Lessons from an iPhone Training Class

Yes, Pat and I each got iPhones on Monday. We ended up going to a Saturday night training class yesterday. OK, a weird “date,” but we have fun at such ventures. About 15 folks showed up for the training, many of them in our decade of life themselves.  The teacher took off, and away we went.

Within five minutes I was in overwhelm. I simply could not keep up with my classmates who seemed to pick this all up instantly, or at least what they needed to pick up. I stopped the teacher a couple of times asking her to explain things, but even then I got flustered and did not get it. Did we make a huge mistake by getting on the iPhone train?

After a short while in class, seeing that I wasn’t getting things, I went into my own world with my iPhone. I shut down email, realizing that email the way I use it was made for computers, not iPhones with their tiny keyboard and miniature screens. That helped. Then I struggled to get my APP account set up with the iTunes Store, but once again got all flustered. By the time the class was over, I was unsuccessful at most of what I tried, and I was exhausted, frustrated, and a little annoyed at the entire experience.

In typical fashion, when I got home I stayed up and played with this gadget. I got the two APPs I most wanted (Evernote, and Star Walk) successfully purchased and loaded, I synched the iPhone with my iMac, successfully loaded on my 204 Pathwork lectures and a few audiobooks, and thrilled at how Star Walk led me through the skies identifying planets and constellations. I was a happy camper by the end of the evening, but an hour or two after Pat had gone to bed.

Our Sunday morning coffee time ran over two hours, beginning with our iPhone experiences the night before and leading into some pretty deep places from this innocuous beginning.

First, I realized that the iPhone training class experience reminded me of most of my classroom experiences — be they high school, college, or any other training since.  I seem to be a slow learner, just not able to pick things up as quickly as other students. I can follow along somewhat, but then have to go home and dive into the material to really get it.

And for whatever reason, I have always enjoyed the “diving in” learning experience. In college, while my many classmates who seemed to have “got it” in class were out shooting hoops or partying, I was steadfastly at my desk working to understand the various engineering courses I was taking. Though slow, I so enjoyed the process that this was not at all a burden. Perhaps it was even an escape from the social scene or sports scene where I did not seem to fit in.

At the end of the day, it all worked. I graduated with the highest grade-point average in my mechanical engineering class and went on to get nearly all A’s in my doctoral work in engineering. I realize that I was not balanced, especially from a social interaction perspective, and that this would lead to some real challenges in my relational life, but I so enjoyed and identified with my academic life I that I did not realize the price I was paying in terms of wholeness in living.

This learning style continues to this day, even with, or perhaps especially with, teachings such as Pathwork. Eventually I seem to “get it,” but it comes with a great investment of time in pouring over the Pathwork lectures. An investment I am drawn to make for the sheer joy of the learning process. It so resonates with me, enlivens me.

And this same learning pattern was true in Massage School as well — hours and hours spent learning anatomy and physiology, and at the same time experiencing such a struggle to actually “get” the practice of massage on real people — something you either have or don’t have in your genes I would guess.

Pat mirrored back, “It is interesting to see the combination of qualities in you that work this way, much in the same way a great pianist draws upon his or her natural gifts and strengths.” And I realized this also applies to things like working up financial management information systems, building systems that organize information in ways that communicate both message and meaning. Or organizing PowerPoint slides or other presentations. Perhaps even in developing these blog entries that bring me so much satisfaction. It all takes hours and hours. And I so willingly devote these hours because of the joy I experience in the unfolding of information.

Pat smiles, “Like Socrates would say, ‘Know Thyself.'” She went on noting that our minds are wonderful and unique. How do you balance things out? As for her, she confessed that she was one who did indeed get things in class. Not good or bad, just different. Pat went on to wonder how Einstein was from a social perspective. I reminded her that Einstein did not do well in school and was a patent office worker early in his career. Socially? Not a giant for sure.

Pat and I spoke of our lack of well-roundedness. But we are functional. Neurotic like everyone else, but not psychotic. We can’t do it all, so how do we choose? How should we then live based upon who we are? Yes, celebrating who we are in our particular uniquenesses.

I recently went out of my way to record meditation material for a group of friends. One of the responses was gratitude for my kindness. I find that seeing myself as kind triggers me in some way. Why? I certainly do not want to be unkind. But somehow being brilliant would be seen as a more “valuable” trait in me than being kind.

I looked up kind: “Of good or benevolent nature or disposition, having, showing, or proceeding from benevolence, considerate or helpful, mild, gentle.”  Then benevolent “Characterized by or expressing goodwill, desiring to help others, charitable, intended for benefits rather than profit.” Pat was quick to affirm that these are qualities she sees in me, whether I value them or not. “As you are speaking of kindness in you,I see the clear stream of the Divine manifesting through you. This is the way God comes. Life squandering itself through you. The erotic life force. The way God is: squandering Life through us. So how does this squandering energy, this kindness, feel in your body, Gary? Ecstatic? Blissful? … I prefer ecstatic!”

I see that it is so important to feel kindness, to feel benevolence, coming through me. This happens in my recording of the Pathwork Lectures, in helping others, in organizing information and helping others to understand. I get the Pathwork teaching that we are being selfish in our being unselfish because being unselfish FEELS SO GOOD. Like LOVING feels so good, God manifesting through us feels so good.

And yet our Lower Selves of pride, self-will, and fear, for whatever their puny reasons, distort and block this feeling of ecstasy in manifesting God in loving kindness into the world through us. Our patterns get in the way.  How do we dismantle our patterns so we can feel God manifesting from within? Our limiting beliefs keep us from aligning with the abundant, squandering ways of Life. We can have it all, for we are God manifesting!

I can have it all, but while I feel my ecstasy in so much of my life, I seem shut down and blocked in feeling ecstasy in my relationship with Pat. We talked about this. Perhaps I am caught in pattern in our relationship, blocking the potentiality of Source that wants to manifest in us through our relationship. In blocking ecstasy in our relationship, I choose to spend time where I am feeling more ecstasy — even like time with the Pathwork lectures.

Pat continues, “Seeking to balance pleasure and pain brings up duality, wanting this, and not wanting that. The spiritual practices we are involved in help us experience ecstasy in BOTH pain and pleasure that are in the reality of life.” I respond, “Yes, how do I feel the ecstasy of my pain of my longing, the pain of my unfulfilled longing.” Pat, “Yes, the pain of life as it lives in you, in us.” I continue,”The ecstasy in life as it shows up, yes. Not the ‘pseudo-ecstasy’ that is the ‘good’ of the ‘good/bad’ duality. The ecstasy, true ecstasy of the unitive state of consciousness, a consciousness that transcends the consciousness of duality, is what Source has the potential of generating within us.

Pat returns to the body, “So, how does this conversation feel in your body, your genitals?” I had to confess that I am not there, I am not yet fully inhabiting my body. Pat, “We have not experienced that yet, have not perceived that yet.” I responded, “This goes back to the teaching you’ve shared that our heart is the organ of perception. So only in opening our hearts will we be able to perceive and experience throughout our bodies this transcendent ecstasy wanting to emanate from Source, our Divine Selves within.” Pat is immediate with, “I agree, I agree!”

I go on, “Now all this enlivening we are experiencing right here, right now, is God manifesting in and through us — God’s love squandering itself in over two hours of beautiful conversation.  This is so different from going to church on Sunday morning.” Pat responds, “Yes, a precious, precious gift. The two of us in relationship.”

I was moved to read a quote to Pat that I used to lead off a recent helper meeting: “I have often mentioned that contact with the divine spark, or your real self, is an outcome of this pathwork.  Some of my friends are beginning to experience this indescribable event.  The safety, security, conviction of truth, the harmony and rightness of it are worth all the effort of overcoming resistance. … In order to have the divine spark manifest, you must deliberately contact it and require it to answer you and show you the way. … Let this innermost self, this greater intelligence within you, answer your confusions, guide you to the truth you need to know about yourself and strengthen you to change false images, misconceptions, and to swing from the no-current, that has a deeply hopeless, doubting, destructive, dark, negative outlook, into the yes-current with its promise which will be inevitably fulfilled.” (PWL 125¶25)

Pat related deeply to this reading and started into the Magnificat. I found it and read it for us:

My soul doth magnify the Lord.
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Because he hath regarded the humility of his handmaid;
for behold from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
Because he that is mighty,
hath done great things to me;
and holy is his name.

Pat was in tears as I read these words. A very moving Sunday morning. And to think it began with reviewing our experience with the iPhone training class. It appears that the class was “O so worthwhile,” but had little to do with any content we may have picked up! We close our Sunday morning “worship service” with a big “Amen!”