There are two fundamentally different ways in which we can experience ourselves.
First, the way most of us usually experience ourselves: as a creation—a separate entity distinct from other entities, whose survival is always at stake. Some people call this the ego.
Second, as the creator of that creation—as consciousness, as Self, as non-dual awareness, as that which has always existed and always will exist.
The creation is experienced as an entity that is either “good enough” or “not good enough.” The creator, consciousness, Self is not experienced as someThing; rather it is a state of consciousness in which one experiences oneself as whole and complete, with nothing missing. On the other hand, because the creation is something specific, there is always something it is not, in other words, there is always something missing.
What is enlightenment?
Enlightenment consists of distinguishing yourself and then experiencing (as distinct from understanding) that you already are the creator, Self, consciousness—not merely the creation—it’s just that most people haven’t experienced it yet.
Therefore, transformation or enlightenment is not a place to get to; you are already there. And transformation or enlightenment is nothing more than (continually) creating that experience for yourself.
Why we need self-esteem
If we are going to experience ourselves as a creation, we need a high level of self-esteem. Why? Because when we experience ourselves as someThing whose survival is always at stake, we need to believe I’m able to survive (good enough, important, capable), and worthy of surviving. (Nathaniel Branden was the first person I know to point this out.) And a high level of self-esteem is more conducive to our survival than a low level of self-esteem.
But when you distinguish yourself as the creator of the creation (which you can easily experience with the “Who Am I Really?” Process), then a paradox occurs: you no longer need a high level of self-esteem (because your survival is no longer in question) and you experience yourself as whole and complete, as okay just the way you are, with nothing missing, anything is possible, and no limitations—which “feels like” a high level of self-esteem.
Although it is possible to change the creation (by eliminating our beliefs about ourselves, which changes how we act and feel)—the very fact of experiencing ourselves as a creation will necessarily result in experiencing something missing, some limitations, and, as the Buddha said: some degree of suffering.
Some suffering seems to be inherent in the experience of ourselves as a creation, an entity whose survival is always at stake. Let me explain why.
If some things are good for us (conducive to our survival), then other things are bad for us (a threat to our survival). And when we encounter anything that we consider to be a threat to our survival, we feel anxiety and suffer. Depending on our beliefs and who we think are, we can be threatened by people who are angry at us, not being liked by people, making mistakes, not reaching our goals—in other words, by anything that we consider “bad.”
In other words, when anything we consider ourselves to be (a good parent, a hard worker, a sexy person) is threatened, we feel anxiety because we think who we are is in danger of extinction.
When we experience ourselves as a creation with a low level of self-esteem, our lives become about acquiring self-esteem. We create survival strategies—which are substitutes for self-esteem—that run our lives, such as having people think well of us, taking care of others, or doing things perfectly. We think these survival strategies will make us good enough or important. Unfortunately, it’s an endless quest because they never really work, although they can ameliorate anxiety for the moment.
The Lefkoe Method has two purposes
This is why The Lefkoe Method has a two-fold purpose: to help you change your creation (for example, from not good enough to good enough) … and also to facilitate you to distinguish and then experience yourself as the creator of the creation.
As long as you have human form you probably will experience that that form’s survival is always at stake. But it is possible to transcend that experience and distinguish yourself as the creator at any time. In that transcendent state, you experience that you are the space in which reality and time show up, that you always were and always will be, and that survival is never an issue.
So although it is possible to minimize suffering by changing the creation (eliminating beliefs that lead to dysfunctional behavior and feelings), as long as you experience yourself as a creation, suffering is always lurking just around the corner. The best way to relieve suffering is to create yourself as the creator, as Self, as non-dual awareness.
An alternative method
There seems to be a second method that I’ve been exploring recently: to detach oneself from the dualistic world in which we live—to dissolve the meaning we impose on meaningless reality—and face reality stripped bare of all meaning. When the meaning is gone, anxiety and suffering will be gone too.
Suffering and any other unpleasant emotion are the result of adding the meaning: “bad for me” (as distinct from good for me)—to a meaningless event. That meaning causes the suffering. Human beings are always creating meaning because we need to know: good or bad for my survival.
So there appears to be two ways to relieve suffering: to experience yourself as the creator—as distinct from the creation, or to act very un-creation-like and dissolve all the meaning from events, to live totally in the moment. The Lefkoe Occurring Process was designed to do just that.
Please share any comments you have on these thoughts on enlightenment and how to relieve suffering.
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copyright ©2010 Morty Lefkoe