The Material Myth is governed by the illusion of separation in consciousness (which is what gives rise to the ego in the first place). Remember, the ego is the instrument of the illusion of separation. Well, it does its job very well! Most people are thoroughly hypnotized within the Material Myth, which means they feel separate and different from each other.
In fact, the Material Myth absolutely permeates the modern world. It has become the context in which we live. Its primary value is the “stuff” of consciousness, its content, objects that are separate from us that we acquire through competition to fabricate, grow, and sustain our illusory identity.
The God of the Material Myth is money. Money represents ultimate value. Everyone is competing for it; everything is evaluated by it; worth is determined by how much you have of it. It has become more important than God, even than life itself. I remember a joke that Jack Benny told on television many years ago. A mugger sticks a gun in his ribs and demands, “Your money or your life.” Benny muses for a while and, when prodded, says, “I’m thinking, I’m thinking!”
Money is God now. Everyone wants it; everyone is seeking it. Most importantly, everyone is separate from it. They live in lack. They don’t really have it, because no matter how much they actually do have, more must be acquired, always. And more — no matter how much more — is never enough.
The Material Myth: What You Believe About Yourself
Most people believe that they are the separate “subject” that observes, and that their worth and identity are determined by how many separate “objects” they can “own.” This includes thoughts and beliefs, in fact the entire database that a person creates. It’s all illusory, a creation of the separate ego, which is firmly in charge and functioning as the instrument maintaining this illusion of separation.
The specific egoic identity you have created — as a conditioned individuated consciousness — is itself illusory. Do you know that? You probably assume that it is you, that this is what is real about you. You are invested in it and you perpetuate it through your daily choices, living from lack and striving to accumulate money plus an endless parade of other separate stuff, from the basics of material survival to sparkling rings and riding lawn mowers, stocks and shiny cars. And, of course, all the beliefs and opinions that swell your database, which you keep adding to.
Being successful in this pursuit is what living has become for most people. They are thoroughly hypnotized within the Material Myth and defined by their status in the material world.
As Bruce Lipton wrote in The Biology of Belief, “The modern world has shifted from spiritual aspirations to a war for material accumulation. The one with the most toys wins.”
Competition Makes Us Terrorize Ourselves and Others
The mantra for the Material Myth is competition. We compete with separate “others” and, in the process, everyone becomes a terrorist. We terrorize ourselves with our illusory beliefs, our stories about who we are and what life is and we simultaneously terrorize everyone else with our judgments. Some terrorists are violent, like our attackers in Mumbai; most are not. But within egocentric illusion, inside the Material Myth, everyone is a terrorist, most importantly a terrorist towards themselves.
The Material Myth is all about the experience of what we are not and competing against illusory others to accumulate and win. Separation is imbalance; imbalance is fragmentation; fragmentation is misery.
Awakening From A Dream That Appears Real
Evolution from entrenchment in the Material Myth involves moments of growth that are much like awakening from a dream. So-called “normal” experience is actually more like slumbering within a dream, a dream that is so convincing you actually believe you are awake. You do believe you are awake right now, don’t you? Yet, for the most part, you are asleep.
You are in a dream that seems to be real. This can change in an instant. Suddenly for some unknown reason, you wake up. “Thank God,” you may say to yourself, “that was just a dream.” You may have had a series of openings or insights like that along the way, giving you glimpses of truthful reality, but you are still primarily enmeshed in the dream — the illusion. In other words, you wake up for a moment, hit the Snooze button, and go back to sleep for a while longer.
You might have an isolated moment of truthful awareness, or the vague (but growing) sense that there is something more to life ... something more than what you are experiencing, more than what you have been told or taught. You begin to question, and that questioning further expands your awareness. Your consciousness is evolving and you continue to more fully awaken to a truthful perception of reality.
In fact, truthful awareness is always there, because you cannot totally eliminate that polarity. You can’t have just illusion. Truth is always present in relation to illusion. The illusion may be dominant, and certainly is in the Material Myth, but the truth is always there. The balance of those two polarities, experienced in a moment or sustained, is what delivers awakening.
Shifting the Balance From Illusion to Truth
As the dominant illusory experience reaches its peak for you and you are full in the illusion of what you are not, the polarized emphasis shifts. Picture a teeter-totter. As your experience of the Material Myth expands, seeking to convince you that this is all there is, it’s like edging towards the center point.
But just when it seems that this IS all there is, the balance begins to shift. This happens because in fact you have actually moved closer to the truth polarity on the other side of the centering balance point. Now Material Myth begins to give way to Spiritual Myth. Involution becomes evolution. You experience a polarized shift from dominant illusion to dominant truth, and truth starts building momentum.
Awakening comes. In some cases, it can be dramatic. Truthful reality opens up and bam! Your holistic awareness radically expands. Seemingly, in an instant, you are whole, flooded with peace and bliss; consciousness is shimmering and you feel an all-encompassing joy, the oneness of all life.
But awakening doesn’t happen the same way for everyone. Some awaken progressively, with a glimpse here and there, occasional insights. They contemplate, question, and explore.
Whenever the two polarities of truth and illusion come to balance and truth gains the edge for a brief moment or two, awakening happens. Holistic awareness expands and you experience truthful reality. Then the polarities oscillate and you return to illusion, the dream you have mistaken for reality. But now you are haunted by the truth. You’ve had an actual experience and everything within you is looking for it again. Light has been glimpsed within a pervasive darkness. “How can I get more of that, you wonder? How can I experience it even more fully and consistently?”
Oscillating Between the Polarities of Illusion and Truth
The polarities continue their oscillation on the bridge between involution and evolution, between illusion and truth. As you continue to value and expand awakening moments, truth increases its dominance and your progressive awakening experience unfolds into a more consistent experience of holistic reality.
One polarity can dominate, but never eliminate the other. Truth can dominate illusion, but there must be illusion, because all experience is relative. Truth can become so dominant that you become super wakeful with regard to illusion and no longer identify with it. You no longer even unconsciously invest in it, but you remain aware of its existence.
If you persist, you will ultimately experience a full-blown awakening, a substantial enough experience of truthful holistic reality, an awakening so transformational that it can alter your fundamental perspective and, in turn, your whole life. It becomes powerful enough to survive even a terrorist attack!
Moving From Intellectual Enlightenment To Walking the Talk
Along the way, the ego remains dominant. After an awakening, a glimpse of the truth, your ego inevitably applies its tried and true strategies. It tries to manage your awakening! “If I do more, if I make more effort, I will win the prize.” But the master says, “The more dominant your ego, the longer it will take you.”
Once a famous maestro of a music academy was interviewing prospective students for a rare opening in the academy. His final choice was between a five-year-old boy with no experience and a fifty-year-old man with years of experience. He chose the five-year-old boy. When the outraged fifty-year-old man asked why he had not been selected, the maestro explained that the five-year-old boy was innocent and empty, whereas the fifty-year-old man was full and egocentric. It would take much more time to erase all that he had accumulated before any teaching could begin.
This is a journey that the ego can’t take, let alone control, because the path beyond is trans-egocentric. Unfortunately, post-awakening, the typical next step for many is into what I call the pursuit of intellectual enlightenment. This is where you go to Barnes & Noble and buy a self-help book and feverishly start devouring every word.
You may also start attending seminars and having peak experiences. But, more often than not, you fail to integrate them, and the peak is replaced by a pit. This, of course, suggests the need for another seminar, more books and more experiences of the dog chasing its own tail.
This is not a genuine practice. All it can accomplish is something like going to university and getting a degree, with letters after your name. This is supposed to mean that you are an expert now. Of what? How do you function beyond the classroom? Does your training help you to achieve and sustain balance in daily life? Are you able to “walk the talk,” as they say? Not yet. What you have learned needs to be implemented in the real world.
The ego takes peak experiences and creates intellectual enlightenment out of them. It seeks to understand the philosophy, even holistic models of reality, but has no means of implementation because it is stuck at the conceptual level. The world is full of those swelled with intellectual enlightenment, masquerading in the guise of wisdom.
First Have The Experience, Then Seek To Understand
When many of us Westerners showed up at Muktananda’s ashram, we were excited to discover a vast library. Of course, true to unconscious habit, we wanted to go to the library and study. After all, most of us had college degrees, and this was the way we learned. But the library door was locked. Muktananda said, “Absolutely not.” When we asked, “Why not?” he advised, “First have the experience; then study the concepts.” Based on our enculturation, that was frustrating to hear. What he was really saying was, “First tell me what your experience is, and then I will show you what to read to support that experience.”
This was a total reversal for us because our egos were after intellectual enlightenment. We thought that if we read and understood we would know and then, somehow, we could gain the experience. In fact, the true process of ongoing awakening is precisely the opposite. It requires dropping your egocentric drive and immersing yourself in the experience.
Pause for a moment right now to reflect on the difference. Allow yourself to be fully present as you read. Pause between two words.
Notice your breath. Open your awareness and just watch. Be wakeful within this here and now moment. Holistic truth is always available if you open yourself to it. What you seek is what you are. Reflect on that single statement for another moment. What you seek is what you are.
Subtitles by InnerSelf.
©2011 by Master Charles Cannon and Synchronicity Foundation, Inc.
Reprinted with permission. All Rights Reserved.
Publisher: SelectBooks, Inc., New York
Forgiving The Unforgivable : The Power of Holistic Living
by Master Charles Cannon.
This book uses the Mumbai siege as a context for a revolutionary explanation of what true forgiveness really is and how to live the Holistic Lifestyle in a state of awareness where true forgiveness becomes instinctive.
About the Author
Master Charles Cannon is the Spiritual Director of Synchronicity Foundation for Modern Spirituality. His other books include: Living An Awakened Life: The Lessons of Love; Forgiving the Unforgivable; Awakening from the American Dream; The Bliss of Freedom; Modern Spirituality; and The Meditation Toolbox. For more information contact Synchronicity Foundation. Visit the website: www.Synchronicity.org