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November 3, 2021

You've Forgotten Who You Are (Part 2)

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Sometimes I get asked if I have any fears about CLG, especially related to how our content is being used in the world. I’ve talked before about my concern that The 15 Commitments can be weaponized and I still have this concern.

But I have two other concerns as well. The first is that generally speaking I fear that any codified system is susceptible to being made into a thing and from my perspective no system is ever the thing. In fact, no words are ever the thing. At best words and systems are just pointers to the thing. But we humans have a tendency to want certainty and constancy and therefore  mistake a finger pointing at the moon for the moon itself. Now, it feels pretentious to even claim that our work is pointing at the thing, but to the degree that it is, it’s  susceptible to being institutionalized, dogmatized. This concerns me. 

To this end, I sometimes think it would be better if everything we have said and written were erased and that no one could say, “above and below the line,” or “fact vs. story.” I think it would be great if we all had to come up with totally new ways of saying what it is we have to say. This freshness would invite us all to look with new eyes at the moon and have to describe it again, as though for the first time. One way I practice this is that at times I’ll do a whole coaching session and hardly mention any of the terms that are part of the CLG lexicon. If I can’t do this I need to take a pause and look with fresh eyes at the thing, the real thing. 

The second fear I have is that our work largely makes people’s ego-identities, their personalities, more functional; even highly functional. It often helps people feel better, be happier and more peaceful. The problem with this is that we are not our personalities. The truth of who you are, is beyond your personality just as it is beyond your name, your roles, your beliefs and your biography. Hale Dwoskin gets at this when he talks about “the story that bears your name.” These few words invite us to see that we are not our story. 

Therefore, it might be distracting, even counterproductive, to spend lots of time trying to improve our story, our personality. It would be like being upset about how you appeared in your dreams last night. You don’t like that in your dreams you were late for class again or that you couldn’t fly or that you had sex with someone you didn’t want to have sex with...and you spend all day worrying about your dream and trying to figure out how to have a different dream tonight. At some point it would be good to recognize that it was just a dream. Spending time improving it is not the best use of your time. (I’m suspending for now a discussion of lucid dreaming or dream analysis to make my point). 

Improving your imagined self, your story, your personality, your ego-identity is like this. It would be a better use of your time to discover who you really are and who you are not. This is my fear about CLG and models like ours;  they can get us more involved in an illusion, and the better the illusion gets, the more high functioning we become, the more we’re  tempted to settle for a better dream, a more enjoyable story, and not discover the deeper reality. 

Now having said this I grant that this is a tension. For this reason, I do support the use of tools that make us a better version of the self we are not. I see the value in personal growth work and have, and continue to do, lots of it. For example, I exercise, do breathing practices, yoga, ice baths to take care of my body even though I’m absolutely clear that I am not my body. So too I’ve done many modalities to improve my happiness and functioning in the world at the level of my personality. I think I’m an improved version of my personality, than I was 40 years ago; and just as I am not my body, I am not my personality. Another way of stating the paradox is that I have a body and a personality and a story but that is not all of who I am. When I emphasize those things I’ve forgotten who I really am. 

Now one more thought about the paradox. Here is a wild statement: anything that can be improved is not who you really are. What are you? I would suggest you are pure presence, consciousness, awake awareness, the divine. And what you are cannot be improved. It is already whole, perfect and complete. To go even further, anything that changes is not who you are. What you are is immutable. If you don’t know this experientially, not as a belief but as an experience, at least once in a while (maybe seconds or brief moments out of the many days you’re alive) you don’t yet know the truth of who you are, or more accurately, you’ve forgotten who you are. 

So there is the tension and my fear. What if what we are doing is only making the dream better? What if the deepest work is to help people remember the truth of who they really are?

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