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Column: Inside ~ Outside

Ann Barczay Sloan

Inner Debris Disposal Methods

by Ann Barczay Sloan

Outside observers might imagine disposing of my debris — byproducts of my ever-evolving life — would be a breeze. This stuff is cluttering up my space; it no longer serves me in BEing my best, forever-renewing Self — So get rid of it, right?

Yet as I confront my Inner Habitation cleanup, what happens? I immediately bump into issues about my "precious" attachments. It seems tremendously difficult to let go of any activity, person, place, or thing to which I have attached my personal emotional meaning and value.

Dump? Recycle? Reorder? Rebuild?

Dump... Recycle...
Reorder... Rebuild...?

Sorting Should Be Simple

Rationally speaking, the preliminary sorting should be easy, right? After my carefully executed item-by-item review, my "selection decisions" should boil down to two categories only:

  • Discardable: stuff I need to DUMP;
  • Recycleable: stuff I need to RECYCLE or REORDER.

But given the complexities of my various selves, can I manage to keep the process this dispassionate? Let’s see!


Simple! Discard stuff that is no longer useful to my life (and perhaps never was???)

Recycle and Reorder

As an environmentally-conscious Washington State resident, recycling is a well-practiced part of my life. So, into my Inner-Domain recycle bins goes all the stuff that still has practical usefulness but needs to be reordered. Not long ago, recycling rules were much less complicated — i.e., paper was simply paper; one category only. But nowadays there are highly detailed guidelines we must follow: YES, recycle these certain reusable types of paper, plastic and metal; NO, discard these worthless types of paper, plastic and metal!

Similarly, as I become more conscious of the evolving dimensions within myself, the castoffs of my growth process require extra-conscious attention to the sorting, evaluating, prioritizing, and reordering. I must be conscientious about the quality of what I pass along to the "others" who will be using this stuff — After all, "It" and "they" and "I" will still be connected, inhabiting the very same Universe.

Letting Go - and Letting Go Again

For way more years than I care to confess, I have been struggling with the "How To" of letting go. To speak those words is easy, and yet… the pressing urgency to clean up, release and let go accumulates into relentless pain: that proverbial stick that forces us forward on our path. But this stick — though increasingly unbearable — really doesn't seem to work as an effective tool for my liberation. If I keep focusing on the pain and struggling to get rid of it, the struggling itself gets me all the more entrapped. And if by some miracle I extricate myself from this trap, I must guard against re-involving myself in some other pain in some other shape or form.

So, rather than this stick, it would probably better serve me to see a vivid vision of the glorious Freedom that will be mine when I abandon the yoke of all the past accumulations — including the struggle to let go! So forget about that nasty old stick: show me a magnificent carrot!

Dreaming of Emptiness

Some weeks ago I had an intensely moving dream. In it I am visiting a habitation I've never seen before, yet apparently I would, from now, be living here as well. I see myself walking through a spacious, palatial hall — all-white, ultra modern, with huge tall windows all around. There is no furniture at all, no carpeting; just this glorious white sunlit empty space. I comment to my unseen companion about the amazing absence of furnishings.

We step into a smaller adjoining room, still conversing. On the spur of the moment, I look back into the other room and I'm stunned by what I see: the entire space has been totally fresh-scrubbed: floor to ceiling, everywhere, I see tiny iridescent soap bubbles sparkling with sunlight and I can clearly smell fresh clean fragrance. The sight of all this clear pure emptiness brings me such intense joy that I suddenly awake.

But though I'm out of the dream now, I can feel a new energy, a spirit-spark of actual hope — a hope that feels solid and real because it is not based on the dead clutter of old illusions... Instead, it is founded on that Emptiness that can spell pure Freedom for me. Yes, I have now glimpsed that magnificent carrot, and I can see that it can actually be mine!

The Void

"Who" executed this magnificent cleansing? Is it the Cosmic Cleaning Crew I invoked in my earlier article, "How to Houseclean Your Inner Domain"? If so, "why" did they proceed with the job? Was it because I have been anxiously eager to let go the struggle though I did not know "how"... ready to turn it all over to a Power way, way beyond mine?

Until this unexpected inner experience, I never knew — never dreamed! — that Emptiness could feel so ecstatically beautiful, so totally fulfilling. Of course I had long ago read and heard about all this under various names: the No-Thing, the Void, Zero State… but now, even if only for a few brilliant moments in a dream, I have had a direct experience.

The profound Mystery is this: I by my "small" self did not have to DO anything to be given this cleansing dream experience… or DID I????

Hmmm... I wonder!

Perhaps this is the essence of what I am meant to learn: that my Cosmic Cleansing miracle came to me precisely because with all my heart and soul I desired the Crew to come to my assistance.

So now that I have had this brief glimpse of the joy of Emptiness, where shall I move ahead, what can I build on this new freedom-foundation? Increased inner strength? Spiritual muscles? Divine discipline? Cosmic courage? And, of course, with the aid of all these, more Inner Mansions much more solidly constructed?


Next time:
In my next article, I would like us to explore — as paradoxical as it may seem — "More" about Zero and Emptiness.

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