The Illusion of Illusion

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Dear Seamus,

We live in a world of illusions. It’s easy to think that we don’t because we look around and see what’s real. Or what we think is real, more to the point. It’s easy to be fooled. And when we believe we have been fooled, there is no greater shame or anger. This is when we experience disillusionment. When this happens we feel cheated, knowing our beliefs were not real. This usually leads to the creation of different illusions and so the cycle continues.

A Course in Miracles says; “The opposite of illusions is not disillusionment but truth. Only to the ego, to which truth is meaningless, do they appear to be the only alternatives, and different from each other. In truth they are the same. Both bring the same amount of misery, though each one seems to be the way to lose the misery the other brings”.

Illusions are usually multi layered. It begins with the illusion you have about yourself. This is a construct that the ego puts in place and usually is well under way by the time you are a young child. You build from the apparent foundations of right and wrong and of course this is learned from those around you. It sets up the idea very early on that you can be split, that certain behaviour or thoughts or feelings will create a certain version of who you are. You begin to think “If I do this, I am good. If I do that, I am bad”. These are illusions. They are not the truth of who you are.

You will be introduced to the concepts of should and should not. These again will continue to build upon the illusion of who you are.

Your unique ways of expressing yourself will start to be known to others as personality traits. If you behave in a manner that is different, then it is usually noted as you ‘acting out of character’. Really that expression says it all to me. A character is an illusion, a concept, a role to play. You are acting out a version of yourself, according to who you think you are. Perhaps the purpose of our tumultuous teenage years is having that first opportunity to shed our character. It may be having the realisation that there is something more and the desire to seek it out, along with the freedom we sense is rightly ours.

It can be seen as a dangerous time, when we can go ‘off the rails’. Yet is it a time when we are merely seeking ourselves with courage? We look so desperately for love during this time and that to me, implies that we are seeking self-love. It can be so difficult to find when we are constantly distracted by illusions.

You should dress this way to appear attractive. You should behave in that way to get a mate. You must plan for your life to unfold in a certain way over the coming years. We end up inheriting the illusions of the older generations, on top of our own. That is a lot of weight to carry around and yet we are so young and much of life has not even been experienced.

I cannot prevent you seeing and feeling these illusions. My role is to encourage you to have such a knowing of who you are, that you can recognise the illusions for the untruths that they really are. The best way to do this is by spending time alone. Your character will not be given an outlet, even if your mind gets loud in protest.

When I am alone and in touch with my greatest, most incredible real self, I find peace. I am being me and not doing Melanie. I am not wanting to please, I am not making others laugh, I am not telling my story or doing countless other things that add up to the sum total of who Melanie Rose Clark is. Or thinks she is. When I am alone, I am not indulging in an illusion, mine or anyone else’s. I can step out of my head and into an expanse that is so much more amazing than I could know with my mind. It is because I am merely remembering that sense and that limitless space where I can simply feel joy.

My love, my child, my incredible son Seamus; remember your truth and purely watch the illusions come and go. You cannot be defined by them if you do not allow it. You have a choice, you always have a choice. Right now, at eighteen months old, it is your only choice because you know no other.

You are at peace with every moment, to express your authenticity. I watch you chase the chickens around the garden, or fall down in the dirt and let out a little whimper, or put soggy toast on the bookshelves for me to discover later, and I am invigorated by your innocence and truth.

You have helped me along the path to shatter my illusions and I am blessed every day to see your truth and know mine. That, is the only reality I ever want to know.

“We live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality. We are that reality. When you understand this, you see that you are nothing, and being nothing, you are everything. That is all.”Kalu Rinpoche

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Faith

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Dear Seamus,

It seems that no sooner had I written a letter to you about the topic of surrender, I was required to activate it in my own life. You see, I have been tested by an experience and I believe the lesson was that of faith.

I had been feeling breathless and unwell for a few days and thought somehow I had managed to get a dose of pneumonia again. The GP ordered a chest x-ray and within a day I was in the Canberra Hospital Oncology wing getting treatment for fluid on my lungs. Five separate attempts by a doctor to tap the pleural effusion with a large needle resulted in nothing but my distress. A Cardiothoracic Surgeon was consulted and he came to see me on the ward. His calm manner allayed my anxiety and he assured me his approach would work. He gowned up at my bedside and with the swift ease of years of experience, inserted a drain through my ribcage and removed almost 1 ½ litres of fluid. The pain of my compressed lung expanding was outweighed by the relief I felt that he had got the job done.

My Oncologist dropped by on his rounds to let me know I would now be monitored closely again because the build-up of fluid was a sure sign that the cancer was once again, uncontrolled.
I endured a very uncomfortable 24 hours with the drain attached and after it was removed I was so exhausted I slept on and off all day. The next day when I felt better, I decided to go for a walk. I found myself alone in the hospital chapel. So many thoughts were racing through my mind. The one thought that was the loudest and most persistent was the question I had not asked. It had been five years since I was originally diagnosed and yet I had never once asked this question. The question that is probably the most poignant and desperate when we are faced with great challenge.

I asked, “WHY ME”?

Then I felt it coming over me like a tsunami. Before I knew it I was engulfed by anger. I was overcome with a fury so powerful I wanted to cry out. I sat in that chapel and cried while I tried to make sense out of my situation. Had I not been doing all the right things? I changed my diet, I meditate regularly, I look at vision boards on my bedroom wall filled with pictures of health and healing. I had been feeling fantastically well and my blood work had been reflecting positive results. I am living my joy with a beautiful family of which I feel intense gratitude for.
So what was it? What was I doing wrong?

An answer was not forthcoming.

I then began to feel resentment for others who I judged as living selfish lives. They were in perfectly good health and with plenty of energy to spread negativity, spite and even self-harm. Why do they get to be healthy and I don’t? I had been so committed with my actions yet why was I not seeing the glorious fruits of my labour?

I again awaited a response but the only sound in the chapel was that of my sniffily nose.

When the burn of my angry ego subsided, I felt weakened. The anger was only hurting me. It was cathartic to express it, but it did not serve me to hang onto it. Back in my bed on the ward I listened to a man in the next room having a violent reaction to his chemotherapy treatment and I felt awash with the fear that I would die when I all I wanted was to live. I was battle weary and couldn’t find even a spark that I could fan into my usual determination.

Then I remembered something. On the last night of the Gawler Foundation Retreat, a young man called Scott Stephens came to speak to us about his healing experience. He had been diagnosed with melanoma in his early twenties. He told us about the secondaries that showed up in his pelvis and chest and the many surgeries and treatments he endured. However the one comment he made that struck me, was when he was explaining his test results after he made sweeping changes to his life. Tests were showing he still had serious tumours even though he felt he was doing all the right things. He recalled it was at that time he knew he needed to keep doing what he was doing even though all he had to go on, was faith. His body did heal from cancer and eight years later he remains cancer free.

A common concept that has been coming up again and again in books I have been reading, is the idea that if we are to embrace being creators of our own experience, we must relinquish the idea that seeing is believing. Instead we must understand that believing is seeing. That is where faith comes in.

In A Course in Miracles it states; “Blessed are those who have faith who cannot see”.

Nelson Mandela died a few days ago. I pondered on his twenty seven year incarceration and realised that he must have had such strong faith to have endured that. I wonder how many nights he strayed from his deep convictions, only to return with the upmost faith that his destiny was unfurling as it should. He inspired me.

Seamus, let me tell you my conclusion about faith. Faith is desiring something, then matching your belief with your desire, then surrendering the outcome. There is a bigger picture that we are not privy to and it is in our interest to allow it to expand and show itself, while we recognise how we can contribute to it. The result may not always be exactly what you have imagined.
This is one of the great dichotomies of life.

I believe the greatest understanding I now have of faith, is that its power is not simply in wanting to realise our own desires and agendas. The true potential is in placing your faith in the divine plan which extends far beyond what our egos can dream up, or more importantly, control.

So through my new understanding of faith, I continue to desire wellness and believe in healing yet I know that in the hands of god, all will unfold in divine right order. I have given my anger and my fear to god and replaced them with complete trust. If I am caught in the potential of outcome I am not being present. Being in the moment is when we are in the presence of such incredible love that there is no need for future or past and faith itself, extends all known boundaries.

“Faith means we are open to the possibility of miracles, knowing that when we stand on the ground of love, within the space of holiness, then all material forces are automatically programmed to work on our behalf” Marianne Williamson – The Gift of Change

Everything that comes from love is a miracle

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Dear Seamus,

Cancer is like a monster in the dark that everyone is afraid of. If you get a cancer diagnosis then you become even more afraid. Afraid of the treatment. Afraid that you have not lived your life fully. Afraid of dying. There are a few things in life that will strike fear into the hearts of people and cancer is one of them. Or is it? We live in a world that fosters fear. Look at any newspaper, it is filled with stories of things you should be afraid of. At the moment, breast cancer is copping the spotlight once again. A famous actress in America went public with some preventative treatment she had done because like me, she has a faulty gene that increases the risk of getting cancer. Like me, she had to make some choices about her body and her health. Like me, most likely she made those choices because she was afraid. This lady lost her Mummy to cancer. She is most likely afraid that she will die young and not be around to enjoy her family.

I made my decision when I didn’t have a family of my own. It was a huge decision to make, to remove a healthy part of my body. Medical experts and those close to me weighed in on it. Some prompted me to just bite the bullet and get it done. Others told me to wait and that I should not mutilate myself needlessly. All the while I was in the centre of a whirlwind of information, personal and professional opinions, and fear was a constant companion. Fears about a future I didn’t know if I could have. I was single at the time so what did that mean for any future relationships? How could a man love and accept me with no breasts? I fantasized about the little baby I was yet to have and the practicality of having to go through surgery. Would I develop another cancer in the remaining breast if I was pregnant? How could I hold a baby against my chest when it was full of stitches? Maybe I would be ok and the cancer experience was over? There was much to consider and it was a torturous and confusing time.

I chose to have the right breast removed before cancer had a chance to show up. It also meant that I would have a completely flat chest and never have to worry about wearing a bra again! I did some research into reconstruction but knew it wasn’t for me. My breasts were gone and I had no interest in trying to recreate them. When you get older I will have to explain the mysterious lumps you see on Nana and Grandma’s chest and why they are not on mine. I will point out Daddy’s nipples and tell you that I had some of my own when I was younger.

Choices around cancer treatment, both responsive and preventative, are fear based. I had my remaining healthy breast removed for fear of developing another cancer. I had 5 treatments of a bone cancer drug in a trial that had some success in preventing bone metastases. I ended up with cancer in the bones anyway.

I see the language around cancer as the ‘battle’, the ‘war’, the ‘fight’ and that people who get cancer are ‘victims’. All fear based language. That really needs to change. My experience of cancer has been a blessing and a gift. It pushed my heart’s desire to the fore. It forced me into the cocoon so that I could emerge the butterfly. The experience was painful and blissful, frightening and liberating, dark and illuminating all at once. It presented the most intense contrast in a condensed time. It fast tracked the road to self-love and where there is love, there cannot be fear. I lost my fear of death and emerged with a deep gratitude for LIFE. When I become fearful I need only remind myself that it is the absence of love. When I love myself I shine, just like anyone who loves themselves. When we experience fear our light dims a little. Only because it is clouded by doubt and a sense of separation, the illusion that we are alone. It is not possible because the life force pulsing through others is the same life force that pulses through you. It is the same. We are all the same. If you think about what an amazing scale that exists on it is simply extraordinary.

I am taking a different approach to cancer. It does not scare me. It is merely a malfunction of my physical form. The real me, my soul, cannot be diseased or dysfunctional. It is impossible because it is the source of everything, the life force or as some like to refer to it, God. I want to access that life force to heal. There is not a finite amount of miracles available, they happen all the time. I don’t see why I can’t have one too! I have had deep angst lately while analysing the idea of a miracle. I worried about how I would look to others if I banged on about getting well only to die of cancer anyway. You know what darling Seamus? I don’t know of one single dead person who feels embarrassed because they were wrong! So what do I have to lose? Nobody is going to look into my coffin wagging their finger and tutting saying they told me so. I won’t look away in shame or have a sense of failure because I’ll be dead! From what I know about death it is the ultimate state of bliss when you give up your physical form and blend back into pure energy. Why would I be afraid of that? Why would anyone be afraid of that? It is life that we are most afraid of. We are afraid of being wrong. We are afraid of failure. We are afraid of what we didn’t do and afraid of what we might do. Are any of these things real? Only in the mind. They are only beliefs. It’s time to start believing something different. It’s time to make some different decisions.

I choose to believe I’m going to get well. I choose not to read statistics on survival rates. I choose not to identify my soul with a malfunction of the body. I choose not to be afraid of death. I choose not to be afraid of cancer. I choose to experience myself in the truest way I can and not be afraid of what others think about that. I choose to love myself, to be as present and open hearted as possible and to forgive myself when I am not. I choose love and it seems to me that wellness, healing and miracles follow. You should know Seamus, you ARE a miracle.

I love you.

Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle” – A Course in Miracles

“Miracles occur naturally as expressions of love. The real miracle is the love that inspires them. In this sense everything that comes from love is a miracle”A Course in Miracles