I’ve been quiet here lately and at my other blogs for the last several weeks. This silence is in part due to the business of life becoming a bit overwhelming, along with a few big personal challenges and opportunities. The irony of going through big challenges and overwhelming numbers of tasks to tend to, is that although it makes for great blogging material, it also stands in the way of actual blogging. And often I find myself trying to play “catch up” with journaling and processing after the fact.
This time it’s the same and also a bit different and, I think, better for me because the latest set of personal challenges helped me complete a personal transformation from being more of a fear-based personality to one who is more relaxed with a sense of adventure. How this happened is a fairly complex tail and I really want to plumb those depths with myself and with my readers. Suffice it to say that, just as addicts often need to hit rock bottom in order to receive the impetus to turn their lives around, I apparently needed to hit a different kind of rock bottom in order to final shake loose some key fears that have plagued me for most of my remembered life. Most of my fear was around two general kinds of potential happenings. One is that I had an obsessive-compulsion to ask and consider “what if” about every situation in my life and live out all the worst-case scenarios in my mind. I spent so much time going through “what if” scenarios and experiencing the imagined pain of them, that I was not able to actually be present for and experience some of the better or best case scenarios that actually occurred. The second is that I had a deep, paralyzing fear of disappointing others. I feared that, again ironically, so much that I often disappointed people as a result of that fear-based paralysis.
Recent events have now transpired where I realized I actually disappointed pretty much everyone that I care about. At the same time a worst-case scenario that I had feared played out in terms of a personal relationship that’s very important to me.
So there I was dealing with that, with being that guy that everyone is disappointed with and for whom a relationship was blowing apart and I had to re-examine who I learned to see myself as, versus who I actually am in terms of my actions and attitudes. Facing truth is rarely easy. It’s usually really difficult, especially if it is a hard truth about oneself. But I’ve always held onto the belief that truth is liberating and it always has turned out to be for me.
Fortunately, this set of circumstances occurred after a big revelation I had about conquering my own fear. In the pursuit of my spiritual path – based in Vedanta as well as quantum physics – I recently came to understand on a heart and mind level that the vibrating strings that form the basis of the atomic particles that make up the physical world we call reality are themselves based on consciousness, which is neither mass nor energy. This was a huge, life-changing shift in my understanding, because it means to me that there is no need to fear death or dying. Now I see how once the temporary physical bodies we inhabit as consciousness are no longer viable for life and they die, they don’t take our consciousness with them. There is only one consciousness really and that is what religions up to now have referred to as God. And for finite entities, such as humans, the part of consciousness experienced as that entity is appropriate to that entity, since consciousness is the groundwork of energy and mass and therefore, form. So consciousness being external to time is infinite and so life as consciousness experiences it is infinite.
So much of my anxieties fell away with this realization. From now on it just takes the mindfulness of the truth to not fall back into old, fear-based patterns. But because I was becoming more and more mindful, a different kind of uncomfortable feeling prevailed and was noticed by me. That feeling was the feeling one gets when being judged.
We judge ourselves and we judge one another often and in ways that we may not even be aware of. This is a result of the dualistic thinking that is an extension of our survival skills. When we’re trying to survive physically, we need to be able to determine what is a good berry and what’s a bad berry to eat. And so we learned various tests and criteria involving the senses and involving patterns to determine a berry’s worth or danger to us. Unfortunately, due to our fears, we’ve expanded the judging mentality to each other as humans, lumping one another into various categories and subcategories based on broadly drawn rules and assumptions we’ve “learned” along the way. And for most of us, we internalize those judgments as well and we’re constantly judging ourselves.
The reason judging persists too, besides the holdover from survival necessity, is that the process isn’t always painful. Often enough we judge ourselves and the people we care about in a positive light because their decisions and behavior match up well with our internal template of what one is “supposed” to do. Those times when judgments come up in our favor encourage the habit and justify it during those instances when we or loved ones fall short of the template.
When we fall short, this results in some combination of guilt, shame, disappointment, feeling inadequate or feeling defective. And this happens so often that I had to ask whether it’s necessary. I don’t think judging is necessary or helpful, because even when we pass the tests, shouldn’t we be asking how was I able to pass this test of judgment when others don’t or I don’t at other times?
I have asked myself in fact, and I keep coming up with the same answer. The tests and templates are arbitrary and are based on finite beings’ limited view of the universe. And if I pass it is because I somehow had whatever it takes to pass and that is always traceable to something I received as a gift that had nothing to do with my own actions or decisions. It might be a quality I was born with or some wisdom or information I was given and couldn’t possibly have given myself. In other words the Universe, God, whatever you want to call it provided the gifts that got us to the point where we passed some of the arbitrary tests we set for ourselves and each other.
So if you believe the Universe is perfect, and I have some difficult questions for you if you don’t believe it is, why would we not be perfect or play a necessary role in that perfection? And as such, what favors are we doing ourselves by creating these arbitrary templates to measure ourselves and others against? It seems like a huge waste of time and energy and joy to do this, so I’m committed to stopping it myself. I’m going to stop judging myself and others.
This doesn’t mean there won’t be behaviors that I don’t like in myself and others, that I will try to alter, but that’s part of the Universe and its perfection as well. Life is challenging and painful enough as it is without adding guilt, shame, and feeling defective to the mix. Let’s drop those from our repertoire shall we?