Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

Many times the very thing we want from those we are with—for example, respect, patience, or a just little tenderness—is the very thing that we ourselves either lack at the moment or otherwise somehow are withholding from them.

The “catch” here is that we are mostly clueless about our own actual impoverished condition in these moments because—quietly tucked away in the depths of us are certain clever “self-concealing devices.” The continuing presence of these unconscious parts of us ensures we never realize that it is we who run in debt because of how quickly they point out the inadequacies of those they judge. Each time our attention is successfully diverted in this way, here’s what unfolds: not only are we kept from coming awake to ourselves, but in this engineered spiritual sleep we are rendered unable to realize that the very quality we judge as missing in the person before us is actually lacking in ourselves!

Some needed inner light reveals the truth of our actual condition. We almost always place certain character demands upon others, but rarely see that the part of us making these demands is without the very substance it cries out as missing in them. No wonder the cycle of human disharmony rolls on as it does; this spiritual sleep is not just the breeding ground of the contempt we feel for the insensitivity of others, it is the source of it!

What’s to be done? How can we transform ourselves and, at the same time, serve as an agent for change in the lives of all those we meet along the Way? How do we open our hearts and stop judging others for what we see as missing in them?

Here is the great principle that makes possible true harmony between all human beings: giving to others what we ask for from them is how we receive what we wish. Here are a few simple suggestions for how we can get started with enacting this principle.

  • Before we ask for someone’s attention, let us first lend that person our own.
  • Before we look to him or her for an act of consideration, let us offer one from ourselves.
  • If we wish for kindness, let it begin with our own. Otherwise all we give each other are unconscious demands followed by judgment and disappointment.

We must learn to take the true conscious initiative with each other and then—based in our understanding of this great spiritual law that governs harmonious relationships—make the effort to be to others what we wish them to be for us. Here is a special exercise that can help us create more harmonious human relationships.

We all know what it’s like to find ourselves unhappy and in conflict with someone who just isn’t giving us what we want or need from him or her. Whenever this happens we usually find fault with these people, judge them as being inadequate, and from these findings blame them for the negativity we now feel toward them. But how many of us are awake enough to offer these same people what we have asked them to give us—before we ask them for it?

Even to attempt the following practice will reveal more to you about yourself than reading a thousand books on spiritual realization. To begin with, as we discussed earlier, we usually demand from others those interior qualities that we are in short supply of ourselves. For instance, it is impatience that leaps to judge impatience. Unkindness finds others unkind—and tells them so in no uncertain terms. Arrogance despises pride and makes sure that the proud know they are dreaming of unreal heights. On and on churns this cycle of disharmony until we go to work on ourselves, implementing the kind of true self-transforming principles that follow.

Whatever it may be that we find wanting in someone else, we must learn what it means to give that very thing to him or her. What we would have from others, or have them be towards us, we must provide or be ourselves.

For instance, if we really want the person we are with to be open with us, we must first open up ourselves. When we know we tend to be critical of others because they don’t show us the respect we would have, we must show these same people the respect we want.

This exercise to help awaken our sleeping conscience takes a great deal of attention and, more importantly, a great deal of being weary with finding everyone around us not as good as ourselves. Nevertheless, real spiritual growth—true self-transformation—depends upon what we are willing to give, and not upon what we feel we are owed.

Put these higher ideas to work in all your affairs with others. You will be shocked, amazed, and highly encouraged by your discoveries but, most important of all, here’s what you’ll find: instead of being the exception to the rule, harmonious relationships with others will be your daily reality. Everything is better and brighter everywhere in the world around you because of the new Light of self-understanding now living within you.

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