THE LAST AC POST, as you undoubtedly noticed, was almost all background and set-up. It brought our attention to attention itself. It was to drive home the keen understanding that we have a finite amount of attention at our disposal, and that the “mystical math” that we’re going to need a great deal of it if we’re going to wake up in this life. Adyashanti tells his students, “You can’t run away from yourself forever; everyone wakes up in the end. But I wouldn’t take any comfort from that.” He’s telling us in his clear and kind way that yes, that ongoing continuum, which we can call DNA or karmic database, will someday wake up, but if the-you-you-think-you-are want to be there when it happens, the-you-you-think-you-are had better apply yourself in this life, and there’s no time like the presentright now. This may be the last day we have to get there. We don’t know; none of us do. We have no idea when this life will end; only that it will.
IN THIS SECOND PART, I want to primarily share the mechanics of how I’m steadily unbuildingUnsubscribe Nation, which I have also deemed the new U.N. I say unbuild, because I’m not addinganything anywhere. I am stripping away. I am deleting. I am saying goodbye to some content, some ideas, some things and frankly, some people, too.
AS THE TITLE SUGGESTS, I have been busily unsubscribing from the torrent of email that used to make its way through to my inbox every day. When I woke up in the morning my inbox would be full of stuff calling for my attention. After I worked my way through that, it would periodically get pounded throughout the day. Granted, some of it was well-meaning and spiritually oriented. Another category was the stuff that used to be well-meaning and spiritually oriented, but has now left the sacred and gone Bright World—meaning conventional, mundane, and even mercenary. There’s no lack of it. Some of it I subscribed to at some weak point in the past, and the karma of that poor decision has been flailing by inbox and my attention ever since. But an awful lot of it is just crap from people I’ve come into contact with who want me to cough up yet more money for yet more causes, goods, or services. You know, I have to tell you, if I buy something from a web-based company it does not mean I want to hear from them twice a week, or once a month. It means that I found you the first time and if I want you, I’ll find you again. We have this really neat, powerful, Internet tool called Google. Perhaps you’ve not heard of it? Why should I have to unsubscribe to something I never requested. Isn’t that what spam is? Subaru wants me to make my automobile the center of my life. Before them, Ford did. Please. It’s a car, a tool; not the center of a fairytale.
WHY DIDN’T I UNSUBSCRIBE from those annoying flyer-type emails years earlier? Habit. Laziness. Thinking I might hurt someone’s feelings. And chiefly because it takes too much time, I said. It was a lie. It takes time once, and then I’m free. That vital attention is freed up and available again for as long as I live. It’s true that I have to scroll down and find the tiny little notice that tells me I can unsubscribe by clicking here, and then go through that process, but it’s better than the alternative, which is having my attention pricked here and here and here, like a giant balloon with multiple leaks. That’s the subtle insanity of it. None of these things blast my attention; they just nettle it, and nettle it, and nettle it. For sites where I need to recall that user name and password from 2001, if it’s easy to get I’ll opt out in standard fashion. If it’s not, I set up a spam filter. Immediately. I’ve initiated more spam filters in the last two months than I have in the last ten years. I put my attention there once—right now—and then, that attention span I’ve been wasting, or allowing someone else to waste, is back to being available for this difficult path of awakening or embodiment. This is not a rant. It’s simply a free man’s declaration of independence from Bright World, approval, and bullshit. I’m going to be busy doing this or that in my life—that’s what life is—and I’m choosing this, writing Awakening Clarity; talking to seekers and students; trying to see through yet another belief of my own. I have been on guard for a couple of months now, and my email is slimming down nicely to stuff I really want to see; things I want to read; people I want to keep up with. The things that are coming in are coming in by my active choice, not by my passive default.
ON ANOTHER FRONT, let me happily announce that I’m pretty much out of the people pleasing business. Caring what you think simply demands too much time and attention. As soon as I get it you change your views anyway. So why bother? This doesn’t mean I’m out to annoy anybody; it means I’m out to live my life as I feel it should be lived. Betsy and I’ve recently discovered to our utter amazement that we’re grown-ups now, and don’t have to check in with anybody else about what we do, or how we live, or even how we think. Talk about empowering! We do what we want to do, or what we feel we need to do, and thus we want to do it. That doesn’t mean we don’t do anything others want us to do; we do such things all the time. What it means is that when we do these things, we do them for our reasons, not theirs. If I don’t see a reason for me to do something, I’m not budging, and you’re not going to budge me.
WE ARE NEARLY OUT OF the approval-seeking-and-needing loop. It’s an easy loop to get out of, once you get the hang of it. First you notice that you don’t need anyone’s approval about how you live your life. You were born free. If die in bondage, you did it. Don’t blame God and don’t blame the world. You allowed it. It’s what you wanted, or things wouldn’t have ended up that way. This doesn’t mean you now justify being a kidnapper or cat burglar. We don’t succumb to caprice. It means you go where your own heart leads you, not where you think your dead mother’s heart leads you; not whereyou imagine your brother, or sister, or teacher, or preacher has in mind for you. It means you stand on your own two feet, not just spiritually, but conventionally as well. As an aside on this, from the very first days of our relationship, for some crazy reason Betsy and I have always allowed each other to be just as we are; quirks and all. We’ve found that the quirks can be the most interesting parts. We don’t try to fix each other; we oblige each other. If I fix her, I’ll ruin her. A true Voice told me that in the first two months we were together. She is an exception to a rule I lived by, that’s for sure.
A FUNNY THING HAPPENS as soon as you find out that you don’t need anyone else’s approval. Guess what? You stop seeking it. It’s automatic. Once the lie, the loop, has been thoroughly seen through, thoroughly penetrated behavior changes to match it. It seems like it can’t be that simple, but in my experience it is. Granted, it may take a while to completely drop a long-held pattern. Take all the support you can get. There are long and strong ones that still arise within me, but they don’t last, and they don’t hook me for long. They are seen through quickly and willingly, and so the experiencing plays out on more of a vertical plane than a horizontal one. Something happens, there is a reaction, truth makes itself available and is allowed in, and the reaction falls away into clarity, usually in the space of seconds. And the whole dropping process is absolutely lovely as we see truth, and are willing live truth faster and faster. We drop our fear of consequence and just plow through. If we’re not living truth, we’re losing it; it’s just that simple.
ANOTHER SIDE OF THIS SAME SUBJECT is that I’ve given up some friends in the last few months. They are all nice people. I like some of them and love all of them. But enough is enough. I have found myself explaining what I do, talking about I do, dodging talking about what I do, trying to help them seewhat I do; all this simply because they’ve been right in front of me, and that’s always my cue that very likely I’m supposed to help them on their own spiritual journey, even if they’re blind to it. But I’ve been reading Shri Atmananda Krishna Menon, who is terrific, and he makes clear mention of the fact that spilling out this teaching over and over to deaf ears, or trying to explain ourselves, or dodge truth so it doesn’t confuse someone, is ultimately both demeaning and disempowering and I’ve found that he is right. How do I now know if I’m supposed to help you on your spiritual journey? Because you’re right in front of me and you experience a certain resonance. If you don’t that’s fine, I’m out of here. That frees up my attention for someone who’s more likely to get it this time. I can’t free the world. I’m not even supposed to. If you want to stay in the dream, I absolutely get it. I even recommend it until I don’t, and that’s only when you can’t stay in it, because you can’t stand it any longer. You can’t wake up until you can, and if you’re not deeply drawn, it just ain’t gonna happen unless you’re one of Grace Lottery winners we talked about in Part I. In that case you don’t need my help anyway.
I HAVE ALSO DEEPLY LESSENED my connection to any organization that was very helpful to me at one time, but which I can no longer identify with. They’re not wrong. They are where they are, and they do what they do. They’re pretty good at it. I’m not wrong either; I am where I am and I do what Ido. But if I can’t tell the truth as I see it today, I’m out. My view is also confusing to people who don’t need to be confused. I’ve sat in meetings for years telling the truth. No one understands it, and very few even want to try. Fine, good for them, but I’m out. My prime example I’m talking about here is a recovery organization that I was a mover and shaker in for over a decade. And now, suddenly, to my surprise, I’m just not. It wasn’t planned, it just happened. However, my planetary spiritual influence—simply meaning how many people I have the opportunity to offer my view to, has increased somewhere in between 40 and 50 times what it was just over three months ago, and has now reached into 44 countries. That, my friends, is efficiency in action. That’s all relative evolution is: a movement toward greater efficiency. I can no longer stand around and sing the company song when the words just don’t mean anything to me any longer. It’s not good for me, and it’s not good for them. I need my attention too badly to throw it away on people who neither need it, nor want it. So I’ve almost completely parted, only habit takes me back a couple of times a month, and they get to think what they want to think. If I look closely, I’ll see they’re doing that anyway. If the price of freedom for my time and attention is that someone else’s feelings get hurt, I think that’s a fine exchange. I can’t make them feel badly anyway; I don’t have that power. If they choose to tell themselves a personally hurtful story, I can no more influence that than I can their potential negative opinion of me. The price of my freedom is always allowing you the freedom to have yours. I’m not controlling me, and you’re not controlling you. It’s all just happening.
I could write on this subject forever, but it would just be replaying the same basic notions in new fields. Do that for yourself. More of this is a do-it-to-yourself program than you think. Take responsibility for your own attention. Take a close look at what you’re spending it on. Do you want to belong to Bright World? Fine, have it and God bless. Don’t bother hanging around here, though, because we’ll only annoy each other. Do you want to wake up? Have at it. Notice all the places, even the nooks and crannies, where you’re squandering your attention; reclaim it email by email, belief by belief, person by person, and organization by organization. Come join me in Unsubscribe Nation. Come be a delegate to the new U. N. Come be free. I’m leaving the door open behind me. Welcome. Namaste.
December 8, 2011 Update:
Just a quick update on Unsubscribe Nation. There’s a post in the archives by that name. If you haven’t read it, I recommend it, even if I am the theoretical writer of it.
Wow, is that practice ever effective!! Maybe I’m the exception, but once I started paying attention to it, I found that I was receiving a TON of email that was unwanted and went unread, but not before it nabbed a few seconds of attention. It took a long time to unwind that. A little junk (not spam, per se, but junk-to-me) still comes in and I have to either unsubscribe it, or filter it, but almost all the email I get now is stuff I want to read. It’s great to have my online life back.
I also bought new phones with Caller ID. I put it at two rings before it goes to the machine, so any disturbance is very short. I don’t answer it unless I want to, which is not much. I have the ringer set low so that it doesn’t rattle me, and the voice mail announcement set low as well. I’d go after the junk mail, but that’s a life decision that my sister-in-law has taken on, and I hear that it consumes much of her attention, which is the antithesis of what I am trying to accomplish. She’s coming at it from a conservationist angle, which I admire; it’s simply not my objective at this moment.