- Posted: Saturday, November 10, 2001
- 5702 words
GF: Welcome everyone to our chat. Before we get started I wish to send along some thoughts on the new understanding required of us if we ever want to become truly free.
There is no substitute for freedom. And, as we shall find out, we all share in many mistaken ideas about what it means to be free. To prove this point, let me pose two simple questions that will help set us on the path to realizing new and higher levels of self-freedom:
Would you rather spend your life trying to impress your friends and associates of your self-worth, or be free altogether of the never ending pain of believing that you are only as valuable in life as you can get others to agree you are?
Would you rather spend your life acquiring social position and possessions -- pursuits that do little more then distract you from a lingering sense of something missing in your life -- or would you rather be free of this unappeasable inner self that cant find lasting contentment no matter what it acquires?
These are important questions. They point to the center of a certain crossroads each of us stands upon every day where -- after certain events take place -- we almost always ask ourselves: "Given what just happened to me, what is the right path that will free me of this stressful sense of not knowing what to do with all of these unsettling thoughts and feelings?"
"Do I take the left fork and just let go of my hopes, my aspirations to achieve my dreams? Or, do I take the right fork and return to the grind, hoping against hope that this time things will be different?" Doesnt this dialogue sound familiar? What are we to do?
Giving up and agreeing to live unfulfilled is untenable for most of us, and yet going around and around -- getting nowhere -- seems to be the other fork in the road of life. Is there another Path? The answer is "yes"; a very special one exists just out of our present sight; a Path that can deliver us to what our Heart of hearts longs for: Freedom!
We have come to an important point in our study of these crossroads that are secret places in our own consciousness. First, we must learn to recognize the difference between what we will call our social, or cultural freedoms, versus individual spiritual freedom. Dont let these terms throw you. They will prove easy to grasp and good for us to learn.
When it comes to our cultural or social freedoms we are each free, for instance, to choose whatever we wish to be in life. But this sort of freedom needs to have one note attached to it: What one chooses to become in his or her social culture (for the most part) is usually what that same society smiles upon and deems good.
In our Western culture, this kind of convention means striving to become one who somehow stands out above the rest -- whether this platform is gained through enhanced position, possessions, or, in some cases, going to the opposite and carefully cultivating the pretense that we care about none of these vanities!
What this means is that most of what we associate with becoming more "free" in life is wrapped up in what amounts to the achievement of socially acceptable, mutually agreed upon values. In turn this means that ones sense of freedom is very much founded in -- and therefore bounded by -- what others believe is true about the meaning of life and the nature of freedom.
Of course, much to our dismay, the moment these beliefs change -- and they always do -- we feel ourselves captives again. The point is that while such socially contrived "freedoms" do have a kind of reality to them, the freedom we find within them is not real.
We are beginning to realize that what we presently think provides us with freedom does not. We might better say that these social freedoms are, at best, limited; as any condition outside of ourselves that we depend upon for our sense of freedom makes this same freedom conditional. And real freedom, like real love, cannot be conditional else it is a creature by another name.
What then is the answer? Where is it we must seek if we wish to find true self-freedom? We must look in a totally new direction. What we must do is find out for ourselves what it is within us that is taking our freedom away from us. If we want real self-freedom, there is no other place to search for it.
At the close of our chat I will finish these notes. What do you want to talk about? What lessons have you learned about the nature of real freedom? Lets get started with our dialogue.
Randy: The freedom that "I" recognize is financial. It has been the focus of the last 25 of my 39 years. I dont know how to long for anything else or how to not long at all. I request your guidance.
GF: You may be encouraged, but also let me forewarn you of a certain point: First, you wouldnt be on-line with us if there werent something in you already actively longing for a life outside of the one you have had. This part of you will lead you to the promise you feel in the distance. Be assured. Who you have been is not going to just roll up and go away. Knowing this, you may choose. If you havent read The Secret of Letting Go book or any other, I would start gathering right facts to support this new wish for a Higher Freedom. Stay close. Spend time by yourself as much as possible, remembering both your wish for a different life and the dissatisfaction of your former pursuits. This doesnt mean to fall into negativity, but rather to deliberately remember the Light you long for.
Jason: I have had a longing for awhile to just take a day and spend it in nature by myself reflecting. Is this a natural longing on the path, or is it the false selfs way of escaping to freedom?
GF: Go! Nothing could be more natural than to want to embrace the open spaces.
dropee: One of your exercises -- doing what you dont want to do when you dont want to do it -- has been wonderful for me and has given me a great new freedom.
GF: The best part of any exercise such as doing what one doesnt want to do is that we gradually discover that the "I" that was resisting doing something was a false sense of self based in some form of inertia or negativity. Only on the other side of this false sense of ourselves is the fact of its falseness seen. This is an early stage of new levels of self-freedom.
Jason: While visiting the Foundation I was able to understand things I had previously been unable to. I believe this was due to the amount of energy that was present...something I had never been exposed to. Does not being exposed to this kind of energy on a consistent basis affect one along the path?
GF: There is no question about it. This is why the old saying, "It takes a lighted candle to light a candle" has made it through all the many centuries that it has. There is, as you experienced, a certain kind of energy whose vibration stimulates normally inactive parts of us, and for this excitation we are more awake to ourselves. Higher understanding and awakedness are the same.
seeker: Is it natural to desire to be in a relationship with a woman simply because one finds joy in it, and not to use it to identify or try to complete ones self in it? Im not speaking of lust or sex, but I feel a strong sense of expression and experience as I would with anything else of beauty that God has created. (The only problem is finding a woman with the inner direction and inner beauty as well as the outer.)
GF: If you go to a playground, you might find some children there who hang around the handball court to be with lots of other kids. You might also find one child or two speaking to each other on a bench about vacation plans. Somewhere there will be one child by him- or herself looking up at the sky. Each finds his or her own way and what matters to them. Follow your heart.
mycourt: I have a similar question about desire and designing my destiny as opposed to letting the Light show me my life. For instance, if I desire a fulfilling relationship with a woman, how do I know it is not my false self creating some picture of myself that I think I should have?
GF: The spiritual path, the Real spiritual path, is one that gradually extends directly from the heart and the mind of the seeker. If our hearts are filled with physical longings or emotional desires, then this road must be expired before we can find freedoms above and beyond such conditional qualities. Once we grow through these things, the road stretches out empty and open before us.
jaybird: Im trying to become aware of the ways in which I unconsciously block the light of Truth from entering my life. I would be grateful for any helpful guidelines you could offer.
GF: Try to think of thinking about yourself, explaining or justifying yourself to yourself, as being similar to the dampening rods in a nuclear reactor. The more you can keep any I out of what you see and experience within yourself, the more Light will be available and put to work to enlarge your relationship with what is True.
David: A beginning pianist who wants to play the Rachmaninoff Third Concerto must practice for years to achieve sufficient mastery of technique. You say that I never have to take another step in fear. Does this assume that: 1) Ive already practiced fearlessness for years, 2) I was born with the technique for walking through fear, or 3) the "Fearless Concerto" is a lot easier to play than I think it is?
GF: Good question. The first time anyone plays an instrument, they must make dozens of mistakes -- if they can play anything at all. But the one who would learn to master the instrument plays through his mistakes and in spite of them. So let it be with those of us who wish to find the fearless life. You are the instrument. Life supplies the music. Play!
Roy: Youve said Events serve the Truth and Life is set up to steer us from adversity to adversity into the Truth. Does this happen in spite of our slumber, or must we be consciously working? And how is this related to the 4th Way idea of the Law of Accidents?
GF: No one escapes Justice in this life. All events reflect our nature back to us. Many spend their whole lives never realizing that the events they see are provided for their possible perfection. These events do nothing and are nothing for such people and serve as little more than accidents for them. Why accidents? Because nothing in them is unified, or developed enough, to use these moments for further self-transformation. Once we learn that events serve the Truths they reveal and that we must learn to be "there" for this, our eyes are opened and we can grow.
Roy: Ive heard that there are no accidents and everything is setup for my growth, which I took as an automatic promise of "salvation." But from your response, I gather this promise will only be fulfilled if I work at seeing the Truths events will reveal for me. Youve said, "the Truth will set you free, but only if youre for the Truth." Does that relate here?
GF: Yes, you have understood precisely. The clearer this becomes to you, the more you will want to be in an awake relationship with the events arriving "around" you. All events are interior in their Real Life.
Barry: Im somewhat confused about the connection between "suffering" and "adversity." Is "suffering" something we do to ourselves, whereas adversity is something brought to us by God that does not in and of itself bring suffering?
GF: The difference between adversity of the conscious kind and the usual suffering that attends unconscious actions towards perceived adversaries is that when we are conscious of counter-forces, we still suffer, but this suffering changes us because we realize these counter-forces are aspects of our own unconscious self.
amg: The only time I feel like I am on the right path is when I am listening to your tapes or reading your books. The rest of the time I feel I am being attacked with an endless stream of tests to see how I react to what life is bringing me. I am so tired of all these tests.
GF: The only way you will begin to be free of this weariness you describe is when you reach the point of seeing (and you will if you stay the course) that life is not a proving ground, but a ground of discovery for those interested in a God-centered life. The stress of these "tests" is that we want to be the one who passes. No such self exists in Reality.
kspoon: On your tape "The Power of Now," you state to "follow what you love" and the rest of your life will take care of itself. For the past few years I have been pondering whether or not to pursue a hobby professionally as well as other business interests. The "still small voice" tells me to just GO FOR IT, but another part of me can only think of how to pay bills, feed my family etc., if I just GO FOR IT. Any advice?
GF: If you have responsibilities to a family, especially young children, you must fulfill what you have begun. This doesnt mean to put your dream down, only to recognize that it may have to germinate in the soil of your situation a bit longer. Regardless of your personal condition, I would tell you to never let go of any longing you have to enlarge your life. Be bold, be wise, and fall forward.
jaybird: Could you give some specific exercises that would empower us to, in your words, "Be bold, be wise, and fall forward"?
GF: Sometimes the wisest and most bold thing we can do is to just drop whatever it is were identified with in favor of being awake in the moment without a sense of self that dominates it. In this practice, seeing takes precedence over being what we were identified with the moment before.
kspoon: In my attempts to "go quiet" and watch my thoughts, it seems difficult to stay "aware of mysel" for even a few minutes without falling back "asleep." Any suggestions on how to "stay awake"?
GF: Cultivating the kind of attention that it requires to remain awake to ones self is gained through effort and experience. There is no shortcut. What we learn with these kind of persistent practices is that we do not have the faculty (of attention) we dreamed. This is an awakening in itself, and the shock helps us redouble our efforts to realize more Truth about ourselves.
Randy: How empowering would it be to do the exact opposite of what your thoughts tell you for an entire day? Is it possible - will there be a time that what you think is what you do and who you are?
GF: Any effort that you will make to make your own life a field for conscious experimentation will reward you in ways unimaginable by the self that starts such an undertaking. We must all forgo the "thrill" of imagining what our discoveries may grant us in favor of letting go of such imaginary thoughts and feelings so that Reality may be our company.
WOODY: After about five years of reading your books (all of them), and listening to a series of your tapes to the point of wearing some of them out, I have finally begun to understand what you are saying - or more importantly, experiencing what you are saying. Wow. While it is changing my life, a family member is going through a very emotionally trying period. He listens to your tapes, but does not see how it all relates to his situation. How can I show him?
GF: You cant. What you can do is embody the truthful principles we are learning so as to be at once both a comfort to your friend and at the same time not compromise either you or this person by coddling any negativity. The time may come when this person has ears to hear, so be patient and continue your growth. Youll know the right time because this person will ask for a new kind of help.
mycourt: You mention many times in your tapes about not saying the unkind word, not complaining or downloading your troubles on people. It would seem we would be almost perfect little human beings if we were able to do this. I would be one of the nicest guys ever. Is this behavior really a possibility?
GF: Not only is it a possibility, but one day your greatest personal pleasure will be the God-given ability not to punish any other human being around you because of some pressure within you. I assure you, this is the way human beings are intended to be with one another. Christ said that no greater love has a man than he who lays down his life for his brother.
jaybird: Would it be correct to say that in order to make any progress on the spiritual path, we must put aside our expectations and "hopes" (that events will transpire as we wish) and approach it with a sense of "wonder" and discovery?
GF: Spiritual progress is not "made" by putting aside expectations and "hopes" because -- if you can see this, this means we have expectations and hopes for these very actions. Progress takes place as we are present to ourselves, within ourselves, seeing that the self that lives for expectations not only suffers in their birth but dies with them when they either crash or arrive. Pondering these ideas will help you progress.
dropee: In your book, The Secret of Letting Go, you told a story about a man walking on the road carrying all those bags - didnt he just let them go and walk on?
GF: Yes, he did leave his bags and walk on, but only once he realized that he had no real need for any of the things he had been carrying all along. This wasnt painful for him but a true release.
ADB: Youve stated in several of your past responses to me that in the midst of my issue with fear, I should "realize there is a God." Can I interpret this to mean that for those moments when there is no TPIC present, God is present in me, and that is who I am "being" and aware of in that moment?
GF: There is never a moment when God isnt present in any of us. You wouldnt be reading this if it werent for His Gift of Life. The issue isnt the absence of this Presence but our sleep to it within us.
ADB: You talk about these false selves that arent us. What are we when our false selves are not present in the present moment?
GF: Do your inner work and find out. There are no answers for questions such as this, which is why they are so often asked. There are parts of you (and all of us) that would rather churn than learn. See this.
James1: Why do negative states/emotions seem to have more legitimacy or command more respect than positive ones? Someone who is sad, somber, or even angry can be considered as being serious (realistic). But someone who is happy or cheerful is not facing reality or is careless.
GF: Your question is a good one and shows some self-watching on your part. One of the reasons negative states are so simple and easy for us to fall into is because there is no effort required for negative emotions to take a descending path. It just happens. Our society secretly respects negative states because they are, for the most part, the only thing people interact with in one another. Be positive.
ADB: I remember listening to one of your Key Lesson tapes wherein you relayed an exercise for your students to do. You said that at the end of a morning meditation when were fully awake that we were to visualize/imagine/bring into our awareness the situation that is bothering us. However, I cant recall what you recommended we do after this part of the exercise occurs. If you remember this exercise, can you please elaborate for me?
GF: Lessons such as these are inappropriate for the chat room. Too much may be misconstrued, and there is too little time and space for conveying essential material.
Wuckei: Many are now saying they want to hear/see nothing of the war or the terrorists, but this is like relinquishing a responsibility. How do we encourage this responsibility to witness to reality, without taking sides?
GF: We must each be responsible first and foremost to what we know is True for ourselves. For instance, we should know that most people have the attention span of a gnat and that as soon as whatever has stimulated this self passes, with it goes all of that persons attention. Real responsibility is the outcome of attention in that we cant do what weve forgotten needs to be done.
Wuckei: Please clarify the last part of the sentence: "Real responsibility is the outcome of attention in that we cant do what we have forgotten needs to be done."
GF: When something happens that is related to us or that we feel is connected to our lives, it elicits a response. If we only have an attention that falls for but a moment on this response, we wont see our relationship or our responsibility to what it is that moved us in the first place. For instance, this is classic spiritual sleep when it comes to being responsible to our wish to remain awake.
Neva: How would you go about eliminating terrorism and bring peace to the world? What do you think is the best way to unite our energies for world peace?
GF: There will never be peace on this planet as long as individuals live with secret wars going on within themselves. The inner determines the outer is the oldest spiritual axiom and the truest. We must each do our work to let peace begin with us, within us. As hatred, greed, and fear are conquered in us, so will the world be conquered by the Love that takes the place of these divisive negative states.
Randy: It occurs to me that any question "I" ask is grounded in the fallacy that there is an "I" in the first place. Who, then, benefits from your answers?
GF: One of the problems of intellectualism is questions such as these. Our inner work is not about a mental construct that negates "I," or answers that reveal such constructs. Our Work is about being awake to the parts of us that feel "I" is I. As this unconscious identification fades away, with it goes all that is false in our lives.
Ventureguy: Does God grant a quiet mind to those who are at the end of their rope if they sincerely ask God to be their life?
GF: When we reach those moments in our lives where it is clear that we are not going to be able to think our way out, the mind sees its own limitations. If this same mind can be kept from falling into futile negative emotions, it becomes still. In this stillness something is transferred to us from above us. There is no doubt about this sequence. Be assured. Dont be afraid. Let go.
Jason: What are some exercises for increasing our attention span as this seems to be what it takes to stay watchful longer?
GF: The kind of attention that can be developed through exercises has only a certain value to us. More important than this kind of attention is our willingness to watch and experience what our unattended attention connects us to. In seeing that we are hypnotized with certain forms of self-fascination, we soon fall out of love with this kind of attention. Then, it can and will be used for Higher Work.
Noblesquire: I have issues of control. I am an individual who likes to be in control. I have read a number of your books in the past and am aware of your work. I feel like I have been awake since childhood, my problem is, I think, I feel bad about being such a controller and I therefore allow myself to get taken advantage of in many situations because I am somehow trying to balance all the times I must be taking advantage of others and situations. How do I find some kind of healthy balance in a situation like this...is there something else I am not yet able to see?
GF: Consider the following thoughts: Trying not to be a controller is being a controller. Nothing we resist can be released or ever learned about. Dont try not to control. Instead, be aware of the pressure and pain in you (and in those around you) that such unconscious demands create. Work at this until you can "taste" the self that seeks this kind of control. Theres fear in it. Dont give up.
noblesquire: Thank you. I will give your answer much thought... I like what you are saying. So when we feel the pain, what do we do with it? I know the pain is some form of energy that has the capacity to teach me something about myself. How do I let that pain lead me to what is correct for me? Where do I let it take me?
GF: This is a little bit deep, but sit with it. Awareness of the pain, of any state of self-suffering, has its own purpose, plan, and fulfillment. Our task is to allow this self-organizing Light within us to do what God created it to do for us. Just last night in class, I told the students that this Work is about allowing the unknown to enter into and undo the known. We can do this if were willing. Let us all be willing.
Judy: Your tapes are wonderful and help me to stay awake more throughout the day. The truths in your materials just "feel right" to me. I still have trouble reconciling the resurrection versus the reincarnation theory, however. I purchased your two new tape sets and they are great, but they dont touch on that seeming contradiction. Am I looking for an answer that can only be a matter of opinion?
GF: Resurrection and reincarnation have nothing in common with one another except for one small fact: Until we learn the lessons in our lives, the pain of our lives will continue to recur. As we learn these lessons, we rise above them. In total, dying to ones self is not the end of ones self, but the end of that nature that reincarnates.
DebbiE: Are there any spiritual writings (or would they be called that?) that you would discourage someone from reading because they would be spiritually dangerous? Or will we, if we are spiritual seekers, be able to sense that it may not be good nourishment? I believe that the false parts of us can lead us astray.
GF: There are more lies in books than Truths. And you are right: There are many false parts of us that would rather be given the comfort of a lie than the initial conflict that Truth awakens in us. Each must choose according to his or her heart.
James1: It just occurred to me. We are not to cover up or cover over the hurt and fear. We are supposed to discover and see the various pains. Yet, this is the world of the carrot or stick. Instead of trying to out-do the pain and conflict, we let it go. This is really addition through subtraction. Does this sound correct?
GF: The Path is not about adding anything to ourselves, as anything longing to do this mistakenly believes it is incomplete. It is letting go of what this self says it needs that ultimately reveals both the end of this level of self and the birth of a higher one that is already complete.
Ventureguy: I heard a talk show about people who could go inside their minds and travel to times and places in the future. Is that possible?
GF: More than likely there are individuals so gifted. However, you would not find them on a talk show.
GF: Thanks to these special studies, we are realizing that freedom is not something to be obtained, or somehow "won" through acquisition -- a socially conceived idea that weve seen just does not work. So, as surprising, even doubtful as it may seem at first, we begin our search for self-freedom with the realization that it is our natural state (already) to be free.
This idea does help to explain a number of our own experiences; for instance, how we cannot stand to feel ourselves a captive of anything. Common sense dictates that only something inherently free resists limits. If unconscious captivity were the actual root of our present consciousness, we would never even think to struggle with something that restricts us.
What these findings lead us to is that when it comes to self-freedom, our task is no longer the game of "seek and find." The freedom we long for is not found somewhere apart from us. Now our work is to awaken to what it is within and about ourselves that is secretly stripping us of the light of our native freedom! The good news is that this unseen darkness can be discerned.
Our reward for our inner efforts will be to find ourselves released from a life of unconscious servitude to a master that cannot be satisfied. So, lets get started! If we will look closely at some of the moments in our lives where we find ourselves feeling the least free, one fact about these unwanted times should jump right out at us: We feel negative.
Now ordinarily our unhappy feelings give rise to a whole host of thoughts about how to free ourselves from this (you name it) unhappy condition that now holds us captive. Our negative state is busy telling us what is missing, why it is this way, and what we should do about it. But now we know something priceless:
We know that this negative state is the problem itself! We can understand that any dark cloud that blocks the sun cannot lead us to the light; it is the very creature covering it up. If we see the truth of this, then it begs of us the next important question we must ask ourselves: How are we so easily being tricked, and by what? Here is the answer:
All lingering negative emotions are in partnership with a certain kind of unconscious thinking that not only gives these punishing feelings credibility, but that causes us to see their presence within us as being natural and necessary given our perceived captive condition. To see through their charade is to free ourselves from their captivity.
Here for our study is a short list of these secretly troublesome thoughts:
- Comparing ourselves to others.
- Mentally reviewing failed plans, hoping to revitalize them in some future time.
- Trying to figure out why we feel "unfree," and then resenting our discoveries.
- Rehashing any past painful moments for any reason.
Can we begin to see from these very common examples of conflict-filled thinking that, within it and by it, we actually build the very prison we then seek to escape? Would any of us ever feel inadequate for any reason if we didnt first embrace some imaginary perfected state of self which we then unconsciously compare ourselves to?
Add to this fact that these same pain-producing self-pictures are built upon socially accepted ideals -- not only impossible to gain as imagined, but impossible to keep -- and we arrive at the surprising new understanding needed to realize real freedom:
Once we cease to take part in unconsciously constructing our own psychological cages, we will have no need to set ourselves free. We will just know that who we really are always has been free. We will see, beyond any doubt, that Freedom is not a time to come; that it does not dwell in a place apart from us. It is our True Nature. This is the Truth that fulfills itself within us if we will only dare fulfill its promise to us.
Thats all the time we have for tonight, so I will see you again next month on Thursday, December 6th. Remember that the more awake you can stay to yourself, the happier will be this coming Holiday season -- and all of the days that follow. So, remember yourself, remember God, and keep your wish for full freedom alive in you. Truth will do the rest. Good night.