My Wrestling With My Opponent: "I Am Separate From God"
Meditation – Tuesday 12/4/12
Yesterday during my workout I listened twice to Pathwork Lecture 195 Identification and Intentionality: Identification with the Spiritual Self to Overcome Negative Intentionality. The words of this lecture resonated with and enlivened my soul and moved me deeply. I could recognize how so often I can still be identified with my separate self, my Lower Self, who gives an emphatic “No!” to words that suggest I am one with the Cosmos, one with God. That part of me thinks, or, rather has a felt-sense, that he would die if he lost his separateness, his precious individuality. Of course I suspect this insistence that I am separate from God and the Cosmos relates to my role in the Fall mentioned both in Genesis and in numerous of the Pathwork lectures. But suspecting that this insistence on separation from God reflects my participation in the Fall only hints at the problem and is not enough direction, power, or motivation to correct my participation in the Fall and return me to a deeper sense of oneness with God.
I can feel my pride and self-will, my ego, fighting to cover up or deny any fear that my insistence on separateness from God brings with it. But I can see how I stubbornly hang on to my sense of separateness, on a felt-sense basis believing, unconsciously on a felt level, that this separate self is ME no matter what I may have been told by outside authority. This separate ME shall not give himself up his separateness! He believes that to give himself up would mean self-annihilation, something worse than death.
But my mind suspects that there are distortions here, suspects that I may not be separate from the Cosmos, others, and God after all. My mind suspects the correctness of the theory that I am love, not hate, that I AM part of the One. But I did not pick up these suspicions until I was exposed to Pathwork. These ideas – including my Divine nature, my Oneness with God in some marvelous sense – may be in the bible that I used so faithfully for over 50 years, but if these ideas were there I did not let them in, nor were they taught in a way that I could receive them from the Lutheran Church.
With the Pathwork notion planted in my soul that I am not separate from God and the Cosmos, when I nevertheless insist that in my essence I am separate, I can see how I may have been distorting some of Jesus’ messages in my many years with the Lutheran Church and with the Bible. For example, take the Beatitudes from Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5:
3 Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4 Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5 Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6 Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7 Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8 Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9 Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
And the sermon goes on in this vein. From my separate self I take these statements as commands – and if they are commands then I think Jesus is telling me I ought to try to be poor in spirit in order to have the kingdom of heaven, to try to mourn, whatever that may mean, in order to be comforted, to try to be meek in order to inherit the earth, and so on. Or if I am not to try “in order to” receive something, then Jesus is telling me that at least I ought to try in order to be a “good” Christian person and disciple of Christ, if that is what I choose to be.
And of course trying to do all these things with my separate self puts me on an impossible life path. My separate self cannot possibly live at this level of righteousness and will be discouraged in his efforts. But nevertheless my separate ego, in its pride and self-will, tries with all its might to obey Jesus’ instructions in the Sermon on the Mount. And of course my separate ego fails, and, as a result of failing, lives in fear. Even beyond this situation and fear, my separate ego strongly resents an external authority ordering him about how he ought to live in the first place, so defiance against God, against Jesus Christ, also enters the picture, though often this rebellious defiance remains unconscious to me. How in the world could I expose such rebelliousness, even to myself!
And then in my Lutheran upbringing my prideful self-willed fearful separate ego hears the message, “you are a poor miserable sinner,” and of course, despite its defiance of outer authority, my little ego can only agree, I am, indeed, “a poor miserable sinner.” But then comes the “gospel,” which to the separate ego is no gospel at all, and this “gospel” says that while God in his righteousness, on the one hand, has to be just and has to condemn me to “temporal and eternal punishment” for my imperfections, my rebellious nature, and sins, on the other hand, in God’s love, Jesus has come to bear the horrible suffering that I deserved as my punishment, and Jesus did all this out of his love for me so that I can go to heaven when I die. But this pseudo gospel, this pseudo “good news,” leaves me a “poor miserable sinner” in my essence, and this “poor miserable sinner” is not where my prideful and self-willed ego wants to be.
And of course this untenable state is all brought about by my identifying with my Separate Self, my Lower Self with its puny pride and self-will as weapons trying as hard as he can to accept his status as “poor miserable sinner.” But in failing to obey enough, my ego tries to believe enough, as the church is inviting him to do, to believe with all its might in the gospel as a theoretical worldview that lets him into heaven on the merits of Jesus’ suffering and death, despite all of Gary’s shortcomings. But of course, my ego, on a felt-sense basis, rarely believes enough either, and so, not believing enough, this separate ego lives in fear. And he is perplexed, because the Lutheran Church admits that he cannot believe enough on his own, and states that his felt-sense believing or faith is the work of the Holy Spirit and not his own anyway. This Holy Spirit works through “means of grace” – Word (Bible) and Sacrament (baptism and communion).
But my interpretation of the Pathwork Lectures says I got this wrong in some key ways it would seem. Or perhaps the Pathwork Lectures say the same thing as my Lutheran Church, but in a way that I am better able to let the words in. What I interpret the Pathwork Lectures to say is that Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount was not to tell me how I ought to live, a way that is impossible so that I understand my unworthiness and come to accept Jesus’ death as my ticket to heaven when I die. But rather, Jesus’ message was, “Gary, as you purify yourself and come to be transformed by the grace of God such that you will identify with your Higher Self and Oneness with the Divine, your Divine Seed or Essence, and from that place of identification, awareness and awakening you will experience your life as stated in the Sermon on the Mount. You will experience that your Divine Self, your Essence, the true Gary, when purified and transformed IS poor in spirit, DOES mourn with the suffering in the world, IS meek, DOES hunger and thirst for righteousness (Truth, Love, Wisdom, etc.), IS merciful, IS pure in heart, IS a peacemaker, etc.
In this point of view true living is a matter of manifesting MY TRUE ESSENCE rather than trying to manifest these traits though herculean efforts of my separate self or through my allowing something that is God (Christ) but not me, to flow through me. No, Jesus message had to do with the Kingdom of God being within me, one with me, not separate from me. So this experience of being poor in spirit, loving, etc. will be a result of my Divine Higher Self manifesting as my purified and transformed Essence, my Essence as the True Gary.
This understanding changes everything for me! The Kingdom of God is not “out there,” a place that I hope to go when I die, but rather within me, an experience of Oneness with the Divine, an experience that I can have in the here and now on planet earth. This seemed to be the Truth that Jesus was revealing to the people who listened to him. This is the True Gospel, namely, “I am not separate, I am not a poor miserable sinner,” but rather “I am, in my Essence as Gary, a beautiful part of creation, I am not separate from but one-with the Divine, and in that sense it is not too bold to say I AM GOD,” as the Pathwork lectures say time and again.
This bold statement, I AM GOD, is not the blasphemy that the Jewish rabbis rejected when Jesus made this claim for himself with I and the Father are One. And it is not blasphemy when we make such claims for ourselves. This is the True Gospel, the really good news that Jesus brought, witnessed to, and lived as his message in his short physical life on this planet. As I allow this Truth to awaken within my soul, I can find TRUE Self-Esteem, Freedom, Joy, Love, Wisdom and Purpose to my living on this planet in this physical body. And while I am not there yet – I am still “merely and utterly human,” having many Lower Self Aspects to discover, accept and forgive and a core negative intentionality to be transformed – I find that I can live life in my current unfolding reality, experiencing and accepting its joys, fears, creativity, destructiveness, love, and hate – all part of my as-yet dualistic consciousness. This is Joy in the Journey, Joy in the NOW of Life, in its ups AND downs, not just in its ups while feeling depressed in the valleys of life’s downs, or rather than finding Joy only in the destination in heaven after we die and leave the here and now.
Shared in love, Gary
Epilog: Pathwork Lecture 174 Self Esteem has also been helpful for me in this wrestling called Life.