You Are Already Choosing

Sometimes when I am walking around I think about how amazing it is that I happen to be walking past the person I am walking past, out of all the people in the planet. Just how extraordinary and random it is that I have the specific experiences that I have, out of all the possibilities.

This is what comes to mind when I think about the consequences of trying to talk about my faith in God, a term I know means drastically different things to different people.

For me, it is my faith that there is something for me in every single moment of my consciousness, but it is my job to feel it, not Hers. That there are things I am meant to do throughout the course of my life, but it is my job to do them, not His. That there is a part of me that is eternal, infinite and an aspect of the divine, and it is something that I can manifest in this world through effort. And further that this is true for every other person on this planet.

I have not come to this faith through any religion, but rather through my dreamwork journey. But I understand that it sounds like so many religions. I can say these things but that does not mean I am living them. That is part of the struggle of being a communicator. Very often the messenger gets confused with the message. Belief in the messenger becomes a replacement for the real thing, believing and living the message. Religion suffers from this.

The ability to live in faith like this sees no class, no education, no race, no age, no experience, and no hierarchy. It is available to anyone. It is the fiercest love I know. It goes to the darkest places in the universe and turns on its light. It does not know right or wrong. It just is.

So I think about people I have talked to before about faith like this, people I have judged. Remember how I cringed when they said “Well, that’s the way God planned it” when describing something awful that had happened to them. I can understand how feeling like who is sitting next to me in a park is significant in some way is an even more insane extension of that.

And yet, here I am left with that feeling. What am I suppose to do, when I know how amazing it feels to think there is something for me in every moment?

Writing it like that makes it sound easy. It is anything but. It is actually terrifying. It forces us to believe in love even when we have already taken a risk and been burned. It forces us to stand in the paradox of putting all of your trust in a force that has no control over what happens to us.

Most of the time, my faith is crushed as soon as it sticks its little head up. There is a voice that tells me that if I believe I will become crazy, stupid, guilty, I will lose everyone I have ever loved, I will never feel love, I will be alone, I will be rejected, I will become destitute, anxiety-ridden, compulsive, addicted, angry, muttering under my breath in a corner as I repeat the same mistakes over and over.

But isn’t that what happens to people all the time anyway, even when they don’t believe?

I think this faith is an ideal, and like everything in our world ideals are nearly impossible to achieve. But if there is something infinite and eternal then all possibilities are possible, even the ideal. Our problem is that we think the ideal means there will be no pain, that there will be no fear. That everything will always work out for us. That is the ideal of our ego, which is an illusion. Our egos know which experiences are good and which are bad. In the ideal, there will be no illusion, but there will still be pain, still be fear.

So I let myself feel into the possibility that who happens to be around me is significant in some way. It doesn’t always feel true, and that is fine. This does not negate the original feeling. I make the choice to let myself have this feeling because I choose to believe in their power, even though it can never be ‘proved’ to me the way my rational mind wants it to. This is what the practice of dreamwork teaches us to do.

And there is a part of me that knows how ridiculous it sounds, just choose to believe things have this meaning and they will! Especially when your life is filled with terrible things happening all the time. How are you suppose to believe in your divine possibility when your life is shit?

That is a really true question. And that there is no ‘good’ answer. But there is this reality: we have a choice. And in fact, we are already choosing.

Whenever I do not choose my faith, I choose the opposite. Life has no meaning. I am nothing more than a random set of genes and chemicals reacting to my random environment. Love is just a fleeting and elusive possibility. I am not meant to fulfill any specific purpose. Perhaps I should try to be ‘happy’, for its own sake, but it seems so hard to do just that.

What are you suppose to do when both sides are impossible? I don’t have the answer yet. I just choose to try to have this faith. Why do I choose this? Because there is a choice.

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The Real Self

When I began dreamwork in May of 2009, my teacher Marc Bregman called my soul, my ‘real self’.

He probably used the term soul at first, and I said, what do you mean, soul?

That term had no meaning to me at all in my waking life. ‘Real self’ was a stretch. You have a real self  Marc told me. I remember clearly the excitement I felt when he told me this with such confidence. I had no idea what that could possibly feel like, or mean, but wow! What a concept. There is an aspect to my existence that is the real, true me! 

I understand that there are many people who don’t make this distinction in themselves. What do I mean when I say there is a ‘real me’? Isn’t everything we do the real us?

Well, it depends on your definition of real. In one sense, yes, whatever we do can be considered our ‘real’ selves. But what about the split we so often experience, between what we feel and what we do? Between doing something we ‘know’ we shouldn’t? What part of us wants us to do the thing, and what part of us ‘knows’ that it is bad? Where does our ‘conscience’ come from? Why is it so hard for us to make decisions?

These are what the split between the ‘real’ self and the ‘pathological’ self can look like on a day to day basis. This isn’t an absolute, because sometimes even if there is a two sided conversation going on in your head, both sides could be the illusion of pathology. But sometimes, this split is between your real self and your illusionary self, between the part of you that wants to paint pictures instead of coordinate a coat drive, the part of you that wants to write instead of watch reality television.

Why don’t we just call it the ‘good’ self and the ‘bad’ self, a split that we are all familiar with? Because we do not know what is good and what is bad. If we are identified mostly with our pathological selves, which most of us are, we may have decided that a whole host of pathological, illusory things are actually ‘good’ for us. In fact, pathology uses humanity’s desire to be ‘good’ to paralyze our souls, imprisoning us with guilt and shame and blame whenever we come to the decision that something is ‘good’ and thus something else is ‘bad’. Making judgments like this are often damaging to the soul.

Plus, it is really powerful and important to consider the pathological aspects of yourself as ‘not real’ rather than ‘bad’, since anytime we judge some part of ourselves to be bad, or bad in other people, we are just creating another place for pathology to make us feel guilty, shameful, or project those feelings onto others.

The soul has no idea what is good and what is bad for others, it can only feel what it feels for itself. As humans we possess consciousness, but we cannot be conscious about what is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. We can just learn to notice when we are not in our feelings, in our ‘real selves’. This is what it means to fall from grace when we eat from the knowledge of good and evil.

It has taken just over three years for me to start to understand the distinction between this real self and the other in me. One of the hardest parts is accepting that this is not an understanding, but a feeling. In this sense it is not a distinction I can rationalize, but is actually a leap of faith.

The idea that there is a real you is not something that I can convince you of through argument. It is something you have to feel, over and over, until you can learn to feel the pain when it is gone, the rush when it is there, the ways that it escapes from you, the utterly personal ways it meanders through your veins. This is one of the primary gifts of the dream, every night, giving you all the experiences you need to remind you of who you are meant to be, who you have always been.