Saying “Yes” to the “Big Money”

I took a workshop on nonviolent communication once and as I was standing at the snack table a woman commented on how she couldn’t eat a specific food because she was allergic.  A second woman asked her if she wanted to get rid of the allergy and offered to do it.  The first woman didn’t say yes or no.

I don’t have any allergies, but I was intrigued why the woman wouldn’t jump at the chance to get rid of an allergy.  I imagined that she didn’t trust the other woman and/or didn’t believe that she could just get rid of an allergy standing there in the middle of a class.  I wondered about how the second woman could get rid of allergies, but I didn’t ask.  Later, when I began to study ThetaHealing, I suspected the woman might have been a ThetaHealer, because “pulling” allergies is easy to do and works most of the time.

Today I am thinking about how we say “no” to offers and why.

I am reminded of another story.  I heard this at a big speaker event for a 12 step fellowships.  A woman talked about how she used to pray to God for the addict boyfriend she wanted to keep.  Over and over she would ask for that relationship to work.  Now, she realizes that she was begging God to give her a penny when God had a $100 in his hand he was trying to offer her.  Her conclusion:  Often we only ask for a penny when we could have a $100.

When I first found out about enlightenment I was thrilled.  Someone had figured out how to end suffering, sickness, aging and death.  And it wasn’t just some unknown person, it was the Buddha.  Even I had heard of him.  And so it seemed credible to me.  As soon as I heard about it I was ready.  I signed up for it.  No hesitation.

Yet, other people are not instantly thrilled.  I am flabbergasted.  Why wouldn’t someone embrace this path immediately?  Well, perhaps, like that woman with the allergy, they simply don’t trust the teachings and/or they doubt it is even possible.  Or maybe they are going after something they think will bring them more satisfaction (the penny) instead of accepting what is unimaginable (the $100).

I know that twenty years ago, I couldn’t even imagine the level of contentment, competence, and peace I feel today.  Twenty years ago I was not grounded and centered.  Even the change in the past three years has been mind-boggling.  And still I am completely different from what “I” will be when enlightened.  Indeed, I cannot imagine and do not even care to speculate what that will be like.  I’ve talked about this before in the post on What’s Left After the Unveiling.  I am glad that I’ve chosen over and over again to not settle for the penny and to be open to saying yes to unlimited possibilities.



The standard dictionary definition of renunciation (the formal rejection of something, typically a belief, claim, or course of action) does not adequately describe the process of a spiritual renunciant.  In fact, as we shall see, it actually is contrary to true renunciation in one subtle way.

The actual state of renunciation is better expressed in positive terms, because this is how a spiritual renunciant experiences it.  A renunciant has decided that the only thing they want is liberation or enlightenment.  They spend every moment of their day focused on that and carry in their heart a sweet wish for their goal.  They are centered on the goal of spiritual fruition and from that place they often experience a peace that comes with surety.

We can also describe renunciation from the negative point of view.  I used to call it “disgust with the world” but that seemed offensive to many people.  Another way of talking about it is that it is having no interest in worldly things.  This is less harsh.

Renunciation is a natural outcome of investigating the things of the world and finding they are less than satisfactory.  I know my job, my garden, and even my great friendships do not completely satisfy me, so I have turned to a path that offers me and end to dissatisfaction.  Renunciation is simply shifting ones attention to the one thing that promises satisfaction, peace, and bliss.

I, perhaps like most people, originally thought renunciation was about giving up things in the material world.  The idea was that one had to renounce or reject worldly things in order to gain spiritual attainments.  This is an old school belief that is not true.  While the spiritual renunciant has no real interest in worldly things, they also do not consider them evil.  You do not have to clear out your house (although this actually does benefit your practice).  Disengaging your energy from material objects is a natural outcome of engaging in spiritual practice.

When I first came upon the teachings of enlightenment I was extremely excited.  I was so ready to get out of here and began to work wholeheartedly for liberation.  I was driven by severe childhood trauma and did not want to take a chance that anything like that would happen again.  Since it seems cyclic life (samsara) is unpredictable, my only option was freedom from cyclic life.  I was rejecting cyclic life, and since that is the only life I know, I was rejecting life.

Rejection is the part of the dictionary definition that I believe may be inaccurate.  While I believe I did have renunciation when I was rejecting the world, I now believe that my renunciation has matured.  Or perhaps my world view has matured.  With enlightenment comes an abiding in non-duality.  If I am rejecting anything I am reenforcing duality.

With my mature renunciation I have the same preoccupation with enlightenment (I think about it day and night) but I no longer have the same drive to reject or escape life.  Perhaps my calming down is due to a shift from wanting enlightenment and knowing it is imminent.


What’s left after unveiling


“Whatever we care to call the ultimate reality, we cannot define or qualify it because the brain is incapable of processing this kind of data.”

— Bernadette Roberts


The process of unveiling will eventually bring us in contact with ultimate reality – a reality we cannot define or talk about using words.  We can say:  we are not stupid and we are not smart, and we are not our body parts and we are not our thoughts, and we are not our emotions, nor our reactions, but we cannot actually say what we are.  Bernadette Roberts expresses this nicely in the above quote.

And who is Bernadette Roberts?

Bernadette Roberts is a self-made Buddha. She was a Catholic nun for 10 years following the Christian contemplative path. When she reached what the Catholics consider the closest you can get to God this side of the grave, she left the monastery with the intention of serving God in the world.  She went back to school, held regular employment, got married and had four children.

During the 20 years after leaving the nunnery, she reached full enlightenment without any formal teacher or guidance. She describes this process as the path to no-self. You can read the full story in her books.  She is refreshing in that she is a no nonsense person and expresses herself without any dogmatic bent.

The experience of no-self is the ultimate unveiling.  Identifying with negatives has gone, identifying with positives has gone and all that remains is the experience of being all that is.  How do we get to this experience?  I paraphrase Bernadette:

Since self cannot experience ultimate reality as it truly is, then the only way to do so is to be prepared to relinquish every last thing we know as self — everything we experience, in fact.

It appears that the key factor is willingness. It is the willingness to give up everything we experience.  Another word for this is renunciation.  Renunciation is disinterest in worldly things.  If we have renunciation, we would certainly be willing to give up everything we experience in the world.  We can say the same thing a different way:  with renunciation we are only interested in becoming enlightened or knowing God and think about that day and night.

How far do you want to go?  People talk about working towards enlightenment, but the true first step is becoming willing to give up everything.  Not many people are really interested in that.  They think enlightenment is keeping it all and getting more.