Question: I recently had a Christian friend say that if I expected to be a happier person following the teachings of Christ, I would be disappointed. That almost sounded like martyrdom to me. Aren’t we all hoping to find personal joy in pursuing higher ideas? Or should we strive to serve the Truth, even if it means personal pain?
Answer: To serve the Truth means to serve the Truth. This means that you need not have any idea whatsoever of what this service will bring. If we love the Truth, we love what it brings. Drop your ideas about what may or may not be the price and just agree to pay what you’re asked. There is no greater reward than loving Truth for itself, because in this action Truth returns this Love.
Sacrifice is the law. Does not every creature, each bug, blade of grass, or gazelle — taken in as food by the one who consumes it — say, as it’s being swallowed: “Here I am; take me. I give myself up to you, so that you may flourish”?
All creatures speak thus in their life and death, none may say otherwise; it’s nature; it’s law.
Even the sun sends down its light to be consumed and transformed, content to give itself up — to shine upon “good and evil” alike — so that a relatively timeless genesis goes on. This is love in action, seamless and selfless.
It may be said that free will amounts to this: it is our choice — as beings somewhere between matter and immortality — as to whether we live to give ourselves up to this greater law… or choose, instead, to serve a sense of self that is as temporary as the passing desires that drive it along.
Question: Is there another exercise I might work with to remember my true aim the next time fear floods through me?
Answer: The next time (and every time) you catch some negative thought or feeling that says, “I am scared,” the first thing to do is to come wide awake to yourself. By taking the following inner action, you can deliberately snap yourself out of that dark dream that is trying to weave itself into your identity. Rather than allowing yourself to be drawn into all the reasons that have appeared in your mind to justify why you should panic, reach instead for the shelter of the present moment. Then, while knowing that this negative state is present and pressing you to identify with its little life, work as consciously as you can to drop everything in that negative declaration except for the awareness of I am.
In other words, let go of any dark definition of yourself about to be draped over you. Just stand there, in the Now, within the light of your awareness, and allow your newly awakened state to give you its identity. Then be still; just watch. Be the new you that sees the moment as it is — instead of being deceived into seeing what that false I wants you to see so that it can go on stealing your life!
Have you ever heard yourself say, “What in the name of heaven was that all about?” and you were asking yourself what you had just done? Or along the same lines, “What on earth was I thinking?” when it became clear you hadn’t been thinking at all! Then there’s always, “How could I have been so stupid? So blind?” Or — you fill in the blanks.
It’s more than clear there are many times when we act out behaviors that, while seeming right to us at the time, are later found to be all wrong for us and everyone else unfortunate enough to have been caught up in our misguided choices. But how do such blunders take place, knowing that no one would consciously choose to defeat himself?
The simple answer is that we don’t see what’s actually before us. We are temporarily blinded, but not in the sense of having no vision. Our momentary blindness is due to our own conditioned nature as it supplies us with its view of reality — one that we mistakenly accept as being ours — an error that can only be corrected by becoming more and more aware of the actual nature of our own internal workings. To see where we have been deceived — after the fall — is one thing. But learning to see how we’re being fooled — right in the act of it — brings an end to both the fool and the fall brought on by his foolishness.