The following is a chapter from “The Flip Side.” If you haven’t read the last post, I recommend you read it so you have context for this chapter.
For years I practiced and practiced to be a good golfer. Golf can be so frustrating and at the same time extremely gratifying. Like so much of our temporal life as a journey of awakening, Golf is a game of opposites and the harder you try the less progress you make, or so it seems.
Good golfers know very well that the game comes down to strategy, knowing when to take risk and when to play it safe. Each hole can be approached a multitude of ways but success is found when you play the hole to your strengths. It isn’t always about hitting the long drive or sinking the 30 foot put. Often you will tailor your strategy based on how your playing that day.
Good golfers also know that the outcome of every shot is determined in a fraction of a second. The practice swings, the setup, the rhythm, the takeaway and the follow through are all just ways of achieving the perfect contact with the ball. It all boils down to a clubface that hits the ball on the right path through the ball so that the impact sends the ball on the right trajectory.
These fractions of a second add up to just a few seconds during a round of golf. There is only one moment that counts and that is the moment of impact. You may “play a round” in 4 hours or so, but the actual time that counts is really just an instant of time.
You also learn that trying harder doesn’t make you better. Yes, practice is a good thing and it teaches good habit patterns and makes the swing repeatable, but if you are “over thinking” the swing in the moment, you will likely achieve a less than desirable result.
As an example, when I first started playing, I had a wicked slice (a slice is when the ball comes off the tee and curves away from you (right for a right-handed golfer)). Most novice golfers have this issue and it can be incredibly frustrating. At first you will try harder and harder to “not slice” and you slice all the more. You will adjust your grip and shift your weight and try all sorts of gimmicks to make the slice go away. It seems to be an impossible task but then the light comes on.
What you find is the more you are trying to not hit the ball right, the more you hit it right. Then you see clearly that what you are doing is making it worse. One day you try to hit the ball right and the ball goes straight or even curves to the left. Something clicks in your brain and the mysterious golf swing becomes something so simple. You realize that all your effort was just causing the problem but when you took a very different approach, when you let go of you rigid way of thinking, you found success in the instant of impact. That moment is priceless. It is eternal. It is timeless. That instant in time, that timeless moment, opens you up to a whole new understanding.
Maybe you aren’t a golfer and this allegory doesn’t work for you, but I bet you have experienced something similar, maybe many times. The ever-present moment has a way of invading our unconsciousness to bring light into the darkness. Maybe it is a song on the radio, a sunset, a beautiful scene, or an intimate moment in a relationship…or maybe hitting a golf ball.
These bright light moments are usually unexpected and often sudden. They can be very brief but can leave a lasting impression. You may have experienced only a fraction of a second of bright light, but it is more than enough. Even the light of a candle can expel the darkness. These awakening moments are when awareness shines through the illusion of darkness. These moments are when our true nature finds a space between our continuous stream of thoughts. The prism of the mind is transcended and the light comes through, not as colors, but as the white light that is eternal truth.
In the last chapter I talked about the prism of the mind. After that kind of discussion it is easy to think enlightenment is a hopeless goal. It is easy to fall into the trap of trying to do more in hope of getting more. It is easy to think trying harder will get a better result. In these moments, these eternal glimpses, we were really doing nothing. We are in a moment where thoughts cease and truth pierces the darkness of unconsciousness.
Jesus was pointing us to this experience. He gave us hints or clues about how we might overcome the prism of the mind to experience the light. He encouraged us to embrace the light so that we might become aware of what we really are.
Here is one of his clues:
Matt 6:22 “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are healthy, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness! “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money. (ESV)
In the traditional view, this has been interpreted as another one of those cautions about behavior. We need to condition ourselves to avoid the “evil” of the world so that we can be “good” inside. Often it is stated that money is the root of evil. If we love money, possessions, wealth, power, influence or status, we will fall deep into the chasm of no return. I was taught that we need to try harder to be better. We need to stop slicing the ball by working and working to stop slicing the ball. Even if we are “saved by grace” that isn’t the “get out of jail free card.” There are so many warnings about “the slippery slope” and “falling from grace.” Those teachings promote fear and a sense of desperation to “get it right or else.” When we see verses like these, we live in constant fear. It’s like the novice golfer that steps up to the tee and all he or she can think about is “please don’t slice this time.”
Anyone who has tried harder to be better knows the more you try harder the more likely you are to mess up. You hold yourself accountable to an impossible standard and when you fail you hate yourself. You turn to your religion for another round of forgiveness but you are certain that another slice is waiting. You may get a good dose of compassion from those in your religious circle, but when you mess up, when you slice again, the judgment follows. You may hear kind words but you sense a lack of trust, a lack of confidence, and a certain impending doom as you leave the sanctuary and the self-proclaimed righteous talk about how weak you really are.
OK, that may be a bit harsh but I bet you can identify with some of that diatribe. The truth of what Jesus was pointing to is so much more encouraging than that egoic mind, separate-self, fear based interpretation. Really he is pointing to something that is so incredibly simple.
Let’s take a look at the flip side. Are you ready for the clues?
Again we need to see “light” and “darkness” as metaphors for consciousness and unconsciousness. When we are aware of our true self as awareness, we are walking in the light. When we are the observer observing the manifest unit, the body/mind, we are living from the light. When we are operating from consciousness, we are expressing divine truth.
The really big clue is found in the word “healthy.” The Greek word should be translated as “single” or “simple.” The literal meaning of the Greek word is “unfolded” or “without folds.” It can mean “a single undivided focus” or “without a secret or double agenda.” I hope you are seeing this. The eye or our insight or our “seeing” or our perception, when it is undivided, will see the light and our physical form will be filled with light or truth. This is the gateway or the transcendence beyond the mind prism. When we see with the unity of oneness, we see as the divine sees. We are experiencing the oneness that is the eternal reality.
The last clue I want to reveal is the word translated as “money.” This is a limited translation of a word that actually means, “the treasure a person trusts in.” When we are living and identifying with the separate-self mindset (the colors of the prism) we are putting our trust in forms. Forms are the means to enlightenment not the source of identity. In the primordial, survival form that is unconscious to eternal reality, we will feel the need to possess to see ourselves as better than another. The ego needs to be better than another. Its power is in its survival that manifests as superiority relative to another.
Jesus is pointing us to a divine truth. Here is another way to interpret these verses:
Matt 6:22 Our perception is what guides our physical form. If we perceive from the truth of unity or oneness then our physical form is guided by oneness. If our perception is lost to a separate-self illusion, then our physical form is guided by unconsciousness. If our guide is unconsciousness then we are lost to unconsciousness. We can’t entertain two guides. We will hate one and love the other or be devoted to one and reject the other. We can’t be guided by eternal truth and the illusion of forms at the same time. (LLT)
Now you might be asking yourself, “How do I break free from unconsciousness?” Well, you don’t. It just happens. Your being aware of awareness as your true self is the NO-doing that lets truth shine through. All those moments, those instants of divine illumination are just truth finding a space between thoughts. You can’t control your thoughts, you can’t try harder to stop the slice, you have to trust in your true-self waking up from the dream.
I can hear your objection. You think you can control your thoughts just like I thought I could master my golf swing by trying harder. I’ll prove to you that you can’t control your thoughts. Right now, I want you to concentrate really hard so you are in complete control of your thoughts. I want you to make sure you don’t think about something that you don’t want to think about. Are you ready? Here is the test: Right now, in this moment, don’t under any circumstance… think about a purple elephant.
How did you do?
Like those split second golf swing moments, you only need to embrace your divine moments. You need to NOT try harder but to let what is be what is. You need to NOT live from fear and an illusion of mind control. You need to be aware of the awareness that you already are. That awareness is how you are reading this chapter. Let a space open up between your thoughts as you embrace your identity as awareness. Jesus was telling us the same thing in this verse:
John 12:36 Believe in the light while you have the light, so that you may become children of light.”
Here is a LLT of the same:
John 12:36 Have faith in the glimpses of the divine truth when you have a divine truth moment so that you may realize your nature as that divine truth. (LLT)
Going beyond the prism of the mind is not about trying harder. It is about seeing what is ever-present. The “truth” of the golf swing was always there. I just needed to get out of my mind to experience what was always possible. In the same way we can unconditionally accept (love) our body/mind for what it is. We can take the position of the observer and see the physical form as the super sensory unit it is. We can let the light shine from within and see the light all around us. We don’t DO anything. Instead we rest in what is. We embrace the moments and have faith for the next. We are already awake but we just don’t know it. Our “single eye” is the key. Our divine moments are the manifestation of our divine purpose. We are going beyond the prism of the mind and all we need is to see what is as what is.