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Rev. Mary Wood's Weekly Messages

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MAY 2019

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0:00 am

Welcome to our third week learning from don Miguel Ruiz Jr.’s book The Five Levels of Attachment



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Our lesson for today begins with Level Four – Internalization.  Now our association with our favourite team is a central part of our identity.  The story of victory and defeat is now about usI.  When reading the stats, we admonish players for making US look bad.  We feel dejected when they lose, and may even create excuses for their loss.   And, on the other hand, each and every word of praise they earn feels as though it is directed at us. 

We’ve brought the game “home,” shaping our identity by what it means to be a “real” fan.  Everything starts to revolve around the experience.  And right and wrong enters the picture.  We believe that anyone who doesn’t agree with us is wrong – and we might not allow them to be a friend any more.  Our attachment’s become a condition of self-acceptance.   We wear whatever mask we think we need to be accepted and we can project this false image of ourselves so that we’re accepted.  This is the direct result of conditional love. 

A story to illustrate this.  When I was growing up, my favorite Halloween costume was Super Girl. It was the first and only time that my very practical mother ever let me have a store-bought costume. But even more exciting for me was the mask. It was wonderful; with blonde, perfectly-styled, molded plastic hair, and a make-up job complete with ruby red lips. For the first time in my life I felt beautiful. But more than that, when I wore the mask, I could be someone different. It made everything perfect on the outside while hiding the real, flawed person that I thought I was underneath.

A website lists these five different masks:

The June cleaver mask – the positive persona

Arnold Schwarzenegger – the strength persona

Albert Einstein Mask – the intellectual persona

Mother Teresa – the nice persona

Oscar the Grouch – the grumpy persona

To be accepted, we hide who we really are, not only from others but from ourselves.  Peace can come when we think we have won, and we believe the mask is an acceptable image for conditional love. 

Level 5  -  Fanaticism:  We worship the Jays.  An opposing team’s fan is automatically our enemy.  When someone disagrees with us, they are the enemy.  What happens on the field says everything about who we are.  Winning championships makes us better people.  We’re fans for 365 days a year, and your family will wear the jersey.  And we have that flag on our car for 365 days a year.  Relationships mean nothing unless they are a believer in our team, unless they agree with us.  Our belief is more important than the experience. 

And this extremism can apply to any situation, experience or belief in our life.  We believe something without question .  When we turn to religion, politics, or our ideas about money, and power, the examples of attachment at this level are numerous..  We need to believe in something 100%.  The driving force is conditional love for our self and others.  Our beliefs and knowledge become rigid and controlling.  We feel we must impose our beliefs on friends and other members of the family, and keep this up until they cave in or leave the relationship.  (“I only want to be around enlightened people, etc…..)  Starting to let go of this attachment begins when there’s this little voice, this little inkling of who we truly are.

The Biggest Demon

One day Miguel’s father asked him:  “Do you know what the biggest demon in the world is?....  It’s love, he replied with a slight smile on his face.  And Miguel Jr. shouted back at him, “We are all love,  We all share love, Love is all we are.”  His father replied, “Miguel, figure it out,” and walked away.  The puzzle sat unresolved in Jr.’s mind for quite some time.  Then clarity arrived while he was watching the San Diego Chargers play the Oakland Raiders.  He was aware of his level of attachment to the Chargers.  In the first quarter of the game, the television suddenly went silent.  He decided to assign himself an exercise.  Watch the game as if he had never watched football. 

“It took me a while to stop describing to myself what was happening on the field and just watch the game.  A deeper connection formed between me and what was happening on the field at that moment.  I was enthused by the play of both teams.  Somewhere around half time, the sound returned, and now there two voices describing what was happening.  I was no longer watching the game unfold, but was listening to what I was being told. 

I began to pay attention to only what the voices wanted me to see as they excitedly pointed out stunning plays and judgmentally expressed disapproval of weak players.  When the game ended, I would only recall what the sport casters wanted me to remember.”

Then I realized.  I have those same commentators in my own head.  The only difference is they have my own voice.  Instead of enjoying the experience, I let the narrators talk about whatever catches my attention, and it is usually something I’m already attached to.  This pulls me away from my experience of the present moment.

The narrators are the voices of what we know, the thoughts and beliefs that construct our belief system.  These voices try to catch our attention.  Some speak from distortion, while others speak from truth.  Depending on which one we’re attracted to, we see the world through their words that  can keep us rooted to past experiences as we try to make sense of the present.  These voices also keep us focused on something to attain in the future, or something we convince ourselves we’ll never attain.

He finally understood what his father meant when he said that love is the biggest demon.  Instead of simply experiencing love, being love, the voices explain how love should feel, what makes us worthy of love, who should love us, and how they should express it; what we need to do or achieve to love ourselves, and what others need to do to receive our love in return.

So let’s remember the song we sang this morning.  I Love Myself the Way I Am,  And still I want to grow.  I’m beautiful, I’m capable, I’m being the best me I can.  I love Myself Just the Way I AM.


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Welcome to the second week focusing on don Miguel Ruiz Jr.’s book The Five Levels of Attachment.  Our lesson today will focus on the first three levels of attachment.

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Level One:  The Authentic Self. 

 Imagine you go to a Blue Jays game or any kind of a contest.  You are not rooting for or against a side.  It doesn’t matter who’s playing or competing.  You sit, watch and enjoy what’s happening for what it is.  The moment the game or competition is over, you leave the game behind – no matter who won or lost.  You’ve enjoyed a moment in time without any real attachment.  You’ve invested just enough of yourself to make the choice to attend or watch the game.  This is you and I in total control of knowledge.  We’ve experienced the purest form of joy, stemming from our desire to experience life without conditions. 

The full potential of life is always present.  We don’t need knowledge – facts and figures and information -  to be our authentic self, and our awareness of this is what allows us to use knowledge as we spend time in the world.  Regardless of our degree of attachment, we are always aware of our Authentic Selves and we do this through prayer, meditation, yoga, dancing, and many others.  Everyone is a personification of the Authentic Self – creating, producing, learning, and loving life.  We simply make the choice to see it in ourselves and others.  IT’S THE MOMENT WHEN JUDGMENT STOPS AND HARMONY TAKES OVER.  It is the harmony of mind, body and soul as the expression of Life.  When we reside at this level, we have the freedom to choose how we want to engage the Dream of the Planet. 

We can love unconditionally because we have no conditions for self-acceptance. Every possibility is available to us, and engage the people we love without the need to domesticate them to our point of view. 

Level two – Preference:  

You go to the game, and now you root for one of the teams.  You’ve realized the emotional roller coaster makes the game more exciting.  You decide what team to root for based on just about anything.  You spend the game rooting for the Jays, but not necessarily again the other.  Still, in the end, you walk out of the stadium and leave it all behind.  We create a story of victory or defeat that determined the experience, but the story has nothing to do with you personally, because the story is about the team.  This ability to attach and detach allows you to invest an emotional side of yourself that enjoys the ups and downs.  Life is happening, and you’re able to share it with those around you, regardless of how they see themselves. 

We recognize our ability to attach ourselves to something in the present moment, but are also able to let go of the attachment when the moment has passed without losing the awareness of our authentic self.  Knowledge is not corrupted by our sense of self-importance or conditional love.  We engage life as it is and able to make choices.  .  Playing as kids – take on the personal of the role, and when the game was over, we take off the mask created by our knowledge and go back to being ourselves.

Our love for self allows us to give love to the community.  We’re aware that knowledge is how we’re able to interact with the world, and I create with my yeses and nos.  I’m free to choose to agree, disagree with my own philosophy, and also free to have a relationship with people who have a preference for another tradition or philosophy.  I change my mind when I no longer fully agree, or I may agree with it my whole life. I make my agreements because I want to.

 Level three – Identity:  

Back to the baseball game:  This time you’re a committed fan of the Blue Jays.  It is your favourite team.  When they win or lose, this partially defines who you are beyond the 90 minutes of the game.  Elated when they win – disappointed when they lose.  But still, their performance is not a condition of your self-acceptance.  The victories and losses are part of the emotional roller coaster that makes life interesting, but your self-worth is not based on the outcomes. Your feelings and opinions about the Jays are not how you relate to others or yourself. 

This culture, this team has become a small part of your identity.  You might have a bad day if they lose, feel sad despite the good things happening around you. 

We have a need to name, describe and understand the things we engage with in life.  Our knowledge allows us to understand the world, but when it comes to understanding ourselves, our identity can be wrapped up in our knowledge.  “I know this so I am this.”  This identity of self is that grounds us and allows us to have our place in the world.  But this identity is a mask that blurs our awareness of the Authentic Self; we identify ourselves with our knowledge.. 

We begin to believe the reflection we see in the mirror, and by adopting it, we’re hoping to be understood by our community and ourselves.   As we increase our attachment to our identity, knowledge and agreement become very important to us; they give us meaning in life.  

Identity can be based on the colour of our skin, nationality, religion, the political party that best reflects our beliefs, the sports team that allows us the excitement of winning and losing, the work we do.  Our name and identity give us a purpose and sense of belonging.  What identities have you adopted for yourself?  This level confuses these identities with who we really are. 

What’s happened is that we’ve let an attachment change our person, and creep into a world that has nothing to do with it.  WE have donned the mask of identity –who we see in the mirror -  and forgotten it is a mask.  Mirror, Mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all?? 

The journey through this book leads us to a place of realizing our authentic self, offering us the awareness of who we are at this present moment and every moment that follows.  Thank you for being part of my awareness and learning.

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Welcome to the first of five lessons focusing on the book The Five Levels of Attachment by Don Miguel Ruiz Jr.  He is a follower of the Toltec tradition, a way of life in which the whole point is to be happy, to enjoy life and the relationships with the people we love the most, starting with oneself.  His grandmother was his teacher and said to him, “If you are looking through life and translating it as it goes along, you will miss out on living it.  But if you learn to listen to life, you will always be able to express the words as they come.  Your knowledge has to become a tool you will use to guide you through life, but that can also be put aside.  Do not let knowledge translate everything you experience.”

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Throughout life, we constantly describe or comment on everything we do, say, see, touch, smell, taste and hear.  Instead of taking an experience for what it is, we create a story to make it fit our beliefs.  Seeing beyond our accumulated knowledge and beliefs doesn’t always come naturally.  We’ve spent years growing attached to them, and they feel safe.  Like blinders on a horse, our attached beliefs limit our vision, and then this limits our perceived direction in life.  The stronger our level of attachment, the less we can see.

We can think about our attached beliefs as this unique melody that repeats itself in our mind and ends up controlling us.  I have to be perfect – I have to be perfect.  As our level of attachment increases, the “who I am,” becomes more directly linked with knowledge or “what I know.”  Then as we let go of our attachment to what we think the melody should be, we open ourselves to the potential to create a unique and beautiful song or composition or a collaboration that can be shared with others.

What are some of my attachments:  I am Mary, a Canadian, a mother, a grandmother, a minister….  And so on.  It used to be I am a person who stutters.  And the more attached I am to these beliefs, the more difficult it becomes to see who I am at this moment, and the less freedom I have to see life from a fresh perspective and perhaps choose a different path.

What gives these attachments their strength is conditional love.  Instead of accepting ourselves for who we are at this very moment, we start telling ourselves why we’re unacceptable at this moment and what we need to do to be able to accept ourselves:  Of all the beliefs to detach from, this is the most important one:  Let go of the attachment that you must obtain some image of perfection in order to be happy.

It’s easy to blame our media, our culture, our community for images and commercials of what is expected of us.  But…  there is no one to blame….. for a commercial has no power over us unless we agree with its message, and attach ourselves to these images and distortions.  And let’s not blame ourselves for these self judgments.  Let’s simply, be aware of them – they’ve probably been there since we were children.  In that awareness, we can reclaim our freedom by choosing to transcend the rewards-and-punishment model.  We have a choice – that is our power.

When we no longer believe in a self-judgment, it will no longer have any power over us.  We can choose to look at ourselves from a place of acceptance based on the undeniable truth we are already perfect and complete exactly the way we are right now.  From this point of view, we can choose to make some life changes, but now the motivation is not because you hope to someday love yourself, but because you already love yourself.

And when we understand that we are perfect just the way we are, then we will see that everything is perfect just the way it is.  It’s not easy to just wake up one morning and say to yourself “I’m perfect just the way I am.”  Everything is a work in progress, a never-ending masterpiece.  We can invest ourselves into the stories we want to believe.  And we don’t need a story about who we are.  We are perfect at this moment and that is all you and I need to enjoy life.  We make changes to express ourselves and experience more of life because we already accept and love ourselves for who we are.

The book refers to the Personal Dream and the Dream of the Planet  - our forms of insight.  In the Personal Dream – We perceive and project our life and our dream through our thoughts and experiences.  It is based on what we believe in, what we think, and what we know.  The Dream of the Planet is the collective dream of billions of smaller, personal dreams which, together create a dream of a family, a community, a city, a country, and finally a dream of all humanity.  It starts with you and me.  

Both the personal dream and the dream of the planet are built on knowledge or information, what I know and believe.  This is how we survive in the world.  And as I become more attached to knowledge and information, my ability to see life as it truly is narrows.    But with awareness of my attachments comes the opportunity to live as I choose and love as I choose

Words allow us to communicate what we know, to understand one another  However, and when we become attached to our understanding of the words, there is no room for change and growth. 

We may find ourselves struggling, fighting, arguing with others and ourselves to maintain our beliefs and definitions of the way things work.  Right and wrong, should or shouldn’t, good or bad.  It is through those beliefs that we have constructed the story of us.  And…  by becoming aware of the nature of our beliefs – love or fear -  we have the power to change our stories and our agreements.  By openly listening to someone else’s expression of their knowledge without holding an attachment of what those words mean, we have the opportunity to better understand them.

When we place ourselves in a safe zone where we feel comfortable and secure, in the this-is-who-I-am mindset, the worst thing imaginable is that it will go away.  And yet this happens again and again in varying degrees through our lives.  When I believe something must stay in its rightful place, exactly as it is for me to be OK, I have become attached to it.  The challenge is to change your agreements, to see yourself as a perfect human being, and to realize there is no object, idea or knowledge that you need to be complete. The knowledge we gather is a tool that helps us decide how we want to engage in dreams – the personal and collective

Don Miguel writes, “My grandmother asked me many years ago:  Is knowledge controlling you, or are you controlling knowledge?  You can answer this for yourself when you come to know how attached you are to your knowledge, your beliefs, or something outside yourself.  I did not know that knowledge can lead us astray, causing us to suffer unless we take the helm.  My grandmother believed that every attachment I form allows knowledge to control me. She spoke of various levels of attachment and the consequences associated with them.”

Her words are what this book is based on.  I invite you to journey through this book with me as we release any unhealthy beliefs and attachments that are no longer serving us and create a future that is in alignment with our true and authentic self.  Next week we’ll look at the first three levels of attachment.