- Posted: Monday, April 03, 2006
- 2913 words
ED: Hello. I'm Dr. Ellen Dickstein. I'm here with best-selling inner life author, Guy Finley, and today we're going to talk about uncovering the secret treasure of our True Self.
Guy, everybody loves the idea of a secret treasure. It brings up images of Indiana Jones finding a chest of gold doubloons... and of course, we think if we get those gold doubloons, it will make us feel stronger and better about ourselves. But every great teaching tells us that the treasure is within. So, the first question is: Why is it that we can't see something that is as close as our own heart?
GF: It's a good question, and I'll answer it with an idea to help you, and everyone else, start to see why it is that we can't see what is right in front of us, what is right within us.
Every one of us lives in a world that is no larger and no smaller than our understanding. That is really the world that I'm living in right now while I'm talking to you and that you're living in while you're talking to me. We share a common space, we breathe a common air, we're in a common building, yet our understanding isn't in common. Your understanding gives you the experience of this moment just as my understanding gives me my experience of the moment.
According to the size of our understanding, we are afforded the pleasure, the power, or the pain of living in whatever it is that our mind is telling us that we're experiencing at the moment. So when we can't understand that simple idea, Ellen, then our mind naturally gravitates to an image, something that we can understand.
My mind just thought of those little gold doubloons with chocolate in them. Remember those? When you think of a treasure, you think of something relative to an image that is in your mind that is stored out of what you have known, what you have seen, what has pleasured you. So when we think of a treasure of our True Self, we have a tendency to refer immediately to our own past, these ideas that are very much the foundation of our present life.
The key here is to start understanding that that which I imagine as being my true nature, that which I imagine as being a true pleasure, a true kindness, a true love, is not the same as the Real Treasure. Understanding that is the beginning of changing the way in which we relate to the world, and of course, finding ourselves as we actually are.
ED: So what we need to do is enlarge our understanding.
GF: Yes. There is the idea of enlarging our understanding, but do you need to enlarge the amount of air you can breathe? I don't need to enlarge the amount of sunlight that streams down that warms me and nourishes me. All that I can use is there. This is always the problem with the size of our present understanding, because our mind only knows to look for things that it is familiar with and that define it.
Our True Nature is not defined by anything. Who we are does not think about itself in order to know itself. Is there anything you can think about that doesn't require you going into the past? When we think about things, the thoughts that we have -- the experience of them, the content of them -- is all connected to things we have known.
ED: Yes, and often there is a negative connotation with them.
GF: Of course. There can be a negative connotation, but in this instance, I'm telling you that just to go into thought at all about myself is negative to the possibility of me living from my True Self.
We are not meant to live in time. When we think about ourselves, when we think about things we want -- that we call that which will fulfill us -- even when we imagine something we think we've never had, we are still looking at images that our mind has picked up from TV, or a book, or from someone else. We have simply ascribed ourselves to what we imagine it would be like to have that. I imagine the pleasure and I experience the pleasure as I have stored in those images. As I live that pleasure, I think: "This is what I have to have to be my True Self, because now I feel confident. Now I feel strong."
Any time a person goes into thought in order to define themselves in any way, they have appropriately, because of that, confined themselves. As we define ourselves, we confine ourselves. There is a golden rule if you ever want to think of these things relative to your True Nature. That's all we know to do is to define ourselves.
ED: Right. And all of those things that we define ourselves by are things in the world that are transitory. They pass, and so they are not a lasting treasure.
GF: They're not only not a lasting treasure, but for the point of our conversation, yes, those things appear out in the world. There is that fine automobile. There is that beautiful home. There is that job where I'm recognized as an authority of some kind. There are those places and positions, but they only exist out there as an important thing to us because of the idea that we hold of them in our mind.
The idea of the possession, the idea of the position gives me a sense of myself, of being real and secure, having a bright future, and being worthwhile. But because this image is connected to conditions outside of myself, as soon as any of that even starts to change, the whole way in which I've known myself starts to rattle and roll, and now I've become afraid because unless I can keep the world the way I want it to be -- control people and positions -- I'm going to lose who I have taken myself to be. Our True Self cannot get lost that way because it never finds itself in anything that it defines itself by.
ED: This all reminds me of a story you tell in Let Go and Live in the Now about a little princess, Celeste. Her mother, the queen, tells her that she is going to receive a great gift, and Celeste is very excited about this. The next day, the mother says, "OK, get in the carriage, we're going to go on a trip." They go for day after day, and Celeste never sees her gift. She gets angrier and angrier until she finally explodes. She says to her mother, "Why are you tormenting me? When are you going to give me my gift?" Her mother says, "We've been driving through it all these days." It was a gift too large for Celeste to see with her limited understanding.
GF: Exactly. We live in a world the size of our understanding. The queen mother was showing her that Celeste was the proper inheritor of this entire kingdom, but Celeste was looking for gold, or ponies, or a carriage, or her own palace as she understood what it meant to have something great.
It's so hard to explain to people that real greatness has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with anything that you can ever think about. It has nothing to do with any way in which you will ever imagine yourself. True greatness is a relationship with Greatness, and when you're in true relationship with Greatness, with God, with Life, the very fact of that relationship places you in proper order in the relationship. You understand your role as a participant in this perfecting, perfected life.
You are the literal recipient of an influx of life that doesn't think about itself. It is itself, and its life is your life. We don't see the magnificence of it because we only know to look at life through eyes that can only see the content of a mind that is looking through the eyes. In other words, when we look out at the world, we don't look and see the world that's there, even at the most elementary level. We look out and see the objects, the behaviors, and the persons that our mind tells us are there because when it sees what it says is there, then it is the see-er. It knows itself as being apart from -- either abused by or uplifted by -- those things that it has named as being outside of itself. Reality just isn't like that, but our experience is that way because that's our present level of understanding. We need to change it, Ellen.
ED: What is it that we need to see? How do we open up our eyes to what is really there?
GF: It starts with simple things. A person can spend twenty, thirty, forty years of his or her life -- I see people like this all of the time -- and for the longest time, fear makes sense to the person. Fear makes sense to you. It makes sense for you to be afraid of what he just did, of what they may take from you, of what could happen tomorrow. That makes sense to a human being whose world of understanding is defined by this relationship that the mind has with its own objects. That makes sense because if something happens with that, I'm going to lose something, something bad is going to happen to me. Fear makes sense because I'm vested in something that my mind says is crucial to my very existence.
ED: So what I call the treasure I want actually closes me off from finding a true treasure, because it puts me in fear that closes me up even tighter.
GF: Do you see that Ellen? That's the thing. It is so important not just to talk about these things, but to see it for yourself. You're going out on a job interview or you have to go to a business meeting, or you're going to travel someplace, or you just have to sit down with your children, or maybe discipline your dog -- the simplest relationship. If one is attentive, you can see in a moment like that, that fear sweeps into you. And when fear sweeps into you, it sweeps into you with all of the reasons why it's necessary for you to protect whatever it is that's telling you is vital to your continuity, to your existence.
Here's the problem: All of you are so complacent. You have no idea how complacent you are. If you had the smallest inkling what you are complacent to inside of yourselves and the way it's stealing your life from you, and how you walk around drained and defeated because you've been trying to protect something that can't be protected even if you managed to do it, then this would be the start of the simple thing that I'm talking about: the simple need -- which is natural, inherent, and deeply spiritual (meaning backed by Reality, God itself) -- to no longer be afraid.
ED: We have to stop making deals with our own inner tormentor.
GF: Yes, but it's so simple to say. Can I do it right now? Can I be sitting in my home or driving my car, and catch that thought that says, "What's the use?" The True Self never asks, "What's the use?" The True Self never complains about anything, because that nature is in a relationship that is continually completing itself anew every instant. It doesn't carry with it any of these ideas, images, icons, ideologies with it by which to know itself. It's living in a vast, dynamic relationship with Life itself. That Life itself is fulfilling itself, and when one is living like that, it isn't a question of "What am I going to get?" or "What might someone take from me?" or "What does he mean by that?" and all of the things that the mind occupies itself with to make what is essentially meaningless into something highly meaningful. Because then I know what to do with myself again. I'm going to re-establish my kingdom so that I can go through the whole fear cycle one more time! A person has to get weary of that.
A person has to absolutely see the impossibility of pleasing fear, and how as long as we do that, we're living from a nature that has defined itself by things outside of itself, by relationships exterior to itself, and that it fears will change. As long as you fear change, you'll resist it. As long as you resist it, you'll never learn from it. As long as you never learn, you'll never grow. As long as you never grow, your understanding will never be a part of this vast treasure of your True Self.
ED: I think one of the keys here is that we don't understand True Self. When I think of self, all I know is what I've been protecting all these years. And if I don't protect that, what will I be?
GF: What am I? What will become of me? That's right.
There has to come this critical moment in everyone's life where they see the sheer futility of continuing to follow the same path, of behaving the same way, of calling upon fear as a guide, of complaining about life when it isn't the way they want it to be -- not because they're wise, not because they have some great spiritual strength or courage or anything like that, but just because of their wish to participate in a broader life -- then that Broader Life gives them a broader understanding.
The Broader Understanding, Ellen, always comes first to us as a kind of darkness. When I live by an imagined light and then I keep falling on the ground from it, I can only know one thing. I get up and I say to myself, "Well that wasn't right!" and now I'm the light again, and now I proceed according to this light that I call myself. The True Self doesn't think in terms like that. This nature we're speaking about understands that at any given moment, it is exactly where it needs to be -- just as you are right now if you were to be awake. You are exactly where you need to be in terms of being awake and aware of yourself. When you're awake, when you're aware, you are participating in a world that is larger than your knowledge of it.
The true pursuit of a human being is to continually enter into a world larger than his or her knowledge of it because it is innate in us to want to be part of this expansive movement of Light, to grow, to understand. But at a certain point, all that we know is not to enter into a world larger than my knowledge, but to take my knowledge and use it to crush the world into some little ball that I can put in my pocket so I can maintain the way it orbits. Can you see how that has to go in two different directions?
ED: Right. As you're always quoting Paul, we have to have hope in things unseen.
GF: That's right. Look how beautiful the idea is, and what futility there is to think that a person can know the world that they're in. I can't know the world that I'm in apart from my awareness of it. And if I'm truly aware in the present moment -- which is my True Self -- then it doesn't matter that "I don't know" because I'm being given what I need to know in the moment. And if I'll receive that, then in order to receive it, I have to let go of this self that's got everything crunched into a little ball, because he's no longer needed. And so I die. But I live. Over and over -- meaning not in a series of cause and effect events, but as an actual dynamic of being alive the way we're intended to be alive.
ED: You've talked about how we're made of the stuff of stars. We're meant to be part of this whole universal process of transformation.
GF: Yes. Your True Self is made in the image of God, and the image of God is not Ellen, or Guy, or anyone else -- no matter how profound or chiseled their body may be. The image of God is the matrix and the workings of the sustenance and the source of the universe itself. That is the image of God. And each and every one of us is a living expression of that Life, the Ruach Adonai, the True Spirit. That is what we are invited to live in, and instead we live in a tiny little cottage made up of conflict and fear, produced by trying to control a world that we'll never control according to the nature that wants that. We have to learn to let go and live in the Now.
ED: Thank you, Guy. This has been a Fireside Chat with best-selling inner life author, Guy Finley. I'm Dr. Ellen Dickstein. Thanks for joining us.