One does not need to be a rocket scientist to develop a profound understanding of the nature of Divinity and spiritual truth. While Dr. Hawkins does happen to be a true genius, in the traditional sense of having an exceptionally high IQ, it is part of the magnanimity of his character and his gift to humanity that he describes in this lecture how it is better to know one thing extremely well than many things with only a surface understanding. We see in the business world, for instance, that it is typically more profitable to do one thing supremely well, or at least more effectively and efficiently than everyone else, than to try spread oneself too thin by "overreaching".
Walmart is a prime example of this truth. Sam Walton did not really invent something new, the way Edison did, he just cut the cost of distribution to such an extent that he was able to out-price his competition. Walmart is now the most powerful corporation in the world, and it maintains this status by doing one simple thing - selling inexpensive products that everyone needs - more effectively and efficiently than anyone else. Almost without fail, private individuals and companies do things far more effectively and efficiently than governments or static institutions laden with cumbersome regulations, red tape and outdated policies which are often a result of "trying to do too much", but perhaps this is a discussion for another time. The point is, it is probably a better use of one's time to try to really grasp or apply one simple truth then to rush to the bookstore to get the new or next "guru", only to acquire a whole lot of extraneous and unnecessary information.
Part of the 12 Step groups' continued success and survival lies in their own application of this spiritual principle. "Shoemaker, stick to thy last", is another way of saying that it is more productive to maintain focus on what one does well and not try to go out and be a "dabbler" in other things or to fix the world's problems. This is how the groups maintain a realistic humility. They are not out to change the world, they are about focusing on changing oneself through the application of spiritual principles and surrendering the world to God. "Keeping it simple", in this way, is a way in which one learns to mind one's own business. It has also been said that when I am getting into minding other people's business, I am most definitely not minding my own. I am most useful to others when I am taking care of my own affairs rather than trying to figure out ways to improve upon theirs.
So Dr. Hawkins recapitulates the high level teaching of causality in his lectures because if one really grasps this truth it makes a lot of other things unnecessary. He help us understand that all suffering stems from an ego which needs, one might say desperately needs in order to survive and be okay, to believe and put forth a delusional belief system that it is sovereign and that the world would be better off if we listened to its programs, plans and designs or, one might say, "machinations". If the world needs no God to explain it, as the ego believes, then I am always going to be meddling in the affairs of the world and not minding my own business. The word God is really a semantic convenience for these purposes. The ego does not want to believe that there is any other Power greater than its own - that is its whole game.
So I have found that it is extremely useful to shed light on how I am currently
"agnostic" in the sense of doubting in the Omnipotence of Divinity (I call that "God" for lack of a better term) to solve my problems. No matter how far along the scale I may go, I believe that there are still neglected areas of "current agnosticism" which are worth my investigating under the searchlight of Truth. The word agnostic really means to be "without knowledge." When I am being agnostic, it just means that I am doubting in the existence of God, or am doubting that God is going to take care of me or am doubting God is powerful enough to take care of the things I see in life that are frustrating. The temptation to get into "causation" stems from my doubting that God is doing a very good job with the world I see because maybe I am caught up in "appearances" or "perceptions". I think that Dr. Hawkins' scale of consciousness could be viewed as a scale of agnosticism, with the bottom of the scale being maximum dependency on ego, minimum experiential knowledge of God and maximal need to control the world. The top of the scale means maximum dependency on God, an absence of doubt in the Power of God, or a complete experiential knowledge of the Totality and Allness of God. The higher we go on the scale, the less likely we are to try to "cause" things to happen and the more likely we are to surrender things to God, the Universe or Divine Providence (call it what you will), because we have an experiential knowledge of God's existence and we trust that this Deity knows what he is doing far better than we do.
There is another spiritual teacher named Emmet Fox who, in my opinion, is one of the most profound and practical teachers who has ever penned a book. The Sermon on the Mount is still "required" reading for anyone beginning the spiritual journey, as far as I am concerned, and it is an immensely useful and practical manual for spiritual unfoldment for those already on the journey who want to get down to "brass tacks". Emmet Fox also wrote a book about the Ten Commandments which helped me to see that there is really only one commandment, the First Commandment, which is that there is only one God. All of the other Commandments are merely elaborations on this first spiritual truth because if one really "gets" that there is only one God, then there is no need to worry about stealing or lying or cheating and all of the rest. One would see that it is impossible to "cause" anything to happen and one would cease relying upon external things and quit trying to work apart from God or to "get" that which does not really belong to them without earning it through karmic merit, or genuine spiritual striving to know Truth. Once one understands that there is only one Commandment, then one needs to look at one's ideas about God and perhaps let go of some older limited conceptions of what God is like, but this too is a discussion for another time.
In traditional Western religion, this tendency is called idolatry or making "graven images". An idol or a graven image is a "mental image or construct" or a "belief system" according to some teachers. Our idols block us from experiencing the Power of God in our lives. We make idols and graven images about of everything. We make idols of money and jobs and relationships. We make idols about self-image, body types and what our lives are "supposed" to look like. We make idols of positions, titles, winning worldly power, human respect and respectability or cherished conceptions of prominence and prestige. Our political candidates and parties "must" win, at all costs, and our children "have to" get into that big-name school to make our lives meaningful. We "must" command respect in the boardroom, or in the classroom, or in the bedroom and to fall short of our ideals is completely unacceptable to our own way of thinking. The ego doubts that we can be happy without our idols so we are constantly seeking new and more clever ways to control outcomes in subservience to our operating belief systems. All of this striving and fighting for our "rights" or our "causes" is how the ego maintains its survival and continuance. By extension, to surrender all of this striving, wanting and craving spells defeat to the ego.
But what if we surrendered our idols about how the world and our lives "should be" and trusted in the Infinite Knowingness of Divinity. What if we let go of our need to usurp the role of the Deity and trusted Him as our Source and Supply of all things truly worthwhile? The ego bucks at this prospect. "What would happen to me?" it fearfully whispers. The ego thinks this way because as long as a belief system about an idol in consciousness is operative, one's very existence is threatened by the prospect of a loss of that which it so cherished. And yet how many times have we been grateful that some job or relationship we just "had to have" did not work out? How many times have we realized that the things we once valued are no longer all that great and we are so very grateful to be free of the whole business? We have all had these experiences so we have some basis for realizing that the ego-mind cannot possibly know what God knows (being Omniscient) and that capacity for faith and surrender is a very practical faculty to develop. We begin to see that "all thought has no meaning" (to quote a Course in Miracles) because our thoughts about ourselves and our futures our nowhere near as majestic as God's. We sell ourselves short of God's best for us because we have made an idol, and our greatest frustration seems to be our slowness and reluctance to embrace this eternal truth.
Sometimes we have such a longstanding investment in our mental idols (outcomes in life) that we enjoy a subtle feeling of moral superiority when we can say "serves him or her right" for not listening to me. "I was right all along....see.....told you so" (we can now gloat) having achieved our idolatrous dream of "righteousness". How often then, after some time passes, do we look back upon those we have dismissed in our mad rush for worldly success, or the esteemed opinion of others, or simply our own egoistic pleasure of "being right" only to realize the merit of some of their ideas? Maybe we begin to feel guilty because we see how we underestimated their ideas and overestimated our own, since all we valued at the time was that which our belief systems and idols told us was valuable. Maybe then we make a mental construct about being a "tragic" figure, woefully misunderstood and unappreciated, and engage in remorse and self-recrimination for rejecting that which was unfamiliar simply to impress people whose good opinion was not really worth having in the first place. Maybe then we think that it is better to be happy and surrendered to God than to be "right" and bitter at God. Maybe we start to wonder whether this righteousness business is totally overrated, and this spiritual and faith-based business about forgiveness, patience and love is a whole lot more practical than we had ever imagined
How often have we outgrown a church, a book, a teacher, a mentor or a group and then settled down into a new one believing that, at long last, we have finally found the "answer"? How quickly then do we proceed to throw out all that was useful in the old, only to become complacent, irritated and frustrated with the new? Now having an ego laden with all sorts of new information, maybe we set about with a new cause, becoming a "reformer" in our new church, and take on the role of "protesting" and "setting people straight" or convincing them that they must think the way we do. And yet can any of these idols, these external, constantly changing and uncontrollable things, replace the Peace of God within? Is anything transitory capable of replacing the experiential awareness of Divine Love, the True Source of All things in existence, that which is eternal, unchanging and is always ready to accept our sincere desire longing for Presence through prayer, meditation and contemplation. We have fallen into the trap of "worshiping the creation and not the Creator" to quote St. Paul.
So even when our idols do "manifest" and we do get that much coveted prize or recognition, maybe we are still left feeling empty, forlorn and longing for some new experience, some new idol to make it all okay. Maybe we feel lonely, disconnected and isolated from our friends because deep down in our hearts we know we do not really deserve all of that attention and praise. Maybe we become disillusioned with life in general and sink into depression. Emotional problems like depression, anxiety and stress have become so common in the world today that these forms of suffering have become almost normalized as "the price of life" in the modern world. Is it possible that we have been barking up the wrong tree all along? Is it possible we just have some idols and we are too afraid to let that all go? I believe this is because idols cannot give us any lasting peace of mind or "soul satisfaction". Perhaps the greatest paradox of all is that the most truly worthwhile thing to have is peace of mind because, in having peace of mind, we really do "have it all". Peace of mind is the fruit of knowing in one's heart, and not in one's head, that there is only one God and that God is Source of All Existence including our own.
So as far as I can tell, to make idols or mental constructs is, by definition, to presuppose a "cause" in reality. It is to "assume" (we know what happens when we assume anything) that the ego-mind knows what it will take to make us happy. Imagine if a person walked into a room and declared that "if only people would just surrender their personal autonomy to my ego (its ideas and beliefs) and listen to my ego and realize that my ego knows what is best for them and me and everyone else and if only everyone would just pay attention to my ego and listen to its thoughts then their lives would improve beyond measure. Everyone, including myself, would be happy if people would just pay attention to me and think the way I do. In fact, if people think that they do have better ideas than I do it is because they have not yet realized that they really need my thoughts in order to survive." Now, most reasonable people would think such a person insane and perhaps contact the appropriate authorities to make sure he is not a danger to himself and anyone else. And yet, despite the absurdity of my example, this is precisely how the human ego thinks in every man woman and child on the face of this earth, with variation in the severity or degree of depravity, due to innate karmic predisposition and consciousness level. Spirituality, as the study of how to transcend the human ego, suddenly seems to become the most practical pursuit of all.
So to make things simple for a person like me, I try to see that one error or habit of mind is responsible for this need to control the external world often at the price of the rights of others. I have an attachment, an idol and, by definition, I believe that there is something I can do to make the world "a better place" so as to ensure my own personal happiness and survival. Over the years I have become very wary of the "airy-fairy" and the naively idealistic. Vain pretensions to mask a hidden agenda can be spotted quickly when one gets in touch with one's own vain pretensions and hidden agendas. I would say capacity for self-honesty is directly proportional for capacity to spot dishonesty in others. In other words, once one has "removed the beam from one's own eye" it becomes far easier to "see the mote in thy brother's eye" to quote the carpenter. It becomes "like nails on a chalkboard" to watch the ego on display, to hear its childish and narcissistic pretensions to authority or its blaming, defaming, rationalizing, justifying, denying and stubborn refusal to accept personal responsibility through self-honesty. The best stance, then, is to "witness and observe" and not to try to "fix, manage and control" that which are passing phenomenon in the karmic dance of history. This does not mean that I remain idle or passive however. It just means that my work and focus is on the mental or internal plane far more so than on the external plane. "The exterior is merely the out-picturing of the interior" to quote Emmet Fox. Hence it is a waste of time to try to fix externals without first changing one's consciousness within. After 50 years in psychiatric practice and many lifetimes in spiritual pursuit, Dr. Hawkins is uniquely qualified to be a true master of this art of discernment, but we can all start where we are and begin to become aware of how the ego operates.
So most good ideas are simple. In the East they seem to call them attachments. In the West we seem to call it idolatry. Some people call them "faulty emotional dependencies", which is an effective way to take religion out of the picture altogether. Sometimes I lose people when I start talking about idolatry, but I find the term useful in my own life. It also is a good way to insert the Ten Commandments into public discourse, which has become just so unfashionable these days, but this truly is a discussion for another time. Whatever language we are using however, we are trying to "make something happen" apart from the Sovereign Will of God. We are trying to "cause" things to change. We are trying to cheat the system, buck the constable, and the ego slyly hopes it does not get found out. Often we do so based on some sort of absurd claim to spiritual, moral or intellectual superiority, and so then we think this gives us license to evade, outwit or postpone the Will of God. What we are really doing though is that we are trying to get something that does not really belong to us by right of consciousness, which is earned as a result of our karmic merit and of our spiritual work. We are thinking that we know better than God how he should do his job. But the good news is that the true nature of Divinity is Infinite and Unconditional Love. God wants us to be happy, joyous and free. He is always willing to forgive and help us start anew "up to seventy times seven" as the ancient saying goes. He wants to supply us with all of the good things that our hearts desire, for what Father would withhold good gifts from his Son? So when we cease working apart from God and get into this business of surrendering our idols and attachments to His Providence then we begin to have what we were looking for all along.
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