Thursday, December 25, 2014

"War Is Over..."

“A very Merry Christmas
And a Happy New Year,
Let’s hope it’s a good one,
Without any fear.

War is over
If you want it.”

John Lennon and Yoko Ono – Happy Xmas/War Is Over

“War is over, if you want it.”  Do we really want it?  Do I?  Eckhart Tolle writes about the Pain Body, the entity that creates and then feeds on misery, anger, sadness, negativity, regret, guilt, and all other unhappy emotions.  He says, “The pain-body wants to survive, just like every other entity in existence, and it can only survive if it gets you to unconsciously identify with it.”
In other words, it wants me to believe that my “unhappy false self” is actually me.  It’s not.  It feels like me.  It sounds like me.  It seems to have my memories and know my stories.  But it’s not me.  It’s the Pain Body.  It’s the Enemy.   It’s the entity that wants to keep me miserable, unproductive, and destructive.  It hates me.  It’s personal and it’s impersonal.  It is, as Steven Pressfield describes it in The War of Art, “a force of nature.”  Every bad impulse, action, and thought comes from this.  Every single one.
If I feel hatred…
If I feel critical…
If I feel guilty…
If I’m embarrassed…
If I’m overly sensitive…
If I’m jealous…
If I’m resentful…
If I’m regretful…
If my mind is anywhere but in the present moment, then I am being attacked by the Pain Body, which is to say, most of the time.  Or it has been most of the time through much of my life.  I have spent the last few years trying to live and think differently.  Recently, I had a victory over my Pain Body simply by acknowledging it and allowing it to be there.  I simply observed it.  I shone a light on it until it went away.  It was a very powerful victory, made all the better because it is a discipline I can practice.
I’ve had these victories before, but now I am determined to live differently so I am making this my “spiritual practice.”  Every time I encounter negativity of any kind – fear, anger, guilt, sadness, regret – I observe it without judgment, blame, or self-criticism.  I don’t tell myself that I shouldn’t feel that way.  Any way I feel is acceptable, or at least is present.  Admitting and accepting that it’s there is the first step to being free of it.
When it goes away, it is often replaced by joy.  Sometimes my joy feels like one of Abraham Maslow’s peak experiences.  I feel so happy that it’s indescribable.   At other times, I just feel calm.  Sometimes I feel somewhere in between the two.  What I don’t feel is afraid. 
I read The Power of Now at least seven years ago, but I’m really working on practicing it now and doing so consistently.  I don’t know if it’s possible to be peaceful every moment, but it’s certainly possible to be peaceful a lot more.  It’s also possible to not be caught in the grip of any negative emotion.
What does this have to do with war?
As I said, we have an Enemy that wants to destroy us.  It will use every weapon in its arsenal, but it always starts by attacking our minds.  Saint Paul said,
“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.”

Maybe the war will never end.  Or maybe it will.  Maybe I can always be peaceful, joyful, loving, and productive.  Or maybe I will have to fight for it.  I’m going to act as if the war is over, because I want it.  I’m going to Get Started and Keep Going…because I want that, too.