Whenever painful events happen, they tend to fall on only one of two sides of a person. The first side is the denial side. When turning this way, refusal rules. Regret, self-pity, and endless explanations generally follow. Or, the unwanted moment falls on the angry side, where the turning is to burning. Resentment rages. Hatred and feelings of betrayal mushroom into self-righteous plans for avenging the wrong. But what both these sad sides have in common is that they keep the person between them a victim -- turning in vain from one side to the other -- only to find nothing changes except for the kind of pain found there. False self-certainty becomes an invisible form of self-stagnation.
But there exists a third way to turn, a superior choice that leads to a higher life level where neither confusion, conflict, nor crisis is found. I call this higher direction turning to learning.
Turning to learning begins with the honest recognition that our present approach to solving personal problems just doesn't work. But losing confidence in your own heated, or heavyhearted reactions does not mean that you have to see yourself in a disparaging light, any more than stepping out of the way of a runaway truck would make you think of yourself as a coward.
Learning to live without recurring problems begins with losing faith in our habitual responses that tell us how to be free of them. We let the runaway truck pass us by because we know it's only a mindless machine. We realize it can't recognize the danger its own undirected nature represents.
We must learn to let our own habitual reactions roll by us because, just like the wild truck, these reactions of ours are mechanical in nature. And since we know that machines can't learn, this means neither will we discover what is really needed to free ourselves as long we allow our reactions to lead the way.
Reactions never reveal, they conceal. Remaining under the rule of any reaction limits your choices in life to only the direction that reaction gives you to take. The key point is this: no reaction-supplied direction can ever lead anywhere higher than the level of the reaction. If these mechanical responses actually knew as much as they pretend to, we wouldn't be repeating the patterns that always lead us back to the same kind of personal problems. It should be clear. Our mechanical reactions are at the root of our persistent problems, and not the way out of them.
As you let your first mechanical reactions go by, you will learn. The whole process of self-liberation through higher learning is under definite spiritual laws. The very act of turning away from mechanical reactions is the same as facing in the direction of a higher life level. You'll find that who you really are is an endless learning ground, a limitless possibility of higher self-discovery.
Asking ourselves the truth about our own hidden inner condition, at just the right moments, causes the false certainty created by our strong reactions to fade. Temporary but necessary self-uncertainty follows. This is good! The unique nature of this conscious uncertainty creates a conscious receptivity, like opening a special inner window through which the refreshing breeze of learning can enter. Real certainty is carried in on this gentle wind. Welcome it. A willingness to learn the new and the true is the same as a gateway to freedom.