Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

Over many years of living on a small mountaintop in southern Oregon, I have learned many invaluable spiritual lessons by observing the wildlife that share the forest in which my house sits sequestered. In truth, nature and her creatures are always exhibiting some of the most profound principles one can hope to learn. The celestial hides itself in the common. This realization of its tireless wisdom and grace never fails to reveal itself to those who learn to watch its goodness on display. A short personal story tells the tale of one such revelation.

Several years back I began throwing peanuts to some of the yakking Steller’s jays that would regularly visit my birdfeeders. Over time I began learning some of the calls these birds make and gradually became able to call them to me from the woods around my house where they nest. Eventually I became friends with one of these jays that I came to name Heckle. Little did I know how prophetic his name would be!

As our relationship developed, Heckle eventually learned the following: if he would just land on one of the short benches sitting directly in front of my office window, and once perched there just stare at me longingly, eventually I’d have to get up from my chair and throw him some peanuts! He even learned to rustle and fluff up his feathers, as baby birds do to elicit the feeding response from their parents. I was powerless to resist him.

Now, almost every day—several times a day, in fact—Heckle shows up asking for a few treats. His persistence is impossible to describe. But this much I can tell you for a fact: when he sits there in front of me long enough, waiting on me as if it’s a done deal, I’m a goner. His persistent nonverbal request always wins the action it’s designed to elicit. And if our relationship reflects, in any way, the truth of what happens when a request is made consistently and persistently by one creature of another—which I am sure it is—then how much more true would this same principle hold for someone who persistently and consistently asks to make contact with the Divine?

Just as I am unable to refuse what this beautiful blue bird with his black crown asks of me, so is the very Goodness that reveals this relationship incapable of refusing a measure of its celestial crown to any and all who will persist in asking for it.

What is the real gold of any moment save the Higher Wisdom gained from it, for the treasures of this world come and go — the playthings of conditions beyond our control; but those Truths we glean about ourselves, and the Goodness born of their Light belong to us forever.

orange aspen leaf

 

 

Near the end of a busy afternoon, a senior caddie at an exclusive golf club was making his appointed rounds—double-checking that everything was in its proper place—when he entered the clubhouse locker room. Much to his shock, he saw an obviously completely exhausted man spread-eagled on the floor.

A moment later, he recognized the man as a fairly new member of the club. At first he feared the man may have fallen and hit his head, but after touching him gently, the man leaped to his feet, a terrified look in his eye.

“Are you all right?” asked the caddie. “You gave me a start, finding you lying there like that.”

“Yes … sorry, really … yes … I’m okay,” answered the man.

“Are you sure? You look completely drained. If you don’t mind me asking, how many rounds of golf did you play today? Never saw a man so tired as to pass out on the floor!”

Hesitating a bit, the member replied, “Well, truthfully, I haven’t been out to play yet.”

Squinting his eyes, trying to fathom what the man had said, the caddie asked, “I’m not sure I understand, then. You look as if you’d played seventy-two holes.”

The man’s face turned slightly red, obviously embarrassed over something, and then he answered, barely above a whisper, “I guess I was so worried about making a good impression—what with being new here and all—that while I was getting dressed to play, I had so many fearful thoughts about my swing, I must have worn myself out!”

The caddie just smiled, knowing exactly what the man had just put himself through. He understood just how easy it was to bury oneself under the weight of false beliefs and the equally false set of responsibilities that come with them.

In this instance, to believe that we’re only as worthwhile as others agree to see us burdens us with feeling that winning the good opinion of others is somehow our responsibility. Such a mistaken mindset leaves us the perennial victim of our relationships and never the victor in them.

The only way we can be released from any painful sense of false responsibility is to see that it is based in a false belief. To see through the false belief is to be released from the weight of useless false responsibilities.

Study carefully the following list of six false beliefs and the false responsibilities that are never far away from them. Dare to learn everything you can about your own false beliefs, then watch how the weight of false responsibilities falls off of you.

False Belief #1: Unwanted moments are to be avoided at all costs.

False Responsibility: You feel as if you must remain in control of everyone and everything at all times.

True Responsibility: Welcome everything that happens to you as an opportunity to see through and transcend the unconscious burden of being someone laden with any false beliefs.

False Belief #2: You are only as valuable or worthless as other people agree that you are.

False Responsibility: You’re convinced that you must do whatever it takes to win the approval of everyone you meet.

True Responsibility: Be real. Learn what it means to be in possession of yourself, starting with reclaiming your life.

False Belief #3: You are responsible for the happiness or unhappiness that others feel.

False Responsibility: You must always compromise yourself to ensure the contentment of everyone else.

True Responsibility: Stay out of the lives of all those who expect you to do for them what they won’t do for themselves.

False Belief #4: You must learn to tolerate friends and family who have agreed to live with and justify negative states.

False Responsibility: You must constantly smooth over rocky situations, ensuring that no one rocks anyone’s boat enough to tip it over.

True Responsibility: See all negative states as the unconscious, dark emotions that they are, and refuse to justify them in yourself or anyone else.

False Belief #5: You can change what happened yesterday by revisiting and reliving it today.

False Responsibility: Unless you worry about and suffer over your past, your tomorrows are not going to turn out right.

True Responsibility: You can be a new person right now. Let go of anything that wants to revisit and relive the past.

False Belief #6: Feeling deeply stressed proves you really care about whatever you’re suffering over.

False Responsibility: It’s up to you to shoulder the weight of those painful thoughts and feelings that want to drag you down.

True Responsibility: See that agreeing to suffer from your own mental and emotional states makes as much sense as blaming the French fry that just burned your mouth.

I encourage you to sit down and make your own list of false beliefs and the legion of false responsibilities that come with them. Remember that your one true responsibility in life—the one action that will always see to your success in life—is to always be as awake and receptive to the present moment as you can be.

If we refuse to see what life is trying to show us about ourselves, then we can’t learn. If we don’t learn the truth of ourselves, then true self-knowledge becomes impossible. Without higher self-knowledge, there is no way to rise above ourselves and reach that innermost path that alone leads to the fulfillment of our highest possibilities.

Having heard even a faint call to awaken, to realize the truth of God’s Life, one should follow the guidance of his heart . . . all the while remaining as awake as possible to its quiet urge to either correct, redirect, or all together change the path upon which one walks.

back of woman, walking in sunlit grass