Chapter 5: Work On Yourself First
You Have Chosen to Remember: A Journey of Self-Awareness, Peace of Mind and Joy by James Blanchard Cisneros.
As you continue to work on yourself, understand that if something is causing you anger, stress, unhappiness, regret or any other “negative” emotion, you are, by definition, experiencing an illusion. You will experience the illusions you still think are real. You will do so because you have made the unreal – real, and the best way to understand that what you see as valuable is actually valueless is to experience its valuelessness. Many times, when people awaken from a particular illusion, they hold themselves in judgment for having so viciously defended it. I gladly and gently remind them that they should not judge themselves, but should be grateful for the experience, and proud of their awakening. My friend, it is an awakening once you realize that the unreal, regardless of how real people want to make it, is unreal. The greatest gift any illusion can offer is the opportunity to let you see it for what it truly is.
Trying to be who you are not is hard. Negative and judgmental thoughts, emotions and reactions, simply aren’t who you are. Because you’re acting as someone you are not, this will drain you of energy. Spending time protecting and defending valuelessness, what you are not, is draining. Release these emotions, and you will be set free. Release these emotions, and you will have more energy than you ever thought you could have.
Understand that as you continue to work on yourself, the ego will not sit quietly in the corner. It has invested a lot in making you the way you are. It has taught you how to be “normal.” It has taught you how to judge and how to be stressed. The ego has taught you and most of the world that the unreal is real. It has created a chaotic thought system that it makes you call normal. Seeing the unreal as real creates a delusional state. Living in a delusional state creates confusion and finally chaos. For example, a mad man, or someone in a delusional state believes that what he sees is completely real. Regardless of how much sense it makes or how much pain and confusion it brings, he will defend his state as real. The ego has you call this painful and confusing state “normal” or “real life.” This is the one reason you find difficulty in achieving lasting peace in your everyday experience. This world calls chaos peace, which is why you have not experienced lasting peace.
The ego tells you that, if you disagree with it, you are by its definition not “in the norm,” or, in other words, not normal. The ego has you silently and secretly question yourself for not being normal. It has you question the direction in which you’re headed, and also your sanity. The ego then makes it acceptable for those in the norm to judge those outside the norm. Remember that the ego’s ultimate goal in any situation is to separate you from your brother or sister. If you dare to disagree with it, it encourages you to feel like a fool for having believed that the unreal was real in the first place. If you don’t see yourself as a fool, it encourages you to look upon your brother or sister as a fool. If you finally see the unreal as unreal, it tries to make you believe that you are more spiritually advanced than your fellow brother and sister who still see the illusion as real. Even when it compliments you, its main goal remains to try to separate you from your brother or sister. It tries to sell you that because you’re more spiritually advanced, you are also better. It tells you that you should be on a high pedestal, so that more of your brothers and sisters are able to hear and see you. This is all in an effort to further separate you from your brother or sister. But, my friend, an awakened spiritual teacher would never think or speak of himself or herself as a higher spiritual being than anyone else. Such a teacher knows that the simple act of leading by example is a great gift to offer the world. And he or she is as equally honored to talk to one child of God as he or she is to talk to thousands of people on the highest of podiums.
The ego has the world judge and criticize you for not being like it, and the ego has you judge and criticize the world for judging you. Decide not to play the ego’s game. Do not judge the world for judging you. You release the world by forgiving it of its judgment of you. As a small child would judge you for taking a knife out of his hands, so will the world judge you for thinking unlike itself. Put the knife in a safe place where the child will not be able to reach it. The young child will not be able to reach the knife, and neither will the world be able to reach you with its judgment, for you are now in a higher place where you realize that what the world judges in you does not exist. Now, when the world attempts to judge and criticize you for your non-conformity, you smile, but not from a sense of superiority or importance, but from the relief and freedom you receive by not having to play the ego’s game.
Former President Theodore Roosevelt said the following on handling critics:
13 It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes short again and again because there is no effort without error or shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place shall never be with those timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
13. President Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,” Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910.
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