4 Oct 1999 –13 Nov 2003 Victoria, BC –
from Transcript of Audio Recording of Cynthia Bourgeault’s Commentaries on:
Living Presence by Kabir Edmund Helminski

Now there are two ways that we can basically go at really defining why useless suffering happens.  One of them has been… the ground has been covered very, very well by Thomas Keating in the whole teaching on the false self system.  So one of the primary ways of suffering, and suffering uselessly, is to be identified with your false self.  And you remember how all the teaching on this works?  We all have in ourselves these unconscious patches of woundedness – psychic deformation, if you will.  And the way Thomas put the teaching together is they tend to revolve around early wounds, infancy, early childhood, (the people that like reincarnation can say former lives) natal, neonatal.  But we tend to experience patches of woundings around security/survival issues, around esteem/affection issues, around power/control issues.  So the way Thomas analyzed this, this creates a kind of syndrome in us of experiencing this great woundedness, and building hard shells of defended behaviour around it – theoretically for protecting us from ever feeling that pain directly.  So you’ve got this layer of really defended, brittle behaviour.  And then you also seem to develop an unreal attachment to or craving for the thing that you were wounded in.  Like if you were wounded in security, security becomes a god to you.  Or if you were wounded in esteem and affection – “Love!  Gotta get it!”  Or if you felt yourself as powerless and the only way you can restore order and equilibrium in life is through control issues, these will be really, really important to you – these become a god – you know, if your desk isn’t clean your whole day could be ruined.

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So when we go out into the world in our false self programs…  Remember Thomas Keating’s wonderful little diagram of the feedback loop about the false self system at work?  He says that the problem with being a person with a power and control issue is that you’re only in competition with maybe three million other people on the planet.  And you are almost guaranteed to attract the people who will push your buttons.  And I think if we could see it on an energetic level, it’s because the kind of distorted energy that swirls around these programs that we have just goes beaming out into the universe and attracts in its comparable irritant.  But in other words, if we come to life through our false self and with our false self programs we are going to be hurt, we are going to suffer.  Because the Truth of the universe is not set up to cater to false self programs.  And so we can experience frustrations, and some of these can be appalling.  And we can suffer piteously.  If you have a security program and you lose your job and you lose your title and you’re stripped of all your credit cards, you can experience complete humiliation and the worst sort of abject misery.  I mean, there’s no doubt about it.

But the question that Thomas was always asking to distinguish this is “Well, who is suffering and why?”  And behind almost all of these sufferings you can, when you get clear enough, finally detect the attachment which is driving it in the first place – the hidden agenda that’s driving it.  You can’t see that clearly at first, but you eventually get to see the real programs are that are setting up your mousetrap so that it’s constantly going to spring.

And I think that you could go on and say, in a way, that while the false self suffers with a peculiar kind of intensity of suffering, that all egoic processing eventually suffers.  As long as your sense of identity is in the egoic system, you will experience imaginary suffering.  And we’ve been over this before…  You know, when I wrote that “Egoic System and the Nurture of the Heart” piece?  Because all egoic thinking runs on this pleasure/pain cycle.  And because we seek pleasure – experienced as this kind of enlivenment of our being – we will encounter pain, we will encounter the frustration.  As long as we permit the sense of our being to feel enhanced by pleasure, we will necessarily be allowing our being to feel diminishment because of pain.  You just can’t have one end of that stick without the other.