Letting Go with Guy Finley

Question: Aside from extremes and obvious harm, does it matter where we place ourselves physically? I know we can and need to work whenever and wherever we are, but one cannot deny obvious occurrences and impressions in different neighborhoods, cities, states, etc. I wonder if one should purposely make efforts to live and work in “better” areas for a pleasant life.

Answer: There is no question about there being a relationship between our exterior environment and our interior life; think of the wind as it makes the leaves on a tree “sing” out, or the way listening to Beethoven’s Ninth can make the heart swell. All things are in relationship with their environment and, to a certain extent, the environment shapes both the creatures and the relationships existing within it.

That being said, part of one’s development is a gradual freedom first from unconscious interior influences, followed by freedom from exterior influences such as one’s environment. In other words, yes, one’s environment can produce a certain set of unproductive interior states just by being in that environment; but — and this is a big “but” — that same environment can be used to win freedom from the resonance it produces and the accompanying unconscious resistance (to it) that follows.

I say these things to you because sometimes we are unable to change our exterior circumstances just because we wish to — or even see the need to; not everything can be changed as quickly as one wishes for those changes. So if you must live in areas that produce these negative impressions, disquieting mental and emotional states in you, then you can live and prosper inwardly according to your understanding of how these same conditions can create conflict within you. If, on the other hand, you can move into “friendlier” circumstances/conditions, then it would probably be a good idea. One needs all his or her energy for this work of integrating oneself, and when we can live in an environment that doesn’t steal from us our attention just by the nature of its degraded state, then obviously this is better.



If we will only work to remember that we live in a world within which there are an infinite number of stories unfolding – all at the same time – then we will never forget that

it is our choice as to which of these stories we live in.

Each time we will consciously refuse to strike back in anger or act out some aggression toward the one who hurts us, we sow the seed of a new order of a conscious life. Now instead of being used by dark forces that grow at the expense of our soul’s development, it is we who use our endless differences with others to grow endlessly. And at the same time that we learn to rise above the pain of our own negative reactions, we create the possibility and opportunity for others around us to do the same.

Each time we will choose not to respond to someone’s mental or emotional blow with a blow of our own, that person is left no choice but to see that the only antagonist he has is his own pain. And just as this person’s awakening to the continual cause of his unconscious aching is the beginning of the end of it, so too is this true for us. Our newly awakened understanding reveals that there is nothing for us to do with our pain but to let it be nothing to us. And with each such spiritual step that we will dare to take outside the circle of suffering, so do we make a way for everyone else… because at last the circle has been broken.

Most of us already suspect what needs to be done if we are to have any hope of moving beyond the conflict so common in our relationships. Nevertheless, here is a brief description of the spiritual action to be taken: We must stop giving to everyone else the pain we cannot bear to carry ourselves. Said differently, each of us must agree to be the one who will “taste” what we would serve to our “enemy du jour” before we throw it upon his or her plate. Here is an example of how we can begin this new kind of inner work based in a higher kind of understanding about ourselves.

Whenever someone says something cruel, or otherwise does the unthinkable to us, our position towards this hurtful event is “calculated” right within our ensuing reaction to it — a reaction that describes to us the nature of the perceived attack even as it formulates a response to it. But no negative reaction of ours can read this moment any more than a tractor can pick up a copy of Farm News and study the feed prices reported in it. Our red-seeing reactions read only the content of their own right to exist. Their report, all based upon turbulent thoughts and feelings, tells us there is no choice but to return this pain right away or perish ourselves. These lower states cannot possibly see that this person they urge us to pounce on is already in the hands of some pain or he or she would never have thrown this suffering our way. And, perhaps most important of all, this same reactionary self will never understand this one inescapable fact of its own fury: With every pain it hurls back at its adversary, all it does is condemn itself to continue cycling through the level of ignorance that produces this pain to begin with. So, with each blow this unconscious nature delivers, it just creates for itself the need for the next set of blows.

Let it stop now. From this moment forward, let it stop with you. Make it your intention to forever quit yourself from the turning of this invisible wheel-of-woe… [to be continued]