Outgrow the Self that Values Its Problems
Outgrow the Self that Values Its Problems
  • Posted: May 10, 2020
  • 615 words
Key Lesson

No part of our present level of consciousness can be fully transcended without having completely experienced its nature; and this includes temptation, whatever its character. The “saint” is not someone who has never been tempted, but rather the one who -- having come to know its nature so fully -- can no longer be deceived by any of its empty promises... or veiled threats.


We must learn to struggle with our "self" all the time, because without awareness of the way we meet our life, of what meets life for us when we are just "gliding" along... then, in truth, what is it that meets life? The answer is... no one... just a host of habitual thoughts, feelings, prejudicial ideas, beliefs, and mechanical reactions. If we are not aware of ourselves -- right now, and in all possible subsequent moments -- then even though we "live"... we are not really alive.

I have been working with the nonresistant approach to a troubling habit. As I work, it seems that every time temptation attacks, it lasts for shorter durations of time and doesn't attack as often. Will the temptation eventually cease attacking altogether?

All things move through life, and through us, in a kind of special bell curve with predictable durations. Temptations will have times of being easy to disavow, and then turn around and be, seemingly surprisingly, almost impossible to handle. All this is to say that yes, the "attacking" forces will diminish if not fed, but stay awake and don't fall prey to the idea that you are now stronger than the habit. The only real way to be free of any problem is to outgrow the self that finds some value in it.

While the following ideas aren't the whole answer, within them is some higher help you may use to win this inner war: Bad habits have the hold they do, in part, because when we challenge their right to wreck our lives, their response is suddenly to seem more powerful. The key here is that this habit has not grown stronger in these moments, only that we have become more conscious of its dictatorship. This new awareness is the seed of our gaining the strength we need to overthrow this tyrant. For when we are tired enough of living beneath its dark domination, we will drop both this habit and the defeat it engenders.

Could you explain what you think is the best way to create good habits or eliminate bad ones?

Here is a short poem: "Thoughts turn to acts and habits are born; from habits the shape of character is formed." We drop self-defeating behavior by coming awake to the fact that each negative act to which we give our life is first a bit of life stolen from us. It is not well understood, but before it is possible to defeat ourselves, we are in unconscious relationship with a defeated nature that is not our own. By working to be awake to ourselves in the moment, our awareness of these destructive energies permits us to actually experience their dark nature before that nature has a chance to deceive us. And how does it deceive us? With its promise of relief from the very pain its presence within us has produced! Once you can see this truth, you will also see that all self-defeating acts are the effects of our unawareness. Awareness ends this downhill relationship.


Make an aim for yourself. Give yourself a task that you know you must attend to, whatever its nature. Perhaps you never stop to consider the needs of others, maybe you're a "rush-aholic," or continually feed yourself "pleasure foods," eat when not hungry, or enable your own bad habits by submitting to them against your own best interests. Just pick one and keep it before you at all times. Intend to attend to this aim above and beyond all other things. This wish and willingness to struggle with your own runaway parts will produce a new awareness of what is real, true, and valuable for you.

Excerpted From: Seeker's Guide to Self-Freedom: Truths for Living, pages 116-117

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