Question: When I look at myself, it seems that my most prevalent emotion is anger. It's always there. I frequently find myself caught up in what you call "mental movies," remembering all the cruelty and unfairness that seem to justify this anger. I know that indulging in this does no good, but I feel powerless to stop these raging thoughts. What can I do? I really am weary of my own out-of-control emotions.
Answer: You already know that your anger is destroying you. It is — and it will. You also know, to your spiritual credit, that there is no justification for the endless self-defeat which giving yourself over to hostile feelings entails. The fact that you are tired of losing your life to these self-harming psychic states means you are ready for a change. Here is a new way to work with what's been working you over.
The next time some hostile state takes you over, either in thought — as in remembering something someone did to you in the past — or in an actual moment of conflict with someone standing before you, take the following inner steps as soon as you can remember yourself to do so. Start by seeing that something foreign to your true nature has imposed itself on you, taken over your life. Once having done this, do nothing else except realize that while you may be temporarily powerless to stop the lower state from possessing you, you are empowered to recognize the negative state as the intruder that it is. This awareness, this conscious, unself-justifying awareness of your true pained condition, is what it means to put the Light on the problem. That's your job. The Light will do its part if you'll do yours. Persist until you are free!
Question: I want to grow spiritually, but somehow I have to move beyond justifying my weaknesses if I'm ever going to learn the lessons meant for me. How do I stop justifying the messes I've made in my life?
Answer: If we're fortunate, there comes a certain point when we know that we can no longer afford to refuse what we know we see. And if we'll just endure these first difficult stages of true self-seeing, new Insights follow whose Light rescues us by revealing that we've been unconscious captives in an invisible circle of false strength. And false strength is any power we have to go looking for after it's needed!
Think about it! What good is it to find a solution -- some seeming strength -- that doesn't really resolve our problem, but is just another form of secret self-deception? What I'm getting at here is that outside of its power to help someone temporarily feel better about the weakness that just overtook him, what good is the "strength" of being able to endlessly explain himself to himself? Or to "intelligently" justify some deliberately hurtful act towards another; to tell himself that this time he's learned his lesson and how he won't ever do that again -- but then he does do that, or something like it, again.
We all do this until one day a certain miracle takes place and this same person cries out:
"It's extraordinary how I always find myself looking for the strength I need after my moment of need . . . and how it always manages to appear after the fact to tell me everything I should have done! Therefore, I will no longer call upon that strength -- or any other kind of strength that I must add to myself. In fact, what I want now has nothing to do with any of those things I've been deceiving myself about. What I really want is a "New Self."
It is impossible to ask for a New Self, for a New Life, for God to be our life, until we have played ourselves out, until we realize that no matter what we do, we can't get our life to be what we imagine and to make it stay that way.
The world of your making is so wearisome. Just look how you have to make it over, and make it over, and make it over. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is that you start running out of things you can imagine to make it into! Then what happens -- and it has to happen -- is that this same self-creating nature then turns on itself. It gets vicious with itself and it gets vicious with everyone else for the pain that it is inflicting on itself. And as it does that, it closes the circle from help coming in forever by denying that there is anything outside of itself, which it does with self-loathing and self-hatred.
Work with the following higher understanding until you can see the truth of it for yourself within yourself. From this moment forward start seeing that when, in a fit of unhappiness, you feel like you weren't made for this world, at that moment the "you" that is speaking made that world. Your task is to reach a very simple, quiet state, and admit to God: "I don't like the world I've made. Can You help me?" Then, your slate will be wiped clean.
When God begins wiping clean the slate of your life, it doesn't mean He passes on to you a certain strength that now makes you a believer in yourself as someone who can create great things. That "strength" that you feel flowing into you as you enter into relationship with God is you leaving behind the level where you are identified with the weakness that made you a victim of everything you encountered, including your own thoughts. So, it's not a growth the way we imagine seeing ourselves growing. There has always been some confusion surrounding the idea of what it means "to grow" spiritually, but perhaps never as much as in these present times.
Real spiritual growth is a kind of passing; of the old giving way to the New because we no longer want what we once were. In that quiet passing comes that Self which was always there before, which you are now at last communing with. Every single longing, every prayer a person ever utters and reaches for, always has to do with Something within; Something somehow felt to be just there beyond reach, and if only they could get through that door and stand there, all would be well.
That's the spiritual path. It's within you. And you must make the journey. But to make the journey you have to be on the Way, and to be on the Way, you have to understand what the request is that begins it. Give up in the right way. Learning to surrender yourself begins with learning to see the need to surrender yourself. The rest takes care of itself.
Excerpted from The Lost Secrets of Prayer, "Pages 14-18"