Recently I convinced myself that I was in desperate need of an Inception.
(I don’t know if you have seen the movie, but I hope you have. If you have not, I have provided a summary of the relevant points at the bottom of this post. I’ve tried not to get too carried away and engage in any wanton acts of plot spoilage…)
I wanted Jesus to go into my subconscious and ride around my symbolic inner world hanging one-handed from a helicopter vaporizing my inner bad guys and when he reached the core of my false thinking, to plant the Idea deep down in there that my reality is about to get really good. Like, unabashedly brilliant good. Meta Universal Knowing. I-share-inside-jokes-with-people-I’ve-never-met good. In the fertile ground of the hidden aspects of my overactive mind this seed Jesus would plant would take root, and it would be inevitable- just like Christopher Nolan wrote it- that this thought would blossom into a clear experience of a Loving Reality. If Jesus would do that for me, I’d be on a sure track.
The reason I was resorting to science fiction ploys is that I had a nice bit of unreality percolating on my insides: I felt poorly about myself, conflicted and unclear, in pain, and uncertain. The ego’s traps are exquisite, I must admit. They are polished and professional. They get us where it hurts the most. One moment we are full of joy, transfixed by the glow that abides around briefly tasting the experience of genuine non-attachment, thinking (romantically) about how great it would feel to know ourselves as living specimens of Peace.
We’re thinking, (some of us), (me anyway): “I don’t need much. Just a simple life. I don’t need to be famous or cool. I don’t need riches. I need very little, actually. Good coffee. Or tea, perhaps. A roof. A friend or two with whom soul-baring is acceptable. Broadband Internet access. I could be just a little, simple wellspring of unqualified contentment. I could be happy.”
Then, the ego outflanks me. The ego says, “Yes, but you probably need to pay your heating bill. And your car transmission just broke. Mind you, your simpleness happy whateverness routine can’t afford to pay a mechanic to actually fix it… And you probably need to get your child those hearing aids, right? Who could deny a child? You really are an asshole.”
The ego is right. Who could deny his or her own child??? Well, we couldn’t, and we wouldn’t, but now we have a legitimate reason to be upset. We are, all of a sudden, mired in conflict… This isn’t something from which we can simply walk away. Our backs are up against the wall. The math won’t work. We can’t have our simple happy life and pay for our children’s hearing aids. It’s not like we gambled on the horse races. Or sunk everything into some crazy venture with a 1% chance of massive upside. We’re a good person. We’re after simplicity. And yet still, without notice, we’re desperate. That desperation wears down our cells, engenders restlessness, kneads our inner life into a confused pulp, drives us to step in and take control of our world(s). Anyway, the reasons don’t matter. The ego’s set-ups are exquisite like this. The only way out is a miracle- a transcendant perspective. And when I was recently in the clutches, I knew without a shadow of a doubt, that I needed an Inception…
The thought of Inception was intriguing because I was thinking about the following conundrum: I can recite platitudes with my intellectual mind as long as I like, but this exercise alone is insufficient to transform my experience. At some level, it kind of exacerbates it, actually. I can say, “I am at home with God,” all day long, and each time I say it there will be that twinge of doubt… from where? From my subconscious, right? I realized that in between my rational mind and the moments of heartfelt clarity that I savor, there must be a hidden wasteland of bitter pills floating around that are screwing things up. I can’t seem to be able to get at them to change them or flush them out- I just feel them shaking their collective head ‘no’ when I start in with the platitude recitations. You can’t fake it, they’re saying. We’re in here, and we’re onto you. We are you.
I thought I was onto something insightful with this subconscious thing, and then I was reading and contemplating and was matter-of-factly corrected. In Dialogue on Awakening, Jesus says to Tom, “What appear to you to be the thought processes of your subconscious mind appear so because you are unwilling to be in touch with them. These thoughts or issues lie clearly within your conscious mind, but they have been there in a form unrecognized by you… “ (DoA, 1996 ed., Chapter 3, pg 71) Within this Chapter Jesus goes on to say that there is nothing that happens to us- nothing, zero, zip, nada- that did not arise first in our mind. We are not the victims of anything. It is not more complicated than that. Starkly simple, it is. He also says, “You do not make unpleasant or uncomfortable circumstances to teach yourself lessons.”
Great. At least before I was able to assign to my bouts of suffering certain redeeming qualities.
The ego would make us out to be blameworthy for having such a capacity and misusing it. The Christ in us would simply have us forget/forgive all that we have ever imagined as transpiring and walk through that door to freedom. By simply choosing peace.
There is a conundrum I wrestle with periodically: awakening may be immediate and need not be a long and drawn out affair, yet wanting this to happen seems to be the one thing that drives it away. Desiring Inception as I did earlier is a statement that I am somehow, right now, less than perfect, and this is the fundamental mistake on which all others hinge. Because, actually, right now, we are perfect- exactly as God created us. The Course says, “This course is not beyond immediate learning, unless you believe that what God wills takes time.” (T-15, IV.1:1) Later, “God is ready now, but you are not.” (T-15, IX.1:7)
What are the barriers then? How do we remove them? There is no need for time, except as we resist, judge, teach ourselves falsehoods, etc. We may simply put the key in the lock and turn it… One thing I’ve realized is that when my inner debilitation is roiling around and casting shadows, there is a train of thought that works like this, “This [insert circumstance or situation here] wouldn’t be happening if I had awakened. Therefore, I must not be there yet.” In other words, the present seems to be clear and irrefutable evidence that what I desire most is not so. This is the tragedy of out picturing reality from a conflicted- e.g. separated- mind. It is truly ill and knows not what it does. Even when told it is doing it, it shudders in self-contempt and believes that if that is true, then it really is in trouble. A whole new kind of disaster.
We decide what the symbols around us mean, and we have decided they mean that we are not free, not home with God, not at peace. We forget that we chose that meaning first, and that our external reality subsequently supplied the evidence second. We think, because we have forgotten the proper relationship of cause and effect, that if we could fix the problem out there in the world, or manage it at least, minimize its dilatory effects, then we would be whole, because the evidence to the contrary would be gone. So, that is what we attempt to do… Yet it can never work while the fundamental belief that we are imperfect holds sway. It feels an impossible task to change this belief, as despite our best efforts our feelings and experiences seem to express the contrary. Maybe not all the time, but frequently enough…
How the…? Well, for this we need the miracle- the crack in the clouds through which light and understanding suddenly pour. We don’t make all this right on our own. (There is nothing to be made right!) We allow the recognition that it is already right and perfect to dawn upon us, by relinquishing all thought to the contrary. With the help of the Holy Spirit, we relinquish any and all meanings and interpretations we have overlaid upon Reality, so that It may simply be what it is. And we can Be Who We Are. As the Way of Mastery says, “Love allows all things. Love embraces all things. Love trusts all things, and thereby, immediately transcends all things.” (Way of Mastery, 2011 ed., Lesson 32, pg 370)
If there is even one thing we find unacceptable, in this finding lies the assertion that something has gone wrong, and if something could actually and truly go wrong, then we should be scared. Because then Reality would be at risk. Because then we really could wink out of existence. Yet we are one light switch away from a radical experience of Forever. Right now we have the switch in the position that says, “I am a simple person, and I ask for just this one little thing of this world. Is that too much to ask? Just one scrap of safety… Just one niche of peace in which I might rest, safe from all the rest…” In the other position, the switch says, “You cannot have that little patch of nothingness, if you would have Everything.”
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In the movie Inception, ideas placed within a “target’s” subconscious take root and have tremendous sway over the subsequent unfolding of their life, to the point of defining their entire belief systems despite the fact that evidence is available to the contrary, and the choice to think or believe otherwise is clearly available to them.