to recognize the storyteller arising, especially when I’m wanting to be right, or in control. I often recognize my “I” when it is acting up as a shadow that when noticed and acknowledged, shifts slightly to the left to reveal a sliver of light behind. A long exhale follows, a tightness releases in my chest, and in that moment, I can allow.