Question: Someone I was deeply in love with has left me after several years together. I am crushed. I have dated others, but none compare. How do I pull myself out of obsessive thoughts about what I once had?
Answer: The sense of self that any suffering produces is guaranteed to find ways to continue that same suffering. Try to see, when these sad thoughts come to you and invite you into their world, that they always promise you something. Connect the pain that follows your entrance into their world with their presence, and eventually you will see through these lies. To help you refuse this insidious invitation, ask yourself repeatedly: What good is anything I may possess that when I no longer have it, I no longer have myself? Stay with this question (and its intent) until something in you awakens that wants its own life more than the false life provided for it through temporary conditions.
Excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom
Question: If there's really a way to take the torment out of personal loss, I want to know about it. But the whole idea of not feeling loss also frightens me in a way that's hard to describe. I mean, what kind of person would I be if I didn't feel bad when I lose something - or someone - near and dear to me?
Answer: This is a very important question, and its patient investigation will give us a whole new way to look at the nature of loss. But the sensitive issues raised by such an investigation require we suspend those strong feelings of ours which attend the subject of loss and sorrow.
It's impossible to lose something you never owned. We don't own what we call our relationships, our appearance, our authority, intelligence, even our very own life. What we actually lose is an image, a carefully constructed mental picture of ourselves long-secured in place by someone or something that helps us to see ourselves - or feel about ourselves - the way we imagine ourselves to be. And with that person, position, or possession no longer in place to sustain that image, our pain is in the loss of that imaginary self.
There may be a change in your life, but this change is not the pain of loss. We can't own something that's in constant change, and all of life is exactly that: ceaseless, eternal change. But we are compelled to seek what we call security, so we create mental images we can hold in place... images that don't change. At some point, real events won't allow these false images to remain intact. Then we can no longer deny reality its course. Something has to give. Mental pictures - no matter how well conceived - are always the first to break up in any shakeup. It's the collapse of these images that we call loss.
The pain in losing a loved one is certainly real, but even in the face of this awful emptiness, we must remind ourselves that all of our painful feelings of loss belong to a lower level of mind whose thought nature it is to create a world around it from which it is ever apart.
Who you really are can't lose anything because your True Nature is one with the whole timeless goodness of life. And it's impossible to lose yourself! When you know you can't really lose anything or anyone, if you understand there is no real division between you and the one you love or, for that matter, between you and love itself, then the heartache of loss simply ceases to exist for you.
From this moment forward, each time you feel a loss of some kind, meet it in this bold new way... your higher actions will transform that loss into the seed of self liberation: After each setback, regardless of its nature, leave that aching, empty space within you empty and aching. Your new aim is not to fill it with one recognizable thing: no plans, no anger, no fears, no regrets, hopes or dreams. Let no mental or emotional pictures of any kind rush in to bridge that gaping hole in your heart. This doesn't mean you try to push the pain away. Denial is just another way in which we secretly try to fill the aching space. Instead, remain quietly aware of the pain and of that part of you that would make the ache go away by creating some new image to cling to in the storm. Having nothing to do with either these mental creations, nor with their creator. Both originate from the low level that's the source of your sadness. If you allow this divided nature to fill the space, you'll only have to fill it again and again.
You can live from a new self that doesn't have to go searching for security because its lofty nature is already whole. Each conscious refusal, to answer the ache of any loss with your own security-restoring solutions, invites reality to flood in and fill that space... and reality is never thrown for a loss.
This very special approach to meeting each loss, and its grief, helps place you above your own habitual painful responses... which is a lot better than carrying them around. The reason you can take this brave new inner action is because now you know: Your sense of loss - that terrible empty experience - is only present within you because you've forgotten who you really are. But all fearful feelings fade in the light of true self-understanding. And as you grow in the awareness of your own timeless nature, a new strength makes itself known to you, within you. Calm and confidence come into your heart. Insight increases. You see your life has never been about winning and losing. Now you understand. Everything, everyone, each event is cause for the exploration, discovery, and celebration of your essential self. And this realization both teaches and cheers you. For your new knowing reveals that each of your seeming losses is really a secret invitation, a call for you to go higher and higher -- a summons from Truth to enter into its fully liberated life and live forever without the fear of loss.
Excerpted from Freedom From the Ties That Bind