THE PRETENDERS

How often do you catch yourself pretending? I do all the time. Pretending things aren’t the way they are is one of the most deeply entrenched strategies we have as human beings to avoid dealing with difficult feelings, memories, situations, relationships.

Some of the best advice I’ve ever received from a teacher: 

Never pretend you do feel anything you don’t, never pretend you don’t feel anything you do.

 

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So often I find I’m squirming in a state of denial of what I do feel, and seduced by the fantasy of what I’d really like to be feeling instead. This is true for both physical sensations, as well as emotional states. When my teacher shared this nugget of wisdom with me (what is often described as ‘being with what is’), I felt nailed to the wall by the realization that I spend most of my time trapped either in my denial or fantasy state; pretending that things aren’t the way they are.

In the everyday state of being human, wisdom lineages often describe us as being ‘asleep while awake’, basically sleepwalking our way through our days, oscillating between denial and fantasy, asleep to the fact that we’re trapped in the make-believe mental world made up of our aversions and attachments. And most of us – myself definitely included – believe without question that this make-believe world is real; we don’t realize that it’s just our collective minds dreaming together, playing out the daily routine of cops-and-robbers.

The call is for us to awaken to what is, to the absolute and totally authentic truth of what and how we feel, like it or not. To shed the habit of endless pretending, and open our eyes to the unadorned and unfiltered experience of the immediate reality of which we find ourselves a part. This takes great courage, and I’ll admit, it’s never an easy task to truly open my eyes, rub away the sleep, and see my experience as it actually is. It takes great effort, everyday, and some days it’s almost impossible; I’m just too tired. But it is only from this place of authenticity that we can begin to disassemble the old stories – stories of hurt, of avoidance, of fear, of resentment – in order to feel the very real and intensely rich pulse of this mysterious life moving through us as us.

In the everyday state of being human, wisdom lineages often describe us as being ‘asleep while awake’, basically sleepwalking our way through our days, oscillating between denial and fantasy, asleep to the fact that we’re trapped in the make-believe mental world made up of our aversions and attachments. And most of us – myself definitely included – believe without question that this make-believe world is real; we don’t realize that it’s just our collective minds dreaming together, playing out the daily routine of cops-and-robbers.

The call is for us to awaken to what is, to the absolute and totally authentic truth of what and how we feel, like it or not. To shed the habit of endless pretending, and open our eyes to the unadorned and unfiltered experience of the immediate reality of which we find ourselves a part. This takes great courage, and I’ll admit, it’s never an easy task to truly open my eyes, rub away the sleep, and see my experience as it actually is. It takes great effort, everyday, and some days it’s almost impossible; I’m just too tired. But it is only from this place of authenticity that we can begin to disassemble the old stories – stories of hurt, of avoidance, of fear, of resentment – in order to feel the very real and intensely rich pulse of this mysterious life moving through us as us.