Posted by: Michael George Daniel | November 15, 2007

StepS One Through Four

We admitted we were powerless over Maya, that we were born into unmanageable lives.

Twelve step programs endorse the use of prayer and mediation. They use the Serenity Prayer, ‘God grant us the serenity to accept the things we cannot change, courage to change the things we can, and wisdom to know the difference’, to help us open the door to understanding our place in the universe.

Their Third Step prayer offers a foundation of humility, from which all learning emerges: ‘God, I offer myself to Thee-to build with me and to do with me as Thou wilt. Relieve me of the bondage of self, that I may better do Thy will. Take away my difficulties, that victory over them may bear witness to those I would help of Thy Power,Thy Love, and They Way of life. May I do Thy will always!’ And their seventh step prayer, introduced with the gentle admonishment, “When ready, we say something like this: ‘My Creator, I am now willing that you should have all of me, good and bad. I pray that you now remove from me every single defect of character which stands in the way of my usefulness to you and my fellows. Grant me strength, as I go out from here, to do your bidding. Amen'”

These are powerful prayers. For the men and women that engage them, they are a lifeline to freedom from addictions and compulsions. They are also a gateway to a higher consciousness. These prayers and the communities that love them provide a transforming experience. Any one that has gone through this glimpses awesome power, power with the capacity to catalyze curiosity and stimulate hunger for more.

The new consciousness, though, is not a destination. It is not a room into which we enter, sit down with a cup of coffee and stay. We may stay for a long time. Some stay for many years in this room of new consciousness; some die in that room. But, for most, it is more a long, pleasant hallway that leads to other rooms, other aspects of the journey. In prayer we often beseech a higher power. I can’t do this alone, help me. In prayer we often offer an intention, even if it is the intention to be open to a higher purpose that comes from outside of ourselves. Most often, it is a prayer of gratitude, ‘thank you’. Thank you for this inspiration, for this glimpse into this deep mystery. Thank you for exposing me to the power of this mystery, for the ability to feel the stirrings that it creates. Though I can not surf, I know the pleasure of it from being swept along so beautifully by the rush of this sea change.

We also learn, in offering ourselves selflessly, to the extent we are capable, that this is a journey within. As we approach these new rooms of consciousness, old habits, beliefs and conditionings surface. They call us back to that which seems so much more comfortable, even when it involves much pain. We find, first, that we have a choice. Do we choose to go on? If the answer is yes, we discover other choices. We have the choice to go in. What will we find there? We have the choice to release that which would keep us from moving forward. But we do not know what will take the place of these things. We have a sense that something must, even though this very belief deserves scrutiny. There can be fear about the future manifestation of our persona, our symbols of success, even our worthiness.

The word meditation begins to appear in conjunction with the idea of prayer. We hear the phrase ‘prayer and meditation’ in a new way. We wonder about this other aspect of this dual action.

No matter where you are, perhaps the twelve steps offer a process to consider if we have a desire to move into a new consciousness, one that serves our highest purpose. This highest purpose ultimately serves everyone else. What does this mean? Every other human. We can become an example. We can send out ripples of energy into the human consciousness that will begin to create a shift. Moreover, these ripples do not disappear in time. They are forever. Our highest purpose begins to impinge on future, human generations. If we orient to the broader biosphere, our highest purpose affects them too. To do so, we must be willing to let this new consciousness be aware of the web of life, of the connectedness and interactiveness of all being, here and everywhere. We learn how our differentiation, in the context of an integrated whole, serves the process. How this process reflects on our developing consciousness as individuals, as communities, as a living Earth; as Gaia. We come to understand this in the context of an emerging and evolving universe.

Perhaps the twelve steps offer a useful framework through which we might study and approach this intention of change. With grateful acknowledgment to Alcoholics Anonymous, the first step, written for our broader purpose, might go something like this:

We admitted we were powerless over Maya, that we were born into unmanageable lives.

The word ‘Maya’ is carefully chosen here. Maya as it means the veil of duality that we experience as physical forms. We must have this dual experience in order to know the essence, for what is the essence if it is not all of everything, everywhere, for all time? We are born into Maya to experience ourselves, and Maya is a paradox. It is real and illusion at the same time. It is a piece of the ear of the elephant. See it, touch its rough, leathery texture. It most certainly is real. We touch the ear in Maya, and know it as real, but we can not see the elephant. This paradox is unmanageable; it can not be resolved, only transcended. As a first step, we can use this acceptance of our irresolvable existence inside of Maya as a touchstone for forward progress. And where would it take us?

To the second step:

Came to believe that we would be restored to the power of the universe.

Just as we move from step one to step two, Maya is not permanent. We orient to destiny. When we use our emerging consciousness, no matter where we are, to understand where we have been, we thus know the possibility of the future. We can see the future. We can project possibilities. We can have vision, shape intention, and know that we will be delivered from the bounds of our dual experience. While we are here, we gather the energy of our experience. This we contribute to the energetic whole, projecting it into infinity and influencing the ever increasing complexity of the emerging universe. Writing and reading these words is a rational beginning to the shift in belief that characterizes step two. Over time, these concepts will sink in. Over time, we will realize these ideas in our experience. We will know them to be true with our mind, that greater entity comprising our brain and our body, our thoughts and our feelings, our emotions and our spirit. Step two is about shifting perspective, recognizing the deep truths to be pertinent even now, in the state of Maya. It is but a way station to step three:

Made a decision to turn inward, aligning our will and our lives with the deepest truths and the highest good we could imagine.

With awe and amazement, we touch upon an energizing presence at our core, handy indeed. It is not in Nepal, nor in the stars, nor in a religious text, and icon or a ceremony. It is within. We are given a gift of results. Perhaps, as an alcoholic might know, this epiphany is facilitated in those whose lives have taken a turn for the worst before discovering the appropriate doorway. The contrast between their state of despair and the changes that are wrought through a twelve step process is significant. One might call it enlightenment. This phenomena of hitting the bottom is another expression of our dual experience; we can not know peace until we have had the experience of its absence.

As individuals we recognize results. In our loneliness we also see that profound growth comes with the help of an intentional community. There is additional wisdom here that we should ponder. Our first experiences are given to us out of compassion, empathy and love. This is the model of the universe to which we long to return.

In our recognition, a great, ancient stirring is awakened. This is our memory of the egalitarian societies of the neolithic age. This is our knowledge of connection with the birth of the universe, our sense of its long unfolding. The birth of the stones. The emergence of human consciousness. We recognize that the two share the same universal life energy. But it is in their emergent differences, the result of continuous differentiation and integration, that we are able to reflect on the beauty of this interaction, on the majesty of its projection. Projection that is inward toward a truer expression of our self. This process of individuation is actually the key to the healthy integration we know to be so necessary for life and for navigating the great turning. It is the secret to human destiny.

So step four can only serve the ideal of being reborn to our self inside of the context of the unprecedented coming together that is our distinct possibility.

Made a fearless search for all of our attachments.

Like a thousand veils, we peel back all of the layers of our attachments that constitute our persona, our experiences, our beliefs and our perceptions. It is enough just to know they are there. Many of them reside in our unconscious, pushing us forward each day with a thousand different strivings. It is okay to release strivings, but not a requirement. We simply ask for the choice here. Our search is about learning ourselves. It is about lifting into the higher realms of our consciousness all of the aspects of self. This includes the energy of our ancestors as well as our dreams and spirit influences. This is delicate work, because there are just as many conditionings that would cut us off from the wisdom to be gained here. Not out of evil, or spite, but out of love, our love of the dual physical plane. We are so grateful to be here, having this experience, why wouldn’t we protect ourselves? We are participating in ever emerging consciousness. For this to happen, we have had to go through a period of separation – being cut off from universal consciousness for the very purpose of being able to discern it. But this requires integration, and integration requires the removal of all of the veils that separate us from that protective, deep love of live.

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