Saturday, 20 December 2014

I Do Not Own My Life

          I am not certain of my ground here. I need to probe and search for a safe place to put my foot. It is not too unlike trying to step through a psycho-spiritual minefield where a wrong step will blow me away, without my even being aware. This is often the nature of the continual battle with my ego, and its desire not to allow anything that undermines its sense of divine security.
          Sometimes there are moments when I write something simply because those words flow out of my fingertips, as if I am thinking with a part of me that is disconnected from my intellect. I am learning not to edit out the sense of what I write on those occasions, in case something slips away forever. Consider, for example, something I wrote in my previous post in which I said that neither my Ground nor God can be found in my physical body, they appearing to be the 'effects of being lived by' some ineffable unknown-ness. The more I mull over that, and the more I try to seek simple (but not simplistic) solutions to my questions, the more that phrase takes on a new dimension. That dimension points to a remarkable simplicity that surfaces only when I finally let go of some inner struggle. That is usually the point at which I admit defeat, but a point I need to work through rather than simply giving up because I might be too lazy to seek an answer.
          How does it feel to live? An odd question perhaps, but one I have needed to address of late. I know that I am alive, yet can neither extend nor shorten my life by any act of will. I can certainly appear to shorten my life by making my body unfit for purpose, a state that will eventually come about whether I will it or not. Thus it seems that the feeling of being alive is to experience the effects of some force which uses my physical self for its own ends. That force does not belong to me, I do not own it, yet we seem to get along remarkably least for now.
          Since I do not own the life force that animates my body, that force is not under my control. I cannot, therefore, manipulate it unless it is open to suggestion. About that I offer no enlightening thoughts. The more I consider this situation, the more exciting the experience of living becomes. Every moment of my life is one lived on the precipice, with no guarantees. That makes life precious of course, but more than that it opens my inner world to something new. That something is a sense of overwhelming relief. It is very difficult for me to describe that feeling of relief, which should perhaps better be called release. Let me take you back to a time in my life when I was in very serious difficulties.
          It was necessary at that time that I come to terms with my inability to stop my, then, live-in companion from sinking ever further into alcoholism. I had to learn about the nature of powerlessness over another person. Often we think we are in control of another human being, but that control is largely an illusion based on the other's willingness to play along with us. That is not control. When, finally, I had to accept the nature of my powerlessness in that situation, a conclusion reached after diligently exploring practical and painful examples from life, a sense of release bordering on a state of euphoria engulfed me. I had given up a battle I could not win, a battle which was not mine to fight.
          The lesson of powerlessness, and the accompanying effect of coming to believe in something greater and better than my own ego, is one that I must continue to learn. So long as I waste time fighting battles I cannot win, which are very largely battles fought by my own ego in protection of its transient security, I close myself off from a reality that is a growing gift of the spirit, a gift that comes free of charge. That reality is not something I can own, grasp or manipulate, it is that to which I can only be alive and aware.


  1. Hi Tom
    Maybe it is the temple lobes which act as receptacles for such experiences, but only can give us the beautiful essential flavours to contemplate different choices or ways to experience life. I think there will always be some constraint from the ego, for without it ( the Ego ) I posit one could not imagine ourselves as separate to self and all of the mysteries of life that entails, constrained as we are in our earthly abode. Except I think we are left with this ongoing sense of yearning for what tantalising is unknown. Some would say you can’t have a faith (but I prefer the word trust) without first some doubt, just as doubt, can lead to a richer understanding. The idea of a surrender to the idea of free will, paradoxically is claimed by some to enable them to feel free, to unchain one from the worries of physicality.

    I rather like the idea of looking back from the high hill and making more sense over the preceding terrain that brought us to this point now….. just as you have aptly concluded, to be alive to the future.
    Best wishes

    1. Hi Lindsay; I would agree with the idea that one cannot have trust without the prior experience of doubt. Indeed, doubt, I hope a healthy doubt, is one of my constant is trust. There is an ongoing place for each. I don't know that I can, in reality, surrender to an idea whether of free will or anything else. In the case of surrender alluded to in my post, it was the recognition of a frustrating and sometimes terrifying reality that I could not control. And I agree with your point in the last paragraph. There is about that looking-back experience that speaks to me of grace, at least as I understand that gift.

  2. I find myself so much in sympathy with what you have written, I can’t add anything further.
    As for the struggles you mention with your former companion, I went through that too. It was mental illness rather than alcoholism, but wasn't recognized or labelled as such, & no recourse was had to professionals till much later; the whole thing being far too messy and guilt-laden to be spoken about, ever. Suffice to say that time & events have healed the effect on the survivors, leaving only a few scars: par for the course with all living creatures.

    But it is perhaps profoundly traumatic experiences like these which sets us off on a path.

    1. Hullo Vincent; I could not agree more with your final point that, "it is perhaps (for me it is certain that) profoundly traumatic experiences like these which set us off on a path." Spiritually devastating as that experience was - and I use that over-used word 'devastating' with care - I consider myself among the lucky, or blessed, people because that was where my life began to be turned around, until I saw the 'strait way' laid out ahead of me. And there will always be the scars, as you say; battle wounds to be treasured perhaps, or at the least to be thankful for.

  3. Replies
    1. Thank you for being here, Natalie. Wishing you well.

  4. This is a bit long, but it illustrates a dilemma that your post has brought to mind.

    It rained for days and days and there was a terrific flood. The water rose so high that one man was forced to climb on top of his roof and sat in the rain. As the waters came up higher a man in a rowboat came up to the house and told him to get in. "No thank you, the Lord will save me!" he said, and the man in the rowboat rowed away.

    The waters rose to the edge of the roof and still the man sat on the roof until another rowboat came by and another man told him to get in. "No thank you, the Lord will save me!" he said again, and the man rowed away.

    The waters covered the house and the man was forced to sit on his chimney as the rain poured down and a helicopter came by and another man urged him to get in or he'll drown. "No thank you," the man said again, "The Lord will save me!"

    After much begging and pleading the man in the helicopter gave up and flew away. The waters rose above the chimney and the man drowned and went to heaven where he met God.

    "Lord, I don't understand," he told Him, frustrated, "The waters rose higher and higher and I waited hours for you to save me but you didn't! Why?"

    The Lord just shook his head and said, "What are you talking about? I sent two boats and a helicopter?!"

    In my confusion, I often wonder if the nudges felt are my ego, or my inner self.

    1. Hullo Halle; A truly delightful story. Maybe the real lesson from this is to recognise that spirituality is essentially practical, so don't look a spiritual gift horse in the mouth. The best of the season's greeting sto you.