First off, thanks for taking the time to provide feedback, Tronar. I really, really do appreciate it. Thanks to all of you. I was feeling terrible and apathetic for no good reason, but seeing all these responses brightened my day immensely.
Well, I am glad that we were able to brighten your day. I like this board very much and my only regret is my lack of time to read and participate more in it. Especially since I am still sitting on more than 20 questions after having read MBT and pondered it's implications over and over again. :-)
But more than that it's good to see, that even a small post can have such a positive effect.
As for your experience, I admit I can't relate as much as I'd like to. I don't think there's anything too strange about having a couple of conflicting layers of experience. I assume your instinctive reaction to seeing a ghost would be fear, but because it was a dream you had other parts of your psychology/mind/consciousness coming up with a different reaction? I can relate to the conflicting feelings, though, because if I saw something confirming reality is non-physical, especially an apparition, I'd be both afraid and fascinated whether I knew I was safe or not.
Intellectually I am quite sure that there is no reason to be afraid in such a situation. After some courses at TMI I also have the feeling, that I have the necessary tools to deal with such a situation. Theoretically! Unfortunately I am also quite sure (from totally harmless experiences, but also from my reaction to them) that should something like an apparition happen to me in my waking consciousness, I'd probably freak out on some instinctive level. If all that happened in such a situation would be my neck hair standing up, I'd consider it a big success. :-)
@ Everybody else, I admit I am actually pleasantly surprised that you said tests can be designed badly! I guess I assumed that reality was more perfect than that, but it is comforting to hear that it isn't. It is comforting because I guess it means that 'my guides' would guide me to happiness a lot faster if they could. These days I feel like somewhat of a failure because I started on this spiritual road two and a half years ago, but I feel that I've blown it. I'd like to tell anybody who is willing to listen my story, and I'd keep it as short as possible?
First, according to Tom, guides come in all forms and qualities. So it is not impossible, that the guides dedicated to your progress might be just not really interested in helping you or striving to help you, but nonetheless be a complete failure due to bad execution. :-)
I thought it would be a joke first, but here is the thread I am talking about and according to Ted, despite the slightly funny undertone, Tom was serious with regard to the content:http://www.my-big-toe.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=2798&hilit=guides+reprimanded
Second, I am very interested in listening to your story. Short or long doesn't matter.
I think we all can learn from each other and hearing their stories and insights. And getting an outside opinion on something personal can also often turn out to be very helpful. Sometimes nothing is better than a fresh and independent perspective.
Admittedly, I never even considered the 'ego' dimension. It raises new questions in my head.
But you did read My Big TOE, didn't you? :-)
At least my impression was, that Ego and its problems were quite a central part of it.
I want to see if you guys can relate to this -
I try not to force myself to be unselfish, because I am very aware that on a subconscious level, I am probably only TRYING to be unselfish for personal gain, for selfish reasons; because I want to advance spiritually.
I tend to always choose what I consider to be the 'right thing'. But then again, I am very afraid that I might 'fake' it or that my reasons are shallow. Most of the time I know they aren't, but there are times I have really wondered what my true motivations are for bigger and more important things.
There's a debate in philosophy about whether everyone is, deep down, selfishly motivated. Example, Mother Teresa only helped people because it made her feel good, therefore she is selfish.
It somewhat scares me, although I know better than that.
Well, that's indeed a tough one. I don't claim to be able to answer that one even remotely correct. My personal feeling is though that helping - even for the selfish reason of personal spiritual progress - is definitely better than not helping at all.
I also think, that helping other people on a regular basis and getting a good feeling from it is already a sign of an advanced being. At least advanced in comparison to the majority of people that tend to ignore their fellow beings even in an obviously distressing situation.
When Tom was holding his lecture in Malaga last November, he was asked why he thinks "love" is the ultimate goal. He only mentions this in his book without any further explanation. His answer was quite simple: imagine two communities. One is filled with love and the inhabitants are always helping each other at every opportunity. And the other is filled with fearful people, primarily thinking about their personal issues, protection and their immediate personal advantage. Now push fast forward and imagine how both communities probably look like several decades in the future. The first one prospering and sharing their achievements and the second one having missed out on many opportunites in addition to wasting resources for protecting devices, maybe even weaponry, not to mention the potential negative results of open conflict.
Further pondering his answer, he didn't really mention anything about the personal motivation of community A for helping each other except the lovingly attitude towards any fellow being.
So I guess, maybe there isn't any trade-off between your personal motivation of helping others (only) to feel better and the helping itself. Whether the inhabitants of the community help each other out of the wise insight that the loving attitude is of benefit for everyone or because they want to grow spiritually doesn't really make a difference, does it?
And why not at least receive the good feeling as a return for your effort or maybe even sacrifice? Nobody is getting any less, because you have a good feeling in return.
Of course, you are walking a thin line here. Should you only offer your help in expectation of receiving a big "thank you" from the helped person, you might be subjected to disappointment or even unconsciously (and adversely) change your attitude or actions toward the being you are providing help to. That is most likely not a desired result.
On the other hand after helping other people for years, even initially motivated by your desire for personal spiritual advancement, you might find yourself transformed at a deeper level. You might find yourself behaving differently in daily situations on an instinctive level. Jumping towards other people to help them if they seem to be in need for help instead of looking away and staying in your comfort zone. If I understand Tom correctly, this different reaction coming from a core level of your being might have already reduced your entropy.
Even the fact, that you are thinking about being "bad" for helping other people only for selfish reasons is a sign for me, that part of you will always check if you are still on a good track and help you avoid false directions or unproductive ostensible shortcuts. So from my viewpoint, you don't have much to worry about. :-)
And I also want to thank you for making me ponder this whole issue. I was using exactly this kind of argument myself many many years ago, why even Mother Theresa was not completely unselfish, because she got a good feeling out of her actions. I was using it as an argument, that complete selflessness is probably nearly impossible to achieve for that exact reason. Still, with all the new information I was able to acquire since then, I feel like I have come to a completely different result this time. At least putting my focus and emphasis on a totally different part of the issue.
Also, as in the dirty bathroom example that was given - I freely if somewhat sadly admit that I probably wouldn't have gone that far. I feel like cleaning up the mess of assholes is useless and insulting, especially if those assholes are just going to make everything dirty again. On the other hand, where I live at the moment I am sharing a kitchen and bathroom and I am the only person who gives a damn enough to take the garbage out and clean up. I am always tempted to raise the issue and get angry, but I know that peace and good-will is more valuable than a confrontation over pride.
To me that sounds like a wise and yet not easy choice you are already making on a daily basis. If you really manage to do this without accumulating any negative feelings towards the "freeriders" potentially resulting in an angry outburst some day in the future, you are probably already more advanced than you are giving yourself credit for. :-)
Looking forward with keen anticipation to hearing your story...