HJ: In part two of the series The 12 Steps to Higher Consciousness, we explore those steps that lead to inner peace, among other things. In my eyes, these are perhaps the core steps which do the majority of the inner healing work and set the stage for the effectiveness of the rest. By turning the lens of perception inward, we can begin to clearly see the areas of ourselves that need healing. Once we address these issues, the rest of the work becomes infinitely easier, as the internal state is the foundation for the experience of reality. Any work done there echoes throughout our consciousness and out into the world. Suddenly, everything can and does change to fit the new paradigm of awareness we have embraced.
By Joy S. Williams | JoySydneyWilliams.com
This is part two in a series. Part 1 can be found here: The 12 Steps to Higher Consciousness: A Whole New Level of Recovery
Step 3: Surrender… or in Other Words, Acceptance.
Without this step, recovery won’t happen. When you first read in 12 Step programs that you need to “…turn your will and your life over to the care of God as you understand him,” fear and anger are common reactions. I can hear some crying out, “But isn’t God responsible for my problems? After all, didn’t he create everything?” I can hear others protesting, “Why should I trust God – I don’t even understand the concept of what ‘God’ is?”
First of all, the perception that we are completely in control of our lives is an illusion. As long as we remain completely identified with our own limited minds and bodies, then we cannot claim to completely control anything. What step 3 is really asking is for you to understand this universal truth about life.
We get into our car and go to work everyday with the faith that we will arrive there safely, regardless of the fact that many people die in car accidents all the time. That fear of an accident never stops us from driving, does it? Everyone believes in something, and if we didn’t, we couldn’t function in the world at all. Similarly, even though most of us don’t understand completely how electricity works, we still count on it everyday to power our appliances and gadgets, don’t we? Would we stop using electricity because we don’t understand it? The point is that we have faith within us already. By applying our faith to reach out to a higher power that we are willing to trust, we open a door to the higher levels of super consciousness. We begin to accept things in life as lessons to learn from, and this positive attitude radically transforms us and our entire experience of life.
The Bhagavad Gita discusses at great length the basic principles of karma, destiny, and creation; however, the interesting part is that none of these are described by Krishna until after Arjuna has already decided to surrender to what Krishna advises. Why is that? Surrender is necessary first so that you become open and receptive enough to fully understand what your teacher has to show you. If you still think that you know all of the answers and you don’t need any help, then you can never learn anything new and grow; you remain bound by the limitations of your mind, body, and ego.
Furthermore, Krishna never demanded that Arjuna surrender at all. It was entirely Arjuna’s choice, based on his intuition. Surrender happens naturally when you realize that you are not in control of your life and you need the help of a higher power. Your problems don’t all magically disappear just because you’ve surrendered, but they become easier to manage and you face them with the renewed confidence that you can succeed.
Why isn’t it enough to just ask for a miracle? Your higher power may perform miracles sometimes if you ask for them, but even a miracle doesn’t guarantee your permanent happiness. You’ll always be asking for more and more miracles until you understand the real source of your suffering, how you created it, and how you can end it forever; that is the ultimate goal of the spiritual quest, and it explains the need for the next steps…
Steps 4 and 5: Examining Yourself and Recognizing Your Mistakes.
This step follows naturally from accepting a personal guide; when you begin to practice honest self-examination, you need an objective perspective to help point out your blind spots. We always have perfect vision when examining the flaws of others, but we have distorted vision when examining ourselves. A mentor is absolutely critical on the journey; otherwise, you can easily deceive yourself into believing that you are making great spiritual progress when the opposite may be true. Honesty and humility are the essential foundation for every spiritual seeker in any of the world’s traditions, and these qualities are best developed with the direct support of a teacher.
The sponsor, mentor or guru that you’ve chosen has been through the same things you have and understands you. They will never boss you around, but their main job is to help you see what you cannot see on your own; that is precisely what Krishna does in the Gita for Arjuna, and that is what every teacher does in one way or another. The more you can remain humble and open, the greater your potential to change and grow becomes. With their help, you begin to reflect upon what you would like to improve about your character and what you have done that has contributed to your suffering. Most importantly, you examine why you made these mistakes in order to prevent making them again in the future.
Traditional 12 Step groups stress that you focus only on your actions in order to learn how to take responsibility for yourself and your happiness. The reason why they stress it so much is because addicts fall into the cycle of blaming circumstances, people and other external factors for their problems; blame is always a mask to avoid reflecting upon your own flaws by focusing on another person’s flaws instead. This powerful defense mechanism of the ego completely blocks spiritual growth and can lock people into a lifetime of misery.
The critical point in steps four and five is to remember that when we change, the world around us automatically changes also. When we develop this self-awareness in all of our actions and become accountable to others for our mistakes, then we are automatically teaching and inspiring others around us to do the same thing. Suddenly, the whole world becomes a friendlier place for us in response to our efforts to be more humble and conscious of the effects we have on others. As great masters describe, when you learn how to bow down to the whole world as your teacher, then the whole world will bow down to you as well.
Steps 6 and 7: Embrace Your Ability to Change, and Then Ask for Your Defects to be Removed.
Once you feel the tremendous weight of your ego’s demands and endless desires, then you’ll finally wish to drop this load that you’ve been carrying for your whole life. Just observe how much time and energy it takes to hate someone, and especially to hate yourself…it’s exhausting! What about your long list of requirements for happiness? That’s a big load to carry around every day. Wouldn’t you like to be able to be happy in any place, at any time?
In the 12 Steps, you come clean with your sponsor and your higher power, through prayer, and then you realize that the way you have been living does not have to define the way you will continue to live in the future. You gradually learn that with the support of your new, positive environment, you are now empowered to become free of your addictions by making better choices. In this 12 Step network, your highest potentials of consciousness are awakened and begin to flourish.
Krishna takes this process one step further by describing in the Bhagavad Gita the nature of the mind, the ego and the world. Krishna elaborates in many metaphors about what higher consciousness is, and he explains that, from the perspective of higher consciousness, you were actually never born and you never die; furthermore, nothing is really created and nothing is really destroyed. This principle is also present in modern research of quantum physics, with elaborations of the principle that matter can neither be created nor destroyed, and that it actually changes in relationship to our perceptions of it. By realizing our infinite potential to change into whatever we wish, we also realize our ability to uncover our true nature as pure consciousness. Then when we see our defects of character, we will be happy to ask our higher power to help us remove them because we will understand that these defects are creating obstacles to our experience of pure consciousness, pure happiness and healing on all levels.
To be continued in Part 3