We have in us, the way we are, this idea that somehow or other we are going to be the ones who make the world that we see work. This notion runs very deep and is strengthened in us, in part, by what is its partial truth. So we're very reluctant to see that for all of these years, and all of the things that we've been doing -- with ourselves and for ourselves -- that every other day we still see that which is ugly or unwanted upon the canvas of our lives.
If we're fortunate, there comes a certain point when we just 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? Outside of its power to help us temporarily feel better about the weakness that just overtook us, what good is the "strength" of being able to endlessly explain ourselves? Or to "intelligently" justify some deliberately hurtful act towards another; to tell ourselves that this time we've learned our lesson and how we won't ever do that again. But then we do find ourselves doing that again, or something like it. We all do this until one day a certain miracle takes place. On that one bright day we cry 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."
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?" This is because it's 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've taken all the colors that our false nature can muster, and thrown them up in every possible combination on the canvas of our life, and realize that no matter what we do, we can't get it to be pretty and stay that way.
The world of our making is so wearisome. Just look how we have to make it over and over. But that's not the worst part. The worst part is we start running out of things we can imagine to make it into! Then this same self-creating nature turns on itself. It gets vicious with itself and with everyone else for the pain that it's inflicting on itself. And as it does that, it closes itself off forever from saying, "Can you help me?" because it can't help itself. And when it can't help itself it closes the circle from help coming in forever by denying that there is anything outside of itself, which it does in self-loathing and self-hatred.
So we reach the point where we start to understand that there truly is an order to the process of real prayer, because 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, which says, "One day you will be beautiful, wise or strong." At that point, when reality produces our request, this request is the same as the Way. And the Way, if one adheres to it, is the same as approaching what amounts to a number of invisible interior doors. Christ said, "Knock and it shall be opened to you." This special knocking has to do with sincerely saying, "Can you help me?" Surrender the self at each door on the Way, and then the door opens. This will happen to you, for you, if you'll persist sincerely with your wish for a New Life.
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 you weren't made for this world, at that moment the "you" that is speaking made that world. Your task in prayer, and with prayer, is to reach a very simple quiet state -- 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.
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 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; it is 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 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 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.