What good is it to find a solution, some seeming strength, that doesn't really resolve your problem, but that is just another form of secret self-deception? Outside of its power to help you temporarily feel better about the weakness that just claimed you, what good is the "strength" of being able to endlessly explain yourself to yourself? Of being able to "intelligently" justify some deliberately hurtful act towards another? Of telling yourself that this time you've learned your lesson and how you won't ever do "that" again? And then, you actually do "that" (or something like it) again. We all do... until one day, a certain miracle takes place.
On that one bright day, you reach the point of seeing the futility of calling upon any kind of strength that you must add to yourself. You recognize that you can no longer afford to refuse the fact that for all these years, and all of the things you've been doing — with yourself and for yourself — that every other day you still see what is ugly or unwanted painted on the canvas of your life. What you want now is a new Self.
Rare are those of us who come to pray for a new Self, because few reach the point where we say and really mean, "Can you help me?" The reason for this is because it's impossible to ask for a new Self, for a timeless Presence to be our life, until we have played ourselves out... until we've taken all the colors our false nature can muster, and thrown them together in every possible combination on that canvas, and realize that no matter what we do, we can't get it to look pretty and stay that way.
If we are fortunate, we reach the point where we start to understand that for prayer to work, it must begin with a genuine request. This genuine request has to be based in reality — not in wishes, hopes, and dreams. It can't be based in wants; it can't even be based in ideals. For prayer to work, it must have what it needs to work: the uncovered heart, the exposed heart. This heart can't be lied to anymore by the mind that says, "One day you will be beautiful, wise or strong. One day you will go to heaven."
From this moment forward, when you find yourself in a fit of unhappiness over an experience in this world, understand that the "you" that is speaking made that world. Your task with prayer is to simply reach a quiet state with the very simple admission of: "I don't like the world I've made. Can you help me?" Then your slate will be wiped clean. God is just waiting to be asked.
Real spiritual growth is a kind of passing; it is the old giving way to the new because you no longer want what you once were. In that quiet passing comes the Self that was always there before (within), but that you are now at last communing with. Every single longing, every prayer you utter is for what is felt to be beyond reach... and that if only you could get across the river of dark, painful dreams and stand on the far shore, 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 must understand the request 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.
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