The philosophy of Unity is probably true and definitely comforting. Within the philosophy of Unity it is popular to extrapolate that everything is perfect just as it is. That may be so, but is it your experience? Is life perfect just as it is? Philosophically this is an extremely attractive idea. But I feel there are problems with accepting it when it is not your direct experience. Am I perfect? Maybe, but do I feel perfect? Not really. Perfection is not my ongoing and immediate experience.
Is perfection a quality inherently contained within Unity? Does perfection simply mean that nothing can be anything other than what it is? Clearly there is no floating standard out there that can be called “perfection” that everything is weighed against. It’s either all or nothing. Is this so-called perfection really just a statement of Unity? I think so.
It all comes back to the same thing over and over again: Recognition of Unity is the game. A feeling of lacking or imperfection is always the result of a perceived separation from the Vastness, the Unified Field, the Divine.
Our ego-mind is very good at creating a personal sense of imperfection in a perfect universe. Ego likes to be in charge and loves to perceive itself as the ultimate reality. We may know philosophically that this is an illusion and that ego is just one of the many expressions of the Divine, but when we are caught in the dominance of our ego we feel separate and distinct from everything and everyone else. Not necessarily a bad thing, but not great for recognizing Unity. My perceived separation from Source makes me feel imperfect even if in some ultimate reality I am. So how useful is the philosophy of perfection and Unity if it is not my experience? Our sense of separation breeds the inner sense of imperfection that penetrates all levels of our experience.
We say that this perceived separation is a problem. But if we perceive it to be a problem aren’t we caught by it? Seeing it as a problem has an insidious effect of making us want to get away from something – away from the problem.
Ultimate philosophies are so attractive to the suffering body-mind. As I rest relax, swim, write, read, and bask in the perfect sea breezes, I am struck by the ongoingness of my resistance to life as it is. Yes, it is almost unimaginably beautiful here, and okay, you could just about call this beach perfect. But there is a mitigating factor here that is remarkably strong. It is me. It is my personal ego mind fighting it out with itself. This is no more than usual. It is usually doing this. But in the relative perfection of this amazing Caribbean beach my mind is just more noticeable.
The reality of Unity is absolutely clear to me. I have seen it, over and over again. I have felt it, touched it, yielded into it and know it to be true. And that, I now know, leads to a very tricky area of my mind to navigate. Since I know it, it is so very easy to feel discontent with any perception that doesn’t place the Vastness itself at the forefront, as the experiencer of any aspect of expression. I know, based on personal experience, that all of this is the vibrating and radiating expression of the Divine. So now, I am caught in wanting to perceive it as Divine all the time! Everything else dissatisfies. Even as I laugh, love, swim, read, whatever it is, I am at the base of my personal self, deeply dissatisfied.
So, I inquire: I follow the dissatisfaction to its source. It doesn’t take too long to see that my dissatisfaction is the direct result of the lack of immediate perception of Unity. I find a powerful aversion to the separation of my ego-self with its own Source. As I get under the surface just a little bit I find so many of my held self-concepts from a lifetime, battling it out with one another. The ego mind is all swirled up on itself, talking to itself, and jockeying for supremacy with its own parts. The parts are not only in charge here – they are wild and desperate! What a situation.
How to unhook from the ego? Turns out that is the wrong question. Wanting to unhook from the ego seems to give it more strength! My discontent is strong and the more I don’t like it the more I notice it rise up and try to do something about my discontent. I would really like not to be discontent. And that, in itself is a problem. I am in strong aversion to discontent. Is this a breakthrough? Well, momentarily, however enough of a breakthrough to see that the aversion is the problem. These self-concepts that take up way too much of my attention are very powerful and they rise up and vie for supremacy over and over again. Okay, that is the way it is. Now what?
There appears to be only one way to explore this situation more deeply and that is to release my aversion to discontent. Easier said than done. Is my discontent a personal failure? My spiritually oriented ego mind definitely thinks so. My thinking spiritually oriented mind says, “No, it is not a problem. This is just what egos do”. But that argument doesn’t seem to hold much water when I place myself where I am at sixty years old with forty-five years of spiritual practice under my belt. I should be better. More problems, more discontent with a good smattering of self-denigration. Great, this is going nowhere…again ego-mind taking charge. Wow, what persistence this ego has!
Turns out, the only remedy is to accept my discontent. How can a spiritually oriented person like me accept this limited view of my life and personhood? I can’t. So, obviously, I think I have to change it. The desire to change how we perceive and what we feel has led many of us to practice yoga. In practice we make a mistake when we think that changing and improving ourselves will solve the problem. We just increase our resistance and harden our resolve not to feel discontent. Serious practice will take us deeper. But it is tricky.
The next step is where the problem so often gets even more vicious. This is the place that so many of us will stop and take on a philosophy of Unity – an idea of Unity – that ultimately is a giving up and leads to a kind of a spiritual mood-making. We say to ourselves that we are perfect just as we are and the Universe is One. We tell ourselves that we are undulating waves of perfection and bliss. We even feel it sometimes. We “think” that all we have to do is yield to that reality and it will take us away. But what really happens most of the time is that we get stuck at this level of mood making, call ourselves yogis, and settle. Underneath it all we remain discontent. Ego mind gets excited because it continues to run the show and gets a lot of adulation from friends and students because we say the right things.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, this doesn’t work! We must go deeper. It cannot be all about surrender when the ego still has such strong tendrils into our awareness. At the source of ego, just under its wild growth and attempts to stay supreme, is this deep discontent. The best use of this discontent is to allow it to prompt us to inquire more deeply. Attention, attention, attention! When we give up at this moment and take on a philosophy upon which to rest we are toast. We cling to the philosophy for dear life.
The philosophy of Unity may be right, but if it is not the underlying and abiding reality – the experience of every waking-sleeping-dreaming moment of your life – than you may be trapped in spiritual mood making. Adhering to a philosophy because it is easier than going deeper is a real obstacle to clear vision and bears no significant fruit in personal experience. I am talking about myself, of course, but I feel it may apply to you too.
Accept it. Accept your discontent and look at it even more deeply, and without aversion. Really allow it. After all, what is so terrible? You feel it anyway. You likely see the beauty of the Unified Field often enough to keep your attention – that’s why you practice. But you also, likely, spend most of your time in aversion to your own discontent. Or worse, you may spend most of your time, as I do, trying to improve yourself so that you won’t feel so discontent anymore!
Try this: accept your discontent fully. Allow it as your human birthright just as you allow your enjoyment and your joy, only more so, because at least you are not in so much resistance to your own joy. Let go of your need to alter, change, and improve. Watch your ego do flips and turns using its reservoir of tricks to try to keep itself on top!
Let me know how you do.
And may we all experience the truth of life: sat chit ananda,