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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Who Would You Be If You Weren't Who You Think You Are...?

Okay, so maybe I’m taking the “spiritual path” a little too seriously…  I don’t know.  It seems all the sages and “spiritual teachers” that I read and listen to have taken their path very seriously, which is why they are where they are – and why we follow them, emulating them.  But, am I being too serious...

Over at ZenDotStudio, Carole is following the path of Joy, which sounds a whole lot more fun than the one I’ve been on lately.  :)  I mean she is really enjoying life!   In my last post I didn’t mean to imply that the “spiritual path” could not be “fun” when I said there’s no getting comfortable on the “spiritual path” because it seems there’s always some issue to attend to, to look at, that needs pruning, etc..  Or that we need to constantly be working on our issues…    It’s just that some of us seem to have a harder time accessing Joy.


I commented on a friend’s blog post yesterday, who was dealing with feeling stagnant, in a kind of off-hand humorous way, that sometimes it helps me to see things differently when I use my imagination, to be playful, to take on a different role, or persona, say of someone I admire – like snoopy the dog for example in his scarf, goggles and flying cap.  You may remember that image. :)  Just the mere act of wrapping a scarf around my neck makes me feel more lighthearted and free.  Or, as my blogger friend suggested, wearing long, striped socks like Pippi Longstocking!  Yes!  I remember how much fun and freeing it was to play dress up as a kid.  Wearing a mixed match of clothes somehow put me into a different, more playful place, an imaginative place.  As a kid I didn’t think about it, it was just spontaneous and authentic fun.  There was no rightness or wrongness to it…  It was just innocent child’s play…

I had a Buddhist therapist one time who asked me about the people I admired and why, and then had me pretend to be them talking to me to find out what they would say to me.  Interesting exercise actually – although awkward – but it made the point.   Pretending to use the qualities that I admired in them, only to discover that I had those same qualities too…   And another therapist said that the clothes we wear make a difference in how we feel about ourselves.  So – maybe I need a change of costume…  Where did I put those goggles and flying cap…

And interestingly I had a conversation this morning with my husband about how we see our selves is only a glimpse of a larger story; how we limit ourselves by how we perceive ourselves, and not seeing the bigger picture.  And how we can use our imagination, play, roles and personas to go beyond who we think we are.  “Christine” is a persona, a fabrication of the self, a mental construct based on upbringing, conditioning, and who I have come to believe myself to be.  So why not use my imagination to play different aspects of the self – as children do – without constraining myself to an idea of who I think I am.  If self is just a mask for the pure Beingness that we are, then Beingness is free to take on any persona, mask, self, role, personality that it chooses, right?  And since there are so many aspects to this self that we have come to believe in, then why not use one that reflects more clearly, more transparently the essence of our Being.   Even “spirituality” can become a mask we hide behind… 

When Byron Katie asks, “who would you be without that thought?” we think in terms of – being happier, being calmer, more accepting, being freer.   But to put a humorous twist on it, why not think in terms of personas!  Who would I be without my thoughts that life is hard, stressful, lifeless, directionless, that I’m a failure, etc.   Of course the answer is supposed to point you to your True Self, and not another character, or persona.  So what would my True Self/Beingness look like without these thoughts, or these personas?  Or better still – how would I see life differently if I pretended to be who I really am - Beingness ItSelf…  I think I’ll try that one on for size and see how it fits.


WHO am I when Beingness is seen and recognized to be what is looking through these eyes?   I feel lighter already… :)


Photo

I couldn’t sleep one night
and did this piece at 2am.
I call it The Blue Cocoon :)


14 comments:

  1. Nice post. A few of us at a potluck had a lovely conversation over dinner about a situation in which someone had that wasn't appropriate and a whole string of events followed. As we tried to decide what was a way of dealing with it in a "Dharma like way" one friend suggested that we look at "who is this self that feels angry?" " who is it that feels something unjust has been done?" all of this pointing toward the emptiness of the self. And then to be able to feel some compassion for both sides.

    In practical terms it can be so hard to drop this shell of self, the happy one, the serious one, the sad one, they are all just passing through. I think the trick is not to get trapped in any one of them. And always the razor's edge is to know when we are just "being" with a feeling or indulging it. Happiness is not better than sadness only that we think it is so. And in our thinking this perhaps we increase our sadness?

    And making art at 2 in the morning, there is something quite delicious about that. This is one thing for me, to shake up routines, to do something different in a simple small way can make us bust out of our shell of habit and that always feels kind of good in this stolen kind of way!

    I see you really digging into this issue in a big way, like a personal koan for you! It's great to accompany you on your exploration.

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    1. Yes, if we could *really see* the transparency of the shell we think we are - or is that see *through* the shell we think we are :)- and see that we are much more than the roles we are playing; that these "persona selves" are just temporary identities - rather than getting trapped in and by them, as you point out - would change how we engage with each other...

      So true too that happiness is no better than sadness. They are just part of the natural ebb and flow of living in these shells :) And yet Joy is our True Nature as well, or so I've been told :) And I'm happy for you that you are discovering it!

      2am art - ugh - not by choice! I couldn't sleep and it helped settle this wired mind and body :)

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  2. I seem to keep going back to the idea that my childhood "self" is somehow the "essence" of me and thus have an idea that it is to that "ideal" I'm striving toward. But writing that just now, I realize that's not really true---only another idea that keeps revisiting this "me" that continually changes. I also have difficulty with the concept of "self" when I see how I THINK that OTHERS perceive "me" (which I also know isn't "true"). YES. This is a very rich topic, Christine; one that I explore often, too, and I agree with ZDS---not getting "trapped" in any concept of self is important, and also easier said than done because it is, indeed, the "shell" we use to navigate through this world. But wouldn't it feel joyful if it were, as you say, transparent. . .

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    1. Yes, the childhood 'self' is just another 'self', not our Beingness, although one could say it is a more innocent aspect of self, not yet conditioned... And definitely agree with what ZDS said, it is important not to get trapped in any concept of 'self'... But to see *through* them. There is a Zen saying that says to keep stepping back until you step back into what is looking - into what is seeing through our eyes. I love that.

      There are a lot of discussions out there in the non-dual community about whether there is a self or no-self which can get pretty confusing. But I think once we really *see* the Beingness that we truly are, the 'self' concept does become transparent and we realize Beingness is playing all of them, all the roles, is wearing all the disguises interfacing with the world etc. and we can rest in that :)

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  3. such an interesting topic. I certainly do limit myself by how I see myself, by the words I use to describe myself in any given moment. and as Chris mentions, I so often see myself as I think others see me. But of course, who knows what they think. The blue cocoon is neat. In Shambala training one of the first levels is called the cocoon. i'm off to put on my stipped socks. !

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    1. Hey Pippi! I mean Suki :) Yes, me too, I limit myself by my own perspective. And the idea that this 'self' is just a disguise, a role, a concept, a shell as ZDS said, is somehow freeing. We are so much more than the roles we play, than the mental concepts we have of ourselves. And it seems that playful imagination can help to break away from those ingrained ideas of who we are... I never knew that about Shambhala training! That's really cool that that painting came out of nowhere at 2am! :)

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  4. Oh Christine, I wish you could have been at the What Cheer? Brigade show with us last night, dancing and screaming beneath the full super moon with me, J and a bunch of college students (the event was "open to the public" but in such a sleepy little town in seems as if J and I were the only "public" who showed up!) It could not have been more joyful and authentic and it reminded me of what I love and who I am. I need to stop ignoring that part of me.

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    1. Yeay! I have goosebumps just reading your comment! Am soooo happy for you that you rediscovered your JOY, your Passion and Who You are! Not ignoring it... Yes! Oh what a night! :) I am giggling just thinking of me being there, in that scene, dancing and having fun too! Oh my - at 62! LOL. But that spontaneous fun-loving playful self is still there. I almost got up and started dancing when I watched the video over on your post. I just love that kind of spontaneous joy! Gotta find one of those Brigades here! (and then convince DH to go :)

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  5. Finding the seriousness and lightness in practice is a fine line, isn't it? I like what you said about "how we can use our imagination, play, roles and personas to go beyond who we think we are"...this gave me a love of food for thought! We always are so much more than we think we are. We somehow get bogged down with what we think of as our "negative" qualities and how to transform them more. I know when I focus more & more energy on LOVE, everything becomes transformed and I operate on a more pure, authentic level. Or at least it feels that way! If we allow ourselves the freedom of dropping the myriad piece of who we think we are, loosen up a bit, mix it up we can create space of amazing things to happen. Just dropping those stories, you know. ;o) This was great, Christine. Happy week ((HUGS))

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    1. Thanks Tracy :) What we identify as our "self" is really just a mask, persona, a mental construct, a story. And for me it sometimes helps to see the lightness in all that through play, and to bring my awareness back to the True Essence of Beingness that we are, that is looking out through our eyes and living this life - that which is really playing all the roles, living all the stories. So it's really just about recognizing who we really are - pure Beingness - and having fun with it all and enjoying life, and not worrying about whether there's a self or no-self, or whether it's a story - because it's all story - so just live it. :) Glad you had a great time in Vienna - wonderful photos!

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  6. Well I love this contemplation.

    It brings to my mind good ol' Bandler & Grindler of Neuro-Linquistic Programing fame..they point out that "the 3 most prevalent diseases of our time are seriousness, certainty and importance...self-importance being the most deadly."

    hmmm... some kinda food for thought there.

    I love Byron Katie and her inquires and I value deeply the idea of allowing 'joy to be my vocation'...at least moving in that embraceable direction...next step by next step.

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    1. And thank you for your food for thought! :)

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  7. Wow! I can't find any words. Another heart to heart zinger. Simple. Spot-on zinger. I love it.

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    1. Thank you Dear Kris for your loving enthusiasm! It's catching! :)

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