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#3467 - Tuesday, March 10, 2009 - Editor: Jerry Katz

The Nonduality Highlights -    

In this issue an excerpt from Sobriety and Inspiration, by Richard G. Hartnett. This book is designed to bring about a shift from ego consciousness to nondual awareness.   

Richard G. Hartnett, MA, MS, LCADC, is a former Jesuit priest, a former chaplain at Hazelden New York, and currently a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor in private practice in New Jersey.     



Excerpts from Sobriety and Inspiration: Entrusting Ourselves

 to the Source of Our Healing and Creativity

by Richard G. Hartnett



I was to test my thinking by the new God-consciousness within.

- Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 13.

            We have been living out of a self-centered perspective for so long, we now wonder what will happen to us if we let God become our center.  Even though it was confining and frustrating, still we were accustomed to our egocentric lifestyle.  And we felt we were in a position to satisfy our desires without having to please anyone else. 

            But there was also a steep price to pay.  Most of all, we were lonely.  We may have had friends and even lovers, but we still felt distant from everyone.  No matter how much we might have done for others, we still felt unappreciated.  We were locked into our separate selves, and so we couldn’t unite with anyone. 

            So how can we shift from trying to satisfy ourselves to doing God’s will?  This will never happen as long as we stay stuck in our isolated self.  In this separated state, we get caught in a power struggle with God.  We try to subordinate God’s will to our own, to make God want what we want. We cannot submit to God’s will when we perceive God to be opposite us.       

            So, the only way we can embrace God’s will is to let God become us.  Insofar as we are expressions of God, this is already the case.  But we don’t usually feel this way, because we are still attached to our egos.  We are like reflections in a mirror that have forgotten the One we reflect.  However, the more we allow the creative forces to operate freely through us, the more we shed our selfish desires and become God-centered. 

            We can also facilitate this shift by wearing our egos lightly.  We are merely roles being played by the universal Presence, so we can relax and enjoy the show.  After all, even God is amused by all our misbehavior.  



Acceptance is the answer to all my problems today.

- Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 417.

            Who wants to be a doormat or a patsy?  We don’t respect ourselves when we let others walk all over us or push us around.  We want others to like us, but at what expense?  We don’t deserve to be taken advantage of by others.  Our excessive need for approval makes us vulnerable to exploitation. 

            Our need for affirmation indicates a lack of confidence and conviction in us.  We have lost touch with our true Self.  We compensate by trying to make ourselves pleasing to others.  This is tantamount to polishing our mask and putting on a happy face.  But no amount of approval can substitute for genuine self-recognition.

            On the other hand, when our own ego has been hurt, then we may switch tactics and pretend to be strong.  We put on a stone face and compensate for our pain by demanding the attention of others.  We try to force them to acknowledge us.  So, we are all capable of using others as well as being used.

            The more we identify with our mask, the more desperate we become.  We try harder and harder to please others or to have them please us, but it is a futile pursuit.  We need to shed our facade and come to know who we truly are.  It is time to stop pretending and become authentic. 

            We have been fooling ourselves into thinking we are egos.  In reality these are just forms we assume, roles we play, masks we wear.  We are all the universal Presence who lives and loves through all these forms, roles, and masks.  We share one common identity.  This recognition finally releases us from confinement and all the suffering it causes.   We live now to free everyone so we can all rejoice together.



We are in the world to play the role He assigns.

- Alcoholics Anonymous, pg. 68.

            In the final analysis, spirituality is learning to accept our role in the ultimate scheme of things.  This usually occurs after we have seen the futility of all our selfish endeavors.  For our egos are never satisfied, they yearn to control the whole world.  And they also set up an antagonistic relationship with everyone else.  Our egos by nature perceive other people as opposite and therefore opposed to us.  And so we need to see how our ego pursuits are self-defeating.

            We are at a point in our development where we need to outgrow the ego’s narrow frame of reference.  When even our best achievements leave us feeling empty and disappointed, when we can’t put an end to our worries once and for all, when our closest relationship is with loneliness, then we might begin to question our most basic assumption.  Instead of trying to fulfill ourselves, perhaps we need to let go of our boundaries. 

            When we approach the world as if it were outside us, we automatically become defensive.  But suppose we perceived the world as inside us.  We would be the universe.  We would care for everything and everyone.  We would see ourselves as vehicles through which the ultimate Source operates in the world and brings care and healing wherever it is needed.  And in caring for others, we are caring for ourselves, since we all share a common identity. 

            So what’s to stop us from living with this perspective?  Our imaginary egos have failed to find us fulfillment.  If we feel the ultimate Source as a Presence at our center, then we are interested and fascinated by everything.  We forget our petty desires and look for ways to be of service.  Even in painful situations, we follow the Source who inspires us with its universal love.  We begin to sense that our whole purpose in life is to reveal the love with which we live and share it with everyone else.

Copyright 2008 Richard G. Hartnett

Re-printed in The Nonduality Highlights with permission.


Sobriety and Inspiration is designed to bring about a shift from ego consciousness to nondual awareness.  To learn more about this book and to obtain copies, go to or to your favorite bookstore.


Richard G. Hartnett, MA, MS, LCADC, is a former Jesuit priest, a former chaplain at Hazelden New York, and currently a licensed clinical alcohol and drug counselor in private practice in New Jersey.  He is also the author of The Presence at the Center, Renewing Your Fourth Step, and The Three Inner Voices: Uncovering the Spiritual Roots of Addiction and Recovery.  He can be contacted at [email protected].

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