by Jan Frazier
Her book is out, and is explosive. She became “enlightened” without a spiritual discipline or teacher. The book “When Fear Falls Away” is a chronicle of that enlightenment. Others, she claims, are awakening suddenly also. This piece is an excerpt from that book.
Jan Frazier woke up one morning in August of 2003 and experienced “a dramatic falling away from fear.” It didn’t last just a few minutes but remained with her. Her book is a chronicle of her experiences. The excerpts below come from When Fear Falls Away: The Story of a Sudden Awakening by Jan Frazier with permission from Weiser Books (www.weiserbooks.com).
Not at the Mercy of Emotions: January 28, 2004
I remember having a revelation a few winters ago. I was lying in the bathtub, in the comfort of warm water, with a string of tiny colored Christmas lights around my tub. The thought came to me, as if I were sitting under a magnolia tree and a blossom let go and drifted down into my lap — this thought came to me like that, from nowhere: There are more important things than my emotional state.
It sounds silly to me now, that a thing that has become so obvious to me once felt like a revelation. But then, it was a shocking thought: that I could (if I chose, if my will were sufficient) drive right around that thing in the middle of the road — my mood — and carry on with taking good action, accomplishing what needed doing with children, house, husband, work, and so on. Not get self-absorbed, bogged down in what typically bogged me down.
I looked at that idea that came to me in the water and I said, Hunh, and then pretty much went on with my life as it had been before, being at the regular mercy of my emotional state.
Why is this bathtub moment coming back to me? I think it was a preview of coming attractions. I was seeing — however briefly — that an emotional state is a fleeting thing, and that we have choice in the matter of our condition, however much we might prefer to think we are at the mercy of our emotions.
I keep feeling like I’m in a movie, watching myself be so different from how I used to be. This has been the case for about five months now — watching myself experience things differently from the way I used to. All things. And I am filled with amazement at it, constantly.
I was driving home today in a blizzard, on the very snowy interstate, where there were large trucks, many of them, going very fast by me. Once upon a time, in such a situation, I would have been so tense my fingers on the steering wheel would be white with the effort of holding on — emotionally holding on, I mean. Having grown up in Florida, I never got as comfortable driving in winter conditions as someone who’s always lived in New England. But today — this blew me away — I was having the best time, driving along in the heavy snow with all those trucks barreling past me, spraying snow onto my windshield. I sang, feeling so joyful I thought my skin might split. I kept not dwelling on the semis, on the cars in the ditches to the two sides of the highway, and — well, this is strange. This is not me.
There is that phenomenon, the who-is-this-woman thing. I am constantly trying to figure it out, to put it in line with what is familiar and understood about myself. But that isn’t the main thing. The main thing is the experience deep in that has nothing to do with what’s going on around me. Trying to describe it is like trying to speak a language I don’t know:
I’m new in this country. But also, it’s hard to put words to, because if I were to just say it like it is, say the way it feels, I fear I would sound immoderate, unseemly. And yet the experience inside is so incredible, it is for that very reason I am compelled to describe it. It is so very important. It is, in fact, the reason we live at all. Not a reason: the reason.
How can I keep quiet about this, self-conscious though it make me?
It’s the joy I refer to. The no-good-reason joy. It’s love that I feel — enormous love, vast, undirected love. Undiluted love. I know of no other way to say it. I feel large, huge, vast, like what is in me pumps out into the world around me and fills it.
It isn’t happiness. But this isn’t what is most startling. It is the power that has opened to me, because of giving in to this force of love. I feel an enormous power inside — like I’m capable of more than I used to be.
God, I swear, this is the best kept secret. Everybody can do it. I know this. I could have done it all my life. It’s like I read once: The universe exists so God can hide and we can go looking for God. One big game. But the whole time, all we have to do is look. Right there. Right here: in this kitchen, where I sit in my wet socks, my coffee cup beside me, my boots on the floor, snow and mud melting out of their treads onto the linoleum.
I see things differently. Last week I had a test to see if I had bladder cancer. It turned out I don’t, at least not so far as they can tell. But the main point here is this: Between the time of the test and the time of the phone call on Friday reporting the results, I was not in an uproar. Not at all. Amazing. Most unlike me. Friday afternoon Peter asked if I wanted to go for a walk in the snowy woods. I did. It was a gorgeous day; the sky was as blue as it ever gets. All that deep snow, boughs heavy with it. It wasn’t until we were out there that I remembered — Oh, the nurse practitioner is supposed to call with the lab report this afternoon.
Once upon a time I would never have been able to forget, all that awful day, that the phone call was coming. I sure as heck wouldn’t have gone far from the phone, knowing she wouldn’t leave a voicemail message, especially if cancer cells had turned up.
I don’t mean I’d be perfectly fine if it turned out I had cancer. I’d rather not have cancer. But I’d be okay if I did. And mainly it’s this: I didn’t waste energy (that power thing) worrying about something that might or might not be. I knew that I would be up to dealing with it, if the time came and dealing-with-it was called for. Also, someday I will have something . . . right? So getting off the hook this time is not some kind of magical protection against future misfortune, like I used to somehow believe (though that belief wasn’t conscious).
So . . . there is all this energy that used to go into worrying, being impatient, getting mad at my ex-husband, et cetera, et cetera, and now that it is freed up, it is lighting the night sky, it is replicating like rabbits in heat, and I am out of control with it, just out of control. But it’s a good out-of-control. Oh, it’s good; it’s the best thing that ever happened, by a long shot. Not to me only, but to anybody. Ever.
Shortening of the Lag between Noticing and
Taking Action: February 18, 2004
In a variety of situations, I’m starting to shorten the response time between noticing and taking action. Noticing: I mean, becoming aware of a power to do something (have insight, adjust mental construct or attitude, take action, say something). It’s like a voice keeps showing up and whispering, Look, you have it in you, right now, to x. Just do it. And then – action — I just do it. Once in a while, noticing the ability to do something is simultaneous with actually doing it, so there’s no perception of lag at all. I feel it getting better.
Self as Subject and Object: February 19, 2004
It’s a strange condition I’m in. For a while, when it first began, I experienced it as a distillation of joy, pure and potent, almost a giddiness, and constant, even in sleep. Even in the presence of what would normally cause sadness or anger or frustration. More recently, I experience it as a sort of neutrality. Gurumayi’s word for this state is equipoise. It’s a sameness, a continuity, a condition of unflappability. In common with the original state of bubbly joyfulness, this quieter condition has the quality of constancy.
Good thing, too, about the increase in calm. The earlier condition about wore me out. What’s ahead? Who knows?
One thing that has been constant right along, since this all began last summer, is this split-screen thing going on inside me: the self as subject and as object, me watching myself maneuver, respond, be. I have this constant awareness of choice, of making a deliberate intention to do a thing a certain way. It isn’t mostly about doing, exactly, in the outer, observable realm; really, it has more to do with the deliberate intention to have a certain attitude toward that outer realm of observable action. Like: How does it affect me, my state, when my children’s father has a financial crisis? or How does it affect me when I am waiting for the phone call telling me whether I do or do not have cancer cells in my bladder? or How do I go about making a decision about my child, when there appears to be a conflict between satisfying her and satisfying myself? What sort of uproar does making that kind of decision put me in, if any? That kind of thing.
So throughout this amazing passage, whether my condition has been intensely joyful or just unwaveringly calm, all the while I’ve been watching myself, discovering the state of constant choice I’m in. I mean constant. It is shocking, eye opening. Because if I always have a choice in the matter of how I feel about a thing, it is inevitable that I have always had this choice.
What?! But yes, I have, much as it galls me to have to admit it.
This fluid feeling, the condition of constant option, is a sensation of enormous power. Not to say freedom. Of course, what it means is that what takes place in the world of action will never be as important as one’s internal understanding of it, one’s response inside. The main thing is to see that there is a discrepancy. There is not an inevitable one-to-one correspondence between what happens out there and what happens in here.
Once you see that, once you see that you really do have choices in the matter of how you feel about something that’s happened — well, if you truly believe it, then you can hardly imagine making a deliberate intention to feel bad about anything . . . right?
Oh, I’d heard all this for years. I had a therapist once who talked about the idea that every time something bad happens, you sort of “tell yourself a story” about what it means — what terrible thing it says about you, how you had it coming maybe. Or maybe it bodes ill for your future. Or you could tell yourself it was a Growth Opportunity. Some story. The idea was not new to me, that we interpret to ourselves, constantly.
But I only understood it in my brain — which is not, in the end, all that useful an organ. It’s as if I went to sleep one night last summer, pretty much the person I’d always been, and when I woke up in the morning, I found that someone had installed a whole new organ in me while I’d slept. I walked in for a mammogram, with my new organ, and sat down. I was as relaxed as I might be sitting outside watching the birds.
May 11–May 19, 2004
Franklin Merrell-Wolff: May 11, 2004
I discovered a book last night, among Peter’s old books, that was a profound comfort to me, a book in which words were given to what I’ve been experiencing, names given to things I perceive now that I didn’t know existed. What a world opened to me when I opened Franklin Merrell-Wolff’s Pathways through to Space, written in the 1930s. I felt the granting of permission — to be what I’m in, to move freely between states, to relax into this incredible process. Page after page, there it was, familiar as my own strange new skin was fast becoming The man who wrote this book has given me a construct. He has helped me to feel not alone, and not crazy. What is happening within me is familiar, it is ancient, it is mythic, it is not to be feared.
This book has given me permission to write more truly about my experience, no apology in it, and above all to just let it be, to relax into this incredible ride I’m on, such stillness in it and yet breathtaking momentum. All I want to do is say thank you, whatever possessed the heavens to rain all these riches on my head. I am so grateful, grateful for a thing vastly beyond what I dreamed it was possible to wish for. The other thing I want to do is pull every beloved person up to me, look them in their dear eyes, and say, You can have this. Look at me. This is possible for you. It is your birthright. Wish for it. Just ask. Ask big.
More of these types of stories will be published in future issues, with an interview planned with Jan Frazier as well as attempts to understand the non-elusive and non-exclusive nature of enlightenment. It appears more and more people are awakening, whether that has anything to do with 2012 and the many diverse prophecies is still unclear. As soom as Ms. Frazier’s book is published we will have copies for sale via HopeDance.