My Ego Doesn’t like ‘The Valley of Nothingness”

Oh No, it doesn’t.

“Humiliate us will you!”, it berates, “give in? give up? Well why don’t you kill me know! And, in fact how about a sulk. Like that?”

“Well, heck,” I retort, “the sun is shining, the birds are singing, our belly is full, people are being thrashed, murdered, violated every minute of the day, What’s your problem!!”

“Haa”, jeered my ego, “Got you right there. That was me again. I know God’s language as well as you. Self-righteous bastard. Sucked in.”

“Am not self-righteous.” “Are too.” “Am not.” “Ha, ha ha, see, I can keep this up all day, just talking to myself, making me angry with me. Sucked in.”

“Ha, ha, Okay partner, you got me. Peace to you.”

“What’s all the fuss?”, you might ask.  Well, after a lifetime of being at the behest of a well structured ego that has had me in a corner of rage, anxiety, and depression, for its own very good reasons to protect me against an untrustworthy, harmful world of humans (and that’s a long story replete with a large file of evidence collected by said ego, “Yeh, ah, buddy?”), a couple of years ago the ego pushed itself too far and became a threat to itself. In its own fear of itself, it allowed a chink of reality to shine through. It allowed a small amount of other evidence to rise. “Okay”, it allowed, very nervously, “I accept that you can be trusted with the your vision, insight, creative pursuit. There is some evidence you can be correct” But did it let me just take my body and mind through a confident stroll down that vision. Oh no, struggled the whole way. “People will hurt you.”, it whined, “you’ll get ridiculed, slapped.” “Slapped?” “Happened, will happen again!” “Oh for Pete’s sake, do you mind if I just have some of my mind to do some planning, designing, doing.” “Okay, But just let me hold the brakes a little, here, … a little there, .. drive around this person, too much trouble, might be dangerous.” “I’m doing this buddy, this is survival, this is the future.” “Are you sure? You might be wrong. No one cares. They’ll all laugh. It’ll probably never work. Well, okay, if you think it will help, perhaps just a little work.” “Well, thank you, and, (sarcastically), thanks for all the heart racing and background driving while I’m doing it.”

Well, getting through that early push and pull, a whole new social and community service space opened up before me. A whole new network of appreciative people. “Well, how does that feel, partner.” “Okay, well, these people feel okay. But I don’t care much about some other people.” “I’m not sure we care much about people at all, buddy.” “Well, you don’t need people. Its just not necessary. Not safe. You’ve been doing okay.” “Doing okay is not going to cut the mustard anymore, buddy.” “Well ….”, it choked nervously. “Well, these people are okay, aren’t they buddy? They are not a threat? Let’s trust them, to learn a little love and caring.” “Okay,” it demurred, checking the exit was clear.

And so this lead to taking some steps of faith and openness to methods of looking at my pal, my ego, who, afterall, I need to write this blog. (“Good on you, buddy”)  Completing the Landmark Forum and Advanced Course found my anxiety levels reduced by 90%, my depressive tendencies virtually gone, my rage a sputtering beast. Since then I have been also working with tools and exercises from ‘The Course in Miracles’ and ‘Byron Katie’s Work’. While Landmark Education is very secular and scientific in approach, ‘The Course of Miracles’ very spiritual, and “Byron Katies Work’ at a very personable tacit level of insight, there are strands of common messaging running through them all. The value of using them all seems to be the way the messages in different forms both incites my ego to open discomfort and helps my ego let go of its protection, that little more.

And it is so exciting for me, less so for my pal, because ever since I met Baha’u’llah, nearly 30 years ago, the concepts in His ‘Seven Valleys’ has seemed more metaphorical than reality. Now, because I can recognise my pal, my ego, clearly, and how good he is at making things (up), I can recognise it as reality. I can recognise that this wasn’t just an message the Baha’u’llah bore, but the world He lived. With some editing, here is the seventh valley of spiritual development.

“Then we must labor to destroy the animal condition, till the meaning of humanity shall come to light. …

O friend, the heart is the dwelling of eternal mysteries, make it not the home of fleeting fancies; waste not the treasure of thy precious life in employment with this swiftly passing world. Thou comest from the world of holiness — bind not thine heart to the earth; thou art a dweller in the court of nearness — choose not the homeland of the dust…..

The pen groaneth and the ink sheddeth tears, and the river of the heart moveth in waves of blood. “Nothing can befall us but what God hath destined for us.” Peace be upon him who followeth the Right Path!

After scaling the high summits of wonderment the wayfarer cometh to THE VALLEY OF TRUE POVERTY AND ABSOLUTE NOTHINGNESS.

This station is the dying from self and the living in God, the being poor in self and rich in the Desired One. Poverty as here referred to signifieth being poor in the things of the created world, rich in the things of God’s world. For when the true lover and devoted friend reacheth to the presence of the Beloved, the sparkling beauty of the Loved One and the fire of the lover’s heart will kindle a blaze and burn away all veils and wrappings. Yea, all he hath, from heart to skin, will be set aflame, so that nothing will remain save the Friend.

“When the qualities of the Ancient of Days stood revealed, Then the qualities of earthly things did Moses burn away.” (Rumi)

He who hath attained this station is sanctified from all that pertaineth to the world. Wherefore, if those who have come to the sea of His presence are found to possess none of the limited things of this perishable world, whether it be outer wealth or personal opinions, it mattereth not. For whatever the creatures have is limited by their own limits, and whatever the True One hath is sanctified therefrom; this utterance must be deeply pondered that its purport may be clear. “Verily the righteous shall drink of a wine cup tempered at the camphor fountain.” If the interpretation of “camphor” become known, the true intention will be evident. This state is that poverty of which it is said, “Poverty is My glory.” And of inward and outward poverty there is many a stage and many a meaning which I have not thought pertinent to mention here; hence I have reserved these for another time, dependent on what God may desire and fate may seal.

This is the plane whereon the vestiges of all things are destroyed in the traveller, and on the horizon of eternity the Divine Face riseth out of the darkness, and the meaning of “All on the earth shall pass away, but the face of thy Lord….”[1] is made manifest.

O My friend, listen with heart and soul to the songs of the spirit, and treasure them as thine own eyes. For the heavenly wisdoms, like the clouds of spring, will not rain down on the earth of men’s hearts forever; and though the grace of the All-Bounteous One is never stilled and never ceasing, yet to each time and era a portion is allotted and a bounty set apart, this in a given measure. “And no one thing is there, but with Us are its storehouses; and We send it not down but in settled measure.” The cloud of the Loved One’s mercy raineth only on the garden of the spirit, and bestoweth this bounty only in the season of spring. The other seasons have no share in this greatest grace, and barren lands no portion of this favor.

O Brother! Not every sea hath pearls; not every branch will flower, nor will the nightingale sing thereon. Then, ere the nightingale of the mystic paradise repair to the garden of God, and the rays of the heavenly morning return to the Sun of Truth — make thou an effort, that haply in this dust heap of the mortal world thou mayest catch a fragrance from the everlasting garden, and live forever in the shadow of the peoples of this city. And when thou hast attained this highest station and come to this mightiest plane, then shalt thou gaze on the Beloved, and forget all else.

“The Beloved shineth on gate and wall, Without a veil, O men of vision.” Attar

Now hast thou abandoned the drop of life and come to the sea of the Life-Bestower.  This is the goal thou didst ask for; if it be God’s will, thou wilt gain it.

In this city, even the veils of light are split asunder and vanish away. “His beauty hath no veiling save light, His face no covering save revelation.” How strange that while the Beloved is visible as the sun, yet the heedless still hunt after tinsel and base metal. Yea, the intensity of His revelation hath covered Him, and the fullness of His shining forth hath hidden Him.

“Even as the sun, bright hath He shined, But alas, He hath come to the town of the blind!” (Rumi)

In this Valley, the wayfarer leaveth behind him the stages of the “oneness of Being and Manifestation” and reacheth a oneness that is sanctified above these two stations. Ecstasy alone can encompass this theme, not utterance nor argument; and whosoever hath dwelt at this stage of the journey, or caught a breath from this garden land, knoweth whereof We speak.

In all these journeys the traveler must stray not the breadth of a hair from the “Law,” for this is indeed the secret of the “Path” and the fruit of the Tree of “Truth”; and in all these stages he must cling to the robe of obedience to the commandments, and hold fast to the cord of shunning all forbidden things, that he may be nourished from the cup of the Law and informed of the mysteries of Truth.

These journeys have no visible ending in the world of time, but the severed wayfarer — if invisible confirmation descend upon him and the Guardian of the Cause assist him — may cross these seven stages in seven steps, nay rather in seven breaths, nay rather in a single breath, if God will and desire it. And this is of “His grace on such of His servants as He pleaseth.”

They who soar in the heaven of singleness and reach to the sea of the Absolute, reckon this city — which is the station of life in God — as the furthermost state of mystic knowers, and the farthest homeland of the lovers. But to this evanescent One of the mystic ocean, this station is the first gate of the heart’s citadel, that is, man’s first entrance to the city of the heart; and the heart is endowed with four stages, which would be recounted should a kindred soul be found.

When the pen set to picturing this station, It broke in pieces and the page was torn. ”                (Baha’u’llah, The Seven Valleys, p. 33)

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