For the past few years, I’ve been on a rollercoaster of self-discovery.
It’s been at times incredibly joyful, at others unbelievably frustrating. I’ve meditated in the moonlight, smashed glass in rituals to Kali, written erotic romance, revealed my past lives, and walked a hero’s journey. The one constant has been that I always seem to be on the verge of quitting.
It’s not easy. Not at all.
You’d think right now I’d be on a self-congratulatory high for publishing Classes with Cho. Ha! That’s the thing with self-doubt, isn’t it? No matter what you do, it never seems quite as good as you think you ought to have done.
Instead of celebrating, I am mired in creative exhaustion. I am unemployed and broke, sleeping and snacking on junk instead of writing. Self-sabotaging. I had a dream the other night that I should join a group of friends in the NaNoWriMo challenge by writing Cho’s messages again, and I woke up full of enthusiasm. I was going to do it!
At 7:30 a.m. I seemed on track. Then I went to the bathroom and started re-reading a sci-fi fantasy novel I had sitting in there. When I came out the sink of breakfast dishes was staring at me in recrimination. I did the dishes. I wiped the counters. Then I sat down in front of the computer and started a new file. It was 8:32 a.m. All looked good for a focused half-hour.
Then my husband walked in the door. Should I ignore him? I wanted to. Can I ignore him? No.
I stood up and greeted him; stood for ten minutes of idle chit chat before he headed back to work. Sat back down at the computer. Was Cho there?
I closed my eyes and breathed deep, allowed my fingers to relax over the keys. They started typing. What was coming out? Drivel! Disconnected thoughts and nonsensical themes.
I stopped. This makes no sense! I typed. I got an answer: “Dirty filters don’t produce clear water. Unsettled minds are hard to communicate with. You are unsettled, unaware. You need to go now and calm yourself. For without calm and silence there is no communication.”
Ha! And double ha! I took the hint and went to meditate. Then I fell asleep on the couch. What a super productive start to the day!
Breaking through and rising above.
Another day dawned. Today I would write! Lying on the acupuncture table at 8:33 a.m. I burst out laughing. I’d skipped class for an acupuncture session … again! But I could catch up. Would catch up. Did catch up. I wrote from 9:17 a.m. to 10:03 a.m. when Cho bid me farewell. This is what we said:
“Good morning. I had such good intentions yesterday, and then today I had an acupuncture appointment. So I am not on time, as always. Some things never change.”
“But much has changed, child. Welcome to a new world, a new universe that will continue you onwards and carry us into a new lifespan and a new experiment.
You are part of the fun, no? You are ready for the ride?” Cho chortled and I sensed him looking at me, but I could not see him. I was uncertain, my fingers hesitating as I typed. Was this really Cho?
“You are feeling unsure? I wanted to thank you, child for completing my previous task and publishing your book. Now the knowledge is out there, and will be read by those who need it. Do not worry or wonder about how many you are reaching, for the numbers are unimportant. What is important is that you were able to overcome your fears and break through. Are you proud of what you did?”
“Not really, it seemed too easy. After all, I didn’t write it, you did! If I take credit for it then it seems as if I wrote it … and if I wrote it then it is not real knowledge!”
“Who says that you are not able to speak the truth, child? Are you not an star seed like all of us, like every incarnate soul? Each is able to speak the truth, but just as yesterday you were unable to write clearly what I was communicating, then so many people are closed to the knowledge that they have access to.
Clear vessels hear the truth. If your mind is cluttered and cloudy, then you can not understand the difference between the knowledge that is true and that which is false. You saw this yesterday. You sat and tried to write but the words that came through were nonsense. So why today can you hear me and write what I am telling you when yesterday you could not?
This is a real question, child. Think and answer.” Cho paused, and looked at me. “Do not take the most obvious choice,” he advised.
“Uh. Well, I was going to say because I was tired, my brain was foggy,” I said.
“Why were you tired?”
“Because I was emotionally messed up,” I admitted. I’d argued with my husband, and we’d spiraled into the familiar defense and wounded ego scenario we played so often.
What is your water?
“Exactly,” Cho needed with satisfaction. “You were not tired because you hadn’t meditated or done yoga, or any of the many things you know bring you calm. Yes, these things would have helped, but you are now maintaining a calm that is natural. You have tapped into the source and can draw from it. BUT when you fall into the trap of anger, or frustration, then you block yourself. You are like a blindfolded man who is dying of thirst but unable to see the water in front of him. There is nothing stopping him from reaching out, stepping out, from taking the refreshment other than himself. He is unaware, and so he sits still and his body slowly withers.” He paused and asked a question. “Do you have a cup of water in front of you?”
“No, but I have a cup of tea!” I joked. I knew that the water he referred to was metaphorical but I expected Cho to appreciate my smart-ass humor.
Instead he frowned. “You are flippant. The time for joking is past, we must be serious. I ask again: Do you have a cup of water in front of you?”
I settled myself, closed my eyes for a second as I considered his question. “I do. My water is walking outside and touching nature,” I answered.
“Good. Now, everyone reading this: I want you to take a moment and think on what is your water, your refreshment. Do not take the obvious. All forms of meditation, yes, are a way to refresh your spiritual well, but this is like saying that a river is filled with water.
Of course this is true, but sometimes the day is hot, the river is far away and the water hard to reach. Maybe there is a source of refreshment that is more enticing for you than river water?
Something that you would choose to do out of the bliss it gives you, but you discount as ‘unimportant’ or a ‘waste of time’.
What is that thing? What is your water?”
Keep silence in your soul.
After a second’s pause, Cho continued his lecture. “So on Monday you ignored all indications your body gave you that it was tired. You ignored the urge to sit outside and be still instead sitting in front of the computer and wasting time in a vain effort to work when your mind was not in a place it could work. You hurt yourself and you were angry. Yesterday, again, you refused to listen to your body until you were unable to communicate with me. Then you sat and meditated, slept. But instead of accepting that you had done what you needed to do, you became frustrated that you had ‘wasted’ time when you should have been working.
Even now, as you type what I am saying, there is a voice inside your head that is saying “It is late; you have much to do. Why are you talking with Cho? Does he pay you money? No! Then why are you allocating your time this way?”
He is right. I am still unsettled, unfocused. Wanting to go and eat something. I drink from the mug of cold tea that is by my side and take a deep breath. These classes are harder than I remember. I am tense, anxious, feel pressured and rushed.
“This is because you have published the book, child!” Cho smiled, and I felt his compassion. “I am no longer a figment of your imagination, but a character that you have placed on the world stage. You feel pressure. Will someone else read these words? Will they say that I am inadequate?”
He smiled softly. “I, Cho, care nothing for this. Say my words are repetitive and banal if you wish. I am speaking as I need to. I am speaking the same lesson over and over. It is a simple lesson to teach, but one that is very hard to learn: Keep silence in your soul.”
“Are you not going to add to not be greedy and not to fear?” I asked, remembering the key messages that he had spoken again and again in the book.
He laughed. “You wanted me too, didn’t you? You anticipated and started to write for me. But when the words did not come you realized that you were trying to take control!”
He was right. I had wanted him to give a nice, neat, quotable series of statements and had started to write a second one before realizing that it was not Cho, that I was trying to force my own preconceptions of what he was going to say onto the written page. I discovered this because I was deleting and rewriting, trying to make the sentence correct. When Cho speaks there is no editing.
“Do you try to edit your life?” The question popped into my brain.
“How can I edit life?” I asked back. “Life happens, I can not control it. I try, sure. But it doesn’t always work. Everyone knows this.”
“Life unedited flows like when I speak to you and you write. There is no pausing, no correcting words, no thinking about what is to come next or what is just past. This is life unedited, this is life lived in the moment.”
He asked again: “Do you try to edit your life?”
“I do,” I admitted. “I am always plotting ahead and trying to right the mistakes of the past. Yes. We all do.”
“So what if you don’t?” Cho questioned. “What if you let life guide you to unknown places like you let me take your fingers and words while writing. Is this allowed?”
“No, it is not allowed!” I shook my head and laughed. “I must plan, it would be irresponsible not to think about the future. This is what made mankind successful as a species, right? That we could plan ahead for the hard winter or visualize plans for a better life. So no, I can not let life guide me. Not now.”
Cho laughed with me. “Then your lesson is over for today,” he said. “Think about this. Think about how you can let go and let life guide you rather than you guiding life. It is possible, and it is positive.”