Just how far are you willing to go on your journey of awakening? Are you ready to relinquish your life as you know it?
These questions came to me as I listened to the words of Adyashanti, one of my favorite teachers, from his CD "The End of Your World."
It seems that the longer we follow our spiritual impulses, the more our ego dares us to play a game of "Chicken," like Buzz in the famous racing scene with James Dean in "Rebel Without A Cause."
Will we have the nerve to make the jump to complete awakening, or bail out before we get there? I ask this question because I see this doubt reflected back to me from many practitioners of Busting Loose. Can you really never worry about money or taxes? Can you really create anything you want and do whatever you want to do without limitation? Can you really always be in a state of bliss?
The ego is betting that we won't have the nerve to go all the way to find out, and it's got a lot riding on the outcome.
But what is the ego, exactly? That gets tricky. Robert Scheinfeld would probably say that it's simply another false construct we've created in the hologram and given power to. And he would be right.
In Adyashanti's words, it's the false sense of self that we carry within us. It's the aggregator of all the beliefs, opinions, concepts and thoughts that make up our identity, which manifests in a body at a particular point in space. And he would be right.
Our ego likes the body. It gives the ego a sense of solidity and reality that the mind alone could not. And by collapsing the wave form into this one possibility, it keeps us from all the other possibilities. In truth, we are everything and everywhere. The ego just makes us seem separate.
As we've learned, beliefs, thoughts and bodies are illusory. The ego knows that, too. Its answer is to just keep us thinking, worrying about the future and trying to make itself indispensable.
To do that, our ego ditches our true self in line to make sure it gets first crack at filtering and interpreting everything we experience.
"When we hear someone speaking, we actually hear what we think about what they're saying." Adyashanti states. We don't actually hear what is, until maybe two weeks later when we have that V-8 moment of realization.
When we feel ourselves losing our sense of reality, the first thing we usually grasp for is a thought, like "This can't be happening, I'm Donald Trump." A thought. Think about that. That's as ridiculous as the Donald's combover.
When we have doubt, that's the ego speaking to us. Even Robert relates his "dark nights of the soul," when the ego let him know in no uncertain terms that the journey was way too challenging, intense and overwhelming. Fortunately, he persevered.
As Adyashanti describes it, enlightenment -- the extended version of awakening -- is no longer believing what you think. By extension, if you are no longer believing what you think, then ego disappears, and light can enter, at least until we believe another thought. But do that enough times and ego really gets upset. That's why we seem to engender obstacles as we get closer to breaking through the cloud cover.
What does unbelief look like? How can we remain undefined by thought and still live? Don't look at me.
I know that at this point in my Phase 2 journey, no matter how many experiences I have of the process having an effect, I still want another one. I still want to be convinced. I still don't trust. I'm still grasping on to old beliefs. The ego's got me right where it wants me, for now.
But I always know there is hope. I remind myself of what Robert says, that we're not here to exchange beliefs, but to exchange beliefs for the truth, by doing the process. In the meantime, we can't do anything wrong, no matter what the ego tells us, and some day, I'll just sit back and marvel at what a great creation the ego was.
Adyashanti has a slightly different take. "Part of being awake is being willing to be crucified," he says. "The threat of death can't control an enlightened being."
Either way, we have to be fearless, or we're just going through the motions.
Speaking of V-8 moments, perhaps this scene from the end of "Thelma and Louise"
of the girls going over the cliff in their Thunderbird is closer to the spirit of what I'm talking about. After all, Buzz didn't really want to take the leap. His sleeve got stuck.
Can we truly appreciate how wondrous our lives are?
I was contemplating that last night as I drove home in my zippy red Hyundai, my Ipod blasting vintage Prince, fresh from enjoying a sumptuous dinner, watching the clouds turn a glorious pink as the sun set over New Mexico.
You've probably experienced some variation of this recently.
There is not a religion or spiritual practice or Stuart Smalley desk calendar that doesn't tell us we should express appreciation for everything we're blessed with, whether it looks like we're blessed or not.
With the exception of the sunset, we've experienced something that 99 percent of the beings who have ever lived on this planet would never know.
But who's missed out, us or them? I think it's us. We've made true appreciation nearly impossible, at least in this country, in this time.
There was a PBS show a couple years back, "Frontier House," that popped three modern families in the ol' Wayback Machine and transported them to 1880s Montana.
As the cameras rolled, they built houses from trees they cut, made hay, raised livestock, hauled water, grew vegetables and wore uncomfortable clothes made from corn stalks. (I made that last one up.)
Tensions ran high, in families and between families. Food supplies ran low. Wild animals threatened them. Then there was the woman who cried about not having make-up. Seriously.
By the end of the show, it was determined that one of the families would not have survived the winter (most likely due to the great Make-up Famine of 1883). A second one had a chance. The third would probably have made it.
It was good drama, as good as you can get on a fake reality show.
An experience like that might benefit some of us. Instead of forcing everyone to buy health insurance, maybe the government ought to force us to re-live that show for a season or two. I mean the best survival story some of us have is about living on ramen noodles and Pabst Blue Ribbon in college.
But let's take it a step further. How about we pretend we're a tribe of hunter-gatherers? We've got to traverse the steppes of central Asia and hunt down a mastodon with rocks and spears while we survive on ant dung.
Assuming you weren't gored, and the 15 of you dragged the bastard back to camp, skinned it, carved it up and put it on a spit -- over a fire it took three hours to get going, not counting hunting for wood -- wouldn't that meat taste great? The best tasting meat you've ever had, right? Until next week, or next month, or whenever the next mastodon or the next squirrel, wandered by. In the meantime, you might pray to the mastodon god or sacrifice a virgin or two. That's how much you'd appreciate it.
I can't say I've ever gone wanting, but I do recall a good lesson in appreciation. A few years ago, I was invited to participate in a Native American sweat lodge ceremony.
Inside the structure, it soon became heatstroke hot, especially for a novice like me. I remember one of the other participants asking if anyone ever died during one of the ceremonies, and the leader replying matter-of-factly that he'd witnessed participants die, more than once.
As I sat there braising, I remember curling my fingers beneath the edge of the enclosure, just to feel the winter air outside and know that if I could keep my fingers cool, I might just survive.
About an hour or two into the ceremony, we each drank a few sips of water from a ladle passed around in the dark. Still the best water I have ever tasted.
By the time we exited the sweat lodge, the temperature had dropped to below freezing and it was dark and snowing outside. I crawled out, sweaty, clad only in my underwear, hands and knees sinking into deep mud, dazed and nearly blind (without my glasses, I can't see shit.) It was the most primordial feeling I've ever experienced. I stood up, unsteady. I could not find my glasses or my clothes and I could feel the cold air, which for a few moments felt heavenly, begin to freeze the sweat on my back.
Someone managed to locate my glasses, or I would have known not only the spelling of hypothermia, but the actual meaning of it. I dressed quickly and joined the rest of my fellow lodge-dwellers in a warm house, with wall-to-wall food.
But the feast was beside the point. After the sweat, I would have eaten bark beetles with ketchup and liked it.
In a time when a life and death decisions revolve around what kind of Chardonnay to bring to the housewarming, things just don't seem as precious, or miraculous, as they really are.
Nowadays it takes a death, or at least a near-death experience to register on our Richter scale of appreciation, and even that appreciation tends to fade with time.
Which begs the question, if we can't appreciate the simple gifts of daily life, can we ever really appreciate ourselves in a spiritual sense?
For many of us, that is the crucial question. If you are in the process of awakening you know that appreciation is a key.
If you further accept the Busting Loose proposition that we manifest our own reality from consciousness, and that we are infinitely abundant, powerful and loving beings, then there is a lot to appreciate -- both the amazing illusions we've created and the Truth about ourselves. It seems pretty simple.
But it also seems the bigger the miracle, the more we take it for granted.
I'm thinking maybe the key to appreciation is in Robert Scheinfeld's statement that Phase 2 is about feeling and experience.
No need to jump the Grand Canyon on a Harley. But do something simple. Men, next time you're in the meat department of your grocery store selecting steaks for dinner, take a moment and imagine you're picking up a slice of filet mastodon. Go back about 10,000 years and remember just what a thrill it was to kill that sucker, and just how good that meat tasted.
Ladies, next time you're in the cosmetics department holding some Estee Lauder Turbo Lash Motion Mascara, think back to the old days and imagine how long it took to gather the plants to make the dyes to allow you to paint blue and red spots on your face for the solstice celebration.
It's a first step.
For most of the past week, I attended a conference in Albuquerque called "The Language of Spirit." The conference brings together a mosaic of people from around the world to dialogue about such weighty matters as consciousness, science and the nature of reality.
The conference featured a number of different viewpoints and speakers, from Aborigines and indigenous North American scholars to pasty-white Irish storytellers and theoretical physicists from England and India.
The idea is for the participants to put forth their thoughts, ideas and worldviews on the matters at hand, which this year were bundled up under the theme "Space and Place." From all these varied viewpoints, the theory goes, we can begin to weave the tapestry of reality.
I was thinking about this as I was trying to write a blog entry about "communication" in "relationships." Pre-Busting Loose, one of the bedrock beliefs in my relationship game has been that honest "communication" between two individuals in an intimate relationship will result in something meaningful. Not sure what, but something meaningful. More connection. Make-up sex. Less co-dependence. I don't know.
Now, I've got a whole theory that "communication" is, for most of us, just the web of stories we accumulate and repeat to each other in never-ending patterns, and that we should just dismiss them and move on. But as I was writing it, I reflected upon the conference speakers. The one's with theories certainly made a contribution. But it was the stories, not the theories I heard, that will stay with me.
One woman told a story about a great spiritual healing that took place at the site of a massacre of an Aboriginal community in Australia, more than 100 years after the event. Most of us were holding back tears by the end.
The pasty Irish storyteller (I kid you, James) told a wonderful story about visiting his deceased mother's home in Ireland with one of his sons, and finding the spirit of his mother still there, in a spring spouting the sweetest water his son had ever tasted.
A woman from an indigenous tribe told about a man diagnosed with incurable cancer whose life changed when he decided to raise buffalo instead of undergoing life-extending treatment suggested by his doctor. The man is alive and healthy, several years after his death sentence.
We learned of the secret lives of mice and rocks, lizards and trees, birds and mountains, through the many stories that were told and songs that were sung. I came away enriched by the experience of hearing these life-affirming stories.
The conference reminded me that storytelling is our most ancient art, our most ancient way to pass down wisdom, our most ancient way to reach each other on a deep level.
So when some smartass like me tries to tell you that your psychotic behavior is the result of you hanging on to your stupid "stories," and you can fix that by just not believing them, well, even I have to pause for a moment.
It is human nature to want to be understood and to express ourselves. That is why storytelling has such a a grip on us. So we even cling to the stories that maybe don't point to enlightenment: "I'm a victim of love," "I'm a woman who loves too much," "nobody appreciates/understands me," and "he left me for that little whore;" yada, yada, yada as my spirit guides from "Seinfeld" like to say. They may be unhelpful stories -- unhelpful in helping us expand in Phase 2 -- but they're our unhelpful stories.
Many of us will fight for them to the end. I remember meeting a disgruntled man at a personal transformation workshop who was complaining about his divorce -- 10 years after the fact.
In Busting Loose, Robert Scheinfeld correctly notes that in Phase 1, we focus on our stories and beliefs and illusions, energizing and giving them power. Power that is rightfully ours.
The solution is to exchange the stories and lies for the truth of who we are. I get that. But somehow it seems aesthetically unsatisfying. I mean, as great as the truth is -- that we are infinitely abundant, joyful, wise, powerful and loving -- it does seem kind of boring. Not that there's anything wrong with that.
So let's move toward truth, but let's be gentle. Let's respect our stories no matter what they say, They are after all, like all our creations in Phase 1, miracles. But let the old ones that don't support us go quietly and if we must have stories, let's create some new ones that point us in the right direction.
I'm reminded of where I was a year ago, in the throes of a separation from my partner. I was conjuring up re-runs of grade B horror movies about being unlovable, unappreciated, rejected and having screwed up yet another promising relationship. It was a familiar story.
But the story has changed. What my partner reflected back to me at that time set me on a new path, looking for another way. I see the bigger story in my more lucid moments and appreciate everything she and my Expanded Self had to tell me. As a writer and filmmaker, I will always love telling stories. But now I can glimpse the truth, and that's a happy beginning.
As I've become more aware of my ingrained habits and beliefs, I've been noticing just how many judgments I make a day.
I don't like it, but to stop being judgmental is sort off like trying to quit a two-pack-a-day cigarette habit.
If only there was a patch to get me through those moments when I just have to make a judgment.
I can't stop myself. Just one more judgment, my ego insists. It can't hurt. Quit tomorrow. Just one more. Then I light up.
At least at those times, I'm making a choice. Most of the time, I just blow through judgments without thinking, force of habit.
I've actually stopped for a few days at a time, but then i get in rush hour traffic, or argue with a loved one and I just have to have a judgment. Next thing, I'm stopping at a 24-hour convenience store to pick up some more.
I've tried "judgment lights," softening my judgments of myself and others. But that doesn't work either, because there is no order of judgment. A small one has just as much impact as a big one, spiritually speaking. Filters are useless. I've event tried the "natural" judgments, the ones without harmful additives like "consequences." But the act of judging is still us telling our Expanded Selves that what we've created is not good enough, instead of recognizing it for the miracle it is.
I just have to stop, period.
Like many others, I got hooked in my formative years. I wasn't even legally old enough to have judgment, but I could always get someone to sell it to me. I thought it was cool to be judgmental. In high school, I used to hang out with the other judges, judging those less talented and fortunate and cool. We'd sneak a judgment at lunch and then after school in the parking lot.
It continued through college, where I was introduced to many other types of judgment, including some that were mind altering. By the time I'd graduated, I could judge others in many more ways, through science, politics and even literature. I think we called it being intelligent and discriminating back then. Nice euphemisms. But by whatever name, it was addictive.
I eventually went into the newspaper business, a high pressure job that had me drinking coffee and making judgments all day just to get by. We weren't officially allowed to make judgments in the newsroom, that was against our code of ethics, but it happened anyway. In fact, some editors secretly rewarded judgmental reporters and the editorial writers simply flaunted their judgment. It was a weird double standard.
Although the health risks of judging had been known for a long time, just knowing that judgments were turning my soul black was not enough for me, and millions of others, to quit. This was something that was beyond reason. You could have stamped the warning on the side of every self-help book I ever read, and it wouldn't have made a difference.
But now in my 50s, I've begun to see the damage it's done to me. I suffer from shortness of patience. My clothes, home and car all smell like judgment. Long airplane flights just kill me. Potential girlfriends can smell the judgment on my breath. I've even found that judgment can be harmful to pregnant thoughts or actions, damaging or destroying them before they could even form. But worst of all, I've done all that judging, and I've still gained weight.
Now that my circle of friends has changed and I'm creating more and more spiritually attuned people to come into my life, I'm embarrassed to judge in front of them, so I sometimes have to step outside on the patio to have a judgment. I feel alienated. But maybe that's the first step toward recovery.
Those in the know insist that the harmful effects of judging can be reversed, but I have to stop judging. I'm sure there is a 12-step program out there somewhere. Perhaps Robert Scheinfeld is at this very moment creating a Busting Loose from The Judgment Game program. I hope so.
In the meantime, I'm doing everything I can to change my consciousness about judgment.
But if you know where I can get some spiritual help, please let me know.
In other words, anybody got a light?
I've been attending a truly interesting and enlightening conference the last few days called "The Language of Spirit.
" There have been several notable presenters -- physicists David Peat (Blackfoot Physics) and Amit Goswami (What the Bleep Do We Know?), author David Abram (The Spell of the Sensuous) and James O'Dea, the former president of the Institute of Noetic Sciences, among others.
But the purpose of the conference is the bringing together of western and Native American ways of knowing about science, consciousness, reality and related topics. The centerpiece is a three-day dialogue among some 20 participants from various backgrounds and countries, from quantum physicists to Aboriginal storytellers.
The idea is not to debate, but simply to present various viewpoints on a given topic and see if some consensus can be arrived at.
This year's focus has been on "Space and Place," and what that means from all these perspectives.
The individual presentations and the group dialogue have prompted a bunch of deep thoughts and reflections on how I experience my world.
But first and foremost, the idea has come to me is that if I thought Busting Loose was radical, it's really got nothing on the worldviews of most of the participants.
I guess where we would diverge is that the participants here, to a person, feel a sense of urgency to solve the world's problems, especially those associated with the environment.
As I mentioned in a recent post
, I don't feel that sense of urgency or even minor interest in most of this, because I've moved into the understanding that everything "out there" is truly made up and illusory. As I change my consciousness, the world around me changes accordingly.
But as I listen to these passionate and intelligent people I've created, sometimes a shred of doubt begins to creep in. Is this some kind of message for me? Has my understanding and practice of Busting Loose caused me to become too cavalier about the whole concept of the world as illusion?
I can see sometimes how taking a radical view could be a smokescreen for my apathy, and apathy is not high on the list of things that I want to bring to the world, illusory or not.
I know that Robert Scheinfeld would say that if taking on a cause truly supports you in Phase 2, and you get fun or enjoyment out of pursuing some solution, then do it. There's nothing wrong with it. Just remember the cause and the solution are both illusions.
But then I hear an Aboriginal woman talk about her people's sacred relationship to the land, and how that relationship nurtures the people and the land, and I almost feel obligated to wander the deserts of Australia with her on a walkabout.
I should be concerned about world peace, right?
The moderator, Leroy LIttle Bear, reminds us that to enter into this type of dialogue, it is necessary to get rid of our "tacit infrastructures" -- the concepts and beliefs that accumulate in us over time -- so that we can be ready to receive new knowledge from new places.
(I must interject a note here. Leroy helped start these dialogues in 1992, and is one of the wisest and funniest people I know. After a participant related the experience of going to sleep and dreaming that he flew through his bedroom window, Leroy deadpanned, "Was it paneless?")
This concept of "tacit infrastructures" obviously jibes with Robert's concepts, in that we humans tend to buy into the rules of games that we will never win while playing in the hologram. That's always a good ground for me.
It seems to me that the divergence is on this question of beliefs, but not in the way you might think. Robert has encapsulated it well in his new book: we're not here to change beliefs, but to exchange them for the Truth. I'm hoping the group will move from simply wanting to change the beliefs of others to getting to the Truth in this dialogue.
Leroy, who is Blackfoot, also explained how a particular problem might be resolved in a tribal setting. Someone would come to a relative or friend with a particular issue. The relative would present it to the talking circle and the elders would each speak their piece.
But instead of the circle issuing a decree, the person who brought the problem to the circle would be asked to take the wisdom of the group with him and solve the problem.
That's pretty much where I am as we enter the second day of dialogue. I'll be listening and learning and coming up with my own solution about just how involved I will be with the issues of the outer world. And if anybody knows of a cheap flight to Australia, let me know.
Even as I broadcast my interest in all things spiritual to the known world (I now have Facebook fans in 17 countries -- welcome Ethiopia!) there's this little matter of coming out.
You see, while I've attracted like-minded people from everywhere, and a few, who frankly were a long shot to like or care about what I was writing, I've yet to tell a host of my creations.
That would include friends, relatives, acquaintances and business colleagues who haven't experienced this aspect of me. (On the other hand, there are also a few old friends who have seen me go through one of these "spiritual things" before and are just waiting for me to snap out of it.)
One reason I launched this blog was because I was moved to speak freely about who I am and what I am experiencing. It's that important to me to speak that truth to at least a selected few.
But I still feel I'm living a double life. Hell, how about a quadruple life? There are many (as I judge them) less than spiritual aspects of me that people know, so many different Anthonys and Tonys running around in parallel universes --the cynical journalist, the sports fanatic, the self-absorbed prick, the frivolous serial dater, the whiny victim of everything, the party animal, the uptight control freak. Sybil has nothing on me. But where once I was very comfortable living out these roles in my hologram -- to the point of misery in some cases -- I've become weary and ready to shed them.
That leaves me in a strange place. I don't feel any serious need to tell the uninitiated about my quest for peace, wholeness and abundance. My hologram and their hologram will plug along with no discernible difference as far as I know, whether I tell them or not.
Yet, I feel sometimes as if I'm hiding some dark secret and when certain people find out, oh, the consequences, the embarrassment, the reflections of incredulity, ridicule or just plain shock. I don't want to have to explain myself -- except maybe on this blog.
Now, the chances are equally good that I will receive acceptance and encouragement, maybe even from others who have been hiding their spirituality in the closet. That's cool. So I will remain neutral and curious about what is going to manifest.
In the meantime, I'll just keep doing the Busting Loose process.
As those of you who jumped ahead a few paragraphs ago know, this discomfort is rooted in my discomfort with my spiritual pursuits. At some level, I'm still unsure of what I'm doing with this strange new practice and that's reflected back to me. I'm still not sure I accept that part of me that seeks the peace of God.
I suppose that living the first 52 years of my life somewhat out of balance and integrity may be why I am where I am now. Perhaps it is residue from my guilt-inducing Catholic upbringing, a level of cynicism engendered by working in the news business for 25 years, my disdain for preachy "born again" Christians, my disappointment in previous spiritual practices, even feelings that I'm setting myself up for a fall again.
(I've also wanted to avoid being too "confessional" about this, hence the light-hearted tone to much of what I write. I was abruptly reminded of this a couple of months ago while informing my son of how Busting Loose had changed the way I am experiencing relationship and shedding the victim mentality.
He basically answered "Dad, that's good. I've heard about your girlfriends for 15 years. If I never have to hear about them again, that would be great.")
I know I have had judgments about certain things, even when I was in the midst of a practice. For instance, I was asked once to write a story for the paper on a woman who telepathically communicated with dogs. I had to draw the line somewhere. I had written about some woo woo things in my career, but this was my limit. I was certain of public humiliation if I wrote about this.
I make fun of certain other practices that have become commonplace in the New Age. I won't mention which because it's likely that many of you might enjoy these practices and find some benefit. But even as I was searching for truth, I was judging the path that others were taking, and by inference, judging myself.
I get that as I do the Process, these doubts are likely to drop away. I get than on an intellectual level.
But at some point, I must answer one question. Is my decision to live my life another, more authentic way, more important than keeping up the facade that has served me in Phase 1?
The answer is obvious, the faith to take the leap, not so obvious.
Perhaps it is enough to find a partner and a small group of friends that I am comfortable with. Perhaps not. I guess I will find out as life rolls on.
One of my great passions is learning the truth with a small "t" behind many of the things we take for granted. For me, it's practice for learning the Truth with a big "T."
For instance, most of us assume that giving a diamond wedding ring to the bride is an ancient custom passed down through the millenia. Nope, basically it was a slick advertising campaign started in the 1930s, and financed by the diamond cartel DeBeers, to boost a slumping diamond market. The marketing geniuses were able to turn essentially worthless carbon crystals (they are good for certain types of drills) into great symbols of courtship and marriage
And by creating the illusion that diamonds are gifts that should never be sold or given away, they protected the market for diamonds. Because unless you're holding on to the Hope diamond, the actual chances of you recovering the cost of the average diamond on the open market are pretty much nil.
So, while the diamond may not really be forever, we can rest assured the advertising will be.
Along those lines, a couple of stories, actually, a book and a news article caught my eye this week. One was a Time magazine article
about how overrated exercising at the gym is, especially when it comes to weight loss and fitness. As Robert Scheinfeld likes to say, "That's true, and somehow I've always known it."
The book, "Moneyball," by Michael Lewis takes the quest for truth to an entirely other level. It is a thoroughly joyful dismantling of many of the myths behind our great American pastime. For those of a more tender age, that would be Major League Baseball, not surfing for porn.
"Moneyball" tells the story of how the Oakland A's, one of the least financially viable franchises in baseball was able to put together a stunning run of successful seasons, competing against teams that had two or three times the amount of money to spend.
The key to it all, the author explains, was the willingness to throw out more than 100 years of baseball "wisdom" and start from scratch.
The A's management was Inspired by a generation of pioneering researchers, namely Bill James, who in the late 1970s began analyzing hallowed baseball statistics and devising new ways to look at the true value of baseball players and the underlying mechanics of the game. It was then up to A's general manager Billy Beane, to actually implement new strategies based on this knowledge and make them manifest on the field.
The revolution threw everyone off balance in the A's organization. The opinions of scouts, with decades worth of experiencing finding ballplayers fit for the major leagues, were suddenly discarded for computer printouts. The A's drafted many players sight unseen, based on new insights into their statistics.
Many of the players were unknown to the other teams, and a good lot of them didn't even resemble athletes. (one pitcher had two club feet) But they got the job done.
Essentially, Beane and company were able to see through the illusions of how the worth of players was typically judged (body size, foot speed, meaningless statistics) to realize what they actually produced on the field.
The same principles applied to the hoary traditions of baseball strategy and Beane saw that his teams played to the new paradigm. It took vision, nerve and diligence.
One interesting aspect of this was that the rest of major league baseball, with a couple of minor exceptions, either looked the other way, or attacked this attack against tradition, many without having ever read the book.
And teams continue to throw ungodly amounts of appreciation at ball players and continued to struggle, or like the Yankees and Red Sox, just buy everything in sight and sometimes succeeded. It's just easier to put power in the lie than it is to try another way.
As a practitioner of Busting Loose, this somehow all made sense. In baseball, the results don't lie. Either you won or you lost. With your spiritual practice, it either affects you, or it doesn't. It's pretty easy to tell if something is working.
So I don't know that anyone has attacked "Busting Loose," like they attacked "Moneyball," and I certainly hope not to manifest that. But as with the Oakland A's, Robert has gone against almost everything we hold as true in presenting a radically new philosophy of living and playing.
Be thankful you have the tools to challenge the lies and the courage to follow through. Batter up.
One of the great gifts of Busting Loose is the chance to re-invent ourselves on the playing field while we do the serious behind-the-scenes work through the Process. I'm seeing so many more possibilities that I didn't realize before.
I think for most of us, it's not on the level of gee, I'd like to be President of the United States. And, in fact, who really wants that? What a pain in the ass. I can't imagine having to spend 16 hours a day dealing with politicians, radio talk show hosts, angry vegetarians and the cast of "Fantasy Island," aka North Korea.
Frankly, as a guy and a Player, I'd rather grow up to be Johnny Depp -- all the notoriety and half the grief, 50 times the money, a 45-acre private island in the Bahamas, a creative outlet in the movies. Plus, I get to play a pirate. Arrgggh. Women, I'm thinking Oprah? Kate Winslett? Angela Merckel? I don't know, you tell me. We have plenty of creations to choose from.
(Oh, then there's the guy whose "job" was to eat his way through the two most famous culinary regions of Italy
and decide which made the best food. Arrrggh indeed.)
For me, it's started out on a little less grand level. it's a combination of realizing what I can play at now, and what I would like to discard. Sort of like the guy in a series of radio commercials for STP Oil, the "I don't wanna be that guy" guy. He laments not being able to do simple manly things like changing the oil in his car, home repairs or hunting. He knows more about cooking oil than motor oil. He wants to get grease on his hands.
I can relate. I don't want to be that guy who looks at everything through the prism of whether he can afford it or not.
I don't want to be that guy who sits in front of his computer 13 hours a day until his eyes bleed and his brain synapses fry because he's too lazy to get out of the house.
I don't want to be that guy who cruises travel sites every day, but never books a flight anywhere.
I don't want to be the guy who settles for a McDonald's hamburger when he could be eating sushi -- in Japan.
I don't want to be the guy who uses coupons at the grocery store.
I don't want to be the guy with basic cable when he could have HBO and Cinemax.
I don't want to be the guy who takes his date to an art reception because there will be free food and wine.
You get my point. Eventually, as I realize what I don't want to be, when I understand the limitations I've put on myself, then I can start playing in a bigger arena.
For example, I've noticed a change in my response to the question, "what do you do?" No, I'm not answering, "I seek enlightenment through a process called Busting Loose, so that I can realize my true essence as an infinitely abundant and joyful being." I haven't quite come out of the closet in that regard.
But now the answer is along the lines of, "Well, this week, I'm writing a screenplay and
solving the newspaper crisis." Or "Today, I'm producing a television show and
saving the non-profit arts community." Or "Next week, I'm launching an internet marketing campaign and
I'm going to give the local music scene an international presence and make it bigger than Austin."
I'm thinking bigger and more creatively. I don't want to confine myself. I'm realizing I'm more than just a persona defined by a certain set of skills and society's expectations -- and my own stories.
Plus I get bored easily. So one crusade morphs into another depending on whether I'm still having fun with it. But I'm expanding as a Player in ways I would never have considered before. I'm approaching people I would never have approached, just for the fun of doing it, and asking for things I would never have asked for, for the same reason.
The response isn't even important. It's the taking the chance that is fun.
Understanding we are living in an illusion of our own creation is the mother of re-invention. So take a minute and think about what you're doing this week. Anyone for tennis and
buying a villa in Tuscany? Thought so.
More than 20 years ago, I felt moved to explore Nichiren Shoshu Buddhism, which involves among other things, chanting prayers twice a day and repeating the mantra nam myoho renge kyo.
It started when my former wife and I called a friend one afternoon and heard this mysterious chanting in the background. When we inquired about it, the friend invited us to a meeting the next week.
The wife and I both attended and met an interesting group of practitioners, participated in the chanting and talked afterwards. I felt a great sense of peace from the chanting and I was hooked. The wife, not so much. But that was okay, Different strokes.
I returned the next week and after chanting, the group sat and around and talked, led by a guy named Bob. I don't remember a whole lot of the discussion, but I remember Bob saying that once you started with the practice, something in your life would shift pretty quickly. It might be "bad," it might be "good," but something would change.
i nodded as if I knew, then went home. Within the week, the wife asked me for a divorce.
Now, I'm not going to lie and say that this was totally out of the blue. We had been working through our issues for some time. But divorce? Now? Really?
Literally, my first was reaction was, "Damn, Bob was right." Then I promptly settled into the illusion of pain, separation, self-doubt, hatred, devastation, fear for my son's well-being and all the other pleasant things we typically associate with divorce.
To my credit, I continued the daily rituals, attended meetings, even joined the local temple, as all about me my life seemed to be falling apart.
Thankfully, the request for divorce was not the only major shift in my life. I distinctly recall waking up one morning, about three months later, feeling a profound peace. I knew at that moment that I would survive the divorce and I would be happy again. I attribute that, too, to my diligent practice of nam myoho renge ko.
All this came flooding back as I read Robert Scheinfeld's new book, "Busting Loose From the Business Game." He goes on at length to explain that Busting Loose is not an overnight process, and that we can expect some serious changes.
In other words, the journey of spiritual transformation is not for wusses.
It's funny the beliefs that we've created around spirituality. Some critics view it as something that they don't have time for, a disembodied practice, designed for self-absorbed, navel-gazing vegan hippies and lost, mindless souls too weak to confront "reality" on its own terms. Spirituality is a cheap and easy escape to la la land. Don't let the door hit you in the aura on the way out.
In truth, many of us spiritual travelers began with an equally inaccurate view of the journey. We plunge in believing that learning this practice or this spiritual formula will help us "transcend" our earthly problems in a single bound. If only I do this, life will get "better." Don't forget to tape that new affirmation to the bathroom mirror.
Those of us who have played the spirituality game know better now. It's like walking into a biker bar at 1 a.m. Start something and the shit is going to hit the fan. Going deep into transformation requires courage and faith that few of us ever call upon.
So when certain other aspects cast a jaundiced eye at you, or sneeringly inquire, "still Busting Loose, are you?", just remember, you're on the spiritual equivalent of the running of the bulls at Pamplona. Run like hell and don't look back. You may get gored on the way, but it's going to be okay.
By the way, check back in Sunday for my review of "Busting Loose From the Business Game."
The news that the former cast of "Seinfeld" is going to reunite on the cable hit "Curb Your Enthusiasm," brought back some fond memories. As I noted in a previous post, I gave up my long-running obsession for watching "Seinfeld" re-runs last fall. I'm sure I've forgotten a few classic lines or episodes. But what I won't forget is the Zen of Seinfeld, one of the most underrated sources of spiritual inspiration on the planet.
One of my favorite episodes was "The Opposite." The episode opens with Jerry, Elaine and George sitting in the diner, waiting to order lunch. George gives one of the most heartfelt speeches of his life. I quote it here:
"It all became very clear to me sitting out there today that every decision i've ever made in my entire life has been wrong. My life is the complete opposite of everything I want it to be. Every instinct I have in every aspect of life....it's all been wrong."
The waitress checks in at the table and confirms that George wants the usual, tuna on toast. George quickly assents, then changes his mind. and delivers a Zen koan of a line.
"I want the complete opposite of tuna on toast."
Weirdly enough, that sort of sums up my attraction to Robert Scheinfeld's Busting Loose teachings. I'm not sure exactly what I want, but it's the opposite of something.
As the show unfolds, George proceeds to do everything the opposite of what he would normally do, with great success in every facet of his life.
Now, putting aside the judgment of his life and whether we can make a wrong decision, I always thought George was on to something. For me, the concept of "opposite" first appeared in my use of empowering language, a concept that I had explored before Seinfeld or Scheinfeld.
In a few selected instances, saying something completely alien to my instincts worked miracles and helped me reclaim power.
One time it involved a woman I'll call Helen Wheels, a competitor at the rival newspaper. In the early 90s, i had put myself through a particularly upsetting breakup with a girlfriend, we'll call her Roz, who also worked at the rival newspaper. Every time Helen saw me during this period, she would feign some concern, only to deliver a dagger to my heart with a tidbit about Roz and her life, which I was no longer part of. I had given Helen the power to hurt me.
Several months after our breakup, and still admittedly not quite over it, I ran into Helen and her husband at a local coffee shop. Helen was not 30 seconds into the conversation before she mentioned that Roz was currently in Paris with her new boyfriend. For just a moment, I let the emotions wash over me, then quickly realized what she was up to.
"Have you ever been to Paris in spring?" I asked Helen. "It's really beautiful. I'll bet they're having a great time." I went on for a couple more minutes about the wonders of Paris, but I could see Helen was bewildered. I felt like I'd just dumped a bucket of water on the Wicked Witch of the West. She never mentioned Roz in my presence again. I had reclaimed the power from that illusion.
Another time, I began a torrid affair with a (single) soccer mom, whose son played on the team I coached. It ended badly when she broke up with me a few months later, on Valentine's Day. I could not have scripted this drama any better.
The problem was, we still had an entire season to go and I really didn't want to continue to see her at every practice and game. My discomfort, mixed with anger, was getting the best of me. I did not know how I would survive the rest of the season.
I mentioned my upset to a friend, Rob, and explained how I thought she needed to apologize for the terrible way she had treated me. Rob, in his wisdom, suggested I apologize to her. This pissed me off even more.
But after the next practice, I walked over to her car and apologized to her for not behaving gracefully in the aftermath of our breakup and not being sensitive to how difficult the decision must have been for her. Something like that. She burst into tears and apologized to me. It was a breakthrough. My power came back. The rest of the season passed quickly and we remained friends afterwards.
So now, when my awareness is aware, I will occasionally consider people and situations that are uncomfortable and think about what I could say that would not necessarily smooth over a situation, but grab the power right back. It often involves delving into my deepest fears and saying something unimaginable in my Phase 1 moments, but something that my Expanded Self would have no problem yelling from the rooftops.
It might be something like announcing to an employee at the IRS office, "No problem, Agent Smith, the two-hour wait to talk to you was an exquisite opportunity to review my life and personal finances. I appreciate your giving me a moment of your time and most importantly, allowing me to express my appreciation for what you and the IRS do with this large cashier's check."
Hey, it's worth a try.
In "The Opposite," Elaine tells George the beautiful woman at the lunch counter is looking at him, Instead of rationalizing why he's not worthy of approaching her, George goes against all his instincts, walks over and delivers this suave line.
"My name is George. I'm unemployed and I live with my parents." And he gets the girl. I'm just saying....