An Essay on: What Does Their Reality Have to Do with Me?
And Why Do I Let Myself Think About It?
By Jane Tawel
December 10, 2022
I often tell my students, before you try to write the answer, find the question. And the important questions are always, “How?” and “Why?”. I read a lot about what, in shorthand, I might call “spiritual and life-quality improvement” books. I read theology and metaphysics and spirituality manuals and Sacred texts and philosophy and psychology and good novels of course. There is nothing like a well-written novel to teach one something about human nature and about what one might call the eternal cosmic laws of nature and human nature. But if you read anything along the lines of these genres, you may agree that good books mostly raise important questions and the answers are fluid. Answers are like streams and rivers, always flowing and never the same at the same place twice. Questions are like a Mountain Range. They have always been there, and always will. Every day, we look out from our perspective and we may change every day, but the mountain still stands before us, immovable like God. And no human has ever climbed and conquered all the questions and none of us can conquer them for the next person. We get caught up in the temporal questions that have no ultimate meaning, like “What? How much? When? Who?” But these are not the questions that lead to Life’s great anwers. The Big Ideas and the true meaning of what I am doing on this little blue ball always come from “How and Why?”.
Today I was reading about changing my thinking. This is something I think more of us can relate to after living through a pandemic. We had a lot of time to think and it wasn’t always pretty and it wasn’t always fruitful. Perhaps you, like I, got into the habit of anesthetizing our thinking and perhaps you, like I, got into the habit of thinking about things that weren’t real. What I mean by “not real” is that one often gets hit with a thought about someone or something and its negative impact goes in like a sharp arrow. And as Thich Nhat Hanh so wisely points out, for some reason what most of us do is refuse to remove the stabbing thought-arrow and we just shoot second and third and fourth and one-thousand more arrows into the same wound, over and over and over again by thinking about it. As I wrote in a poem called, “Do Not Let Them In, They Are Not Here”, we allow the negative thoughts of others to take up residence in the rooms of our Mind-Homes much more easily than we do the positive, loving, good memories, lovely moments to find a home within our Mind-Homes. And so, the question is: Why? Why do we do that?
Maybe you are like I am, and like a long line of the people in my genetic pool and in my current family and friend circle are — we keep thinking about the negative or hurtful or confusing or unloving or mostly SCARY things that other people do in our lives and in the world, because we have convinced ourselves somewhere along the way that if we could just figure out WHY they did that, or said that, or think that — then we would somehow UNDERSTAND. And we convince ourselves if we could just understand then we would stop thinking about it. What we really mean of course is that if we could somehow just confirm and convince them that they are WRONG and we are RIGHT, THEN we would be happy, at peace, have a positive attitude, etc. etc. etc. Our thinking so often goes, “If I figure it out, I could change them, it, that, her, him.”
So here is the “How” question: Haven’t I learned that the only thing I can change is myself, my thinking, my heart and soul; so HOW do I change myself?
And the Why is obvious — Why change me? Because I want to be happy, fulfilled, unafraid, not angry, positive and healthy and hopeful and free.
I read this today: “You demonstrate the state of your mind at any given time. You experience in the outer what you really think in the inner.” Jesus, who knew his sacred texts well, believed this: “As a man thinketh so is he.” And he acted on that time and time again in his own mind and heart and life. What a great example of being a fulfilled human being, Jesus could be if we would let him. His ministry was to heal people basically by convincing them of the truth of that statement. “Because of your faith (mind-set, heart-set, soul-set) you are healed. If you have faith (inner health, harmony, and freedom) you could move a mountain.” Our inner self is our reality. So why (there is that ultimate question again) do we muck it up with junk and crap that isn’t here? I am going to use a strong word in this next bit that I never use but if you have followed me so far you know that this is exactly what some people do to us and what some situations feel like to us:
It is sadly and far too often the case, that I cannot prevent someone from shitting on me. But I can stop myself from wallowing around in their shit. I can hose it off and walk away. But far too often, when something bad happens to me or someone I love, or someone is mean or hurtful or evil (and if you don’t believe in evil, well….I don’t know what to say, but evil can enter even the most normal or religious of us. For good information on that read M. Scott Peck’s People of the Lie and well, The Bible is good too.) So …. Again, sorry for the strong word but “Shit on me once, shame on you. Shit on me twice, shame on me. Shit on me a thousand times? — Why am I still letting my own thoughts do that to me? Why?
I worked a very stressful job once at a “Christian” place. Most American Christian places I have worked on, well…. God have mercy. But at this one I was so stressed after a year I thought I was having heart issues. The doctor assured me I had a heart as strong as a teenager and it was just panic attacks. If you have ever had panic attacks, there is no “just” about it. Panic attacks are the body’s desperate attempt to show us that our worst enemy, however he or she may choose to appear as anger or hate or righteousness or — our biggest and most virulent enemy is — Fear.
I had a dream during those years. I was walking toward the auditorium with all the other employees and there was a big hole in the ground — a sort of chasm really. I fell into the hole and when I clawed my way up out of it, my beautiful suit and high heels and panty hose and all of me, head to toe, were covered in mud. I kept walking with the other people toward the doors of the auditorium and here is why I still remember that dream — the astounding thing was that no one noticed I was covered in mud. No one noticed.
We don’t do we? We don’t notice each other’s pain. We aren’t willing to look in the mirror and see the real reason we keep feeling our own pain. And God forbid we feel guilty about the pain we cause someone else. So, we pretend we aren’t all wallowing in the dirt and mud. Because if we did, we might reach out a hand or pass around a clean cloth or offer to baptize each other in the healing pool of forgiveness and love.
The real reason we obsess about the negative things people do to us or with us or sometimes, mea culpa, because of us (I too am guilty of grieving the Holy Spirit), is not because we want to understand them, or even because we want to be right and prove them wrong. In our hearts we all know that being right is a fleeting joy and like those bags of chips or cases of beer or Netflix streaming shows that we all over did it with during the pandemic, being right will anesthetize the pain for a while but we have to keep the anesthesia flowing and eventually its efficacy wears off. We all know those people (often ourselves) who have become so needy to always be right that they will insist they are right even if they are quite obviously wrong. It would be funny if it weren’t rather sad. But isn’t that really what we are doing when we keep convincing ourselves we just want to “understand” or we just want to keep thinking about something because we want to make sure we are “right” about the situation? Why are we so afraid to admit that even being right does not bring us peace? Why do we not want to live with inner peace and love more than we want to “figure out” the answers? Wouldn’t I rather live with joy and peace and love of self and others more than I would to live with an endless, pointless, hopeless search for the wrong answers to the wrong questions? Because even if I know them, the answers for someone else’s reality will never make me feel at home with the questions about my own reality.
Today, I think I found my Question of the Day that may help me write my life-story’s next chapter –
Question to self: Even if you do in fact “see them” for what they really are, what does their “reality” have to do with your reality right here and right now?
And if my answer is, “Nothing”, then I need to rinse myself off, pick myself up, stop wallowing in the shit that isn’t here anymore, pull the arrows out and throw them as far as I can throw them, walk away from the things that I use to mask the pain and fear, and free myself from the prison with no bars to keep me in it. I need to find why I am still alive and breathing and seeing and hearing and talking and loving — -
“Yesterday is gone and will never return. This is the day that the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it.” (Psalm 118)
“Get away from me, ‘Satan’.” (Jesus)
“Flee from evil and do good, and dwell forever. For the Lord loveth judgment, and forsaketh not his Saints: they shall be preserved forevermore: but the seed of the wicked shall be cut off. The righteous men shall inherit the land, and dwell therein forever.” (Psalm 37)
“Oh, it’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. So, let’s make the most of this beautiful day. Since we’re together, we might as well say: Would you be mine? Could you be mine? Won’t you be my neighbor?” (Fred “Mr.” Rogers)
Today, I will focus on the thoughts that I choose to be my neighbors. I will live with good neighbor-thoughts and I will only open my heart to the loving thoughts and ideas of goodness that I want to live within me.
Today, I cannot prevent a thought from arriving at the door of my mind, whether a fear for the world in which we live, a hurt from the past, or a desire for something that is not ultimately good for me or for those I love. I can, however, after opening the door to that negative thought, say, “Sorry, you may not come in. Sorry, your appearance is useful only in reminding me of what is important. Sorry, you hurt me once — see the scars? But you cannot come in and reside with me now; you may not hurt me now — you are not here with me in my reality. Even if you are here outside with me, I will not let you in here, inside the temple of myself.
Today, I will love myself enough to start anew — clean, free from fear, full of faith that the Universe is a Good place to live in today and that it is my job to protect myself from evil and harm and then to, in love, protect all others from what I can — outside in the world, and from within my own heart and mind.
Today, I shall feel all there is to feel and not anesthetize myself from that which can teach me to be a better human and to live with the great cosmic natural laws of God. And when any of those feelings are scary or hurtful or cause me anger or fear or greed or confusion, I will ask:
And I will know I can live within the question because someday, I will be what I have always been meant to be, and I shall see The True Reality, Face to face.
And all will be well with me today and forever, in the Kingdom on Earth as it is meant to be in a The Perfect Cosmos of God and Humanity. Amen.
My daughter told me the other day that there is a documentary detailing the extreme loss of IQ Americans had due to lead in our water and houses and gasoline etc. etc. That is the only thing I can think of that could possibly be the reason for how insane I find current America to be. We are waking up today with another mass shooting — another murder of five people, five families, countless friends and co-workers destroyed by the lack of IQ and complete loss of true ethics of an entire nation by default — and no it wasn’t senseless — it was the sense of hatred and the rational of “freedom” which has become simply a freedom to do evil because the rich and powerful like staying rich and powerful behind their bodyguards and protected security details while the rest of us are confused by the fact they say they want to save fetuses but we forget they don’t want to save our actual children. And this country will not look itself in the face and say, hey, this hasn’t been a democracy for a long time — it’s an oligarchy and it is time to look at what this country is really based on — greed at the top and fear at the bottom.
And all I can do is say, well, I have to do better myself. I have to stop the greed in myself. I have to stop the fear in myself. And I will not be silent but I will also not put my hope in anything but a different way of living. And I will try not to fear but I will stay angry and I will try to find some religious offering tables to turn over and I will paint sacrificial blood on the door of my heart that I will not return hatred in return for hatred and that fear will not visit the house of my mind and heart today but that I will see the American Pharaohs for what they are and always have been and always will be, and I will find that I must put my trust and hope elsewhere.
Let us find each other, and put our hope and trust in each other’s capacity and will to Love. Today I will pray for the mothers and fathers and siblings and friends of those most recent victims and martyrs to American Hatred and Greed and I will — Look to the helpers, as Mr. Rogers said. Look to the poor in spirit, as the Christ would say. Look to The Way, The Tao that all spiritually evolved saviors point to and then I will ask myself, “well, what can I do?” Well….. maybe just like Seuss’ Who’s in Whoville, if enough of us say “We are here. We are here. Here am I, Lord, send me.” — well, maybe…. maybe we can save this poor ole good idea for a kingdom/nation called America, and maybe we can save the world, and maybe we can save the planet. But…. today I will weep because we can’t save five more innocent people in Colorado Springs, America. When will we care enough about each other to say, “Enough!”?
“Go, now, your sins are forgiven. Which is harder to say? Your body is healed or your soul is healed? You have forgiven yourself in the same measure that you have forgiven others. Forgive yourself as We forgive you. Forgive, and Live.” (Paraphrased from The Wise One)
I: I’m trying harder to catch what You are saying.
One: You aren’t really trying hard enough. You keep letting the flotsam and jetsam of this world, of your emotions and of your limiting of Time, clog the flow of the Stream. You say you want to hear Me but you are afraid, and so you put up blocks, and fill your ears with anesthetizing ear buds, and put blinders around the eyes of your Soul. You allow all of your scars and fears to interrupt the airwaves of Our communication to the deepest, truest you. And so, your mind is consumed with chatter and not communication. You let your mind keep talking. Just listen. Just try, for even just a moment, to listen.
I: No one loves me. Not even him. Not even her.Not all those whom I have done this and that and the other for. No one.
One: All love is fractured and fragmented, and comes to you in broken pieces, just as your love has been felt as incomplete shards in their hearts. Only We put all the pieces together, but you can not see the Whole now. What you must do is stop considering love piecemeal — “here today, gone tomorrow”… “he loves me for this but not for that”….. “she doesn’t really love me”… and so forth and so on. Love will never feel whole until you see that Love is not a reality from one individual or group or accomplishment, but all Love is from Us and Ours, through others, through you, through time and space and hands and feet and hugs and smiles. And while Love is seemingly imprisoned by the powerful frailty of words and actions, true Love is always free and freeing and if you let yourself love and be loved, Our Eternal Love will give you the freedom to see the reality of Our Universal Love in every little broken heart and mismanaged and awkward event and in every piecemeal, incomplete, unsatisfying and yet, truly noble action of love that humans try to share with other humans in their quest and desire to love and be loved. You will know you are loved. In him. In her. Yes, even in them. And then you will know how to love even that most difficult of all beings to love — yourself.
I: How can I feel and believe You love me, when I am not even sure that You exist? Are you real? Or are You All something each person creates out of the need of psyche and the crutches and clutches of culture?
One: You have done well to study and search, little child. You have done well to open your mind and heart to follow after Truth, wherever it may appear. You are braver than you once were. You have overcome much and fought a good fight against your weaker selves. But at the very center of your being is still the greatest foe of all — Fear. Please, remember you are and always will be just a little child in the ways of Truth and Reality. Because you are so small, We can not be all to you that Parents are to Each Other. You have much still to learn, that is true, but some times you need to put away your books and groups and meetings and even your very thoughts, and you will be assured that We Are and We Have Always Been and We Will Always Be… And there is nothing that can separate you from Us…… if you will simply…..
Getting older has a lot of downsides but on the plus side, when you know people already assume certain things about you because of the color of your hair or the texture of your skin, you don’t mind as much as you did when you were young if they think you are crazy or weird if you speak your mind. Yesterday, I had a medical test — another one (ugh) and I looked at the very efficient and young technician and when we were finished, I looked her in the eye and smiled my crooked old-lady-toothed smile and said “Enjoy every minute of your life. It goes by faster than you think it will.” When you are older you get more medical tests and that’s a bummer because you realize your health is going, going, and will sooner rather than later be gone, and especially if you are a woman and an old woman at that, you realize the medical profession prefers to think it’s all in your head or that removing the pain is the answer because there aren’t really any answers that will “cure you” of an old body breaking down and letting go, but on the plus side, you have a lot more empathy for people who come into this world with two strikes against them healthwise, or who live a lifetime in this prejudicial world, and prejudice-wise have always had to deal with people judging them on how they look or don’t look and you feel a new sense of love for humanity and you hope that kind of not getting anything in return kind of love translates into a new sense of love for yourself — for others AND for little old you. Because empathy just might be the one thing that when translated into truthful, take no prisoners, absolute, crazy Love can change even an old heart and body and mind and soul. Sometimes when people see you as an old lady somewhere like a doctor’s office or a grocery store or your workplace or even your own home with friends and family, you want to say, “you don’t really see me. The real me is not this old shell.”
And maybe that’s just another lesson to learn, that if I am very, very quiet and patient, and open the ears of my heart and eyes of my understanding, then I might see the real you, the real him, the real her, the real them and when I really see them, well, then all I can do is love. Because the only thing in the universe that is worth seeing and holding on to is the Truth of Love. I choose to hope that Love is the one thing that might remain forever. Love never seems to have grown old for me, and I think that is because in whatever this real world might be or become, Love never grows old.