Third Degree of Illumination – Choice

This is the fourth installment in a series of posts, Seven Degrees of Illumination.

Recap of Previous Degrees

My relationship with “them” is strictly based on “them” fulfilling my expectations of them without question. Literally – I expect “them” to know what I need from them without them asking or me telling. There can be no substitute for unconditional submission. My needs trump the needs of others. Self-centered and ego-centric, I have expectations that matter.

Using a plethora of defenses – from biases and conscience to excuses to coercion – I keep myself firmly in the safety of the game. When some aspect of my world begins to slip toward disappointment, I quickly initiate a defense strategy to protect my interests. Safe and sound!

Level Three – Out of Pain Arises Choice

“I Don’t Need You Anyway!”

When all attempts at physical and psychological coercion have failed, I judge “them” as unworthy to be in my game and give “them” the boot – better I fire them than they quit. It’s an illusion, of course, as they never really leave my game – I’ll continue to keep a judgment in reserve for them, in case I later wish to involve them in my game again. “Live and learn.”

When others completely blow my image of them, I cannot forgive them and return them to their previous position. I’m at a Choice Point!

It becomes obvious to me that they, too, have expectations of me that I won’t deliver. Although an awakening of sorts, at this level, recognizing the expectations of others may be yet another subtle defense in an attempt to put “them” back into their place in our illusory world through justification (“Meh! We all have expectations we can’t live up to…”) – seeking to lessen the offensiveness of their behavior. It’s to no effect, though.

Illusions Busted!

There is no “them” as I imagined “them”
“What do I do now?!”

At this point I am faced with the awful reality of my self-imposed deception – although I may not be fully cognizant or appreciative of it. I immediately begin to express disappointment, anger, maybe disgust and frustration, and then blame in order to return to the game, thinking that even if “they” leave my game at least I can continue playing – by replacing them with another.

The game with “them” is OVER! “They” have lost! I can’t help seeing the illusion I’ve created in my relationship with “them” for what it is – a failure. Clearly I cannot continue this game with them. It may hurt as I come face-to-face with invalidation of my vision of the world in this context. My image of myself may take a serious hit at this point.

Mental and physical pain rule at this level.

Yet, I miss the game and yearn for “them” to play it with me again – I may grieve over their leaving. I may plot ways to re-engage with them. Like an addict going through withdrawal, I’m faced with inner turmoil the likes of which I could only imagine and fear before. Like so many things we fear, the actuality of it is usually far less than we imagine – my fear of this day was largely responsible for my resistance to moving on to it.

Conflict and Choice

Now that the day of reckoning is upon me, I feel torn between the elation of freedom from the illusion and sorrow and anger at its loss. My body may react with conflicting sensations such as head and body aches and pains and exhilaration. These represent the choice that confronts me. Part of me calls for forward movement while another longs to return to the safety of the game.

There is no going back, though – I cannot recreate the relationship as it was. I can’t excuse them or me – my image of us is forever changed. Even were I confront “them” with what “they” have done to me, I’m sure now that we will never be as we were – because I am no longer as I was. The real confrontation is within me and at this stage, I recognize that fact.

My choices:

  1. Get back in the game – reverting to stage one by finding someone else to hold my expectations so I can continue the competition game.
  2. Get back in the game – reverting to stage one by increase the value of the expectations I place on others.
  3. “Move on” to stage 4 – – –

The Death of Rightness

This stage of illumination may feel like the lowest life-force energy level as it requires death of a mental image. I must release my need to be right about someone or something. Letting go of rightness often feels as though one is dying inside. Yet, it may take just that sense of death to motivate me into moving on to the next stage. Faced with imminent death, the stakes are high.

To move forward, I must accept death of my image as a viable (and maybe painful) option. I must pass through the death of my need to be validated – leaving my fear of being wrong behind.

The pain of loss I experience as I release my need to be right can motivate me toward the next degree or act as a defense – depending upon the choice I commit to.

The choice:
Live in Fear
Accept the Death of
My Rightness

As I loop back, I keep the fear of pain alive and well within me and strengthen my resolve to avoid passing this way again in the future – so I’m likely to double down on my defenses in the future. Also, as a seasoned player, I’ve become pretty good at the game – with this experience, I’ll be even better!

Competition may be important enough to me that I will repeat these first three stages for years – maybe a lifetime.

Choosing fear will return me to the safety of the game. Choosing to give up my need for validation exposes me to the full fury of my fears, yet opens the door to what is beyond…

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