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By Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D.

Click here for Part 1 of Mirror On the Wall

All ‘graduations’ in human development
mean the abandonment of a familiar position...
all growth...must come to terms with this fact.
-Erik H. Erikson

It is no use walking anywhere to preach
unless our walking is our preaching.

-St. Francis of Assisi


How does one introduce reverence into their life? Is there an on/off switch you can throw? Is it a conscious decision to just do it? Or is it a mystical experience, left solely to the benevolence of the fates? The simple answer is yes and no, all of the above, and more.

Let’s do the easy part first--the conscious decisions you can make. There’s a formula you can apply that consists of intentional, conscious decisions, concrete applications, with a specific focus. The effectiveness of these conscious decisions relies more on action and less on understanding. There’s a simple enough formula to understand, a worthwhile plan to execute. The formula for introducing reverence into your life is deciding to do so, committing to do so, and then so doing. St. Francis of Assisi says much more simply, “it is no use walking anywhere to preach unless our walking is our preaching.” Deciding, committing, and doing are the three elements of walking being your preaching.

What is it that you’re deciding to do? You’re deciding to create a shift in how you think, feel, and act about and towards the people and circumstances in your life. What is the shift? From Ego dominated thinking, feeling, and acting to Essence dominated thinking, feeling, and acting. How? Through honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego. Now I see that arched eyebrow. I sense the exasperation. I hear your psychobabble detector blaring in the background. But don’t be turned off by the lingo. Give me a chance, I promise you this formula is easily applied. Honest. Please, read on.

Okay, you’re going to master the art of honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego and as a result shift how you think, feel, and act. Let me share with you a recent experience of mine in order to illustrate what I’m talking about. I recently was shopping at a grocery store. I had only shopped there a few times before. Because I was fairly new to the store, I didn’t know exactly which aisle was which when it came to finding the items that I was looking for.

But I plowed through, wandering all over the store, collecting item after item, checking them off of my list as I went along. In no time, I got down to the last item I needed to purchase--cereal. Certain that I knew where it was, and tired of chasing all over the store, I planted myself in the back of the store, in the center aisle. I had a very simple plan. I was going to locate the cereal by reading the signs that indicated which items were in each aisle from the position I had staked out. However, as it turned out, straining my neck, standing on tip-toes, trying to find which aisle the cereal was in, didn’t pan out the way I had hoped that it would. After going through this exercise in futility for five minutes, all I had to show for my efforts was a stiff neck.

But being unbelievably stubborn and incredibly willful, I kept at it. Feeling secure in my ability to smoke out the box of cereal through my own cleverness, I was determined not to walk up and down each aisle one more time. And no, now that you ask, asking for help wasn’t an option. Why would I? Afterall, I much prefer to rely on my ingenuity than ask for help.

Now I have a standard solution for anything that doesn’t work the first time--keep doing the same thing only with a small but oh so intelligent twist. So there was no way I was going to abandon the spot I had taken up to conduct my search. I was just going to do it in a much more intelligent way--by staring up and down the aisle that I believed the cereal to be in. I hope you’re noticing that I’m nothing if not loyal to my ways, no matter whether they work or not. But honestly, I had a good rationale to encourage further use of my one track mind. I told myself, “I know that the cereal was in this aisle last week, so it must be in this aisle this week. If I just stare at the aisle hard enough and long enough, the cereal will somehow magically appear.”

Well, you know the definition of insanity, don’t you? Doing the same thing twice but expecting a different outcome the second time around. So five minutes of staring and all I had to show for it was blurred vision and a pair of watery eyes. If you’re keeping score at home, after ten minutes it was now, “grocery store, 2, Steve’s willfulness, 0.

Now, I was no closer to finding the cereal--cereal, I might add, that I didn’t really much like in the first place. But I wasn’t going to budge from my spot. To me, the view was just fine. This wasn’t really my willfulness run amuck so much as me being tenacious, nothing more, nothing less, oh say, perhaps other than this store just wasn’t layed out properly.

As I saw it, all that was needed was another strategy, for example, process of elimination. So I closely studied the layout of the store, and in so doing, analyzed what items must be in each aisle. The beauty of this strategy was that I was able to eliminate what aisles the cereal could not possibly be in and in so doing, narrowed things down to the only two aisles the cereal possibly could be in.

Having concluded what two aisles the cereal had to be in, I resumed the great staredown, confident in my analysis, rejoicing that this situation was no match for the wonders of my mind, secure in the unassailable truth that my will could overcome even the most difficult of situations.

But even with all that going for me, you guessed it, five minutes later, still no cereal. And to make matters worse, what I did have was the beginning of what would turn out to be a killer headache. As if the headache weren’t enough, I was getting agitated because now I was running late.

Here’s what I knew for sure. I had fifteen minutes invested in this cereal that tastes like cardboard, but, the time invested was no longer the point. I was bound and determined to prove that my way, my narrow, stubborn, constricted, routinized way, but my way nonetheless, would win out and prove me correct in the end. Believe me, for me, this had stopped being about where the cereal was and more a point of honor. In fact, I actually began boosting my spirits by telling myself, “You’re not budging from this spot, no how, no, way!”

As I was trying to think of what I could do next, a thunderbolt from the heavens struck me. A thought popped into my head, “Steve, why don’t you just walk to the other end of the aisle and conduct your staredown from the opposite end of the aisle. Perhaps by looking at it differently, you’ll see it differently.”

Sounded good to me, but nothing with me is ever just that simple. First, the drama of the long, slow, protracted painful surrender had to take place. You see, I don’t just switch horses in mid stream without making it look good. Nope, first, there has to be lots of drama. Second, I have to be able to save face before I ever simply walk away from my position on any matter. I don’t just willy, nilly surrender my point of view, no matter how attractive the alternative may be.

So, I had to let a minute or two pass before I could work up the energy to humble myself, to try it differently, perhaps more importantly, to admit that my way didn’t work. I went through the usual theatrics--blamed the grocery store, rationalized that I would have stayed at it longer, if only I didn’t have somewhere else to be.  But eventually, in the end, I sheepishly pushed my cart to the opposite end of the aisle and took up my new position.

Believe me when I tell you, this is absolutely a true story. I swear. As soon as I took up my new position, I began the great American stare down again and lo and behold, there, sitting on the shelf, if it was a snake it would have bitten me in the you know what, was the box of cereal in which I had invested fifteen minutes of my time, pride, and intractable ways.

Moral of the story? In order to find what it is that you’re looking for, you have to let go of the old ways that don’t work for you. And the thing that most gets in your way of letting go? All that you have invested in your old ways--pride, comfort, security of the familiar, prestige, your investment in needing to be right.

And so that’s what you must first decide to do. Abandon your current point of view, abandon your safe familiar ways, abandon your prideful, stubborn investment, all brought to you by Ego. And then run, don’t walk, but run to the opposite side of the aisle and begin to see the world through the viewpoint of Essence. You’ll be amazed at what you’ll begin to uncover. I know I always have been.   

That’s what your deciding to do--to shift your viewpoint of what you think, feel, and act. Deciding to make such a shift is one thing. Making the shift is an entirely different matter. If you don’t commit to the shift, then all you have done is declared that your a person of good intentions. But let’s not just leave it at the fact you have to commit to making the shift. Let me tell you a little bit about what that commitment is.

There are two aspects to what you must commit to. There’s an outward commitment and an inward commitment. Outwardly, you need to select one path, one Way, one practice, one teacher. Inwardly, it means having the determination to stick with that practice through whatever difficulties and doubts arise, until you have come to true clarity and understanding.

Let’s first address the outward commitment. Spiritual work requires sustained practice to look deeply into yourself. To do a little of one kind of practice, then change to a second kind of practice, the work started in the first kind of practice won’t get built upon as you transition into the second kind of practice. In moving from one approach to another, you never have to face the hard stuff. You never have to deal with your fears and disappointments. You never have to work through your boredom and disinterest. The pain and sorrow you’ve medicated your whole life never will be reactivated. You never have to come face to face with your fears and insecurities.

Whenever I see somebody running back and forth, to and fro, choosing one practice and then suddenly inexplicably, leaving that practice for a second kind of practice, I’m reminded of an old oil field I once saw when I was visiting a friend in Oklahoma. There must have been at least thirty holes drilled in this field, not one of them deeper than a hundred feet, all of them abandoned.

But there was more than just shallow, empty holes and broken-down equipment in the field. There was lost hope and spoiled dreams entwined in the cobwebs that were dangling from the discarded equipment. There was fear and impatience buried in each hole. How could I tell? Simple. I could see how quickly one hole was abandoned for the promise of something better just over there.

Each empty hole was a living testament to the oil company’s greed and arrogance. It was clear to me that the strategy of quick-fix had been elevated to God-like status, as each momentary setback was dealt with by moving on rather than staying the course.

The funny thing about that oil field is that three years after I had first seen the field, a friend of mine told me that a wildcat driller took over the field, had a plan, stuck to the plan, sunk a well a thousand feet deep straight down, and struck oil with her first well drilled.

So outwardly you have to commit to one Way, one path, one approach and you need to stick to that way. You have a lifetime of conditioning to overcome. And the only way to overcome that conditioning is to learn how to work through rather than run from your many, many limitations and areas of discomfort.

Having outwardly committed to a path, you then have to create an inward commitment. Why? Although the journey you’re embarking on will change your life for the better, you’ll confront all of your big scary, monsters along the way.

Just what are those big scary monsters. Much of what this journey is about is liberating the pain you’ve stored up inside your whole life. Tending to your emotional wounds, [re]claiming parts of yourself so long ago disowned and tossed to the side of the road, giving yourself permission to experience new and different parts of who you are, letting go of all the old familiar ways--ways that afforded you comfort and security, but sabotage your emotional and spiritual well-being at the same time, these are the monsters, these are the provocateurs you’ll encounter along the way.

To do this kind of work at this level, requires a boat load of patience and a mountain of trust. The limits of your courage and determination will be tested time and time again. Once you choose your practice, you must commit to sticking to it in every way, through every conceivable difficulty. You need to trust that you can face the pain and joy, the sorrow and bliss, the loneliness and the intimacy, the shame and the humility, the regret and satisfaction, and not only survive it all, but thrive in its midst.

And so I ask of you, what I ask of everybody. Trust. Have faith. Go beyond your fears, don’t be stopped by your discomfort. Learn how to work with your pain rather than continue to medicate it, allow yourself to get off the mat. Let Essence do her job. Trust that Essence knows how to give birth to the path to your spiritual center. Your job? You have one job and one job only--fasten your seat belt, hold on as tight as you can, don’t let go, stay seated, bend over and place your head between your knees if you need to, but stay the course, see things through to the end. 

Okay, you’ve decided on what you want to do. And you’ve made the inward and outward commitment to stay the course. That leaves you with one last step. The action step--taking an inventory of the thought, feeling, or action of Ego that’s embedded in your reactions to the circumstances of your life. This kind of inventory has two components to it--your perceptions and at least one other’s perceptions. Why? Simply, you’re perceptions are embedded with many self-serving distortions.

Easy does it. I know that them’s fighting words for most of you. The mere suggestion that one doesn’t know themself as well as they believe has gotten me in more hot water than I care to talk about. That’s a hard one to swallow for most. It takes some getting used to. But believe me, I’ve seen so many good people’s best efforts sabotaged because they insisted that they knew what was best. Well, let me tell you something, brothers and sisters alike, the people who struggle most with the message that they don’t know themselves as well as they believe are the ones who most sorely need to learn the art of turning it over, but that discussion is for another time and another place.

Let me step out of the line of fire for a moment and allow Kalu Rinpoche to make my case for me. Rinpoche says, “You live in illusion and the appearance of things. There is a reality but you do not know this. When you understand this, you will see that you are nothing, and being nothing you are everything. That is all.”

So why bother if everyone’s perceptions are so fallible? First, the search for a deeper understanding of yourself is a process of synthesis. To have only your viewpoint or to have only somebody else’s viewpoint would be like trying to applaud with one hand. But through a process of honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego, and courageously taking in the feedback of others, you can eventually identify many of the Ego authored biases that are embedded in your perceptions of Self and your world--biases that influence the meaning you apply to the circumstances of your life.

Once you identify the thought, feeling, or action of Ego that is embedded in your reaction to a situation, you can then identify what would be the corresponding Essence authored thought, feeling, or action to the same situation. I know. I know. Ego embedded reactions? Essence authored thoughts, feelings, or actions? More of my psychobabble. If you want a more exhaustive explanation, let me know, I cover those ideas in pamphlets 4 and 7. But for now stay focused on the process of taking of your inventory.

We’re trying to identify the ways that Ego infiltrates your thoughts, feelings, and actions. The point of this part of the exercise cannot be overemphasized. We’re doing more than making a list and checking it twice. What we are about to do is return free will to your life. That’s right, return it, because you haven’t used your free will for a long time. You see, up to this point, you’ve been kidding yourself. You may believe in the concept of free will. You may believe that your life is made up of carefully considered choices. You may even believe that your life is lived in part or in whole by your free will.

But the reality is that more times than not, your life is being lived directly from the script drafted by Ego. And whenever Ego gets involved in a writing project, believe me, there never are any rewrites, never any change in dialogue, never any deviation from the plot line. You may think that you’re the one writing all the rough drafts, but, if you examine your choices a bit more carefully, if you explore your choices a tad more honestly, you’ll discover that Ego is really the ghost writer of your drama, he just lets you take all of the credit.

You can bring free will back into your life, but free will doesn’t truly start until you recognize what an Ego authored reaction is and what the corresponding Essence authored response is. But without confronting Ego, without taking an inventory of Ego authored thoughts, feelings, or actions, without exploring what the Essence dominated choice would be, then you’re merely a slave of the habitualized, ritualized, conditioned reactions authored by Ego.

As I said earlier, I know that I’ve thrown a bunch of words at you that currently have more meaning to me than they do to you. Don’t let that be an obstacle at this point. I have explained those words and ideas for you in other pamphlets. But for now, I just want you to get used to the idea that there are things that you can do to make reverence a part of your life and lay out the path for you of how to make that happen.

Okay? That’s the easy part of how to manifest reverence in your life. Now let’s tackle the manifestation of reverence at a deeper, even more profound, level. A level that will facilitate transformation of Ego beyond your mind and into the depths of your spirit and soul.

To do so, let me first say that reverence is a whole created by the sum of singular parts. Those parts are humility, gratitude and release through surrender. So what I want to do next is discuss with you these three elements of reverence. Identifying what the elements of reverence are, understanding how to utilize the elements of reverence in your day-to-day life, and patiently mastering the application of these elements to the circumstances of your life is how reverence can most profoundly transform your battles with life into opportunities for healing and evolving.

The first element of reverence is humility. As a starting point for our discussion of humility, I think it would be more helpful to first focus on what humility is not. The American Heritage Dictionary defines humility as the quality or condition of being humble. And being humble is defined as:

1.) marked by meekness or modesty in behavior, attitude, or spirit
2.) Showing deferential or submissive respect
3.) Low in rank, quality, or station; unpretentious or lowly

None of these three definitions captures the essence of what I believe humility to be as an element of reverence. The above definitions reflect a cultural bias to debasing rather than celebrating ourselves. Humility is neither self-denigration nor its polar opposite, self-exaltation .

What humility is, in the context of our current discussion, is simply the acceptance of being human, the acceptance and  integration of all the qualities that constitute one’s humanness. In an earlier description of Ego, I described Ego as being the carnival mirror that reflects back to you the two most profound distortions you hold about yourself--that you’re either Lord of the Manor or Scum of the Earth. Well, humility is a third orientation towards yourself--an orientation that sees yourself and your place in life as an integrated whole. That integrated whole is being Human Being--neither Lord of the Manor, nor Scum of the Earth. What you are creating as you shed the influence of Ego and adopt the voice of Essence is a blend of each point on the compass of humanity. This blend creates a third distinct entity--Human Being.

Humility, as an orientation towards life, is the middle ground from which you join the human race rather than hover above it in a hot air balloon, inflated by your grandiosity or grovel below it, drowning in a sea of your shame. Humility is the midpoint between all the extremes of who you are, it’s the bridge that unites those extremes and blends them into an integrated whole. Humility is the bridge you build to the human race, in spite of your imperfections, despite all of your grandness, and most importantly of all, because of your ordinariness.

Ordinariness? Humanness? Those are tough pills to swallow. The very mention of those words make most people break out in a cold sweat. What’s it like for you? What’s it like to even contemplate the process of stepping out of your delusions--no longer able to boast to yourself and anyone who will listen, no longer able to stake your claim to the title, Best of the Best or Best of the Worst. Do you recognize those claims to fame? Do you recognize those claims as the rev of the engine of Ego?

Let’s face it, there’s a higher purpose that those claims serve than mere self-aggrandizement. If you grasp what the true purpose of those claims are, then you have captured the essence of the sheer brilliance of Ego in action. Best of the Best or Best of the Worst, those are the claims from which the myth of your uniqueness is invented, those are the claims of how special you are, most important of all, those two claims are what you take license from in order to remain separate and apart.

I can hear the gears in your mind grinding away, “You’re not suggesting that I give up my claim to being Best of the Best or Best of the Worst? Please, leave me with something, some sense of pride, a smitten of dignity. Leave me with something that will separate me from the pack.”

I hear you throwing down the gauntlet. “Take away my drugs? Sure. Throw my booze down the drain? If you must. You say I have to stop doing all the things I do with my food? Well, okay. Free me from the appetites of my compulsions? I would give anything to unchain myself from them. Lift my cloud of denial? You might as well take that one too. Release me from my fears. I pity the poor fool who tries, but sure, go ahead, give it your best shot. All those are good things in the end.

“But surrender my sense of entitlement, go without my daily fix of uniqueness, no longer seek comfort in my personal story that casts me as the hero and everyone else as a villain? Please, whatever you do, don’t take away my uniqueness. Don’t rob me of my individuality, my own special stake in this world. Please whatever you do, don’t suggest that I should walk amongst the crowd, rather than soar over and/or slink below it. Don’t for one minute suggest that part of what I must do is cop to how truly ordinary I am. Don’t sentence me to a life of merely being an autonomous, integrated part of something larger than me when I feel so comfortable being separate and independent.”

You see there, that’s the rub, that’s the inherent tension in humility. All the ways you have to transform yourself and the space you take up in this world. From separate to a part of. From independent to interdependent. From grandiose to grand. From unique to human. From shame to imperfect. From separate to connected.

It should be clear that humility is a choice, although I suspect that you likely feel more like a slave to your grandiosity and shame. But look at what your choices are. Behind door number one is minimizing who you are. Behind door number two is exaggerating who you are. Door number three--that’s the tough one. That’s the choice that feels so awkward, so anxiety provoking. Door number three is the choice of accepting who you are. And the underlying condition that you must accept about who you are is that you’re neither God nor Satan, angel nor devil, prince nor pauper, savior nor sinner, master nor slave. You’re merely the grandest creation of a Divine energy that intended for you to be human, extraordinary only in how ordinary you are.

If the first step of humility is accepting your humanness, the second step is embracing it. You can embrace humility through a specific action. If you can see that humility is the opposite of both self-denigration and self-aggrandizement, then there is only one choice for you to make. The choice is to not make comparisons. It’s just that simple. Stop comparing who you are and what you do to everyone and everything else. Don’t make it any more complex than that. Just stop it. Cut it out. Ichsna on the comparisonsna.

Why, you might wonder? Why am I so insistent that this one shift can so dramatically impact the well-being of your life? Well, when you compare yourself to somebody or something, you use a pair of binoculars through which to view the object that you’re comparing yourself to. When viewing the object of your comparison, you’ll see the same view over and over again--through one lens you’ll see self-denigration, through the other lens you’ll see self-aggrandizement. Doesn’t matter with whom. Doesn’t matter about what. Whenever your viewing your world through the binoculars of comparison, you can only see things in black and white--black being shame, white being grandiosity.

Think about that for a moment. Think about all the noise that goes on in your head. Think about all the time you spend convincing yourself of what you are and what you’re not. And the measuring system you use to fuel this stream of consciousness? Comparing yourself to anybody and everything. Comparing how you’re the same or dissimilar; better or worse; bigger or smaller; brighter or dumber; richer or poorer.

Comparing is Ego dominated behavior. Not comparing is Essence dominated. Comparing is delusional dominated thinking. Not comparing is reality-based thinking. Comparison is shame-based judgmentalness. Non-comparing is Divine based acceptance. Humility created out of the act of non-comparison will enable you to see that you are neither better nor worse than anything else in the universe.

And for those of you who see yourself and everything in your universe as all or nothing, what I’m suggesting to you is that in truth you are neither all nor nothing at all. If that’s so, then the question begs to be asked, if you are neither all nor nothing at all, then just what are you? In my mind, you are good enough because of the very fact that you’re human.

As you accept your humanness and embrace it, the third step of humility is to nurture this particular state of being. Humility as a process demands patience. As St. Francis de Sale said, “What we need is a cup of understanding, a barrel of love, and an ocean of patience.” Initially, it’s very difficult to live in the energy of being ordinary. It doesn’t feel good.

Your shame and grandiosity die slow deaths--each initially resurrected by the death of the other. And so without shame and grandiosity with which to medicate your disdain of being ordinary, you’re quick to want to remedy the lingering pain of being ordinary. The discomfort provoked by the act of joining the human race rather than remaining separate can be overwhelming. The pain and discomfort demands to be medicated. The sense of awkwardness cries out for a quick fix. No longer able to ease your fears, quiet your nagging self-doubts, escape the terror of your worst case scenarios with the old familiar tricks of Ego, you must find a new strategy to remain in the energy of humility rather than falling back into the space of shame or grandiosity.

No more quick fixes. No more fairy tales about your greatness nor horror stories about how twisted you are. Patience is what’s required. Tolerance for the moment. Trusting that you have other resources you can call upon to quiet the pain of being human. Soothing yourself with love and compassion rather than the white-hot poker of blame, the condescending voice of judgmentalness, the self-serving versions of truth created by denial, rationalizations, grandiosity, and shame.

Being ordinarily human is not for the faint of heart. This is a very fragile, vulnerable state to live in. You’ll always be tempted to rely on Ole Faithful, your declaration that you are the Best of the Best or the Best of the Worst. The power of each claim? The intoxicating allure of being Best of the Best or the Best of the Worst? Those claims are your drug of choice. Those claims numb you to the discomfort that you experience from being ordinarily human. Those claims make you feel in the same predictable way every time you use one or the other, in a way that no designer drug on the face of this earth could begin to imitate. You have relied on those claims to medicate your inner tensions, to tame your fears. It’s the armor you don, a self-protective mechanism who’s efficacy rivals that of your self-esteem.

Along with humility, there’s a second element of reverence--gratitude. To start the discussion of gratitude, let’s first look at what gratitude is not. Gratitude isn’t a feeling, although the ownership of one’s gratitude can certainly produce feelings. It’s not the after-effect of being humbled by a circumstance, although humbling circumstances is one crop from which gratitude is harvested. For many, gratitude is confused with servitude, although gratitude certainly is the basis for a life of service.

None of those descriptions work for me, none of those descriptions capture the depth and breadth of what gratitude is. Gratitude first and foremost is a perception. And as we discussed earlier, your perceptions are colored by either the lens of Ego or the lens of Essence. For example, Ego perceives circumstances as problems to be solved. Essence perceives circumstances as opportunities to evolve. Ego perceives circumstances as an opportunity to invoke your will. Essence perceives circumstances as an opportunity to partner with your higher power. Ego perceives circumstances as something being done to you. Essence perceives circumstances as a gift offered to you. Ego perceives the people in your life as objects to indulge and service your desires. Essence perceives the people in your life as deserving beings to whom you offer love, support, compassion, and authenticity. Ego perceives yourself as entitled to receive love, loyalty, recognition, esteem, security. Essence sees the people in your life as children of the Divine, deserving of your honor, care, concern, and respect.

But more than merely a perception, gratitude is an attitude. Again, we can say that Ego has one point of view, Essence, an entirely different take. Just what is the attitude of gratitude as experienced through these two different sources of energy? For Ego it’s entitlement, for Essence it’s worthiness. For Ego it’s about what you can get out of a situation, for Essence it’s what you can  receive from a situation. For Ego it’s how can I best take advantage of this situation, for Essence it’s what do I have to offer to this situation. For Ego it’s what’s been done to me in this situation, for Essence it’s what does this situation offers to me. For Ego it’s the neverending refrain, “it’s not fair,” for Essence it’s the refrain of the Divine within each and every one of us “thine will, not my will.”

Lastly, gratitude as an action, is acknowledgment. Again there, are two versions of acknowledgment, Ego’s and Essence’s.

Ego acknowledges what has been gifted by demanding more.           
acknowledges what has been gifted by offering thanks.         

acknowledges what has been gifted by judging the gift.
Essence acknowledges what has been gifted by honoring the gesture.

Ego acknowledges what has been gifted by hoarding the justifiable winnings of a self-righteous soul.       
acknowledges what has been gifted by cherishing and sharing the love offerings of a compassionate Divine creator.

So, what can you do with all that I just said? What’s the application? What’s the relevance to this exercise of introducing gratitude as an element of reverence into your life? Is this some slick way of splitting hairs or an opportunity to make significant shifts in how you touch your life?

My wish for you is that you’ll use my discussion of gratitude as a mirror into your soul. Examine how much of your life is touched with the gratitude of Essence, how much with the gratitude of Ego. Examine your perceptions and attitudes towards the circumstances the Universe creates and offers to you. Which of those perceptions and attitudes has the energy of Ego embedded within, which the voice of Essence? Remember, you do have free will as to how you want to respond to any life experience. You just can’t activate it until you fully see how Ego has imprisoned your free will.

It’s the same theme that I’ve been harping on throughout this pamphlet--honest, compassionate confrontation of Ego. The more sensitized you become to the insidious ways that Ego is entangled in your orientation towards life, the better able you will be to [re]claim your free will. Not until you are free of Ego’s influence can you exert your free will. And you can’t free yourself of Ego’s influence until you see it and see what alternatives there are.

The third element of reverence is the experience of release. There’s an old saying, “as long as we cling, we are bound.” An Ego dominated life is a life in which you’re a prisoner of the object(s) to which you are bound. These object(s) are like a piece of toilet paper stuck to the bottom of your shoe. No matter how hard you try to will these object(s) away, they remain in your life in one form or another. Why? Simply, you can’t will anything away. The best that your will can do is transform the focus of your will into a different manifestation, but the energy of the underlying attachment will continue. Believe me when I tell you, your will is no match for the strength and endurance of attachment you have for the object(s) to which you are bound.

Why is the experience of release so important to your emotional and spiritual well-being? Here’s another old saying, “first you take a drink and then the drink takes you.” Until you are able to experience release from the things that you are bound to, your life will be consumed by the things to which you are bound.

As I said, your will, your best intentions, are no match for the tenacity of attachment you have with the object(s) of your compulsions. The only way to undo the attachment you have with the object(s) of your compulsions is to experience release. The underlying power of the experience of release is the transformation it creates within your orientation towards life. By unplugging from Ego and aligning yourself with the voice of Essence, you’ll detach from your self-interest and selfish needs as you give of Self to others. The transformation will manifest itself in the following ways.

You’ll begin to let go of rather than cling to the objects of your desires and compulsions, the very essence of release. Bending the Truths of the universe to serve your will will give way to yielding and eventually blending with these eternal Truths. The tone and tenor of your relationships will transform through the simple act of revealing rather than merely explaining yourself. By trusting the Wisdom of the universe more and being invested less in the outcome of your choices, you’ll experience life in a more creative, spontaneous manner. Ultimately, the element of surrender embedded in the act of letting go will empower you to create a state of connectiveness with the universe and all of its inhabitants rather than maintain a self-centered state of isolation.

The experience of release takes place at three levels. The first level is the object(s) from which you’re seeking the experience of release. Examples of this would be addictions, compulsive behaviors, obsessions, control, and self-deception. The second level of release is release from self-centeredness. The third level of release is release from denial, fear, and the dishonesty of self-deception. Implied in this third level of release is accepting the fact that you don’t truly know who you are and therefore self-discovery can only unfold at the pace with which you’re prepared to let go of Ego’s construction of a false Self.

The unfortunate thing about release is that understanding the value of the experience of release is much easier than understanding how to create the experience of release. You see,  release cannot be achieved, it can only be experienced. There’s nothing you can do or know in order to activate the experience of release. You can’t read a book. You can’t listen to audio tapes. You can’t attend a workshop. All of these experiences are helpful but they aren’t sufficient. You can only activate the experience of release through the act of releasing. Paradoxical? Of course! Bewildering? Absolutely! Disheartening? Without a doubt! But nonetheless it’s true--the very act of releasing is what activates the experience of releasing. I know. I know. It’s confusing. Just take your time. You’re not going to get this all at once.

Just how do you activate the experience of releasing? Go slowly with me. You activate the experience of releasing through the act of letting go. Careful, now--here’s one more contradiction to ponder. I said in the last paragraph that there is nothing that you can do or know in order to create the experience of release. So then, how can the act of letting go activate the experience of release? Let me try to clarify that for you. It’s not the mere act of letting go that creates the experience of release. The mere act of letting go is nothing more than a veiled attempt at more control and manipulation. However, embedded in the sincere act of letting go is an element of letting go that does activate the experience of release. That element is surrender--complete abdication of any pretense of control.

Embracing the act of surrender as an element of aligning yourself with the personal energy of reverence is undoubtedly the greatest paradox you’ll encounter in your unfolding spiritual journey--the experience of release can only be activated by the act of you sincerely letting go. Therein lies the paradox. In order to untangle the paradox you must, first and foremost, accept that you’re not in control of the circumstances of your life. Thus the process of surrendering relies solely on your willingness to open up to the Truth of the universe--that you’re not running the show here, that there’s a power greater than you who’s driving the bus. You can only be open to this Truth when you begin to let go of the grip that Ego holds on your life. This grip manifests itself in the many illusions and pretensions that you rely on in order to create a false sense of self, security, certainty, and an entitlement to a guarantee of your desired outcomes.

I know how difficult this is to wrap your brain around. Right now settle for knowing that surrender is extremely important. The good news is that surrender is not something you need to understand in order to do--it’s some you only need to experience. And the way to experience surrender is to let go. And the single, most important thing that you need to let go of is all the ways you have at attempting to control your feelings, your mood, your environment, and the people in your life.

So focus less on understanding and more on examining those areas of your life where you need to experience release. Remember how I said that there are three levels to experience of release? Start to identify what object(s) you need to experience release from. How is Ego (self-centeredness) attached to the object(s) from which you are desiring release? What impact does your denial have on how consumed you are with the object(s) from which you are desiring a release?

So there’s the yes and no, the more and less, the mystical and concrete aspects of how to introduce reverence into your life. Don’t forget the importance of all of this. The orientation, or attitude, with which you approach your life will determine the nature of the experiences that you create in your life. The choice for you is a simple one. And there’s a specific orientation, that can bring to your life an abundance of joy, love, and prosperity. And the path to such abundance is through the connection you establish with your spiritual center, Essence, the source of a never ending supply of energy I have referred to as reverence.



Click here for Part 1 of Mirror On the Wall

Dr. Steve Frisch, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist in private practice in
Chicago, Illinois and Northfield, Illinois.

You can contact Dr. Frisch, Psy.D. at drfrisch@aliveandwellnews.com  or at
(847) 604-3290.

Recover from chemical dependency and its toxic impact on family members. Raise your children to choose to be alcohol and other drugs free. Learn how to in Dr. Frisch’s, Psy.D. Recovery book series.


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