There is one essential reason why there is so much constant heartache and war on this earth, and why conflict has continued as it has down through the ages. The answer may surprise you. We do not understand the nature of our own pain—our suffering. Billions of us live with almost no understanding of how much hurt lies hidden in our hearts and minds; in this case, ignorance is not bliss.
In fact, most of us carry, buried in the depths of ourselves, untold amounts of unconscious woe. Regardless of our religion, skin color, social position, or cultural conditioning, psychological pain plays no favorites; we all pay the price of the ensuing blame game.
From battles with family and friends, all the way up to world conflict, wars persist because the pain that drives this great divide between us is not understood; in the end, it is the ignorance of this pain that manifests war. So, even though it isn’t exactly a popular study, we must examine our suffering. It is a law: what remains concealed can never be healed. Only true self-knowledge can bring an end to our tears, whatever their nature. In the end, the only way out of any “rain of pain” is to wake up and walk away from the self-ignorance from out of which it pours.
The hardest part of the journey along the upward path is the gradual realization that our work to awaken to real life is, at best, imperfect. Along the ascending path, each footfall serves to echo an unwanted reminder of our imperfect actions, imperfect thoughts and feelings, imperfect devotion, and so forth and so on. However, seeing these image-shattering truths about ourselves is but half the trial and, in some ways, the lesser of the challenges to be faced along the way.
The greater part of this difficulty—and perhaps the most slippery part of the upper path—is the temptation to judge ourselves—to loath ourselves for whatever that “weakness” is that now sits exposed. The act of judging ourselves in times like these seems natural and even necessary if we hope to ever “outgrow” our own limitations as revealed. But this kind of self-laceration is a Trojan horse within whose dark recesses lies hidden a certain fact that, once perceived, frees us from the torment of self-judgment:
The pain in any unwanted revelation about our present level of self is created in that moment by the same low level of self that doesn’t want to be revealed.
The interior work to realize the immortal Self is a never-ending journey; and, contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t begin with our wish to awaken but rather with God working within us to awaken us to the otherworldly nature of celestial love. If we agree to go through what is asked of us in this way, then it is through our union with the Divine—and the interior labor this calls for—that we gradually realize a conscious relationship with a love that is the same as life unending.
In this life we are only given two things that are purely our own to use: attention and time.
Sadly, most of us squander our gifts of time and attention. Rather than learning to be in command of our attention, which is the same as using our time for its highest purpose—the realization of our immortal Self—we hand it over to almost anything that floats by in the river of time.
Either we struggle to “make” things happen or we wait hoping change will come; regardless of our approach to life, it never fails to give us something to think about or some event to stimulate us. Then we call that momentary relationship—and the passing sense of self it produces in us—“life.” Yes, of course: this is one order of life, and we all have it … until we realize, often too late, that it has had us all along.
We have no choice about being born into this world of passing time, but we do have a choice whether or not we remain a captive of its inherent fears and sorrow.
Invite the light of your longing for what is everlasting to show you the futility of serving passing time. You are here on earth to realize an entirely different purpose to your life—a beautiful, noble, sacrificial purpose. But there’s only way to have this higher calling revealed to you: you must give your attention to it moment by precious moment.
Stay awake. Stay in your body. Don’t let your mind drag you around, always talking to you, telling you the meaning of what you see. Learn to master your attention. It will, in turn, teach you the real purpose and proper use of your time here on earth. Master time and attention, and you stand at the doorway to the Divine. Step through it and behold your immortal Self.
The secret of letting go — of a life without the fear of unwanted events — is knowing, without thinking, that you’ll always be given something better than whatever life asks you to give up.