Principal to all that we study is an immutable, interior law: As goes my attention, so comes my experience. What I give myself to, I get. If I give myself to something low, I get low. If I give myself to something beautiful, I get beauty. If I give myself to the Divine, I get the Divine. This law is what we must keep in mind as we gradually look at the idea of what it is that we really want from life. Not: What do I want when I get up and I see the news and I get all stirred up, or what do I want when I look at the markets and I get all worried about that, or what do I want because something has stimulated me… but what do I want when I see that all that has stimulated me has left me with nothing?” That’s a significant difference.
What is it that I really want? A big part of a person’s work –for probably many years — is just the gradual realization of how (like the Prodigal Son) they have wandered off and squandered their resources — meaning their time and their attention — which is all that we really have of our own. Then it starts to get a lot simpler to give voice to a truth seeker’s three real wishes.
The first: I wish I could be at peace with myself. Not at peace because I’m eating something, not at peace because someone said I look good, not at peace because I got a check, but at peace because of the second of the wishes: I wish that I was content that what I have is what I need to be content. My peace is because I am content — knowing that what I have is what I need to be content.
How will a man or a woman ever be content when all they live from moment to moment is what they think they must have to complete themselves? I wish to be at peace with myself — to be content knowing that what I have is all that I need to be content. That doesn’t mean that you don’t render unto Caesar what is Caesar’s. You’re in the world. You do that as required. The contentment and the peace that I’m describing have nothing to do with anything the world can provide… other than the world can gradually show you that all that you’ve acquired (that you thought would bring peace and contentment) has not.
The third of the wishes is the completion of the first two: I wish I had a living relationship with unconditional love. Most of us don’t have much of a feeling (let alone an understanding) of what that means. How about: I wish that I was compassionate before my tendency to be cruel came up, or I wish that — rather than thinking about myself first and foremost in every situation — I was able to consider another human being and what they were going through, or I wish that I was able to bear my own impatience rather than blaming you for the pain that I say you’ve caused me? Refusing to blame another is a form of unconditional love because it’s based in something that is there when the moment unfolds that you are a part of instead of you being apart from it and then blaming everything around you for the way that you feel.
These wishes form a kind of trinity that speak to the possibility of a man or a woman being able to realize a completely different kind of strength… a strength alluded to in 2 Corinthians: “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Can you see it would take an altogether different kind of strength to set down your impatience? Not the strength to try to appear patient, but to set down an anger, or a blame? It’s an unusual kind of strength, because it has to do with abnegation. It has to do with the nullification of parts of ourselves, not the fulfillment of ourselves as we imagine. Rather, we see that much of what’s wrong with us is because we’ve imagined ourselves to be something that we’re not.
This new kind of strength can’t be separated from the weakness that we don’t know we presently live from. And in case it’s not clear, I will spell it out: All negative states — the enactment and the identification with them — are the direct expression of weakness. Think about it. The best I know to do in a moment is to blame you? That’s the best I have? To look at you and feel angry at you? To feel anger… that’s the best I have? That’s weakness! And of course, weakness always has a way to justify itself; it defends itself endlessly.
Come to know another kind of strength. It is connected to the three wishes and the path to it. The real strength that a human being can live from, they must find. And the strength that they must find in order to fulfill the trinity of those three wishes is purity of heart. What is a pure heart? A heart that is undivided.
Our lives are living opportunities to explore the celestial stuff of consciousness from which we are created. We can either choose to substantiate this relationship with reality through the “process” of paying attention to its invitation, or we can refuse it.
The first (and highly recommended) action places us upon the guest list of God’s life. The latter choice, our failure to be awake and attend to the moment at hand, leads to nothing but more involvement with nothing. So the right choice is always to choose in favor of Real Life! That’s what our studies together are all about: learning to discern Truth when it knocks at our door. And practicing what we know strengthens our relationship with Truth. For instance, much as in the same way we must learn to give our attention to these impulses of consciousness appearing in the stream of our self, so we must learn to be awake to the garbage that bubbles up from the bottom of this stream that also calls for our attention. When a depressive state begins to press in, we can work to wake up and remember that a depressing thought embraced crushes the one who embraces it. We learn this lesson by loving something Higher.
Everything depends on what we really want from life. When at last wisdom is recognized as being needed more than winning whatever it may be, then we’re willing to begin risking what we think we know for the sake of discovering the truth of ourselves. These actions alone not only purify us and our understanding, but lead to a new kind of faith in the process.