Serenity Prayer & Insight Continued…
IV: External Code of Conduct: Living Life allows one to develop the Courage to change the things one can change.
Internal tools for practice help to lay the groundwork for learning, but one can only truly learn through having an experience, at the direct conscious level. You need to live your life, interact and learn from your own mistakes and triumphs. If you view life with Acceptance of both its ups and downs than you invite movement towards self expansion/understanding (learning). A challenge to learning is when it requires a shift from a previous held belief or feeling, as this takes a sacrifice of ones Ego. You cannot grow in the comfort zone, as they say. When you are acquiring new awareness, the process itself can be a bit unsettling as it requires change, and change can be scary.
Developing courage is a process that I equate to as both scary but liberating. Applying courage calls for making a conscious shift between Being Right or Getting your way. Getting your way is aligning your thoughts and deeds with that of your goals for the purpose of expansion, in effort to band together heart and mind with that of “Truth” (or “God”). Being right is the role of Ego due to fear of being wrong, views of should or shouldn’t… placing importance on illusion due to insecurities within oneself.
Often insecurities show up as an effect of both arrogance and vulnerabilities due to feelings of lack of worth. These facets of Ego will put up a fight to prove themselves, often in the form of rationalizations. Ego is not dumb, in fact it is often called the trickster or deceiver for its wily cunning. Ego does care about “being right”. This is part of its “survival” technique. What happens when something is found no longer needed or effective? Often it goes in the “trash” so to speak. If “you”, as a form of intellect do not feel needed or useful…to survive you will try to defend your position/purpose.
Ego fears this loss of control and loss of feeling needed, hence the scariness when learning to depart from its grasp. Learning to overrule Ego becomes an inner war. One part of you is battling for Truth another part is trying to prove/justify itself through rationalizations.
Courage is a process of realizing the challenge born from inner conflict, facing it, and overruling the negative/fear/Ego based aspects of oneself. Soldiers are often called courageous. But if one goes to battle without consideration of death because they feel or think they are invincible, that is not courage (as defined by potegp). Courage is when one fully realizes the danger of the life-death situation (in this case), is aware of the fear of dying (or potential of death), and overcomes the fear for the purpose of their goal. This act of aligning themselves with their goal is beyond the base desire of survival.
Having Courage is willing to admit when you have done wrong, to apologize with a sincere heart. Greg has taught me many lessons throughout our journey together, some still percolating. Since his passing in December of 2014, Greg has reached out in many different ways, sometimes in comical ways, other times in more serious tones. On one occasion he came through to apologize for having left things undone. Before he passed, the plan had been to secure a building for the Center on the Westport grounds. However, this did not come to fruition due to other events.
I’ll admit for a while this did affect me. I would often feel insecure and stressed due to self imposed expectations to find a way to make it happen alongside the desire to have it built (as in my mind part of me rationalized, that was after all the plan/what should have been…). Through an inner battle that lasted nearly a year (a slow learner here), I finally surrendered to Trusting that things will work out and I don’t have to work myself to death to make it happen, if it does happen at all. And if it doesn’t happen, that’s okay too, as long as I enjoy the journey (do my work with a pure heart, the best I am able, and plant as many seeds along the way), there is no failure in that. So it surprised me that Greg came through to apologize, because on my end, there was no longer a feeling of need or sense that things were unresolved. By the time he had come through, I had Accepted the situation and changed my perception. Greg, with the support of his family, have left me better than I could have ever dreamt for myself (this was the ultimate Truth). In fact, the clinging onto the desire for the building was only digging myself deeper into the Ego grave.
Still he came through to say he was sorry. After the initial confusion of why he felt the need to express an apology, I realized how admirable this gesture was. This event reminded me of a saying Greg used to express. When I would apologize to him for the many mistakes I had made during my apprenticeship, he would respond “I love you, means you never have to say sorry”. I get that now in ways even more expanded than I had, when I initially heard it. The love that is there, overrules any negatives due to feelings of being wronged or that things were left unfinished. This Truth, I had learned to apply to my situation. In a way, I felt overjoyed that I finally received the opportunity to express the same sentiments back to Greg!
What was so admirable is that he did not need to apologize. But he did anyway to express that despite doing what he felt was right, he realized it wasn’t enough and things did not turn out how he had hoped. This admittance of being wrong and expression of Humility is an application of Courage. You don’t have to be perfect to have courage. Imperfections give us opportunities to rise to occasions, to better ourselves, to learn and expand and to choose to be courageous. It’s a choice between facing our shadows or to choose ignorance and remain the in shadow. Courage is the ability to accept the Truth, whether or not that Truth is one that shows you in a positive or negative light. Because ultimately, it isn’t about “being right”. It’s about unveiling and aligning with Truth.
So the work takes place inside one’s mind. But the opportunity to experience this lesson can only arrive or be developed from external events and the choices you make in response to those events. You can only learn the lessons by living your life. Contemplating life events allows one to have knowledge, which in turn enables one to apply the awareness at a direct conscious level when the event happens. Reading “spiritual” books or this blog and simply repeating back the words is not the same as being guided and acting on the concepts expressed within this story. Having the Courage to change the things you can, is an internal shift of perceptions that is born from external life events and the way you choose to act on those events.
Had I not experienced Greg’s forgiveness when the circumstances were reversed, the seeds of awareness of how to forgive through a love that is without conditions would not have grown or developed into the Courage to forgive, when events in life did not turn out how they were “supposed” to. I would have lacked the Courage to find happiness without the promised building… It took the discomfort of letting go of what was “right” (rationalizations of “this was promised”, or “it should have been this way”..etc) and broadening my perception towards aligning it with the Truth. The Truth being, that regardless of the lack of building (at the moment) there is so much love, abundance and opportunity. The real and everlasting gems from this experience can’t be bought or built in some external (and impermanent) form of a building.
Real everlasting happiness is achieved from a journey inwards, that is ignited by Life itself. And that in and of itself is both scary and liberating.
Written By: Jessica Howard (abbess 2014-present)