Question: I am feeling very depressed and overwhelmed by sadness and a sense of futility. I just turned 60, and due to a chronic illness I can hardly function physically. My money is not flowing and unless I get it moving I will lose my home. My landlady jumped all over me yesterday and I found out how much she dislikes me. I just can’t seem to get out of this negative state and I am becoming frightened. Help!
Answer: While you do what you must to be a good householder, let go of everything else in thought that tries to drag you down into the mud of self-pity. This you can do with inner watchfulness.
The only thing most of us know to do when life takes an unwanted turn, bringing us what we don’t want, is to take a turn for the negative ourselves. And when the circumstance in question really makes a wreck of things, not only do we summarily reject the event seen “at cause,” but for good measure we often will turn our wrath upon our own lives, pronouncing them “not worth living”!
Such flashes of frustration born from our growing sense of futility make sense on the surface of things, and even seem curative to the self that feels so impossibly stuck, but a closer look proves otherwise.
What many have yet to understand is that dark, negative reactions to unwanted events do nothing to cure them. In fact, these painful impulses have just the opposite effect. They actually “cement” things — fixing both themselves and the false sense of self through which they then are empowered to run their unhappy course. Here is some help to see the truth of this.
Each negative response that passes unconsciously through us actually confirms its own dark perception that life has “done me wrong”! But this is only half of its occult operation. This same conclusion — of having been somehow victimized by an uncaring world — virtually locks the door on the possibility of ever discovering the real lessons and the truth behind these times of trial.
Whenever life runs counter to your wishes, try to see that it really isn’t life that has denied you your happiness, but that the real culprit responsible for darkening the moment is some idea you have about what you need to be happy.
Admittedly, this new and higher perception takes courage, because instead of struggling to change the “dark” condition called into question (or just silently stewing over it), you must turn and face the false self responsible for this outlook. But the truth is there is really no alternative, not if you can see that as long as this demanding self stands unchallenged within you, so will the painful pattern of fighting with unwanted events continue to occur. The next time that life comes knocking with what you “don’t want,” instead of allowing yourself to be dragged through the old round-around, make these three new choices, and watch how they dismiss the darkness knocking at your door:
Your first choice (always!) is to come wide-awake to yourself. Remember: Your new aim is to not allow old, mechanical reactions to rule the day. Then, in this awareness of yourself, see that the unpleasantness of the offending moment is not actually in the event itself but is an effect of resisting your own perception that something has taken away your happiness. Key here to escaping this circle of self-perpetuating punishment is in coming awake to its existence, and how not wanting to feel a certain way is giving you the very feeling you don’t want!
For your second new choice, stop complaining to yourself (and others) about what life has “done” to you. All you are really doing is recreating the very dismal state-of-self you are condemning. Consciously choose to go the other way. Finally, your third choice is to say “yes” to life. Instead of blindly refusing moments that seem contradictory to your contentment, and then arbitrarily pushing them away, learn how to embrace these unwanted moments. Bring them into your real life, into the light of self-awareness, instead of trying to get rid of them. Your conscious embrace invites these times to tell you about the self they help to reveal. Freedom follows.
There is a lower world where fears are real—where all things, and everyone living in this world, are unknowing participants in the fear that’s found there. In this darker realm, the thing feared is inseparable from the nature that fears it, so that any action taken by this nature to end the fear it feels becomes the seed of its next fearful state.
For example, say that you’re worried that someone you love may be losing interest in your affection. As this fear mounts, you start asking for emotional affirmation—seeking through words or by touch the attention you fear is waning. This push for consolation, created entirely by fear, produces exactly the opposite reaction in your partner, and he or she withdraws further. Most of us already know how this story plays out: in the end, we unwittingly cause the very thing we most feared would happen.
There is a higher world where fears such as these can’t enter, let alone infect. Its peace is inseparable from its wholeness because in the higher worlds holiness is perfect protection; no creature can come into it that hasn’t agreed to be one with its harmony. Any action taken by this nature is always in accord with the innumerable worlds in and around it; as such, these actions are the seeds of that peaceable kingdom from which they are sown. In the truest sense of the words, this world is the peace that passes all understanding.
It isn’t so much that we live between these two worlds as it is that we’re unaware of living in these two worlds at the same time. The world below knows nothing of the world above, while the world above understands everything about what dwells beneath it.
Knowledge alone of these inner domains does nothing to change your relationship with them, other than help make intellectually clear which of these two kingdoms should be the object of your soul’s affection. About this there should be no confusion, any more than one would struggle to decide whether to collect sharp pebbles or precious pearls from the shoreline. However, just as it’s true that discerning the difference between a smooth pebble and a precious pearl requires being able to see them, so is it true when it comes to knowing the difference between what is fearful or fearless within you.
This is why only the light of awareness of the entangled existence of these worlds can lead you safely through them and into the holiness that you seek. This awareness is choice, and this choice is action; together, they are one movement that serves a single divine purpose: to deliver you from out of the fearful hands of the lower worlds and into the loving hands of heaven.
The real, unseen cause of our fear is the false belief that life can throw something—anything—at us that’s greater than our ability to change it. But this is simply not true. No matter what our culture, tradition, or religious background, within each of us lives a fearless immortal Self: a transcendent nature that never fears unforeseen changes in life any more than the sun trembles before the temporary appearance of some shadow cast by its own light.