My dear friends...
The desire to attain self-awareness has been discussed and explored for thousands of years, yet in all my reading on this subject I have never been able to find a simple process, approach, or formula that allowed the average person to easily understand what is involved in that experience.
Perhaps that writing exists and I have simply not come across it. That is entirely possible. On June 15, 2006, however, in a small cafe in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, my personal search ended.
The most astonishing thing occurred on that day. For the first time in my life I had a Conversation with God in a public place, and while in the company of other people. We were having a lively exchange, four of us, over hot chocolate (it was unseasonably cool in Amsterdam that day, and rainy as well, and we'd ducked under cover for some "warm-me-ups").
The topic was life, and how various people approach it and live it. We were looking at the balance point between the "spiritual" life lived by gurus, masters, serious devoteés and students of the spiritual disciplines, and "regular life" as lived by most people.
As the conversation flowed I found myself abruptly distracted. It felt as if an old friend was knocking at the back door of my house while I was at the front door talking to a sales person. I wanted to go to the back door, but I also did not want to be impolite. Finally, my inner impulse could not be denied. In the midst of the discussion at hand I found myself grabbing for a pen from my travel bag and scribbling on a napkin. Here is what I was "receiving" in response to the discussion in which I was engaged...
There are Four Major Steps to Self-Awareness. These are:
The First Major Step, Contentment, includes 5 minor steps. The Second Major Step, Enlargement, includes 3 minor steps. The Third Major Step, Fulfillment, includes two minor steps. The Fourth Major Step, Attainment, stands alone.
That was all I "got." I fought inside my head to "hear" more, but the sights and sounds of the café proved to be too much of a distraction. I could access no further data. I folded the napkin and tucked it into my pocket.
The next day I was quietly ensconced in a room at a family owned and operated resort in the tiny town of De Bild, about two hours from Amsterdam, where I was to present a weekend spiritual renewal retreat beginning that night.
Lying on the bed, I was hoping to get some rest before the event began...when more information began coming through. I quickly opened my laptop and took down what I was "hearing" in my head.
The 5 minor steps leading to Contentment are described in human language as: abandonment, requirement, resentment, argument, and discernment.
The 3 minor steps leading to Enlargement are described in human language as: stopping, starting, and sustaining.
The 2 minor steps leading to Fulfillment are described in human language as: becoming, and being.
The Fourth Major Step stands alone, and is described in human language as: expressing.
In the next hour I was given the complete explanation behind each of the major and minor steps. That explanation is what I will be presenting here, beginning today and continuing over the next several weeks, written in a somewhat more flowing form rather than as an instruction (as it was given to me), for easy digestion.
The First Major Step to Self-Awareness is Contentment.
This is a high state of being, and is generally achieved only after rich and varied life experience and sincere contemplation. I am told that just over one in four humans reach this state in their lives, and of those, nearly all do so in their later years.
Contentment is a state of being that radiates a human being's "total okayness" with the way things are with them. It is a total and positive embracing of their present physical, mental, and spiritual condition. It is absolute self-love, self-forgiveness, and self-acceptance.
In a state of Contentment there is no need for anything to be other than what it is right now with one's body, with one's mind, with one's spirit, with one's inner experience and with one's exterior circumstance. It is a feeling of perfection and an experience of quiet inner peace. It is the absence of self-recrimination and self-criticism. It is the presence of self-worth.
Contentment is most often achieved in stages, or "minor steps." Not all of these steps must be taken. It is possible to "skip" over some of them. Yet most souls move through most of these stages.
The minor steps to Contentment will be described here in the weeks ahead. Below are the first two.
The first stage, or minor step, in the journey to Contentment is abandonment. This is the moment in the Continual Life Cycle when the mind notices in consciousness that the soul has emerged from unity with The Essence. This occurs some time between birth and the age of 3 months, when the infant becomes aware that it is no longer In Union with The All.
The mind immediately begins to seek an explanation for this, and during the first weeks of the body's physical life the young human being is enveloped in a Cultural Story that satisfies this longing of the mind. It is the Story of Separation.
Repeated exposure to this Story, through the hearing of it over and over again, and through the direct experiencing of it in the outer reality, causes the infant human to abandon its own Inner Awareness of Oneness With The Creator. This is a natural part of the Process of Self Awareness.
In that process:
* First, the Holy Being known as the infant human becomes aware of Itself.
* Second, it becomes aware of Another.
* Third, it comes to understand that the Self of which it is now aware is Individual--a Being Unto Itself.
There exists within the consciousness of this young human a memory of a Larger Essence, a Larger Being, of which it is a part--yet it no longer experiences that it is a part of This Essence. At an unknown moment it abandons this memory in favor of the experience it is currently having. Abandonment is a step taken by 100% of all human beings.
This is not a sad moment in the evolution of the Being, but a sign of growth. It would only be sad (in human terms) if the mind of the Being never grew beyond this point.
The second stage, or minor step, in the journey to Contentment is requirement. This is the moment when the mind begins to experience a natural yearning for an experience of The Essence from which it intuitively knows it has emerged--even as, at a human level, the infant has a natural yearning for its mother.
The Being now understands that it is separate from the experience it wishes to have. The young mind begins searching for a response to this awareness. There must be something that it can do. It has learned to please its earthly mother by doing certain things in a certain way. Maybe, the young human reasons, it can please its Unseen Creator in the same way--by doing certain things.
This totally understandable, if completely inaccurate, childish assessment is then confirmed by the infant's adult mentors as they demonstrate for the Being, through actions and words, more and more of the Human Cultural Story of Separation.
At some point the young Being is made aware that there is, indeed, something it can do--in fact, a requirement to do certain things--in order to be allowed to return to union with that Essence that it once experienced.
(The Essence is called by many names, depending upon where on the Earth the Being is born. For the purposes of this discussion the word "God" will be used.)
The young Being will begin to assimilate ideas, gained entirely from its environment, that it is not good enough, that it is not worthy, to return to God by simply remaining in its natural state. The Being then seeks every manner or means possible to become worthy. It wishes to do what is necessary in order to return to God and to have an experience of God once again. It now completely understands that it is separate from God and fully accepts that there is a requirement it must meet to bring an end to this condition. Requirement is a step taken by approximately eight in ten of all human beings.
This is not a sad moment in the evolution of the Being, but a sign of growth, for the Being has understood that its "home" is with God, and it wishes to do something to return there. It would only be sad (in human terms) if the mind of the Being never grew beyond this point.
(It should be noted that all very young human beings imagine that there might be something they can do to experience being One with The Essence again, but not all are told that there is a requirement they must meet in order to do so. Some never hear this idea, and so avoid embracing it as their truth. A tiny portion of young humans are actually told that there is nothing they have to do to return to The Essence. Still others--perhaps the smallest percentage of all--are brought up in a sub-culture which tells them that they are this Essence to which they wish to return. By far the largest number of developing Beings--as noted above, perhaps as many as eight out of ten--are raised in an environment that speaks repeatedly of a requirement that must be met to return to God.)
Next week in this space: Resentment, Argument, and Discernment--the final minor steps in reaching Contentment.with love,
Read this week's Letter to Neale here
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