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Two seemingly disconnected aspects of my day today, Easter Sunday ...
Firstly, I've just returned with my partner Mufidah from a dear friend's house, where we shared cheese and biscuits, and drinks — a gin and tonic for Martin, our 92-year-old host, and a glass of ginger wine for each of Mufidah and me. And we played a couple hands of Go Fish with miniature Patience cards.
We also spoke of Easter, and Martin's perennial difficulty in believing in the Resurrection.
He has no trouble with the Crucifixion, assuming it to be a fact. But the thought of Jesus rising from the dead tries Martin's faith. That said, he attends church each Sunday, and adheres to Christian principles, which he learned to respect early on, with his father (as well as his brother) being a Church of England minister.
Secondly, my not being a churchgoer, I spent this Sunday morning luxuriating in bed with a book, both before and after having had breakfast brought to me by Mufidah. The book was actually two books, both loaned to me recently by a long-time writing student of mine. They are The Philosophy of the I Ching and A Guide to the I Ching.
For those who may not know this, I taught an I Ching course last year, and have alluded in various blog posts here on MLG to my consulting the Book of Changes, as the title of this 3,000-year-old Chinese wisdom text is often translated.
I've not consulted the I Ching in a couple months now. However, I've been feeling the pull to do so, and a few days ago picked up the two Anthony books for the first time and dipped in here and there. But it wasn't until last night and this morning that I delved deeper into these books, and was inspired by what I found. As often is the case with these sorts of things, there was nothing new so much as timely, concise reminders.
Here's an excerpt from the section I was reading in The Philosophy of the I Ching this morning:
By consulting the I Ching regularly and following its counsel, we are able to become reunited with our inner truth through a slow, step-by-step process of self-illumination that exactly fits our particular needs. Its lessons are combined with our everyday life experiences in such a way that every element in the chest of inner truth given us at birth is confirmed and established as a basis for the way we relate to our lives. By having taken the risk to follow the I Ching's counsel, we not only have invoked the help of the Higher Power, but also we have established a firm relationship with it.In other words, we're not called upon to believe in the I Ching as a tool of divination. Rather, acknowledging the randomness of chance, we consult the I Ching with an aim to cultivate our true self while surrendering to the Higher Power, much as Christians are asked to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Yet I would suggest that it might be of far lesser importance that we believe Jesus was resurrected than that we surrender to the Higher Force — just exactly as the I Ching would have us do — whether we refer to it as God, the Tao, or what have you. The important thing is to begin to acknowledge our false self-images as empty constructs — that is, those aspects of ourselves which bolster the bravado of the ego — as a means to avail ourselves of the Higher Power through humility and a letting go of our personal will.
Today's #mlmon tip ...
The suggestion for today is to bring a resolute, yet gentle, awareness to all the ways in which we bolster the ego and, thereby, create a false sense of pride and ownership for our accomplishments, and, as well, the same sense of pride which, when things go awry, tends to make us shift blame to others.
Don't be harsh or judgmental towards yourself. After all, this is a lifetime's work we're embarking upon here. Rather, be supremely gentle with yourself, and forgiving, while doing your best to maintain a lighthearted sense of humor. This can help us shine the spotlight of awareness on the myriad ways we build ourselves up and cut others down, all the while creating a false sense of separation between ourselves and these others.
Before embarking upon this challenge, take a few minutes to ground yourself by bringing a simple, uncomplicated awareness to your physical body, noticing all the sensations which are present. Refer to the 26 March #mlmon tip for additional details. This will help you to relax and to connect with your inner truth as a means to see more easily and clearly the games we tend to play with ourselves in our everyday dealings.
As you go through your day, nurture a sense of quiet, sincere humility grounded in the awareness that we, alone, are not responsible for our accomplishments, that there are countless other factors at work which help us to reach our goals. Begin to recognize that our egos are like sandcastles built at tidal water's edge which require continual fortification, in the form of inner convincing, to keep them from being washed away. Ask yourself this question: "If my ego were a substantive, independent entity, why does it require so much reassurance — so much slapping of wet sand upon it — in order to keep it intact?"
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— Let's get the conversation flowing in the comments below. Tell us about your experience of putting today's tip into practice. How does it feel to become more aware of the myriad ways in which we bolster our false sense of self? What challenges are you facing in shining the light of awareness on your more shadowy aspects, and how are you working with these challenges? And how does true humility feel as compared with the false sense of bravado which the ego manifests?
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