February 14, 2007

The Artifice Formally Known as Her

I was berating myself the other day after having been reactive in a social situation. It was a small thing and quickly resolved, but the belief stayed with me that "I could have handled it with more maturity." That was an "I should," and my mind was filled with shame, remorse and self-loathing as I replayed the little movie of my maturity lapse over and again.

Inquiring into this belief revealed that I was upset because I believed I had "done" something...not simply done something wrong, but done something at all. I discovered that any belief in "doership" trips me up every time; it is the ultimate in being in God's business mentally, the epitome of loneliness.

I remember one time Byron Katie asked someone who was embarassed about passing gas in public, "Do you take credit for everything?" Well, I do...and I just did it again when I said "I do." And again just now. What is that tenacious "I" that I think I am? Why do I so fearfully cling to that story of a past (seeing now how "I" is exactly that)? How does it serve me? Only to ground me in an identity that is not even mine.

As I replay the same mental movie after doing The Work, it becomes a romantic comedy, a darling little one-act play. She—the me of my movie—doesn't feel heard; with some irritation, she berates the sweet friend for not hearing her. The friend now hears and responds with kindness and acknowledgment. Still, she doesn't take the kindness graciously, doesn't let it in. She is RIGHT! Then in hindsight she believes she messed up, that she was unkind and unevolved and all in the name of love! She—the movie star—is, to my eyes now, an endearingly funny Valentine stumbling towards love, a little baby soul who has not yet learned there is no such thing as not-love. And I love her as I would love a toddler taking wobbly steps. There is no imperfection here in this perfect child apparently walking in this perfect world. I would not alter this movie; it is dear.

"I did it" creates discord even when it's a "good" thing I believe I have done because then there is pressure to continue to do good; there is the discomfort of credit-taking for that which was not my doing to begin with; and there is the fear of discovery of being a fraud.

So tonight I sit with all these "I-did-its." I just typed that; can I absolutely know that it's true? Did "I" get into every finger and make it move on the keyboard? Did I formulate the thought that produced the words? I cannot find a shred of evidence for any of this. As the words are re-read before she hits "send," the computer screen scrolls up and down, apparently moved by a hand. There is no micromanagement of that hand from over here; how does it all move? Who did it? Not me.

Yesterday she thought she was to teach a class and wondered how that would turn out when she was under the weather, sleep-deprived and felt unprepared. She realized that a "yes" was all she had to offer; yes to the class happening and it was not even remotely "her" class. A class happened and she and the participants were conduits. Words came; realizations realized themselves. The last of the words flowed in the last scheduled moments, right on time; perfect closure. It taught itself as a unit; no teachers, no students...and all of us both. Everything was provided.

The freedom that comes of this experience shows me that "I," "She," "It" cannot do it wrong; leaves me as the obedient and grateful servant of what is...leaves me as Love pretending to be woman sitting at computer, writing.

Katie says,"My job is to delete myself." I have wondered how it was possible. Here's how it happens: I ask four questions, then turn them around, the mind beholds the mystery of its own creation of itself, that which is called a me, called "Carol." And in the seeing of that artifice, it is undone. I cannot, as the saying goes, make that rope into a snake again. I cannot breathe life into a statue however beautiful, or believe a cartoon Carol is real, no matter how artfully animated she appears. She is so much more than that...and so much less.

In this moment of humble seeing, joy—often an elusive concept—is here, in me, as me, as not-me...and even that is not true. And her name is Love.

I am willing and I look forward to losing this sweet awareness. How joyous will be the reunion when it comes time, once more, for suffering to cease.

©2007 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

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