Sunday, April 27, 2014

From the manuscript: "Helping Myself: Grief and Memories"


Following is an extract from the current book in process, Risen on Earth: A Companion for Grief.

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     ...  Earlier it was mentioned that I’ve experienced the transitions of seven people in my life during the writing of this book, and the eighth is unfolding even now. This one is a particularly powerful one, representing a major milestone in my earthly life as one of my parents has now set one foot forward on the bridge to a new Risen existence.
      As this event is unfolding, I’ve noticed that I feel as if all the past memories of my childhood are now spiraling up and outward from unconscious and forgotten deeps. I must have been a very self-aware and conscious child to be able to remember and feel so many things with such complexity and detail. Then I realized that this spiral is actually moving in two directions: up from the deeps and into my consciousness, flooding my mind with the past, and then hooking me and pulling me back down into some shadowy abyss that is not for me to enter yet. The result is an increasingly overwhelming feeling of gloom, doom, despair, and grief for my childhood memories that are becoming lost, or at least diminished as another family member goes down the drain. The queue I’ve been standing in since birth is getting shorter, and so I must strive to stay aware and grounded, and begin to mold the energy into excitement and anticipation, which is also healing. But how?
      The spiraling downward also feels as if I’m a worm that has been pierced through the heart by a fisherman’s hook. The line is my connection to the memories, and the hook is the talon of fear that is embedded in my heart. The memories are the lead weights put on the line to keep the still-alive worm sunk out of sight without light and air, which would surely terrify the worm beyond anything, if a worm has such awareness. People certainly have it. I not only must find a way to not sink, but to let myself float on top of the water like the fisherman’s bobber. I must find a way to release myself entirely from the line and rise above it all. Here is one of many ways in which we encounter the paradox of the pendulum. By unhooking myself from the weight of the memories, I am no longer a burden to myself, and I rise above the pendulum, back up to the higher realm where life really is—where my loved ones really are.
      As Krishnamurti has suggested, memories are the past, which is psychological time, and must be completely and fully ended before one can experience the present. My ego-mind can be like Scrooge, hoarding and obsessively trying to count the countless memories that make up its past identity, and trying to make it the identity of the present. But I have to let go of the memories to move forward. Just as gold coins are valuable only because someone assigns them as such, I can assign value to anything, even to things that aren’t real or even present, like memories. I can value what is essentially nothing.
      What feelings come from hanging onto nothing? For me I sense feelings of confusion, which means that there are at least two contradictory feelings trying to occupy the same heart space—unreal feelings mixing with real feelings. What I focus on will magnify, and what I take my attention away from will grow fainter and eventually vanish, until I look for it again, or someone tells me to and so I believe them.
      A crucial part of the ongoing resolution of grief, especially at its beginning, is to take a break from the memories. Even better, to fully release them, even though my ego-mind wants to look at them, hold them, caress them, and dwell on and in them. Dwelling on them activates them. We may resist letting them go, as if without the memories we no longer have an identity. In a way this is true—but it’s the ego-mind that loses its identity, not I, as Authentic Self. Authentic Self is timeless, which means it is always present, which is immortality.
      What feelings come from immortality? Here is a worthy place to repeat the three concepts mentioned in the beginning that encompass “The Unpretentious Way”—

1.       Feel your grief, and then use your love to leave the grief. Do this not just for yourself, but also for your loved ones.
2.       Strive to comprehend and then really feel the truth of your actual immortality as it is now. Feeling your own personal and present immortality will rob the grief of its energy and release the joy of living to rise again.
3.       Fear not, for you have always been and always will be free. Release all fearful thoughts and beliefs about death to feel the adventurous excitement of your immortal freedom.
      We speak often in this book about letting our life unfold. Memories can no longer unfold, although we can misuse our imagination to make them into fantasies, films that we can enter and re-enter, pretending that they are unfolding. Our brain is a magnificent learning organ, evolved to learn by repetition, eventually making nearly unbreakable synaptic connections. It is a neutral organ, unable to say yes or no to anything we bring it, and so it will believe anything we tell it. If we repeat the movie memories over and over to the brain, it will accept and learn them, and then we can revisit them to experience all the feelings of the drama at any time, all times. The experience of present life, with all its senses and feelings, fades into the background. Maybe that’s what some of us want, because the present feels too painful.
      I’ve learned from Tim that looking back in grief or even in happiness is no longer real, but a simulation, like watching an old movie over and over. Wanting to reunite with him then instead of now will blind and deafen me to his actual reality—the present, which is all there is. He is not on the projection screen of the past, but sitting right next to me. “Stop looking back, turn towards me and see and hear me as I am now, Dear Heart” he had to say many times over the years before finally I heard and then tried it. I then discovered that while he is still alive and real, he is also a different person due to his own growth—and so then I must also be a different person. I must consciously choose to choose the “now Tim” and my “now self,” as we both are, not as we once were. Sometimes, though, it still feels like he’s “waiting ahead” for me, rather than right here in the present with me. Here is Tim’s response to that—

“August, it’s not so much that I’m ‘waiting ahead’ for you, but it’s more that our movement within and against different backgrounds makes it seem so. I truly comprehend the difficulty there is in finding a way to compare our two very different experiences of awareness of self while living in different dimensions of space and time. Like space, time is real, and its beauty is seen and experienced in differing realities, and in changing reality. We can see that change is rooted in Nature—that we are Nature, and change is time. But change is also space.
“Your geography is usually described on earth as an experience of Space-Time. Space appears to stand still while events are perceived to change by passing through it in a linear way, manifesting and mixing impressions of past, present and future. The Risen geography could be said to be an experience of Time-Space. Time appears to stand still, while space appears to change as I move through it. Just like on Earth—and a few of your scientists are beginning to grasp this—the Risen interpret and utilize these appearances, which are really just thoughts, as movement or modes of transportation. All time events are occurring simultaneously, reflecting the Risen understanding that Creation is finished and always available for manifested exploration. Space-Time and Time-Space, and other combinations of light and sound are the mediums of exploration, the finger paints of the cosmic playroom. You, the Yet-To-Rise, can and do experience Risen Time-Space via spiritual events and realizations, and states of altered consciousness—which also include pain and suffering.
“To get some feel for this, I’ll try to use an earthly experience as an illustration that most people can understand. It sort of works because it reflects the physics of an actual train ride you might take on earth. It’s as if I’m sitting in a train which is moving along at a very fast speed—meaning a state of higher vibration. As I look out the window on the side where I’m sitting, those things closer to the train appear to race past me very quickly, as they would on an earthly train ride—so space appears to change as I move through time.
“Simultaneously, those things that are further away, which are the lower vibrating landscapes of Earth, also appear to move, but much more slowly. From my train I can see the combined Risen and Earth landscapes as well as many of their details, but not all. Those objects in the middle ground also move, but at a different rate. I can see all of these different-paced, different-spaced areas simultaneously through the one window, and I can also see them moving in different relationships with one another. Depending on where you are within that passing landscape, I can see more of your life than you can, while mine moves along at its faster pace which still keeps pace with yours. We might even get a brief glimpse of one another.
“Someone in another train passing mine might see what I see, but in a different way, and from a different perspective. The Risen State is a little like being in a moving train at times, although you can see how the analogy breaks down quickly if I try to move beyond this very simplified form. Rather like trying to get up to walk through a moving train while having to pee really badly.”
      For me, one of the most important things that Tim mentions here is that my thoughts are a mode of transportation, a way to move through my experience of my life and my universe. Over time, we—that is, our ego-mind—will find that the thoughts or memories fade. This is because the brain exists in the present, and continues to accept and process all the data coming in, whether we are aware of it or not. We will often spend a great deal of time, energy and money trying to capture, hold and sustain the memories, by building monuments, park benches, churches, hospital wings, websites and giving them the loved ones’ names, “in memory of.” We might preserve their bedroom exactly the same, a kind of walk-in altar or tribute to keep them alive in some way. We ought to ask ourselves, is this really what our loved one would want us to do? Or ought we to change our thinking to explore a new direction, one that might take us to where our loved one is now?
      Just as we try to re-live our experiences through memory, we try to re-live—or resurrect—our loved ones by building what we hope is a beacon of hope, a lighthouse in the night, calling and directing them back to us. If we charge these things of the present with enough focused energy, we might actually, yet unknowingly, achieve getting their attention. And yet because we are so intent on the past, we will not be aware that they are standing right next to us, desperately trying to get us to see and hear them now. This must be tragic to them. How unnecessarily sad this is!
Hope turns the movie memory reel around and around as it tries to make the past appear in the present and even the future, while providing the artificial light to project the film. So hope must also be released. Earlier, we said this about it:
“While not discouraging the element called ‘hope,’ we won’t speak of it as something to acquire and keep for very long. This goes quite against many earthly traditions that promote it as something to cling to. Hope contains doubt and so must not be allowed to linger for long, because hope is meant to be changed into the faith that transforms into the knowing; doubt keeps this from happening. From a Risen perspective, hope is perceived as something held up against a background of fear—“Maybe it will happen or maybe it won’t, but I hope it will.” This doubt is the reluctance to assert one’s Divine Authority to speak positive words of faith. Hope chooses unknowing, while faith chooses knowing. And then knowing simply chooses anything correctly.”
      Hope cannot have the illusion of reality unless it is projected onto a background of fear, from which it then draws its sustenance. Just like misfocused attention upon the past, hope is another defense of the frightened ego-mind. Hope is projected onto a screen of the future—never the present, which hope obscures. The present cannot contain hope, and hope cannot contain the present. If one is hoping, one is not present, having been taken out of it by the desire for something that is not in the present. Without a sense of time-generated fear, grief has no lasting reality and no permanent significance.

      Without his former body’s dense material and its ego-mind, Tim’s is able to focus on a larger range of living than I can. When we each our awareness toward one another, the interception is where we meet and join in awareness. Because I now have knowledge that he is often waiting patiently in the present, I’ve achieved a bit of that which some call faith and which I increasingly experience as knowing, and feel as relief, and then joy.

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