Ever experience the negative voice in your head as not at "voice" at all but rather as an instant, visceral wincing? Like, something happens not-according-to-plan and your internal response is just to feel kinda squingingly weak and hopeless and desperate to hide?
Yeah, me too.
Lately I'd been circling around in the same old dance with self-rejection, fear and shame. I've come a long way from where I used to be, but alas— spiritual growth tends to be a spiral and not a straight-shot to infinite beatitude. Unless, of course, it is for you. In which case, you better hurry up your bodhisattva work and help me join you on your enlightenment train. That is, please?
What's been helping me lately is to remember my all-too-easy to forget commitment to radical innocence. I sometimes hesitate to speak about it, because I know when I spell it out it can sound like straight-up denial or lunacy. But I think it's far from it. Allow me to explain.
Radical innocence means letting go of my judgment that anything is wrong with the world, at all. Ever.
I find it's the only attitude that truly helps me let go of self-rejection. Why is that? Well, it has something to do with the world being a precise mirror for the self. Any attitude I project onto the world, I will simultaneously project onto myself, and vice-versa. So if I'm inwardly rejecting, hating, saying "no" to anything "out there" — another person's behavior, global economic inequity, the fact that I myself am far from wealthy, anything — I'm also rejecting, hating, saying "no" to something inside myself.
In other words, if I was completely, 100%, fully okay with myself — I would be fully okay with the world. My antsy, demanding, insistent need to fix, secure, and figure out comes from my own sense of not-okayness. When I'm in that not-okayness, I need the world to fit into a nice arrangement so it won't poke any of my wounds and make me hurt. When I feel really frustrated that things in my life aren't the way I want them to be, it's because I'm holding on to the belief that it would be easier to make the world conform to my will than actually practice love and acceptance.
It occurs to me that radical innocence boils down to just the old adage, "Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil." Which doesn't mean willful ignorance. Instead, it means refusing to interpret anything that appears as evil, terrible, wrong. There are plenty of things in the world that we'd all like to see eradicated — hunger, war, abuse — but my reactive rejection of that stuff doesn't do anything to heal it at a fundamental level. It just perpetuates reactive rejection inside me.
Radical innocence isn't anything I made up, of course. It's the message of A Course in Miracles, The Four Agreements, Loving What Is and all those other metaphysical heavy-hitters that I love so much. It can be a real bitch to practice, though. Being truly vigilant about it means paying close attention to my inner monologue and challenging myself to not insult or disrespect anyone or anything — not out of weird New Age piety but out of a genuine sense of humility. This gets really tough when reading about politicians.
Which reminds me - excuse me while I close my eyes and send love to Mitt Romney. Bless you, Mitt, you're human, too.
Anyway — if you're feeling awful lately, I suggest you join me in the practice of radical innocence. Decide that you don't have to reject anything that exists. Trust that your heart and intuition will help you navigate life with discernment rather than judgment. Open up and relax.