Self Meeting

As Mark Twain says, “I would go on vacation, but that darned Mark Twain follows me everywhere.” Where are we going to run to, if we don’t take care of our inner problems?

The other day I stumbled on something called the Enneagram, have any of you heard of it? It’s basically an ancient system that identifies nine different ways in which an expansive, omniscient and omnipotent consciousness reacts when it suddenly finds itself limited inside of a little body. I like the way that sounds. Can you imagine yourself as this infinite consciousness, stuffed like an enormous King Kong into a tiny stuffed bear? It shouldn’t be hard to do. It happened to me. It happened to you. The question is, how do each of us deal with it?

According to this research, there are nine different strategies for reacting to the fact that we were stuffed down here. Then, each of us in our own crazy way, devised a childish strategy for trying to “get back” to that original unity. We trust our minds in this endeavor, but its blind attempts to cover over that initial fear, confusion, rage and hatred actually take us farther away from this unity than we would find if we actually just sat still and just let these emotions course through our veins.

But those original reactions are too scary for us, as kids, to handle… so we run away from them. Then we devise a justification, a “story”, to explain why we have to keep running away from them and why it’s not our fault.

A “one”, for example, explains his “fall” as being a kind of punishment for not being perfect enough. They do this because unconsciously they believe that if they were to become perfect again, they would be reaccepted into that Beautiful State of Unity. These people become the organizers and crusaders of the world, trying to set high moral standards for everyone.

But each personality type also has a blind spot, like a backpack that you carry, that everyone but you can see! The blind spot of the “ones” is that they tend to be perfectionists and preachy, and so they often clash with others, ironically creating the opposite of the harmony they seek. They unwittingly and unconsciously create conflict. And since they don’t notice that they do this, they go through life confused, until someone points it out to them (to which they understandably react with anger). The challenge of the “ones” is to relax and to try to see perfection in the world as it is. This means also accepting themselves as being perfect just as they are. Which brings them back to unity and creates harmony around them, and finally there is joy in the heavens.

What’s so funny is that it really is no one’s fault that we are flailing here. Sending a man to find his original unity with just a mind, a body and a soul is like sending a cavalier to fight a fire-breathing dragon with a pink balloon. It’s an enterprise Destined To Fail. And fail we do, and exhausted we become, and surrender we must. And then we ask to be brought back, and like the Prodigal Son we are welcomed back with open arms.

My favorite part in all this is the idea that we all started from infinite awareness. We didn’t get lost, or get punished, or fail. We just got tricked into believing that we weren’t infinite, like having to turn twenty times in a circle with our foreheads pressed to a baseball bat before being sent off in search of something that’s always been right here. In fact, it is suddenly clear to me that being both an infinite soul and a physical body here on the earth is not an either-or proposition. It’s a both-and proposition.

So I was talking to a friend about this yesterday and a girl came over excitedly and asked, “Did I hear you correctly? Did you say we can be both Everything and Individual at the same time? How does one do this?”

A wave of grace flowed over me. I looked her straight in the eye and this sweet, sweet voice within me answered, “You tell me. You’re doing it right now.” And her big brown eyes got large, as big as saucers, making way for the beautiful infinite consciousness which–suddenly free to show itself–poured out and joined hands with my own, spilling out from my eyes all over everything.

It was an exquisite moment. Like a “one” finally getting to go home.

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