2 weeks ago I received an email from one of my Mindsight Intensives students I will call Paul, an older gentleman in his seventies I believe. Here is what he wrote:
“I think I want to withdraw from the group. I feel that I have nothing in common with group because of my age. It became apparent to me when you asked what each wanted to accomplish. As you may have noticed I made no comment! My age and time frame is not compatible with theirs. I would feel more comfortable if others the same age as me were in attendance. I kept asking myself over and over during the session why is no one my age in attendance! Thank you for your assistance during our time together. Keep up the good work ….. Sincerely, Paul”
The course of our journey towards mindful living is everything but smooth. To encounter hurdles, and often serious ones at that, is par for the course. They always create an interesting, but predictable set of psychological constellations we have to learn to meet with discernment. Fortunately, the essence of these constellations is mostly similar from one occasion to the next, even if their displays vary, so that once we have debunked the trick the mind plays on us, it is relatively easy to not fall into the trap the next time.
The ‘lethal’ constellation here is called identification. Caught in it, we believe anything our mind tells us. Identification means that we tell ourselves a story that is accompanied by powerful emotions, and like at the movies, we are so absorbed in it that we forget it is a story we tell ourselves. Instead, it appears like a story we live, which then appears real; and when it seems real it appears true; and when something appears true, we stop questioning or inquiring and act according to the reality it seems to present. A real cascading comedy of errors.
Whenever life seems so real and inexorable, I suggest remembering to explore and bring awareness to the fact that this alleged ‘reality’ you are experiencing is a complex cluster of interwoven physical sensations, feelings and thoughts that, like the Wizard of Oz, combine to create a mirage. The moment we disentangle the elements of this mirage, it dissolves into smoke and mirrors, and as Shakespeare said, ‘what you see is not what you see!’
“You are bound to have everything in common with everyone else because you are human”, I told Paul. “You may be older and feel you have less time, but don’t forget that some people in the group have cancer and may have even less time than you do. If you feel you don’t have much in common, it is because somewhere within yourself you are cutting yourself off from parts of yourself, and you end up not seeing your own humanity. Whether old or young, your age is not an issue, but a boon, allowing you to explore your awakening across the span of time. In developing that perspective, you discover your timeless nature. Besides, you are an inspiration to young folks who do not know their parents to be as open and adventurous as you are.”
Our work in non-duality increases in its importance the older we get. We come to realize that we have all the time we need, since all we need is this present moment. Relax, because this project, the project of awakening from the distortions of our monkey mind, is a thousand year project!
I was glad Paul reconsidered.