- Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2003
- 7660 words
GF: Welcome everyone. Before we begin tonight I would like to help shed some light on a subtle but significant idea concerning what I call the "circle of self." We will examine the secret mechanism in us that drives us through certain unconscious life cycles where, in moments of crisis, we think we are making wise choices, only to realize we have chosen against ourselves once again.
To begin, we must examine two important ideas: first, that the most vital moments in our lives occur when we are most conscious of ourselves, when we are fully present to all of the lessons this same moment brings into our awareness. It is in these moments that transformation of self and awareness of self are as one movement.
The second idea is equally important. As a rule these moments in question, where we are enabled to transcend ourselves, occur during those times in our lives when something "unwanted" happens to us. It is for this conflict we feel with life that we are more or less made to become conscious of both the disturbance and ourselves at once.
This discovery holds many implications. If it's true that self-transformation is facilitated by moments of heightened self-awareness -- and that this higher consciousness stands in sharp contrast to what must be our "usual" state of being -- then we should inquire into the nature of this lower level of consciousness whose presence seems to preclude the possibility of real self-change.
Let's put two and two together. A disturbance comes along in our lives and leads us to see ourselves in a new light. So what is it that has been disturbed in us by the frontrunner of this necessary life lesson? The answer is surprising: We are momentarily pulled away from and out of the habitual flow of our own mechanical thoughts and feelings. Let's look at this idea more closely.
Moments before that unwanted shock of reality whereby we see life anew, our thoughts and feelings seemed to be the light; after all, we followed their course; their guidance we accepted blindly. It's only in those vital moments in the midst of the disturbance, as the lesson in it is received, that we see we had been living in the darkness of ourselves. We had been deceived.
Can we take the "leap" here? Can we see from these first few lessons the startling truth about what is required if we want to help make truly positive changes in our lives? Let me spell it out: If higher awareness is our partner in realizing our True Self, and life's disturbances serve to bring us into its company, then we should learn to welcome these disturbances in our lives!
When I brought this idea up at a recent meeting with several students, they responded to it much as I imagine you are right about now: "Hold on a second. I've spent my whole life trying to avoid disturbances. Now you're saying to invite them in! What in the world are you talking about?"
Instead of instantly closing our mind to this new idea, let's explore it together. Let's see why common disturbances in our lives can help us unlock the higher consciousness we all long to know. With willingness to learn the truth about ourselves as our guide, we ask the following question: What's the first thing that happens in the moment in which we are disturbed?
I think we can all agree that our first response to any moment of feeling disturbed is an involuntary surge of thoughts and feelings whose basic cry is "Don't disturb me!" After all, it seems "only human" to resist those moments where something disturbs us. Which brings us to this next logical question in our exploration: "Who" or what is it within us that does not want to be disturbed?
This question may sound silly at first; but let's not judge too quickly. For while it seems more than obvious that it is "I" who doesn't want to be disturbed, this isn't the whole story. If we will dare to look more closely, this is what we see: This sense of "I" in us that resists the disturbance is born out of being identified with the "status-quo" of our own habitual thoughts and feelings.
It is this sense of self that's woven from the fiber of repeated thoughts and feelings that does want not to be disturbed. And when life naturally moves left or right -- falling out of step with whatever dream parade we may be marching in at that time -- this self gets "tripped up" and we fall down. Clearly we have mistaken our thoughts and feelings for being the same as our True Self.
Yes, it goes without saying that we spend more time with these thoughts and feelings than with anyone or anything else. In one sense they are our closest "friends." They not only tell us what we should do and how we should feel, but they define and direct our lives as a result of this assumed identity. But let's be clear: We are not them.
We are an individual being with multiple features; so that even though one's True Self includes the world of his or her thoughts and feelings, our True Self dwells effortlessly "above" them. The resistance we feel to life's disturbing moments comes when reality contradicts what our thoughts and feelings tell us we need to be whole and happy.
In other words, we resist whatever we do because our thoughts and feelings "tell" us that things should not be as they are. Upon hearing these laments within us -- that our mind justifies with its backlog of reasons -- what choice have we but to start feeling angry or sorry for ourselves? Now we feel bad for what an uncaring world has done to us; and this is where things get really interesting.
Whom do we turn to for answers on how to get rid of this unwanted feeling? We turn to our own thoughts and feelings, to the same self whose dream has been disturbed, to tell us what to do to escape the pain come over us. And please keep in mind that this present pain wouldn't even exist for us were it not for having listened to this same self tell us last time how we could live disturbance-free!
And what do these thoughts tell us to do to get rid of the ache we are in? They tell us to go get something, go fix someone, get rid of something. In short, we are suddenly sure of what we either need to go do or become in order to free ourselves of this suffering. In other words, in all such moments as these we are given something new to desire.
In case it isn't already clear, what disturbed us the first time, and gave rise to our "new" desire, is that life itself came along and shook up our established sense of self that had been identified with former desires. So that when reality shifted, we shook. What we need to see is that this self that shakes is not real. Otherwise the cycle starts all over again.
Just before the end of tonight's chat I will finish these thoughts and offer you some new ideas and insights about specific ways we can work inwardly to walk away from this circle of self and the unconscious desires that drive it along.
What would you like to talk about tonight? Have you been working on some special condition within yourself and need some clarification? Let's get started with your questions and see what happens. Please do keep your questions and comments to real issues. Speculative thinking and other philosophical meanderings are meaningless if real self-change is our wish.
What do you want to discuss? What's on your mind? Let's get started!
Shady: So in a sense you are saying the disturbances in our lives help us learn our true nature, and the exciting part of the disturbance itself is that we will learn we can walk anywhere, through anything, and be?
GF: That's precisely what I'm saying -- that lessons in life that transform us ride in on the back of events, and that these events are always for our development if we will see through our negative reaction to them for the Truth that provided the lesson now before us.
Shady: If we looked at disturbances differently then we have in the past, we might quit trying to avoid them and see them as life-giving experiences? I can see that I have been programmed to wrong thinking, and with that comes many disturbances. So if we accept each disturbance, then it will teach us something more about who we are, right?
GF: This is essentially correct. Once we recognize that there is no moment in which we cannot be aware of ourselves, and that this awareness itself relates us to every movement of life, inward or outward, then the whole of life, including its disturbances, acts like a beautiful mirror in which we may both explore and discover ourselves.
Shady: Sometimes in the middle of a disturbance, a lie comes to you that where you are you are (1) not where you belong, and (2) you are picking up more selves here. Then confusion sets in. Do you have any comments?
GF: Confusion cannot present itself to us as a meaningful negative state without there being within us, prior to its onset, a certain unconscious assumption that we already know, or at least should know, the meaning of the event we are in. The whole point of self-observation and awareness is for a process of revelation within us, not as something that we use to prove ourselves or our knowledge in that same moment. Just watch without "willing."
Grayson: Concerning the disturbances you have just talked about, can we use past disturbances, from when we were not yet awake, to remember and relive them, and thus create a whole new experience of them now, vanquishing the original inner experience?
GF: The only time it is possible for any of us to change is in the moment the event transpires. All consideration of events past are merely the reliving of dead images vivified with stored sensations. Drop any concerns over any disturbances from your past that appear and ask you to deal with them. In Truth, these times are dead and our best approach is to be dead to them.
Bev: This is completely on target for me! My life lately has been a seemingly unending string of "unwanted events" -- in a BIG way. Prior to your comments, I kept thinking God was trying to teach me something, or worse, that He is punishing me for something (à la Old Testament Job!). It's hard to get knocked down so many times and "keep perspective."
GF: If we can only remember the following, our lives will be filled with new understanding: The only thing that gets knocked down by an activity expressed in the present moment, is an unconscious structure made up of our own past preferences that we are identified with. The new moment is an invitation and an emissary of Truth, not an adversary the way our false nature presently views disturbances and their necessary lessons.
Bev: Gee, though, couldn't Truth be satisfied with ONE huge negative event at once? Why is there the need to pound away with multiple events at the same time... I guess Truth wants the message to get through to me loudly and clearly!
GF: If you will continue to work with these principles, I promise you that one day the whole idea of a negative event will simply cease to exist to you.
Bev: One other thought for me on this: I can even see when I am having an emotional reaction to something that it is more "the dream" of something that I am reluctant to let go of than the thing itself. The "dream" is so powerful it becomes hard to distinguish between what is real and what is imagined. Is this some of what happens with the false self?
GF: It can be accurately said that the false self lives entirely in imagination. The nature of this imagination is the thoughts and feelings that pass through the mind that, as they form, call into existence a "self" that knows itself by considering these same images. These images are loaded with familiar sensations, good and bad, and the self that receives these impressions knows itself accordingly.
lilcanuk: Are not dreams also another way of expressing one's self?
GF: If you're not familiar with the New Testament, there's a passage in Corinthians from St. Paul. He says, "Our hopes should be in things unseen, for who hopes for things seen?" When we realize at last that all dreams belong to the finite world -- because they are creations of thought and emotion -- then we cease to dream a self into existence, because we know that the self that we long to be cannot be measured or defined by any dream.
nowishow: I am in a place within my industry that is about to "explode" and change the industry and limit almost all the competition. Because I'm just a "small timer" I may very well be passed over or excluded unfairly. I've taken rejection and understood it was not God's will, but this seems wrong. How do I see the good of losing an honest chance to help myself and family?
GF: Such questions are always challenging when we find ourselves beset upon by a world in which we have ourselves set a goal to become something out of the ordinary. We all need to learn what it means to "do" what's in our power and to refuse to get caught up struggling with what's not. As best you can, work for the dream you have but don't let ambition become the source of an endless ache as it sets you against those who you feel have set themselves against you. It isn't in your power to make others decent or act properly. It is in your power to walk away from the self-compromising -- and ultimately self-destructive -- states of anger or resentment that flood in to blame others, all for the sake of giving you a sense of being in control.
ruthann: Oh, please explain how we have the power "to walk away from the self-compromising and self-destructive states such as anger and resentment"! I try to stop the states, but I don't succeed.
GF: It is not (and must not become) a question of trying to "stop" these states. The issue is that no one will leave behind something that they find of value. Consciousness of these states -- not resistance to them -- is the needed medicine, as only our seeing what they do within us, to us, can lead to letting go (of them).
mobilman: Recently there was a change in my ATM card and pin number. A small thing, right, but there was a type of crisis in it. There was anger and something telling me why I needed to fight with the bank over this. But I did something different this time. I accepted the change and the whole crisis fell away. Comments?
GF: One of the principle lessons behind all True spiritual teachings has to do with the idea that "resistance to the disturbance is the disturbance." This means that when we will simply let a thought that comes up in us, whose presence creates conflict, go its merry way without unconsciously interacting with it, not only does the problem disappear, but the self that was troubled goes with it.
heather: I want to know why when I am upset I want to go buy something? It always makes me feel better, for the time being, but for awhile it caused lots of problems.
GF: This is difficult to grasp, but you'll see the Good of it if you'll work with the following idea: Our present nature is not a unified being. It is a series of alternating selves, each of which rushes to the foreground when the one before it either runs out of steam or meets an insurmountable object. In essence, we buy things (we don't need) when we're upset because a certain self jumps in to try and please the pained self, and does nothing more than cause more pain. This is why only self-understanding can heal us.
Grayson: When someone "relives" an old negative experience, is it the original "I" that came up during the original experience that has resurfaced now? Thus has the original "I" lived on inside the person, festering over time?
GF: There is no such original "I" as you've described as existing within any act of re-living one's life. Certain negative states, particularly when they have been relived and relived, do take on a form of self-consciousness in us that one might say becomes a negative "I" in that person. But apart from that phenomenon, the reliving of old experiences is the function of old "tapes" within us simply playing when something in life turns on the mental machine.
Grayson: Can it be true that our subconscious, or unconscious, is made up of things from our past, from infancy onward, that we once took in wholeheartedly as reality, and have buried themselves within us, even if we consciously know they are not real now?
GF: There are such creatures in one's unconsciousness, but they are only aspects, not the basis.
ruthann: I am appreciative to discuss real issues: I am caring for my mother-in-law, and I am going back-and-forth between the feelings of being highly used by her, and truly knowing that is such a "low" feeling, then going to my unfortunately rather consistent feeling of "hating" myself. Please advise.
GF: We must all learn what it means to discharge our duties without always trying to find something in them by which to know ourselves, for either the better or worse. If you must take care of her, what difference does it make what she does toward you, other than drive you crazy trying to figure out how to change in her what can't be changed? Use the relationship to release yourself from the parts of yourself that get caught in these dark dialogues.
Grayson: When someone does not want to work on a required project, or even go to work, is it only the personal thoughts OF the work and not the work itself that one really fears experiencing?
GF: Essentially it is never the thing itself, whatever that thing may be, that we fear in life. No fear, of a psychological nature, exists without the unconscious influence of images produced by negative imagination that one has become identified with.
Grayson: When someone wants to complete a project, but in the present does not want to work on it, is it a spiritual exercise to push through the mental and emotional resistance and get started?
GF: Only if he or she can use their resistance consciously.
cd: Working through how I deal with conflict, I get confused when to stay quiet and when to try and work it out with the other person. Am I compromising myself to want to work it out? I try and listen to see if it is fear that is motivating it, but I get confused again.
GF: Your question indicates that you recognize that most of the time when we want to "work out" our differences with someone, it's because we fear the outcome of leaving it as it is. On the other hand, one must learn to work in the opposites with others. Your life, if you'll use it so, is a grand experiment in consciousness and its development. Do not do what fear tells you to do, but neither should you be afraid to be a peacemaker, if that's the role called for.
cd: I fear leaving it as is and I also fear trying to make peace that's why I have let it be. It's always that "what if something I could say would make it better?" that keeps its hold on me.
GF: One last lesson when it comes to all relationships that are stressful for whatever reasons: Most of the time we are far better off bearing and then dying to our own sense of discomfort than we are trying to relieve that through a false action to try and make the other person feel not disturbed. This cannot be done, even though it appears like it works. Use the tension as a springboard for self-study, and you will see changes in both you and your partner.
Diojeneez: Lao-tse says that the mind, "once calmed, naturally expands, and ultimately one's mind becomes as vast and immeasurable as the night sky." How interesting! What does it mean?
GF: It means literally what is said, but I'll add a point for clarification. Awareness is the true medium of comprehension of all things in creation. The more awake one is within this higher awareness, the more that person effortlessly lives in a kind of unity with what is unbounded before their eyes, as well as their own thoughts. This is a great truth and a great invitation to all who accept it.
BNevrgivup: This higher self you speak of, is it the condition of absolute awareness between suspended thought?
GF: Your description would be one way to define what is essentially a different and higher order of our own being. One can think of higher awareness relative to thought as being similar to the waters of an ocean through which all manner of fish swim. The fish change position, but the water never loses itself because of the movement through it.
nowishow: I am in my first few years of this wonderful work and doing great! I am wondering where do you and others like yourself get your energy to stay on the path seemingly every second? Am I doing something wrong when I feel like I am not up for hearing /learning more at times, or am I just at some sort of standstill?
GF: Each of us has in us a certain undiscovered well of vital and ever-new energy. This well-spring is the foundation of the present moment, and our relationship to it all depends upon the degree to which we are receptive to what the present moment is trying to impress upon us. The more conscious we are of ourselves, as we are, in the now, the more we see that is true about both ourselves and the now. This Truth is the water in this well, and it never runs dry.
Floyd: What are the active, passive, and reconciling forces that desire is comprised of?
GF: The best answer to your question would be for one to become a truly interested observer of his or her own desires. The intellectual explanation serves very little when it doesn't correspond to direct understanding through experience. I will mention however that desires, regardless of their nature, are always the expression of the activity of the opposites. One's conditioning modifies the form. No opposite can cancel itself, and forms never stop rising in the mind asleep to itself.
Grayson: Is one reason that we really want to go along with our thoughts the fear that our thoughts will grow and grow and become too uncomfortable to bear?
GF: The principle reason that one unconsciously consents to "go along with" his or her thoughts is because there is no one there, other than another set of thoughts, thought of as being "self," that are identified with the original set of thoughts. This can be either -- in the so-called positive way, or through resistance to the thought.
Eric: I heard Mr. Howard say the most amazing thing on one of his tapes. He said that I am able to recognize Truth because of the Truth already put into me by Truth itself. Truth alone can recognize Truth. Would you say that there is a very deep meaning and an important significance to this idea? It seems to connect with the idea of not interfering with what you observe in yourself.
GF: This Truth that you have stated, once understood by us, becomes an unsinkable ally and friend in the truest meaning of the word. When we finally realize that it is impossible for us to know anything that doesn't already dwell within, we are well on our way to a new and whole consciousness.
Diojeneez: Saint Catherine of Siena said, "All the way to heaven is heaven, because He said, "I am the way.'" What exactly is she saying?
GF: The wise and awakened through the ages have all passed along the essential same message and invitation: The kingdom of heaven, the realm of Living Light, pure Mind, dwells here, now, and within each and every one of us. There is no time in which this understanding is reached. Therefore, the whole way to heaven is taken while walking through heaven that one just doesn't recognize is heaven.
nowishow: I use artificial cosmetic coverings to preserve my natural youthful appearance. I've grown accustomed to it but I know I should be free from it. Is it wrong to aim for this when nature happens to do something different in my case? I honestly feel I would not do this if I were 10-15 years older.
GF: Nothing that any human being is compelled to do can ever lead to freedom and happiness. You know what you must do. Do it! Face the fear and you will realize that all you're looking at when you see something that you "don't want to see" is a set of conditioned thoughts and feelings, whose very presence in you is not only a punishment, but is producing the very aging that you resist.
Poppy: I was in a car accident and had a experience not of this world (near death experience). Everything that I experienced made this world non-existent. What we call paradoxes in this world, I was a part of there. At first I was very disturbed that I was nothing and this earth world did not exist. Now I am curious and want to find out more. Who am I really? I want to find these answers. How do I find these answers without having to start from scratch?
GF: If you did see what you have reported, then there is nothing in the universe, besides developing your spiritual nature and its understanding, that will ever truly satisfy you again. If a man or a woman has a glimpse of a world without opposites, and yet that contains all opposing forms, he or she would be like a person who had not had a drink of water for 30 years and suddenly saw in the distance a cool pool. Persist with your wish to know consciously the world you accidentally entered.
Poppy: How do I get to that place were I was silence and my every desire was fulfilled because I was absent of desire and I was everything and nothing at the same time except that time did not exist? I tried meditating but all I have become aware of is that my mind is constantly talking and never shuts up, or I fall asleep. How do I speed up the process so that I know myself as I truly am? Mostly I am confused.
GF: I do understand what you are saying, and I want to encourage you. But I also want you to understand that a lasting awakened life is never the result of an accident. We must work within ourselves if we would realize the reality that lies hidden in us. You might find some welcome help in a tape entitled "Preparing Yourself to Answer God's Invitation." This is tape #220 in our on-line bookstore. If it doesn't help you, do return it for a full refund.
AJ: What is the purpose of life here on earth?
GF: It is for the development of the soul through a relationship with an indwelling Spirit, and everything this entails.
BNevrgivup: Your books and lessons have changed my life, because I now have a clear understanding of how we think..."opposites." The only thing left is to face my imagined fearful circumstances. Your comments on fear would be helpful.
GF: The power that fear holds over us is that while the conditions that cause this fear are fully imagined, the sensations these imaginations produce in us are real. One must learn to use what we'll call "Higher Reason" when faced with a moment of whether to risk his fear or not. True self-knowledge allows us to act from what we know is true, as opposed to acting from a reaction to negative sensations that are defining us. Risk it!
cd: I have a hard time grasping what you mean by "opposites." Is there something that could clarify what that means?
GF: Understanding the opposites is important to your work to understand yourself and its hidden workings. One example of these hidden opposites that hold us in their workings is when, being afraid of someone, we feign strength by being aloof. The desire we enact is not ours but comes to us from the opposite of what we enact. For more on this subject I would suggest reading some of the related materials in Seekers Guide to Self Freedom.
ruthann: I intellectually understand that I need to release myself from the parts of myself that are caught in "dark dialogues." Am I correct in thinking that they are the thoughts and feelings that are the false selves that you are discussing tonight?
GF: One of the predominant ways in which our present sense of self is produced in us is through being identified with these familiar thoughts and feelings about either our enemies or loved ones. Freedom from this kind of psychological captivity comes as we recognize that we are captives not of exterior conditions, but of our own unexplored consciousness.
Diojeneez: Vernon Howard said, "This will sound dreadful to you, but it's part of my warning. If your Light goes out ONCE through your arrogance, your stupidity, your carelessness, you will never ever know or remember that you once had it." Don't people fall asleep by carelessness and catch themselves sleeping all the time? No one can be perfectly conscious, right?
GF: Mr. Howard was trying to illuminate a certain and definite stage in a person's relationship with darkness in him or her. It is when one finally agrees with the will of what is essentially "wicked," that he or she loses this Light because now the darkness in them sees darkness in them as being the light. Where would one go when one is fully lost, believing he has found the way out?
Floyd: What is the root fear (or root desire) beneath the fear of making personal connections (i.e., fear of making eye contact, etc.)? What are we afraid of? What are we desiring?
GF: The root fear when it comes to personal relationships has to do with the fear of that person not recognizing or acknowledging you as you want to be seen or believe yourself to be. We feel threatened in relationships with others, casual or intimate, because of how strongly vested our sense of self is with the images that we hold of ourselves. Images are only capable of imagined relationships.
nowishow: Can we really know so much about laws and awareness to the point where we stop attracting ALL the bad things we once did? Is this how people have great revelations and discover (secrets) of the universe, or is there any awareness besides thoughts that pass through us?
GF: I assure you that not only is it possible for us to understand the great laws that govern our existence, but that we can "know" them so well that we cease to exist as individuals outside of that existence upon whom life seems to be acting indiscriminately. Persist with your studies.
Nowishow: What I mean is how can I become more receptive/aware? I pay attention and yet feel like I'm hitting some sort of ceiling.
GF: Who hits the ceiling but the one trying to escape the floor? All obstacles are imagined limitations of the mind that has set for itself a certain place it wants to reach. In real life no such place exists, nor the self kept from it. Watch without wanting. Watch without wanting.
Johnny-T: I have noticed a sometimes strong resentment towards my best friend's six year old. The kid is spoiled and selfish, manipulative, and plays it for all it's worth. Why am I mentally feuding with a child?
GF: It's extraordinary, isn't it? Did you know that most adults have a secret fear of children because children don't play to the adults' images of themselves? But as far as this resentment towards the child, here's a great Truth that we all need to see more deeply: We cannot resist or resent anything in anyone that it is not an unconscious feature in ourselves. Our resentment acts as a buffer, keeping us from being aware of our own condition that is similar to what we have to "suffer" in another.
Diojeneez: Gurdjieff said something a little shocking! He said, "I am under no laws but God's. Do you really think that you would starve if you did not have a stack of green paper and a pile of metal discs? You really think a small round pellet or some fluid pushed through your veins wards off disease and death? Dismiss all magical beliefs today. God's laws forever give and never take." Could that really be true!?
GF: It is the Truth, the whole Truth, and nothing but the Truth.
Johnny-T: These ideas are sometimes presented as God being a state of mind, and people often draw parallels from their thoughts, to the Bible and what it is saying. We cannot twist God and His word to our interpretation like a theoretical debate in which we are biased. Any comment?
GF: God is not a "state if mind," and -- as you said -- He is "unsearchable." Concepts are traps as long as they are not recognized as being descriptions of reality. We are confined by the extent to which we define our own consciousness and God as its source.
Johnny-T: Is it wrong to borrow money from person(s) who did not earn it or who obtained it from less than honest ways? History is full of this and even our own government has done this. I do not know if I am trying to rationalize my desires or over-analyzing because of fear.
GF: William Shakespeare said it best: "Neither a borrower nor a lender be; for loan oft loseth both itself and friend." This truth applies everywhere and in all things, including one's spiritual life.
heather: I would like to know why I (at age 51) feel that I can't live in a traditional marriage anymore and want more independence and not to be so controlled?
GF: Only you can know these things, and anyone who tells you reasons betrays you.
James1: In terms of a life-long relationship, is there any point in asking, "Is she the one?" I know I just want the feeling of security of the answer. How better can I see into this?
GF: There is no point is such questions other than to produce a certain kind of fear-laced hope. Learn to "taste" the state that asks such questions and you will want better food!
lilcanuk: When you judge another, is it because of what you lack in yourself?
GF: We point out in others (in negative judgment) only those things we are ourselves.
Grayson: What exactly are the specific things that happen to a person who judges another and even bullies him or tries to humiliate or "put one over on him"?
GF: We are punished by the punishments we would give others.
Grayson: Is the desire for a better house or way of life simply the only manifestation the lower self can think of (albeit wrongly) to bring forward the same experience that only the Higher Self can know and give?
GF: There is nothing wrong with conscious preferences. It is only when preference becomes pain because of identification with the desires that it becomes a stumbling block to one's spiritual life.
GF: We are nearly out of time, but I want to give you my remaining notes on escaping the circle of self and walking away from the unconscious desires that drive it along.
To briefly review, we spoke of how we must learn to welcome life's disturbing moments -- as these same moments of "shake-up" are the secret catalyst for truth to help wake us up. And we learned how these unwanted times are crucial for true self-transformation, because they both reveal and make it possible to step out of the formerly unseen "circle of self."
When we left off we had reached this new understanding: In those unwanted moments where our life has been disturbed, we only know how to do one thing: turn to our own habitual thoughts and feelings and let them tell us what we need to no longer ache. Our pleasure is that this new desire replaces the old pain. Our displeasure is that this swap doesn't work! Now let's see why this holds true.
The only "self" that we know to turn to in moments of our distress is the very level of self responsible for that unwanted moment in our life! It's like asking a burglar what to do to keep him out of your house the next time you're away.
The problem is that this level of self is what it is because of how it knows itself -- meaning that the only reality this nature knows is the one it supplies itself by identifying with past thoughts and feelings it "sees" as being separate from itself. So, whenever life contradicts what this self "thinks" it knows is true, it sees life as trying to take away its happiness.
Each time this happens, the only recourse that our false self has is to reinvent itself, something it does by creating what it sees as a "new" desire to step in and replace the now thwarted one. This new desire lends the false self a sense of being new itself.
The secret drawback is that nothing our present self can desire can ever be new! All such longings are created from the reconfigured content of its own thought nature, and even one's most clever thoughts are still the stuff of the past. This discovery in itself should be enough to snap us out of running in these circles, but we have one more thing that needs to be seen:
Hidden in all of this mental running around is an unquestioned assumption that just because something in us resists life doesn't prove that it knows better than life what should be happening. Parts of us believe they know the best path to contented living even though, for all of their certainty, our conflict with life is unabated. Let's see what's "behind" this undetected deception.
In order to continue its pseudo-existence, the thought-self continually considers life around it using the content of its past experiences to gauge whether things have gone well or badly. And so it tells us how we should feel depending on its assessment of the moment, a conclusion based on a false assumption that it understands the true meaning of the moment it evaluates.
Unfortunately for this often-shocked sense of self, it doesn't know that the true nature of reality is nothing like it dreams it is; for as we now know it to be true, every moment of reality is new. This means that the essence of Now, the truly present moment, is unknown. This discovery sets the stage for recovering our True Self and its native freedom from painful desires.
It is our willingness to take part -- to be a part -- of this unknown moment that gradually awakens us to our own higher consciousness. It is our full awareness of the present moment that frees us from the fear of being disturbed by it, because in this higher self-awareness there exists no essential difference between ourselves and all that unfolds in the present moment.
Again, this pure present moment, the new "now," is absolutely unknown. Its secret nature is endless space, pure silence. It has no "individual" qualities because nothing exists outside of it to lend it any subjective attributes. And I stress these ideas here because of what it means to our study as follows:
The only so-called observable qualities any given moment may have are those given to it by a thought self that "names" that event according to its own conditioned nature. And it is from these self-assigned qualities that we then think (further) about what the moment means; so we find either satisfaction or disappointment in it, never knowing that we read our own labels.
But what we don't see is this: The nature in us that labels any moment in our life as being a "disturbance" is the same nature that created the conditions that caused this! Our inner task is to be aware of this truth, which empowers us to act consciously in any moment of disturbance brought about when our false self goes into conflict with life.
It is seeing our present nature in its action of avoiding some aching, continually creating the circle of self as it creates one new desire after another, that enables us to break its hold upon our lives. And as we awaken to this higher reality through awareness of ourselves, we also become aware of a new consciousness that can be described as this:
We realize that our True Self is the same as the present moment. And in the true present, in the Now, there can be no disappointment because of this great and wondrous spiritual fact: Life desires and fulfills Itself.
Let's summarize: We must see that desire is always an inadequate response to any moment wherein we find ourselves feeling disturbed by some action of life. When that disturbance comes (someone bothers you, a piece of bad news lands in your mailbox, etc.), realize that life is not asking you to fix it so that you can remain without having to change. Instead see this truth:
Life is asking you -- inviting you -- to take part in a whole new moment of relationship with it. Life is saying, "Let me show you the New and True You that already has its home in me."
So, instead of becoming lost in that instantaneous response of resistance, repulsion, and negativity, try to watch the whole moment rather than wanting to control it. Let go of your resistance and there goes with it whatever desire was about to dominate you again. Drop the names of your pains and you let go of all the reasons you have for them! Now you are free.
Our time has run out. Remember that the freedom you long for cannot be found by listening to the parts of you that want to run you through the same old changes. Dare to walk out of the circle of self and don't look back! Remember yourself, your wish for the Truth, and keep the love of the Light ahead of you at all times. God will see to your success.
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