It was recently revealed to me in a powerful ceremony that I am in control of nothing. This transcended intellectual understanding. It wasn’t like I was humiliated into getting the teaching. It was more like, “Okay, I get it. There are bigger things going on here than my rational mind will ever comprehend, and if I want to participate in the bigger project, I need to give up the illusion of control.”
I got that my life was meant to be an offering, a willingness to give over all that is not love to Love itself. And all that came up to give over was the only offering that mattered. I offered all in me that was getting in the way of love. To paraphrase Amos, this is the only sacrifice that matters ultimately, the only one wanting to be received by Love.
First to the altar was my ego, the self that is not Self—the self that was carefully and ingeniously constructed to compensate for early trauma. This self pretty much ran the show for my entire life. Sobering to say the least. Mind boggling. Unbelievable, except that I knew it was true. Let me be clear about this. This self isn’t bad. It isn’t wrong. In fact, I felt more love and compassion and gratitude for this self that helped me to survive than I have ever felt in my life.
When we talk about loving self, it’s a real conundrum, because the ego isn’t about loving. It’s about trying to get what you didn’t get in anyway possible (unconditional love), or trying to avoid what was intolerable (conditional love). So, until we offer up the ego, there is quite literally nobody home to deliver the love we so desperately are looking for. We spend a lifetime looking for this self, and the only way we know that we’ve found it is if we find ourselves deeply in love with the totality of ourselves, wounds and all. We love our body. We love our minds. We love all the ways we compensated. We love the wounded little guy or girl with such tenderness. That which is loving like this is our true self, it’s our essential nature.
I am reminded of a few lines of Leonard Cohen’s brilliant song, You Have Loved Enough.
I said I’d be your lover
You laughed at what I said
I lost my job forever
I was counted with the dead
I swept the marble chambers
But you sent me down below
You kept me from believing
Until you let me know
That I am not the one who loves
It’s love that seizes me
When hatred with his package comes
You forbid delivery
And when the hunger for your touch
Rises from the hunger
You whisper, “You have loved enough
Now let me be the lover”
These words were written by a man to whom surrender as spiritual practice had been revealed. We try to love, spurred on by a distant memory of our true nature, but the trauma that has formed our personality renders this task impossible. Until we remember the trauma, feel it, release it, and offer it to love. Then we may become our own best lovers. Then we will feel this same love towards all, human and other-than-human. This is the Self that is of G_d, the imago dei.
The ego and the trauma that constitutes it is what keeps us believing that we are in control. We must be in control, because if we are not in control we will die. This is how traumatic the absence of unconditional love is. So we come to believe that we control the levers. We might even get into evolutionary spirituality which is so big on “consciously creating the future”. I’ve taught this myself and I believe it, understood correctly. It’s part of the dignity of what it means to be human in the 21st century.
But when this conscious creation is happening from ego, what arises is what singer songwriter, Bruce Cockburn got a chuckle from in his song, Let’s Have a Laugh.
Let’s have a laugh for the men of the world
Who thought they could make things work.
Tried to build a New Jerusalem,
And ended up with New York, ha, ha, ha.
On the other hand when we get it in our bones that Love itself is building the New Jerusalem, 24/7, and that we are being remade every moment of our lives, as a kind of on-the-job training, through surrender, then our lives begin to feel like they are being lived by a current of Love who is a master planner. The project is executed in a manner that doesn’t violate our sovereignty or freedom, but rather fulfills it. We get that there are higher beings at the controls. Our job is to be reconditioned. We are to trade in the old self, for a new model. We are to allow the trauma to be drawn from us, and be remade as new humans who are participating in the emergence of a New Earth Community.
The moment you get this is a tremendous relief settles us. “Oh, it’s not all up to me. I can release into this stream of evolutionary grace that is carrying me toward the completion of love.” Breath returns. Maybe laughter. And then our lives truly become an offering, a letting go of all that is not love. It’s anything but easy. It’s painful. It’s unpredictable. It doesn’t follow cultural norms or rhythms. It doesn’t fit well into the plans we, or anybody else, has made for us. It doesn’t care much for institutional religion. In the immortal words of Lenny Kravitz, it’s time to “let love rule”.