My descent into nerve pain was radical and swift this time.
Rheumatoid arthritis has been my companion since I was thirteen. I am now sixty-six. The disease’s symptoms slept, for the most part, until I was twenty-five. Then, the summer my first husband left me, they raged through my physical body. Within a few years all the sinovial tissue surrounding every joint in my body was burned away. Any obvious swelling had disappeared, leaving only a harvest of altered x-rays and pain.
Over the decades, my lifestyle changed in response to the changes in my body. The first thing to go was housekeeping – the cleaning, the washing and ironing. Then I ceased to be able to cook. Then more recently, I became unable to weed the garden or exercise.
I am married to a terrific guy, and these changes have never bothered him. He developed the habit of cleaning the house on Sunday mornings, doing the wash every other evening, cooking for the week on Saturdays. The garden looked a bit less tidy, but its beauty shone through. And Mick eventually did our stretching routine by himself instead of with me. We have remained happy as clams as we have adjusted to what is needed.
For decades my back and shoulders have flared up badly occasionally. For years I only needed a dose of oral cortisone to ride out the storm. More recently I have depended on epidural injections of cortisone into the spine.
Suddenly, my time ran out. The first shot across my bow was a dishwashing injury. I turned over an earthenware plate to wash its bottom side and my left arm was suddenly awash in the fire of nerve pain. That was just dying down when the coup de grace came, in the form of a solitaire injury.
I love to play the solitaire game that comes in the MS Office software package. When I am losing my focus, a few games of solitaire seem to reboot my mood. I become calm and philosophical while watching the fall of the cards on the desktop. My focus returns and with it come new ideas, new directions to try in doing creative work. As a coping mechanism, I have always rated playing solitaire as second to none. Between the clicks and drags of one game about a year ago, the second and mortal injury came. I sank into a well of pure fire.
Let me mention in passing that over the decades, I have tried the Edgar Cayce Diet and the Macrobiotic Diet, both of them for eighteen months at different times. The Cayce Diet did no harm and no good. The Macrobiotic Diet cost me half my transverse colon. I learned too late that my body does not process rice. If there is a supplement I have not tried, and that right earnestly, I would be surprised. Nothing has ever helped.
Also, parenthetically, let me acknowledge that illnesses are illusory. Seemingly, my attitude and the attention I pay to the clearing of my energy body would clear away any physical symptoms. However I have not been able to manifest that. So while I would be the first to agree that surgeons are to bodies what mechanics are to automobiles, I firmly believe that the time has come for my body to see a mechanic.
I really like my mechanic, a ruddy-faced medical doctor and spinal surgeon of middle years who keeps it simple. “You’ve got the real deal,” he told me after seeing several scans. “It’s a mess in there. If you were my daughter, I would tell you the time has come for spinal fusion surgery.” I resonated to his solution because otherwise I would need to stop using the computer. And that I did not wish to do!
There are other solutions to my problem, like using voice-recognition software or dictating to an amanuensis or to a tape recorder. But the creative process is a funny thing. Most people can only offer their best work one way. In my case, this is certainly true. There is something in the process of typing and seeing the words pop on the screen that sets up an internal and almost infinite flow within me, enabling me to access my guidance and effortlessly make the millions of choices of wording and phraseology that create a finished piece of writing. So while I can see that these other ways of committing words to paper might work, I know for sure that they do not work nearly as well for me as my being able to write the words with my own fingers.
A Channeling Handbook was created by my dictation onto tape at another time of necessary inactivity almost twenty years ago, and if you read that small volume, you, too, may be able to see that while I got said what I wanted to say, the style of the book suffers and its flow stutters, compared to my other writing.
I will have spinal fusion surgery as soon as I return home from offering two presentations at the fourth annual Earth Transformation Conference in early January, a talk on 2012 and a workshop on being a Wanderer. (For more information about my talks and the Conference as a whole, go to http://www.earthtransformation.com.) This article is my notice to you that I will be off-line until April or so. It is also my way of sharing with you what has happened to make that so.
However there is another and far deeper reason for writing this article, and that is to share with you something that has been happening to me lately when I am dealing with the nerve pain that presently wracks my upper body, shoulder blades to fingertips, upper chest to hairs end. In the depths of a particularly difficult night, as I lay prostrate with this nerve pain, it came to me that I could not hurt any more than this and live. I was “maxxed out”.
This realization moved away whatever it was within me which had kept me from being viscerally aware of the suffering of the world. All at once I came into the awareness that I was one with the suffering of the entire mass of humankind. I began to pray that all the suffering of the world might come to me, and in its place, all who suffered with me this night might be given infinite light and healing.
At first, I simply held that prayer, the Christ-prayer of redeeming all suffering from the hockshop of pain and paying its price myself. Then, as this pain continued, day and night, I became more fluent with that prayer, so that I was seeing myself breathing in the suffering of the world and breathing out the light of the world as I inhaled and exhaled.
My admin, hearing me talk about this at a round-robin discussion during one of our weekly public meetings here at L/L Research, told me that I had re-invented the wheel. Tonglen, which means ‘taking and sending’, is a Tibetan Buddhist practice which is centuries old. He referred me to Grace and Grit, a book in which Ken Wilber says about tonglen:
“Tonglen is designed to cut egoic self-concern, self-promotion, and self-defense. It exchanges self for other, and thus it pro¬foundly undercuts the subject/object dualism. It asks us to undermine the self/other dualism at exactly the point we are most afraid: getting hurt ourselves. Not just talking about having compassion for others’ suffering, but being willing to take it into our own heart and release them in exchange. This is true compassion, the path of the Mahayana. In a sense it is the Buddhist equivalent of what Christ did: be willing to take on the sins of the world, and thus transform them (and you).
“The point is fairly simple: For the true Self, or the one Self, self and other can be easily exchanged, since both are equal, it makes no difference to the only Self. Conversely, if we cannot exchange self for other, then we are locked out of one-Self awareness, locked out of pure non-dual awareness. Our unwillingness to take on the suffering of others locks us into our own suffering, with no escape, because it locks us into our self, period.
“A strange thing begins to happen when one practices tonglen for any length of time. You stop running from pain, and instead find that you can begin to transform it by simply being willing to take it into yourself and then release it. The real changes start to happen in you, by the simple willingness to get your ego-protecting tendencies out of the way. You begin to relax the self/other tension, realizing that there is only one Self feeling all pain or enjoying all success. A great “equality consciousness” develops, which undercuts pride and arrogance on the one hand, and fear and envy on the other.”
Fascinated now, I began to hunt within Christian literature for sources of this practice closer to my spiritual home in this life. And I found them in the Gospels of John and Matthew. Here are seven examples:
“I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly. I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.” (John 10:10-11)
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.” (John 3:16-17)
“Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me. And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me. I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.” (John 12:40-47)
“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” (John 13: 34-35)
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
“The glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.” (John 17: 22-23)
“Ye are the light of the world.” (Matthew 5:14)
At first, I was concerned that this new practice was presumptuous and prideful on my part. Who was I to believe that I could take on the cloak of Christhood? How dare I take so much spiritual power on to myself? How could I possibly claim to understand even an iota of what it takes to do such a thing?
As the months have gone by since that first experience, however, I find that this practice aids me quite powerfully in remaining who I am, self-recognized and sturdy within myself, while the well of fire burns in my body. I can only pray that when this time of challenge has passed for me, my caught nerves freed and my spine stabilized with metal rods, and I am once more happily ensconced in my mama-chair, laptop buzzing with that which comes through me as I write, that I do not forget to practice this breathing in of the suffering of the world and breathing out of the light of the world.
I am fully aware of how very dark the world can seem to the naked eye. Q’uo talks about this in a session recorded at L/L Research on November 12, 2006:
“It is understandable that entities gazing upon the world scene would feel helpless, hopeless and despairing. Certainly we, too, see the broken bodies of the children and other innocents carelessly killed by those who do not see that they and their brothers are one. We do not intend to downplay or shrug off the suffering of the world. At the same time, we do see from a point of view which encompasses a larger pattern than you can see from within incarnation.”
I believe that larger pattern begins and ends in unity. The creation is one thing. All of us are interconnected in oneness. And just as the Creator is powerful, so are Its parts. So are you and so am I. Later in that same session, in a longer q’uote, this point is well addressed:
“You may see power in one of two ways. You may see power as coming from the outside in or you may see power coming from the inside out. The power that comes from the outside in is the power of government and authority, the usual suspects in your world. There are many ways in which people can be persecuted by authority figures. You have seen evidence of many of these kinds of persecution. You recoil before the stink of empire. It is understandable that you would see this power as being very vast and hanging over you somehow. This is the way of things upon the level of consensus reality.
“We are witnesses to another kind of power. It is not the power that changes governments or topples armies. It is not a power that has weaponry or clever disguises or plans and protocols. The power that comes from the inside out is the power, firstly, of knowing who you are and, secondly, of emptying out the content of who you are to the extent that you are able to follow the changing currents and eddies of the present moment.
“We would encourage you to see yourself as a lighthouse. The lighthouse lights its lamp and keeps its windows transparent. It gives to that lamp the power to turn in endless circles, so that those coming in from the open water may see the rocks and avoid them and come to a safe harbor. A spiritual lighthouse has its own kind of light and when you become aware of the power of your beingness, you may, if you wish, consciously become that kind of lighthouse that radiates love and light into the spiritual space around you.
“All the speaking that you might do is not one-thousandth as powerful as the focus of your very nature when it is focused upon unconditional love. Let your answer to fear be an openhearted, sunny, carefree, joyous, confident feeling of love and rightness. Develop that environment within yourself: lightening up, looking for the laughter, looking for the fun.
“And although the world may seem to wag on as before, no better and no worse, do not be deceived. What you do within the precincts of your own sacred heart and mind affects your world.”
I can certainly vouch for the lightening and joyful aspects of entering into pain fearlessly. There are many times I become positively giggly with the freedom of the fiery furnace that is fully accepted as a spiritual practice. In my last conversation with Wynn Free, an event which takes place monthly on Monday nights on BBS Radio.com, he noted that he had never heard me quite so full of laughter and fun. This, too, is “the real deal”.
I open my arms and embrace your spirit! And I love you with all my heart. While these articles of mine are absent from your Inbox over the next little time, remember one thing: You are – all of us are – the light of the world. Do not be afraid to claim that light. Do not be afraid to allow that infinite light to radiate from within you, blessed by your little life and high intention, and out into the world at large. Be fearless in setting that intention to change the world by lightening its vibration. Spend a bit of each meditation breathing in the suffering of the world, and knowing that “ye are the light of the world.”