Question: Your teachings say that making demands and having expectations just sets us up for trouble. I know it's true. I always plan how other people should act and how things should turn out, but they never do what I expect, and then I become angry and disappointed. I sense that I am causing all my own pain. If I could just learn to want for myself what life wants for me maybe I wouldn't be afraid anymore. But I can't imagine how to even start letting go in this way. How do I let go of my own thoughts? How do I learn to see things in a new way?
Response:Let's just say that freedom from anger, disappointments, and frustration comes in direct proportion to our realization that looking to any fearful thought or feeling for guidance, or a sense of self, is like asking a ghost to show you the way out of a haunted house. Which brings us face to face with the most difficult question of all: If I don't interact with my habitual thoughts and feelings, if I don't find a direction from their influences, then how and from where will I know to take my "next" step?
Letting go is about learning to die to ourselves, psychologically, so that something higher, something "undiminishable" can stand in for us. This switch takes place as we learn to stand down consciously. This new action can be done, but it takes both insight and being sick and tired of being angry and tense. Our inner studies prepare us for what we need to see about ourselves to set us on the path to freedom from all frustrations.
Question: I lost money in a business deal after being tricked by two old friends. I'm ashamed to admit it, but I'm angry and resentful -- two emotions I'd thought I'd gotten well past. It's still hard to believe I could have fallen for such an obvious scam, and that two men I thought were my friends could have stolen from me what I had hoped to be my children's legacy. I'm burning up inside with rage, guilt, and concern over what my children will do now. I know this is killing me. What would you do in my position?
Response: To begin with, I would muster everything I could find in me and, whatever the personal cost, I would refuse to be self-pitying.
Then I would start over, right from the beginning, whatever that may be -- or wherever that may take me. There is no power on earth that can interfere with this intention and act.
Next, instead of falling into despair over my losses, I would deeply examine what it is inside of me that feels all I am worth is money, or whatever it says to me I've lost, and then I would get busy losing interest in that nature that calls itself by my name.
Hatred of anyone, or anything, destroys the one who hates. This is unequivocal spiritual law -- so I would do all that I could to lay down my resentments by seeing that all I'm doing is burning myself up with wasted energies that could be put to productive purposes.
Lastly, I would seriously consider, not what it is that I think I won't be able to leave my children, but what it is that I'm giving them with my current attitudes and example. Then, as tough as it may be to act it out, I would make it abundantly clear to them through my revised actions that a man is not what he possesses, but is, rather, what possesses him. And since it's possible to choose what possesses you, which you start doing by refusing to be possessed of dark spirits, this means you can choose in favor -- over and over again as many times as necessary -- what's authentically good and true for you.
Question: I'm very bitter over the fact that my husband won't give up his drinking to save our marriage. I've threatened to move out, but I can't seem to do it. I'm so angry at him for doing this to me and making me feel this way. If only he'd try. Life wasn't supposed to be this way. I wanted the vine-covered cottage, but the reality turned out to be quite different. I wish the problem would just disappear, and I also know what a waste of time it is to think that way. If only I could get over hoping things would work out, maybe I could move on with my life.
Response: One of the biggest problems we all have, that seems to be connected to the behavior of others, really has nothing to do with them at all. We tend to look in the wrong places for the love we sense should be in our lives. When people betray us, the great pain we experience hasn't so much to do with their transgression as it does with what the blow of their act does to our hopes for real love. The pain of our disappointment, grief, and so on is mostly that of realizing we've once again been looking for something permanent in the temporary.
Going through these upheavals, and the discoveries they lead to, does not mean we give up on someone we love, but we must learn to let what life is trying to teach us do just that. Not wanting the lesson doesn't make it go away. All that happens is the pain of it grows worse, and worse, until we really blow up and walk away from the situation, only to find out we've really changed nothing, because all along, the problem was in our level of spiritual understanding. The hardest thing to do in any troubling time is to ask Truth to show you what you need to see about you. But do it anyway!
Question: Is it possible to create conditions that increase our awareness without the interference of the nature that just wants to give itself to every passing negative state? Is there an exercise I can do that will free me of the rush to be angry and upset with other people?
Response: Deliberately drop one cherished idea and meet life without it. For example, refuse to judge another's behavior as you normally would. Usually, we approach every experience with a basket full of expectations and demands. Then, regardless of whether or not they are met, we know what to do. If they are met, we feel justified; if they are not, we have an excuse to be angry or upset. In this exercise, we work within ourselves to drop all expectations and demands regarding other people's behavior. We simply observe what they do, and make no personalized judgment as to the value or meaning of their actions. By doing this, we take away any excuse of our lower nature to turn in and get an identity through others' behavior. If we fail at this and realize we've made the judgment anyway, our new awareness shows us how harmful these judgments have always been to ourselves and others.