Ross Bishop

A Modern Fable

By Ross Bishop

In this story you are an infant. One of your parents, let’s say your mother, is holding you. (In a classic fairy tale you would be a golden haired princess and you would be being held prisoner by an evil witch, but we’re on a budget, so we’ll do the common person’s fairy tale.)

Your mother is struggling with her personal issues and although she is doing the best she can, she cannot give you the attention you need. That means that she cannot hold you as securely as you need.

Feeling insecure, you naturally wonder if she is acting like this because there is something undesirable about you. After all, if you were really valued she would treat you with greater consideration. (When the love that a child needs is withheld the child naturally questions her worthiness. It is in the nature of all of us, but it is acute in children.)

As your mother continues to struggle with her issues, the relationship between you becomes difficult. She doesn’t mean to hurt you, but she lets you slip out of her grasp and you fall. Unfortunately, you land in a fresh cow pie.

Your initial feelings of not being good enough have just been strongly reinforced. Your mother picks you up but her preoccupation with her own issues prevents her from cleaning all of the manure from you. You look around for help from dad, but he’s not there. He’s mostly at work and when he’s home he is not emotionally available anyway.

So there you are, soiled and smelly. Something is obviously wrong. Not only are you feeling unloved and unworthy, you now have the stink to prove it. The other people in your family aren’t able to clean you up. They don’t know how to get rid of their own manure, no one in the family does. Because of this. and the continuing non-nurturing aspects of the family, your feelings of unworthiness become substantially reinforced.

The manure dries, you grow up and having little choice, you become resigned to living with it. Who you are has become tainted with the aromatic flavor of something potent that does not belong to you. You do not deserve it, but the circumstances of your life have caused you to believe otherwise.

You have become convinced that you deserve to be unloved, and there isn’t much in your environment that contradicts that belief. Actually, there’s quite a bit of negative reinforcement regarding your imperfections and failings, leading you to conclude that this must be what you deserved.

You resign yourself that this is what the rest of your life has in store for you. Your grandparents try to help you, because grandparents are immune to the odor of manure, but it’s just not enough.

In order to get by you start applying perfume in an attempt to mask the smell of your “imperfections.” Although it helps you to get by, you know that you are living a lie and you live with the constant fear that someone will pick up the telltale scent of manure and you will be exposed.

Some people do pick up on the perfumed smell and shy away from you because they know that something funny is going on, even if they do not understand it. You end up feeling worse.

You, of course, must act as if the perfumed you is the normal you, while hiding your “real” self away under the mask. You treat the your real self as though she had leprosy, hiding her from criticism. You live on a tightrope, alone, cursed and unable to risk getting close to anyone who is “clean” for fear that they will detect the smell you and reject you.

So you seek out others who are also wearing manure to have relationships with. You make an unspoken deal, “I will ignore your manure if you will ignore mine.” Then of course, the moment the other person gets scared or hurt, they immediately break the agreement and point to your manure as the cause of the problem. You of course, respond in kind.

Soon you are engaged in a “manure war” with all sorts of manure flying around. Each of you becomes entrenched, busily defending your position. Little of a constructive nature is accomplished.

Wounded and despondent, you pull back from life and start looking for answers to your dilemma. The Church tells you that the manure is your fault and that you should be repentant for your sinful nature for having it. Your boss tells you that you are just not trying hard enough to overcome it. A therapist shows you how to behave as though the manure doesn’t exist.

A yoga teacher encourages you to achieve calmness in spite of the smell. New Age books and CD’s show you that beautiful flowers grow in manure and that you need to surrender to your bliss. Some of what you learn is helpful, but you still smell badly and you don’t like it. You know that it repels other people.

Unable to get real answers, and beset by a continuing series of problems, you pray to God for help. To your surprise, there is an answer. God says, “Take off your soiled clothing and bathe yourself in love. That which is causing you pain is not yours. It does not belong to you, it never has.”

Conditioned by years of experience, the thought of giving up your life-long attachment seems impossible. “But,” you reply, “I can’t. This soiled state is all that I know. It’s who I think I am.”

Besides, what would happen if you gave up your soiled clothing and there was nothing else for you to put on! You would be left alone in the cold and naked. It has felt that way in past lives and there is no reason to believe that the present situation will be any different. Feeling once again like a failure, you turn away, push on, and do the best you can.

Clinging steadfastly to your belief of unworthiness, life continues to cause you pain, but you persist. The lessons intensify. Eventually you are confronted with a crisis. Perhaps it is the painful end of a relationship or a business failure. Maybe it is a physical crisis, with the prospect of death or a considerably worsened physical condition demanding that you make serious changes to the way you have been in the world.

Whatever the obstacle, something will push you to the point that you can no longer sustain the beliefs you hold about yourself. You will no longer be able to sustain the facade. Pushed over the limit, your resistance breaks. Bruised and beaten, willing to surrender, you cry out to God for help.

He says, “I understand.” And then He repeats, “Take off your soiled clothing and bathe yourself in love. That which is causing you pain is not yours. It does not belong to you, it never has.”

With nowhere else to turn, a crack in the darkness opens and you begin to see that it is really not you, that it is the manure you have been carrying all this time that has caused your pain.

God continues, “The process you have experienced has been created so that you would come to see the truth about who you are. In the process you will heal the vulnerability that allowed the manure to stick to you in the first place. Your vulnerability gave the beliefs a place to stick.” He then tells you, “This is all part of the process we have created together called Life.” He further explains that learning to accept the truth about who you are is an important step in your spiritual development. Since you have free will, it was necessary for you to come to this realization by yourself. He could not give it to you.

copyright©Blue Lotus Press 2015

 

  • By Ross Bishop
  • May 10, 2016

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