There are some games that are very specific, and they are relatively easy to expose when they are outplayed in specific situations. There are other games that are more general, and they can be difficult to expose because they apply in many different situations, even in all situations.
These general games often set the stage for the specific games of the selves, and they can impair your ability to see through and rise above the specific games. We will therefore begin by talking about one of the general games of the selves.
In order to help you understand this game, let us summarize what we have discussed in the previous couple of discourses:
- The selves want to blind you to the existence of a higher reality that is beyond the dualistic thinking of the selves.
- Once you are blinded by that illusion, the selves want to keep you there indefinitely.
- The selves want you to go where they want you to go without you realizing what is happening. They want to take you down the staircase of life so gradually that you don’t notice the descent.
- If you refuse to go further down, the selves want to keep you standing still at your present level. Even after you start climbing back up, the selves seek to stop your growth at any level.
- It takes a distinct decision to stand up and start walking back up the staircase of life. The selves will do anything to prevent you from making such a LIFE decision.
What is the selves’ primary weapon in attempting to prevent you from making LIFE decisions and taking the next step up the staircase of life? It is that the selves seek to make you accept a norm, a definition of what is considered normal behavior.
The selves will then project into your conscious mind that as long as you stay within what they have defined as normal, there is no reason for you to do anything out of the ordinary, such as making a LIFE decision and taking a distinct step up the staircase. The selves want you to believe that sliding down the staircase or standing still is normal behavior whereas taking a step up the staircase is abnormal and unnecessary, dangerous, forbidden or impossible. The selves’ message is: “Don’t rock the boat—just keep doing what you have been doing and what everybody else is doing.”
In this endeavor, the selves have a major ally, namely what some psychologists call the collective unconscious. We might also call it the mass consciousness or the planetary selves. When you look at society, you will see that many people live their entire lives within the norms of their particular society, blindly following the standards for normal behavior in anything from religion to fashion trends.
Throughout history, you will see that many societies have imposed various penalties for going beyond their norms. This can be drastic measures, such as being killed, deported, imprisoned or herded into railroad cars and taken off to a concentration camp. Or it can be less dramatic – and thus harder to expose – methods ranging from family and social pressure to simply not teaching people that there is a different way to look at life.
Once a society has created a state in which most people fear to go against or question the norm, that society has become rigid. There is little possibility of an internal change, which is why such societies often enter a downward slide that leads to their collapse, either through internal factors or an external enemy that conquers them. The Roman empire is a prime example, but many others litter the pages of history.
Historically speaking, very few societies have had norms that made it acceptable behavior to follow the spiritual path. Most societies have discouraged people from doing so—even – or perhaps especially – religious societies. That is why Jesus was opposed, pressured and attacked from all sides when he started expressing his Christhood.
All sincere spiritual seekers should expect that they will have to go beyond the norms of their society in order to pursue the spiritual path to its full extent. A spiritual seeker might as well accept the fact that spiritual growth is currently not seen as normal by any Western society. Once you expect to be abnormal – with whatever that entails in your particular environment – you are not as susceptible to your selves’ subtle attempts to make you stay within the norm—stay within the fold.
Beyond your society, you also need to be aware of the inner pressure created by your selves. Your personal norm is clearly affected by the environment in which you grew up, but it also has its own personal characteristics that your selves have carefully created over many lifetimes.
These are designed to keep you following what your selves have defined as normal, and a spiritual seeker must be wiling to examine his or her norms. No one ever has been successful on the spiritual path without examining and questioning – and then transcending – his or her personal norms as well as the external norm of the environment. For a spiritual seeker, going beyond the norm should be considered normal behavior.
The carrot and the stick
The concept of a norm implies a median value, a sort of average. But a median exists only in relation to two extremes, as an average is found somewhere between a high and a low. The selves seek to define its norm by setting up a high and a low:
- The carrot is the highest you can attain, the wildest dream, your ultimate sense of happiness—according to the selves. Because the selves cannot see beyond the duality consciousness, they will define this high based on their own limited vision. Or they will define the way to attain this ultimate state based on their illusions. For example, many spiritual people have a somewhat correct vision in terms of thinking the ultimate goal of life is an exalted state in the spiritual realm. Their selves often manage to make them believe in the automatic path to that goal, as explained in previous discourses. One obvious example is the belief that if you verbally confess Jesus Christ to be your Lord and Savior, then he will automatically take upon himself all of your sins and take you to heaven.
- The stick is your greatest fears, the vision of the worst that could possibly happen to you. Again, the selves will define this based on their own illusions, and there will always be a clear element of irrationality. All fear is irrational, for when you truly experience the reality of higher awareness, truth will set you free from all fear.
In reality, the selves’ norm is a mental prison that is meant to keep you within the boundaries where your selves feel they can control you. The selves presents the norm as a safe zone that will guarantee that you attain your highest dream while keeping you safe from your worst fears. To use the previous example, as long as you believe Jesus will save you, you will be saved. As long as you do not question the doctrine of the vicarious atonement, you will avoid burning in hell.
The conclusion is simple. As long as you do not question the norm, including the carrot and the stick, you will stay within the mental box defined by your selves and no spiritual growth is possible. You will not begin to grow spiritually until you begin to question your selves’ norm. The selves, of course, will do anything they can think of to make you believe questioning the norm is dangerous, and you must be prepared to question the reasons for why you should not question the norm.
All fear is irrational, and all irrationality can be removed through proper understanding. The very key to any kind of progress is to seek understanding. As the Bible puts it: “With all thy getting, get understanding.” This is also why Jesus often talked about those who have “ears to hear” or “eyes to see.” It is why he told people that if they seek, they shall find, if they ask, they shall receive and if they knock, the door shall be opened unto them. The fear of questioning the norm is very persuasive, but clarity will empower you to conquer it.
Why it is dangerous not to question the norm
As an example, we will use traditional Christian terminology. Most Christian churches would agree that you need to be saved because you have sinned. Why do you have the option to sin, why didn’t God simply create you without that option so that there would be no question about whether or not you would be saved?
Most churches would also agree that you have to do something in order to be saved—you have to make certain choices. They often disagree on what you have to do, but that is not important in this context. The very fact that you are not automatically saved and that you have to do something in order to be saved shows that God gave you free will. Because you have free will, you can choose to go against God’s law – thereby sinning and jeopardizing your salvation – or you can choose to align yourself with God’s law and be saved.
The very fact that God gave you free will shows that while God wants you to enter his kingdom, he does not want to force you to do so. If he was a forceful God, he would have created you without the option to sin so that you would automatically be in God’s kingdom. The logical conclusion is that God did not create you as a robot, but wants you to enter the kingdom out of your own free-will choosing.
What will it take for you to voluntarily enter God’s kingdom? It will take that you understand that entering God’s kingdom is what you really want, and doing what it takes to enter is in your own best interest. You must overcome any sense of fear, the sense that you are somehow forced to be saved in order to avoid ending up in a terrible place. You must overcome any sense of obligation, the sense that you should give up your earthly pleasures in order to enter heaven—which really is the subtle sense that being saved is a loss of earthly things.
Entering God’s kingdom must be a completely free choice, and you can make a free choice only when you have the full understanding of what is involved in the choice. You must be able to see why choosing God’s kingdom over an earthly kingdom is enlightened self-interest. You must see that you do not lose anything but gain something that is infinitely more valuable than anything you have on earth. If you do not have this full understanding, you simply cannot make a free choice. A choice that is based on even partial ignorance can never be a free choice.
The conclusion is clear. God wants you to make a free choice, which is why he gave you free will. God knows that when you have the full understanding of reality, you will lovingly choose God’s kingdom over anything on earth. God wants you to have the full understanding of reality. God has nothing to hide and is not seeking to hide anything from you. It can only be the forces who seek to keep you out of God’s kingdom that want to prevent you from having full understanding.
It is the selves and the prince of this world who are seeking to keep you in ignorance by making you believe that asking certain questions is dangerous. These forces have often used religion to stop people from asking questions, yet in this age it is time people rise above that intimidation and demand the full truth about their relationship with God.
The reality is that God never seeks to discourage you from discovering the truth that will make you free. When you encounter any inner or outer resistance to your growth in understanding, you know the selves and the prince of this world are at work. Be willing to question the norm, be willing to transcend the norm, be willing to be more than the norm tells you that you can or are allowed to be.
The norm is an uneven standard
For the vast majority of human beings, the norm set by their selves is to not go beyond what is considered normal behavior in their society. Obviously, various cultures and societies have different standards for what is considered normal so the norms created in different parts of the world can vary greatly.
They all say pretty much the same thing, namely that you should not do anything extraordinary. Just be an ordinary human being and you will reach whatever goal is defined. For example, just be an ordinary Christian and follow the doctrines of your church and then you will be saved.
Most people are happy to live what might be called “ordinary” lives by following the standard for what is considered normal. In every society there are people who cannot be satisfied by being normal, and they long for something extraordinary in their lives. They often engage in a sincere striving for excellence and seek to rise above “ordinary” people in a variety of ways.
Unfortunately, most of these people get trapped in another game of the selves, namely that of competing with others. Although their striving for excellence could potentially lead them to make progress on the spiritual path, as long as they are caught in the game of comparison, they are not truly rising above the selves. The selves love to feel superior to others so for these people, their selves have simply defined a different norm. This norm says that instead of blending into the crowd, these people’s norm is to stand out from the crowd. It is normal for them to be better than others.
In its extreme form, this can make people believe that they belong to a separate category of people, a higher class, that is inherently above the masses. For these people, superiority has become the norm, and their lives are eaten up by a quest to prove this superiority by any means, be it power, intelligence, education, sports, money, beauty or whatever else might be valued in their society.
Obviously, being involved with a spiritual teaching or movement is not above being used by the selves to create the sense of superiority. Many spiritual people have been trapped in pursuing a goal defined by their selves, often set up as the guaranteed path to salvation. As long as you follow the outer rules set by this or that spiritual organization, you will rise above others and be more spiritual—say the selves.
The vast majority of the spiritual organizations found on this planet have norms – sometimes clearly defined and sometimes unspoken or vague – that are partially or fully defined by the selves of the leaders and members of the organization. The selves have simply managed to make such people accept their norm for what it means to be a spiritual person.
Behind all norms is an underlying message, namely that it is never normal for you to go beyond being human—as defined by the consciousness of duality. The selves will let you rise however high you want, as long as you stay within the dualistic game of comparing yourself to others or to an outer standard. What the selves do not want to see is that you begin to attain union with your higher self so that you begin to strive to be – here on earth – an extension of the Being you already are in the spiritual realm.
The selves know that once you begin to know your spiritual being, you will see beyond any earthly standard and you will want MORE than the earth – or the selves – can offer. You will begin to become non-attached to the goals and norms defined by the selves, and this will gradually empower you to take command over your own mind and being.
You can then follow the original call for all co-creators, namely to multiply and have dominion over the earth. Any norm defined by the selves has as its underlying goal to prevent you from attaining this non-dualistic approach to life. The selves will let you be any kind of human being you want to be, but they do not want you to be here below all that you are Above.
The norm, an ever-moving target
The selves’ norm is not a fixed entity. As you grow on the spiritual path, your selves will adapt to your new beliefs, your new world view. Obviously, the selves would prefer to keep you away from the spiritual path and keep you trapped in the materialistic game of the selves that will be described in coming discourses. If they cannot do so, they will simply change their norm to incorporate your spiritual beliefs while distorting them in subtle ways so that you still stay within the borders of being a human being.
We have already looked at the selves’ attempt to create the illusion of an automatic salvation, and it is essential for all spiritual seekers to consider whether they have been trapped by their selves’ attempt to set up a norm that appeases their spiritual beliefs while preventing any serious spiritual growth. The reality is that as long as you have any selves left, they will attempt to adapt their norm, including the stick and the carrot, to your present level of consciousness.
The purpose is always to prevent you from going beyond your current state of consciousness. That is why it is so important for a spiritual seeker to realize that you can never stand still. Still-stand means that the selves will catch up to you, and when they do, they will create a new norm which makes it seem as if your current level on the spiritual path is all that is needed or possible. You should feel comfortable staying where you are and forget about going higher.
The higher you climb on the path, the more subtle your selves become. As you educate yourself in spiritual concepts, you are also educating your selves, and they will use this education to create a norm that is very persuasive. This norm will play on all of your spiritual beliefs and it might contain much truth. Yet there is always that slight distortion which seeks to prevent you from transcending your current state of consciousness.
That is why you can never stand still, never allow yourself to become too comfortable. If you will take an honest look at spiritual organizations, you will see that there is a distinct pattern. Many members start out by eagerly following whatever path if offered in the organization. They apply themselves fully and often make great progress. As they climb the ranks of the outer organization, they gradually become more concerned about their outer positions than their inner progress.
They now seek to defend their positions rather than transcending them, and this is the hallmark of the selves. It is a sure sign that these people have now accepted a new norm that reinforces the belief that they are very spiritual because they live up to outer characteristics defined by the dualistic vision of the selves. Many spiritual organizations have been perverted by this process and have lost their original transformative qualities. Instead, they now seek to trap people at a certain level and prevent them from going beyond the norm – overt or hidden – defined by the organization.
Questioning the norm
The effect of the norm is to get you to “do nothing” – or rather to continue to do the same thing – while feeling that you do not need to change yourself or any aspect of your life. That is why so many people only have a spiritual awakening when they experience a major crisis in their lives. Only when some outside event shatters their sense that everything is normal, that everything is okay, do they wake up and acknowledge that something needs to change.
Consider how many people are moving very gradually toward such a crisis, and everyone around them can see where they are going, but they cannot see it themselves. They cannot see it because so far nothing has disturbed the norm, the sense that they are okay and that nothing bad will happen as long as they keep doing what they are doing. The more blinded people are by the norms of their selves, the more severe the crisis that is needed in order to wake them up and make them willing to change.
It is always sad for a spiritual seeker to see how people move toward a crisis while ignoring all of the warning signals. They simply bury their heads in the sand and refuse to heed the people or events that are meant to signal that it is time to change course. Higher awareness wishes that all sincere seekers would avoid this trap, but the only way to do so is to become aware of the selves’ norm and be willing to question it.
The basic fact is that the selves’ norm is always designed to prevent you from going beyond a certain level. You simply cannot go beyond that level until you see what is holding you back, namely a norm created by the dualistic mind. It is essential for all spiritual seekers to be aware of the existence of a norm and to always remain open to questioning it. This involves questioning all elements of the norm, including the high, the low and the median:
- The Median. It might be normal for most people to behave or believe a certain way, but that is not to say it is normal for spiritual seekers. If you truly understand the spiritual path, your goal should be to transcend yourself so this is the evaluation you need to apply. Will the norms I have in certain areas help me grow spiritually, or will they tie me to a certain level, a level that might be comfortable but does not lead to growth? You should also be aware that there is always a temptation to become comfortable at any level of the spiritual path. If you feel yourself becoming comfortable and start to think you do not need to go higher or that you can keep doing the same thing, then be alert and start questioning the norm that gives rise to such thoughts and feelings. Self-transcendence means that you cannot keep doing or believing the same thing for an indefinite period of time. There will come a time when it is necessary to make a LIFE decision and rise to an entirely new level.
- The high. Question your highest dreams or vision and be willing to go within and seek an even higher vision from your higher self. Be aware that your selves can never truly understand the spiritual path so they cannot define the highest possible goal for you. That goal is already defined in your Life plan, and you only need to uncover it. In order to do so, you need to look beyond the limited vision of the selves. You also need to question the way the selves define for reaching your/their goals. The selves can never understand self-transcendence so they will tend to come up with outer criteria for reaching whatever goals you have. Be willing to look beyond them. Study spiritual teachings and ask for direction from your higher self so that you can refine your vision of how to reach your goals. Above all, always be willing to reach for more, for a higher vision than you have right now.
- The low. Be willing to realize that all fear springs from an illusion. The crippling effect of fear is that it makes you afraid to look at what you fear, and therefore you cannot discover that your fear is based on an illusion. Once you take a look, you see the irrationality of fear, and that is the first step to leaving it behind. Ask yourself: “What is the worst thing that could happen? Would that prevent me from learning my lessons and transcending myself?” When you begin to look beyond the selves’ norm, you realize that the true goal of life is for you to grow spiritually, which means you have the potential to learn from every situation. Many people have grown tremendously from the worst tragedies. This is not to say you should long for a tragedy, but that you should realize that even if the worst happened, it would not mean the end of your spiritual growth. Once you begin to consider that even if the worst fears of your selves came to pass, it would only accelerate your growth, you begin to truly overcome the paralyzing effect of the selves’ fears. Your conscious self has no fear. Only the selves have fears so once you start separating yourself from the selves, you will no longer be overwhelmed by their fears, for you see how irrational and paranoid they are.
Why talk about this norm game before more specific games of the selves? Because for each of the specific game of the selves, there is a norm game. When you are caught in a specific game of the selves, you think the game is normal behavior, and you simply cannot see that there is anything wrong with it. You cannot see how it limits or even hurts yourself, let alone other people. You simply cannot see the beam in your own eye, and you obviously cannot start removing it.
Before you can even begin to see through a specific game of the selves, you must overcome the illusion that playing this game is normal behavior. You must realize that even if it is normal behavior for most human beings, it is not normal for a spiritual seeker, a person who wants spiritual freedom.
You must realize that playing the game takes away your freedom. Seeing this empowers you to start separating yourself from that specific game, eventually leaving it behind for good. The crucial point for overcoming any game of the selves is to have a moment of truth where you see what you are doing, see that it is a dualistic game and then have the spontaneous decision: “I can’t keep doing this anymore, I want to come up higher.”
In the beginning, such a moment of truth can be a shock to you because you are still so identified with the selves. It can cause you some emotional pain and hurt pride to realize that you are trapped in a dualistic game. As you begin to separate yourself from the selves, the shock will be less and less, until you can discover a game without feeling any sense of shock or pain. You simply see it for what it is and let it go, as easily as you throw away a pair of old pants that are worn out.
By building this momentum of seeing and letting go of games, you will make it easier for yourself to walk the path. In order to encourage this process, we will look at some of the most materialistic games of the selves, games that most spiritual seekers have moved beyond. This will help you see that you have already built a momentum on overcoming the games. You simply need to become aware of this so you can apply it to the games you have not yet seen whereby you can overcome them without pain. The spiritual path is not a painful process, but a joyful process of letting go of what limits you so that you can experience greater freedom.