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"You are in a cage... a cage of your own creation. Where the hamster’s cage is designed to keep it in, your cage is designed to keep the world out, so that you can feel safe. Never mind that it really doesn’t work, and that the world can still get at you, you have the illusion of separation, and you can cling to it like a drowning rat."
In this essay Ross Bishop gives some tips for getting out of the cage and becoming enlightened.
by Ross Bishop
Certainly daily life presents difficulties and challenges, but amongst the vast array of things that confront us, one situation perpetually eludes us. Although we can climb impossible mountains and explore the depths of the oceans, plumbing the landscape of the human spirit confounds us. It isn’t just that the challenge is difficult, which it is, but we treat it differently than any other obstacle we encounter. Nothing else stops us like the idea of enlightenment.
Accepting that humans are incredibly creative and adaptive, and that many people courageously venture into the unknown, what shuts us down when it comes to enlightenment? If enlightenment or, as I refer to it, “the God Space,” was painful or life threatening like mountain climbing or motorcycle racing, we could understand why so few people accepted the challenge. But while tens of thousands of people risk death and injury racing motorcycles and climbing mountains, only a very few earnestly pursue enlightenment.
The confusing thing is that not only is enlightenment totally risk free, it actually improves your health and well being simply by attempting it! Where life on earth is typically defined by pain, fear and anxiety, the God Space contains nothing but joy, compassion and peace. Life is healthier, more peaceful and you actually live longer the closer you come to living from the God Space. So we must ask, “What is it that pins us to the dreary obscurity of daily existence?” It must be something incredibly powerful to shut down otherwise adventuresome and fearless human beings. And anytime you find something anomalous in the human condition, it is guaranteed that something much deeper is going on. And that is certainly true in this case.
Turning away from enlightenment represents more than just a missed opportunity. We actually choose to accept a life of pain rather than be at peace. We rationalize the reasons, but it is still a choice. To an objective observer, it doesn’t make sense. That fact alone speaks powerfully to a significant fear running deep beneath the surface that we rarely acknowledge.
For most people, life is a difficult battle just to keep their heads above water, much less learning to swim with the elegance of a dolphin. Consider this story: One day two men were fishing from a boat and noticed a man nearby thrashing in the water, desperately struggling to stay afloat. They row over to help the poor fellow, and as they approach, they find that he is trying to stay above the water while carrying a large rock! The rock was pulling the man under! "Drop the rock!" they shout. "I can't," he yelled back, coughing up water, "It's the only rock I've got!"
This story illustrates the dilemma we confront when we face enlightenment. Life may be painful, but you’re not ready to give up what gets you by - it’s the only rock you’ve got. And in a rather startling turn-about, part of you believes that it is better to cling to what you have, as difficult as that can be, rather than risk what it is convinced will likely be an even more painful experience. And that is the core of the problem. The ego may be a lousy servant, but to a part of you, the alternative is even worse.
Suffering with our rock and all our pain, generates a good deal of motivation to release it, but we still resist. The prohibitions against getting out of the water are so strong that even though there is safety nearby, most people either choose not to see it or believe that if they do reach for it, they will be rejected. The conditioning has been that extreme. This is the essence of the human dilemma.
Little children live in the God Space. It is their nature. That is why we are so drawn to them. So, when you joined your earth family, you were innocent and open, and what happened? Your family (or some part of it) was unable to deal with who you naturally were. It wasn’t you, but they were threatened by what your openness asked of them. Ask Aunt Martha why she was so big or walk into a room full of company without your clothes, and what was going to happen? Your parent’s reaction was likely to leave you feeling rejected and emotionally abandoned. They didn’t mean to hurt you, but your openness forced them up against something they had worked to avoid their entire lives.
Perhaps your mother couldn’t handle your truth or maybe your father was unable to respond to your heartfelt love, and so each, in his/her own way, rejected your natural self. It was necessary for them to defend their own woundedness, and personal wounds usually take precedence over other people’s needs, even those of our children. Which is not to say that parents don’t sacrifice for their children, because of course they do. Our heroes and people we look up to sacrifice their personal needs and safety for the sake of others. This is what makes them special. But most people (parents) avoid dealing with their core emotional issues like a hot stove (and so do you!). So when there was a conflict between your emotional needs and the pain your parents carried, it is very likely that you lost.
So you got hurt. You had acted from a natural place of love and compassion and were rejected. It felt unfair to be treated so rudely when all you wanted to do was to be loved. And you were right! From the child’s perspective, what happened was completely unfair. Being powerless, you then proceeded to do the only thing you could – you stuffed your anger (or perhaps you acted it out), and built a protective shell around yourself. That shell has become one of your most vital survival resources. Asked to give it up and stand without it in the truth of the God Space, your response (understandably) is going to be, “No way! I got hurt badly when I did that before!”
But there is more to this story. This is not the first time you have confronted these issues. We must go further back into your history for that. Once upon a time, you existed “out there” as an unenlightened spiritual being. You were unaware of who you were. For whatever reason, you decided it was time to awaken your consciousness. In order to do that, you would have to enter a realm where learning was possible. This meant that you would have to assume physical form and come to earth.
Having a body and an ego and not having a conscious connection to the God Space powerfully surfaces unresolved and unawakened aspects of the self. That is what life on earth is about - the creation of conflict (inner and outer) regarding the unrealized aspects of the self. If you had come here in a realized state, learning would have been impossible. An event would happen, you would see its divine perfection and be unaffected by it.
Dying, disease and being harmed are issues that can only be experienced when you have physical form. They give you something to attach to and worry about. Anxiety and pain then dominate your attention and allow you to lose yourself in the drama. Your emotions also allow you to turn situations in on yourself or project them out onto others, until you see through the veil and hold them as the opportunities for learning they are. Having the opportunity to experience the emotional or shadow realms outside the God Space also gives you firsthand experience of what it is like not to live in truth.
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