As a human race, we see how we have struggled over the years to attempt to make sense of our world. Religions, popular intellectual movements and ideas, both secular and spiritual, have periodically arisen each with a different piece of the puzzle or a different "take" on our human dilemma. It is a very human tendency, I believe, to develop attachments to these different schools of thought. Maybe we embrace readily that which is familiar and culturally acceptable and we have many well-intentioned people making categorical statements about truth that later turn out to be only part of the picture or else completely false. It is very tempting then to become either prejudiced against different ways of doing things as well as to swing to the other extreme and become overly tolerant of everything to the point of our excluding that which is tried, true and tested.
Despite our vain pretensions to authority and “know-it-all-ism”, spiritual truth is profoundly simple and much like King Solomon once wrote "there is nothing new under the sun". If an idea is true, then it will always be true and it really does not matter who is saying it. Thus, our time is best spent, I believe, in an effort to look at the most successful ideas mankind has been graced to receive rather than falling into the trap of seeking the merely "good" ideas which we often do out of our own sense of guilt. Bill Wilson once wrote that "the good is oftentimes the enemy of the best." We have little time to waste, so I believe that we can distill an essential technique to arrive at the truth about ourselves which incorporates the very best of what mankind has offered over the years. This is because as mankind has evolved, the truly great spiritual discoveries have been successful and long-lasting in their impact precisely because they have improved upon the limitations of what went before, while at the same time acknowledging what was essential. In other words, in our emotionalized excitement to embrace “the new,” we often have proceeded to “throw the baby out with the bathwater”.
To some this may seem like a grandiose and ill-founded conception and I would say that we are all entitled to our opinions and that we all have the "right to be wrong," including myself. Having been a student of spiritual history and having sampled many different offerings over the years I believe that there is something to be gained by honoring our forefathers while at the same time embracing the new discoveries of consciousness research. I say this because I have devoted many years to the study of the most significant spiritual movement in modern times known as Alcoholics Anonymous. Eastern teachers like the Dalai Lama have recognized the profundity and significance of this movement and yet often we become involved in Eastern schools of thought and develop an aversion to this very Western cultural phenomenon.
The spiritual genius behind Bill Wilson's white light experience has trickled down into almost every area of human society. The spiritual ideas of 12 Step groups have become such a fact of our lives that we sometimes do not realize it is there nor do we recognize its origin. This is a very blessed thing and was no doubt part of God's Sovereign Will, as spirituality is oftentimes more palatable to people when it is presented in a way that is not overtly religious or attached to a “movement”. At the same time, the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, despite its "open-endedness" about "making use of what other spiritual and religious people have to offer" is a limited and historically somewhat obscure document to many souls. I believe that the work of Dr. Hawkins, combined with the methodology of the 12 steps as outlined in this Big Book can be flushed out further to provide a useful and practical program of spiritual self-inquiry that would be acceptable to most people of integrity. My effort to make this re-contextualization and unification stems in part from frustration I have experienced in what I see as an "us vs. them" mentality among spiritual students. We are either "12-steppers" or else "Buddhists" or else "Christians" and yet we can easily miss the forest for the trees by realizing that we are all talking about very bedrock and non-sectarian ideas.
Part of Dr. Hawkins' advanced spiritual understanding incorporates a brilliant distillation of the nature of the human ego. By studying Dr. Hawkins, listening to his lectures and reading his books, we become familiar with the ego contextualized as the inner "animal" and that having an ego is a "biological inheritance" that is a necessary concomitant to experiencing life on this plane. Part of Bill Wilson's spiritual genius was an attempt to get out of the orthodox conception of human weakness as being "sinful" as well as an effort to make a clear distinction between what is spiritual and what is religious. No one is excluded from 12 Step groups based upon ideology or doctrinal allegiance. That is to say, the groups are dealing with universal and non-sectarian ideas. Indeed, the 12 Steps are not really “new” but are rather an elaboration and expansion upon many of the precepts of First Century Christianity without the necessity to call one’s Higher Power “Christ”. Bill instead wrote about "instincts on rampage" and understood that a personal inventory was an effort to see how "excess egoistic drives" or “human instincts” for security, society and stability have lead to our troubles in life. Both men were not attempting to do a "make wrong" of selfish and egoistic behavior, but rather to disassemble the very structure of the ego through introspection. When we become familiar with the ego as being "just how it is" and not something that is "bad" life tends to become a lot more enjoyable and this has been the experience of millions of people.
So I would like to briefly outline a personal inventory to serve as a blueprint for anyone who is struggling with resentment or else has found some of Bill’s other writings to be lacking in clarity. My hope is to “bridge the gap” between those who are familiar with 12 Step work and those who are familiar with Dr. Hawkins’ work, as nothing seems to have been more frustrating for me than to see friction among those who are all “on the same team” which is to say on the side of integrity. My qualification to make this claim is simply that I have been one of the more outspoken “zealots” about being loyal to one school of thought to the exclusion of others, which is a laughable absurdity the way I see things today.
The word "resentment" means to "re-feel". It means that we have something lodged in consciousness in the “karmic charge" of our soul that keeps "coming up" for us with unpleasant emotion. If the word "resentment" does not immediately appeal to us, then we may substitute words like "disappointed by", "jealous of", "frustrated with", "let down by" or "irritated about". Regardless, we have something in our thought and feeling life that is "blocking us" from experiencing peace of mind. We are "obscured" (from the Latin meaning to “cover over” or “to darken”) from our Source. A man once said that removing his resentments and his “blocks” was really like pulling up the shade on his window and he soon discovered that the sun had been shining all along and that he was really “in the dark” not everyone else.
So in this Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous, the technique for writing inventory is in the 5th chapter of the book titled “How It Works”. We see that Bill had in mind seven “areas of self” that are “threatened or interfered with” when we are holding onto resentment. These seven areas are not “bad”, but rather, are the seven areas of human biological instincts that we must “redeem” if we are to have any lasting peace of mind and live to any good purpose. Our instincts for material security and to find a mate, for instance, are certainly “God-given” and not “bad”. Our problem is that we let our instincts “go wild” and “way too far” and then they exceed what our consciousness level and karmic merit really allows for us. Moses’ Commandment “Thou shalt not steal” is really reminding us that we cannot steal, or that it is a spiritual impossibility to steal, in that we can only have what belongs to us by right of consciousness at any given time according to Emmet Fox. Just like everything else, we must “earn” our consciousness level and the blessings of our lives through honest spiritual endeavor and work. Ask anyone who has won the lottery if their money did not seem to take wings quickly or else fill the person with all sorts of conflict because the money was essentially “unearned”.
It is interesting to note how non-integrous Marxist ideologies and their various secular offshoots in society often take out this “merit-based” or “earned” idea which is a core understanding of capitalism. Marxism, as an essentially unspiritual and atheistic philosophy, denies our God-given instincts for security and personal freedom and is why “merit-based” ideas are often derided or cast aside in favor of “socially just” ideas in our excessively politically correct world. Who would want to become a school teacher when we know that any extra efforts to work hard and go the extra mile may go unnoticed and unrecognized by our superiors? That is the problem with this sort of short-sighted thinking. Marxism is inherently naïve by denying the common sense aspects of human nature. The problem is not that we have an ego that is interested in survival in the first place, as that is a karmic “given” which "should", in an ideal world, "go without saying". Instead, our personal problems arise rather due to our excess or underdeveloped instincts. We either insist upon dominating people or else people-please our way into obsequiousness. So we must first clear away the delusion that we are inhuman and not subject to having an ego, which is why I spend so much time on Marxism, before we can get on with the business of transcending it. In other words, we must first develop a “healthy ego” in the psychological sense of having an appropriate and balanced personality before we get on with the business of enlightenment.
So these seven areas of self mentioned in the Big Book are:
1. Self-Esteem (How I see or feel about myself)
2. Pride (How I want others to see or feel about me)
3. Ambition (What I want in any given circumstance)
4. Security (What I think I need in order to survive)
5. Sexual Relations (My romantic relationships or my deep seated beliefs about men and women)
6. Personal Relationships (My platonic, family or professional relationships)
7. My Pocketbook or “Wallet” or simply “My Money Life”
So I would like to give an example that will shed light on how unconscious instincts for these seven areas of self, left unchecked and unconscious, have lead to resentment in my life.
I was resentful at far left political ideology because I felt that they were “messing up the country for me and everyone else”. This is a resentment I have had. How does this affect my biological instincts for:
Self-Esteem – I am the wisest man on earth (this is my new stage character….King Solomon let’s say)
Pride – People should realize that I know what is best and just be quiet and listen to me
Ambitions – I want everybody to realize that their ideas hurt people and admit the error of their ways. I want everyone to see that I am right and they are wrong.
Security – I need people to wise up and start studying the people I study in order to be okay and survive. I need everyone to think the way I do to be okay.
Sexual Relations – A real man has conservative values and principles and a real women trusts and respects a conservative man. Real men and women have traditional values.
Personal Relations – A true friend recognizes the value of conservative principles. A real friend values my ideas and opinions.
My Money – No one is allowed to prevent me from becoming wealthy. No one should make me feel guilty for being wealthy.
Remember, my problem is not low self-esteem. If I had low self-esteem then I would not be so upset with people. If my problem were low self-esteem then I would think that I “got what I deserved.” But we see that my problem is excessively high self-esteem and unrealistic ambition. I have an exacerbated opinion of myself and my abilities. My instincts for survival as this “stage character” have been driving me and I have stepped on the toes of my fellows in this “state of mind”. I could name several men far wiser than I in a heartbeat if I really wanted to but in the “state of consciousness” of “the wisest man on earth” nobody else knows what they are talking about except for me. That is why all thought has no meaning and all belief systems are inherently fallacious and delusional and why repeated self-inquiry is such a valuable discipline to practice.
So now we see that in this one resentment I have several different “belief systems” that are all inherently fallacious because “All thought has no meaning” from the non-dualistic perspective of the Course in Miracles. These belief systems are “who ‘I think’ I am”. I am going around in a “delusion” that I am my thoughts about things. In this instance, the ego has constructed a stage character in order to justify having these belief systems - “King Solomon” or the “wise pundit” or maybe even “John Wayne”. The truth is that they are all a lie or a delusion from a higher context in that my true “identity” is as a child of God and “that which I truly am” from an even higher context is innocent consciousness devoid of all this mental content. I have created a world of positionalized belief systems, out of a fear of surrendering at great depth, and this has lead to my experiencing emotional turmoil and unrest. I have unconscious “attachments” placed upon people and things to provide me with feelings of self-satisfaction and worth. Since the world cannot possibly meet my expectations, I then feel “justified” in juicing my resentments and “being a victim” of life. Wow, that’s whole lot of emotional work going through life that way….no wonder I was so depressed!
Let’s now look at the “Truth behind the Lie” in this inventory. What did I “do” or how did I “react and behave” as a result of having all of these unconscious belief systems going on in consciousness. Well, I yelled, put down and dismissed people without pausing and considering what they were really saying. I shunned people with whom I disagreed or else silently judged and scorned them. I was under the delusion that “everyone needs to see things the way I do”. I felt “entitled” not to “practice what I preached” because of how “right I am”. Ultimately, my chief failing is that I have stubbornly refused to forgive people because I have enjoyed the emotional juice so very much and I fear “what will happen to me” if I let all of these characters “die out”. In truth, I fear “letting go” of all of my stage characters and identities because they are so familiar and comfortable to me.
Now by doing this sort of inventory, I am attempting to move from a world of mental concepts and emotionalized reactivity to a world of the heart where spiritual reality begins according to Dr. Hawkins’ scale of consciousness. Even though I may still disagree with people, I am coming at it from a much more emotionally balanced place in which I can have love in my heart for the people I formerly resented and can forgive them and see their innocence. This does not mean that I become a wimp and start going around buying into ideas which consciousness calibration has revealed are destructive to life, but rather that I can step back and not feel the need to engage in trying to “fix people” or “changing their minds” as much as I did before and can become more of a “witness and observer” to the play. I am no longer being emotionally “driven” by my “personality” to the point where I am stepping on people’s toes. I also believe that as I shed these different “personalities”, I eventually arrive at a “persona” that would be a useful interface to the world in advanced states, which Dr. Hawkins has written about as the Enlightened mystic’s way of “being in the world” in books like I:Reality and Subjectivity. I hope this is helpful to someone, as it has been helpful to me.
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