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Question: Someone I loved dearly was murdered recently. I am able to see what seems like thousands of thoughts and have noticed when just one thought takes me away into the darkness. To come back to just noticing and watching these thoughts enables me to accept my feelings without allowing them to drown me. But what I would like to know is, does my soul feel a forever kind of loss of him? Or is the grief I am feeling just thoughts and memories spinning around that keep me from understanding what God would have me know?

Answer: We can either be a student of life, understanding the innate goodness that has given us our being -- and that seeks its ultimate perfection through our trials and tribulations -- or we can suffer what seems the disconnected gyrations of this world, and join ourselves to its dark and descending cycle.

Generally speaking, there would be no question as to which is the proper choice, and most would profess they prefer the former as it seems positive and life-giving. But the true student of life must always choose to look at life (despite how difficult this may be) as a school for his or her higher education. This isn't to say that we don't suffer, that we don't grieve over the loss of someone beloved -- especially in the face of how unjust it seems. But what our choice does mean is that we suffer in a new way, in a conscious way, the things that come along that seem to make no sense.

In this instance, the loss of your beloved can also prove to be the gateway to a holy new understanding: the pain we feel in such unthinkable moments isn't because the love itself has been taken from us, but rather the form through which we knew that love in and through ourselves.

Part of the pain of such a loss is losing one of the ways in which we knew ourselves -- through someone else. In the end, the true student of life -- those of us who love the Divine -- must be willing to see that when God takes from us the temporary forms that he does -- including those we love most -- He is really offering us (at the same time) the possibility of seeing that so much of our suffering is because we have mistaken what must be passing for something that is everlasting.

Only God, Christ, Love, the Light of Truth -- call it what you will -- is eternal. Only our hard-fought battle to learn the truth of this fact frees us from what appears to be a loss. Persist with your wish to grow, to give yourself to what is good, and nothing can stand between you and the love you long to know, and be.

(Excerpted from student correspondence)

Question: Why do we hurt so much when a loved one dies? How do we work to let go of the pain that is so overwhelming?

Answer: Losing a loved one -- a truly loved one -- cannot go without effect. It is natural to feel a certain kind of "hole" in our hearts and minds. The ones we love are like our favorite mirrors in which we not only come to know their image, but our own as well. When someone passes there is the grief of losing ourselves. Where it gets twisted is when we continue to cry over the loss of the ways in which we knew ourselves.

The key here is to be awake and not take part in grieving over one's self at the loss of another. This is where grief is not only "a lie," but unnatural, and leads to long-term unhappiness in the continual reliving of the loss.

There are certain invisible laws in this world of ours, one of them being that everything passes, no exceptions. And when we invest our sense of self in that which passes and then that thing, possession, person changes, we feel first a fear and then a corresponding sense of loss because we have mistaken its life for our own. Suffering follows.

We are all asked to give ourselves to God's Life and in exchange He will give us His Life. Our task is to find out what it means to be a part of this rebirth… which we cannot do as long as we unconsciously give ourselves over to the punishing thoughts and feelings surrounding our pain.

While you do what you must to go forward with your daily life, let go of everything else in thought that tries to drag you down. This you can do with inner watchfulness. Stay out of the "mud" of self-pity. It will dry on you and harden your heart.

All conscious self-healing is painful, but proves its purpose. ALL running from ourselves -- lamenting our situation instead of dying to the self that got us into it -- is not only painful, but can never do anything but forward its own darkened purpose, which is to ensure we remain unseeing and in suffering.

You must make the choice: Do you run around -- physically, mentally, emotionally -- hoping to restore what has passed OR -- do you sit back, remember that your true wish is for freedom in God's Life, and await guidance from this Light? Do you continue to suffer unconsciously for what will amount to nothing gained no matter what comes because of your thrashing about -- OR do you begin the work of letting go and consciously suffering the death of who you have been up until now?

If we are willing to learn from what happens to us, then we must release our resistance to the event and be willing to bear the vision before us as only it can teach us -- show us -- why what has transpired has gone the way it has.

When the pain threatens to overwhelm you, ask yourself the following question at the moment you can remember yourself to do so: Is this self that I am presently experiencing the me that I want to be? Or: Is this suffering self how I want to know myself? And then just come as awake as you can to the realization that you are not who you want to be at that moment, but that something foreign to your True Nature has imposed itself on you and taken over your life. Then, once having done this, do nothing else except realize that while you may be temporarily powerless to stop the lower state from possessing you, you are empowered to recognize the negative state as an intruder. This conscious awareness of your true pained condition is what it means to put the light on your suffering. That is your job. The Light will do its part if you will do your part. Suffer in silence, retire often into the interior closet of your love for God, and give yourself to whatever guidance you then receive. Persist until you are free!

Excerpted from Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom, Pages 96-101.

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