September 11 (an interesting start date this particular blog)-16, 2022
“Reality is more sacred to me than my most sacred concept.” -Amrit Desai
It would be nice if we could all say what Amrit Desai said and mean it. We would have a much better human condition on the planet if most of us felt the same. However, many prefer their most sacred concepts about reality over actual reality—over Truth—itself. If you think that doesn’t apply to you and that you prefer reality over your concepts, I’m writing this blog for you.
The internet provided a couple of definitions:
- connected with God or a god or dedicated to a religious purpose and so deserving veneration.
- religious rather than secular.
- (of writing or text) embodying the laws or doctrines of a religion.
- regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group, or individual.
- regarded as too valuable to be interfered with; sacrosanct.
(Just the most important of the definitions for this:)
- an idea or mental image which corresponds to some distinct entity or class of entities, or to its essential features.
Part of the homework (or call it “self-enrichment opportunity” for the homework-averse) was to list for yourself a few sacred concepts that you adhere to. Once you have one or more of those, then look at them with introspection. If reality (somehow) managed to show up as contradicting your sacred concept, which are you going to hold to? How much would you suffer mentally and emotionally in that case? How does that reveal your level of preference to the concept over the reality? I feel fairly confident that most moderately introspective people could find at least one concept they hold more dear than reality, at least in some context(s).
For the purposes of this investigation, I highlighted the key parts of the definitions. The most important parts or the word sacred for us are, “regarded with great respect and reverence” and “regarded as too valuable to be interfered with.” In the suggested exercise, we’re looking for “ideas or mental images which correspond to some distinct entity or class of entities or its essential features” (think of “me, personally and how I am” or “other people that I know and how I think they are” as examples) .
It might be best to do that self-enrichment opportunity before reading what follows, but a couple people asked for examples since they didn’t fully understand what I was proposing. Consider this writing as partly for those people but applicable for everyone. However, if you feel you have a clear sense of what I’m suggesting, you might choose to jump right into your personal exploration before reading on in order not to color your own investigation.
One example that comes to my mind and is relatively non-threatening for almost everyone reading this blog is “my candidate (or I) can’t lose an election unless cheating occurs.” The majority of Republicans in the U.S. cling to that concept, and we know that no amount of reality to the contrary will provoke them to drop it.
One woman after the reading and discussion around reality in class told me that reality saved her. She had been in a long, abusive marriage, and when she was finally able to see and accept the fact that her husband didn’t love her (and possibly never did), she could then make intelligent choices that have her now in a much better place and in a loving relationship. She admitted that the concepts she had been clinging to included “marriage is forever,” “my husband really does love me,” and “divorce is not OK” (which, in the religion of her upbringing, it definitely was NOT).
Other women with similar stories have told me that in addition to those concepts, they also clung to the concept, “I can change him,” or “If I only love him enough, he’ll change.” All these concepts listed were regarded by their holders with great respect and were seen (unconsciously, perhaps) as too valuable to be interfered with, even when reality, for years, had been relentlessly revealing otherwise.
Another woman had a decades-long concept that had been given to her as part of the mythology of her upbringing. She believed that her father was immortal. Turned out that not terribly long ago, that idea met with reality as her father did, indeed die physically. Yep. Apparently people die (in case you missed two of my more recent blogs, Part One here and Part Two here).
She is grieving, of course, as she should. Her grief is made all the more painful by her acknowledged (and well-programmed) incorrect idea about her father. If you think that ANYONE, including you, won’t die, reality will show up at some point to reveal the falsehood of that concept.
Some other sacred concepts that I have run into or that others have reported, off and on the mat:
- If I only try harder, _______.
- It (any it) should be easier.
- Worry helps.
- It’s all up to me
- I need to do something to deserve love.
- I should be done with this (any this).
- It shouldn’t be like this.
- For any given choice a person has to make, there should be one clear, better choice.
- Me being tense about this thing is in some way helpful.
- Anything with “should”
- I’m a loving person (or kind, compassionate, sensitive, generous, strong, dedicated, patient, etc.. (Though mostly true in many contexts, if I cling to any of these as part of my self-concept, I’ll be unable to see when the reality of me is contradicting it.)
- I’m not lazy/weak/angry/entitled/racist/ignorant/selfish/arrogant/stupid/childish, etc. (All that may also be somewhat true, but again, if those ideas form part of my self-concept, I’ll miss seeing when reality is at odds with it.)
- Life shouldn’t be painful or have pain in it.
- I could have only happiness in my life without any pain or unhappiness. (Nice idea, but I’ll only get and give myself the level of happiness that is commensurate with the level of pain that I’ll allow myself to experience.)
And since the quote was specifically about “sacred” concepts, here are some “religious” concepts that I’ve seen in myself or that obviously abound in the world:
- There is a God. Or if you prefer, there is not a God. (And yes, ultimately it depends on your definition, but either concept will have you miss the Reality of the other perspective.)
- God is _______ or is like _______. Or, I know what God is (or isn’t). (Anything we say about That will be, of necessity, a concept of our mind and not the Real Thing, which would be a wordless experience.
- My view of the Divine (whether affirming That or denying That) is the (only) correct view.
- I’m unworthy. (It has nothing to do with worthiness.)
- I’m a sinner.
- I am That.
- What I’m experiencing here and now is something other than the Divine/God/The Infinite Consciousness and Energy.
- Why is God doing this to me? Or, God wants me to suffer.
- I can get Self-Realized without a Guru. (That’s a popular one, and though apparently true in a handful of cases in history, I’ll argue that it’s much more rare than all the people who Realized and had a Guru/Teacher/Master.)
In the end, at least one other person in class came to the same conclusion that I did. That conclusion is that if we have a concept—any concept—it’s a “sacred” concept unless and until we look more closely at it with introspection. As long as it remains unquestioned, we are, at least unconsciously, regarding it as too valuable to be interfered with and will continue to operate under what could be a limiting idea. Any concept that we have committed—consciously or not—to viewing ourself and life through is a sacred concept. If we aren’t vigilant and aware, we will find ourselves defending that concept against the inevitable onslaughts of Reality… until we realize that clinging to the concept is actually more painful than experiencing Reality.
I did this exercise before reading your examples and for sacred my meditation practice is #1 which includes Gratitude to open the channel of Love, learning, serving. For concept its a way of opening myself to becoming a better person than I was yesterday. Growth, change, etc.
Gratitude is such a great practice, attitude, way of life! Thanks for reading and for sharing. -Ti