The hardest part of the journey along the upward path is the gradual realization that one's work to awaken is, at best, imperfect. Along the ascending path each footfall serves to echo an unwanted reminder of one's imperfect actions, imperfect thoughts, imperfect emotions, imperfect devotion, imperfect attention, so forth on and so on. However, seeing the truth of oneself in this light is but half the trial, and in some ways the lesser of the challenges to be faced along the Way.
The greater part of this difficulty -- and perhaps the most "slippery" part of the path -- is the temptation to judge oneself, to loathe oneself for whatever "weakness" has been exposed. The act of judging oneself in times like these seems natural, and even necessary if one hopes to ever "outgrow" one's own limitations as revealed. But unseen in this kind of self-laceration is this spiritual fact: all forms of self-judgment are a Trojan horse; within its recesses hides the unthinkable: The pain of resisting this present level of your self is, itself, an unseen part of that same level of self now being resisted.
Now, to this last fact add the following important idea: when one's attention is drawn to how much one doesn't want to be what one is in that moment, one can't see oneself as one actually is! This means that all forms of resistance-born reactions are blinding agents; they mask the fact of the moment with powerful unwanted sensations that steal one's attention; so that instead of being self-aware -- conscious of the whole of oneself -- one is aware only of the painful reaction and what it points to as being the cause of one's suffering.
Despising oneself for missing the mark doesn't prove one could have hit the mark and didn't. It proves only that the dark nature involved in this kind of pain doesn't know what the true mark is... else it wouldn't be tearing into itself (and ripping into you at the same time). The deception is deep and dark; to hate oneself for one's weakness is the way weakness passes itself off as strength.
Real spiritual strength is realized, slowly, by daring to drop these self-blinding negative states that we have allowed to define us. And, believe it or not, this choice -- to no longer agree to ache over what you are not -- is the most difficult part of one's work to be free. After all... when there is no one and nothing left within one to blame for one's weakness, it's also pretty clear that turning to one's "self" for help is like asking a donkey for the directions to heaven.
This is a never-ending journey; it doesn't begin with our wish to awaken, but with God working in us to awaken us to the otherworldly nature of His love. If we agree to go through what is asked of us in this way, then it is through our marriage to His life -- and the interior labor this calls for -- that we gradually realize a conscious relationship with that Love that is the same as Life unending. The time will come -- if you persist -- when you will learn to see your weakness as the only way in which God can bring you into His strength.
This article is an excerpt from www.GuyFinleyNow.org, Life of Learning's Online Wisdom Center directed by Guy Finley.