Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

We cannot change the world that we see until something changes in us the way we see it… dark sky, full moon, clouds

Question: All of the difficulties we have with one another seem to be due to the fact that we’re all trying to protect ourselves. It seems like in the very process of trying to keep ourselves safe, we actually create the enemies out there who are threatening us.

Answer: Who is the self in you or me that needs to be safe? Let’s examine it. What is the nature of this self that not only feels like it has to be protected, but that is always coming up with different ways to do it?
It’s the past. Can you see it? Who is there in this moment, sitting here with me, that has anything to fear if it’s not something dragged over from yesterday or twenty years ago when you won an award, or you thought people should never talk to you in a certain tone? Free an individual from his or her past, and you free their future from fear. Why? Because that past doesn’t exist. It doesn’t exist except for a content-laden image, fully conditioned, that sits in the mind, that is accessed when events transpire, and referred to as what should or shouldn’t be. Then comes up agreement or resistance according to that relationship, and a person spends their life worshipping that nature through their relationship with what they call the present moment. They are never in the present moment; they’re always busy looking at themselves to make sure that what is happening confirms the self that they have mistaken themselves to be. They have become identified with an image.

We don’t see the world, but we see the images we have of it, and what we want from those images. And when one lives like that, seeing only what one wants (or the opposite — what one doesn’t want — which is no different), then that kind of relationship that we have with those thoughts and feelings is a never-ending sense of dissatisfaction in itself. It has to be, because we can’t control the world.

It seems so obvious in some ways. A person will spend a day or a lifetime trying to figure out how to manipulate things so that something that they want will stay in place. We do that endlessly, endlessly refusing to see that the best we can hope for is a kind of truce with changing time. It never occurs to us that maybe, just maybe, we have a nature that isn’t intended to be at war with changing time, but is actually superior to it, actually sits above it and contains changing time so that in containing this world that is always changing on us, we’re no longer afraid of those changes.

If we really lived in this world as it is, there would be no war. If I really lived with the person that I was married to, if I really lived with the children that I have… it would be impossible to punish them. It would be impossible to be cruel to them. So we do not live in this world. We live with our ideas about the world. I don’t see you as you are; I see you as I need you to be for me to receive from this moment what I hope to take from it.

We don’t see anything, because we’re literally standing in front of a kind of mirror, made up of our own mind and the images that are inside of it. It’s insane. A person looks out at the world and everything makes sense in this great train that pushes its way through life. But the fact of the matter is that a person looks out at life and if they could see, for instance, the horror of hurting another human being, they would never do it. We don’t see the horror of hurting another human being. What we see is what we have to do to someone to protect our interests, and our interests really aren’t even in this world. My interests have to do with living up to certain ideas, beliefs, conditioned images inside of myself that tell me without them being in place that something bad is going to happen to me.

We do not see; we think. Seeing has risk in it. One of the critical things is that we don’t want to be vulnerable. I want everything to go the way I want it to go. I don’t want the world to go left if I think it’s supposed to go right. I don’t want you to not like what I’m saying. I don’t want to be vulnerable in the smallest way, and because of that fear of being vulnerable, of being hurt, I produce a labyrinth of elaborate images which are slowly inculcated and developed to become fortresses, temples, and churches… all the things that we hold as icons to keep us from being hurt.

No one who is afraid of being hurt, can live. We keep everything at bay. We can’t risk seeing what is there, because if we really see what is there, we are going to have a relationship with it, and it’s going to show us things about ourselves that we don’t know… and we’re afraid of that too. We want everything locked up, in place. We want to be sure that what we feel about themselves is what is true about us, which is why we limit the people around us.

It takes a certain spiritual weariness. Sometimes people ask me what it takes to help awaken a person, what gets a person started to be in the world and not of it, and it’s just being weary of feeling alone, of being frightened. I think more than anything else, weary of being frightened of everything, because protecting ourselves doesn’t work. All we do is come up with new ways in which to keep safe, and every new way we name for ourselves to be safe just turns out to be the next thing we are afraid of losing.

At a certain point, a person just gets tired of trying to do to themselves what it takes to make themselves free and safe. “Do unto me what you need to do unto me so that I can at last be free of this fear, of this isolation that is caused by my sense of being always vulnerable.” Then a person begins to shear off some of this ice that has formed around him, and little by little, life begins to impress itself. Then you find out that nothing bad can happen to you. That’s when you begin to answer the question. You begin to be in this world, because now you’re interacting with it and you’re not cut off from any part of it. But you’re no longer of it because you’re no longer part of that chain of negative reactions that comes up when the world doesn’t confirm you.

To discharge ones duty is the first responsibility.

To do this thing well is the second task.

To do more than one is asked is the Path to Perfection… hand holding key