Beliefnet
Letting Go with Guy Finley

Early one morning, just as the sun is rising and throwing its gentle light through the bars of the one window that graces his prison cell, Armand is awakened by a sound he has never heard before. He knows immediately that it isn’t coming from the ocean that lies somewhere outside the prison walls; the sound of its waves and the wind that carries them to his ears have become his only friends, even though he can see neither of them due to the height of his cell window. His mind races; a faint smile comes over his face as he thinks I must be losing my mind. But there it is again, only louder; there can be no doubt about it: a distinct scratching noise is coming up from out of the hard dirt floor of his cell.

A heartbeat later, the ground farthest away from the cell window starts moving, and, in another instant, it breaks wide open and from out of it pops, like a gladiola, a head with long hair and a beard.

Before Armand can say a word, the man silences him and says, “Hush! Don’t be afraid. My name is Edmond. I have much to explain, and we haven’t much time! I’m one of several political prisoners living here who has been digging an escape tunnel for over two years now. Just beyond the walls of your cell sits the ocean—and our way out of this hellhole.”

He pauses long enough to make sure that Armand is getting the big picture.

“We’ve tunneled as far as we can without being caught, so now it’s on your shoulders. Are you following me?”

Armand shakes his head as if to say no, but Edmond continues on anyway.

“Listen to me carefully—that is, if you want to get out of this place alive. Here’s what remains to be done.”

Shaking the dirt from his hair, Edmond rises slightly out of the hole he’s standing in, raises his arm, and points his finger towards the wall in Armand’s cell that has the window in it.

“Dig six feet down from right there, head due east, and less than two hundred yards from that spot is freedom for all of us!”

Armand says, “Yes … yes, I will do it! Anything to see my friends and family again.”
To which Edmond responds, “Great! I’ll check back with you by the new moon—sooner if it’s safe to do so.”

Sometime later, again just before sunrise, Edmond pops his head back up through the floor in Armand’s cell and, using only his eyes, asks how things are going. Armand smiles broadly and says, proudly, “I’ve done it!”

Edmond quietly exclaims, “Good heavens, that was fast!” And, without wasting a moment, he climbs out of his hole, races across the cell, and dives into the opening of the new tunnel he had asked Armand to dig. Less than five minutes later, Edmond pops back up out of the hole with a look of sheer horror on his face.

“By all that’s holy, man, what have you done?”

Armand looks at Edmond, wondering what his problem is, somewhat shocked at his negative reaction. “What do you mean? What’s wrong?”

“Do you remember what we discussed—what I told you to do? Do you?”

Not waiting for Armand to answer, Edmond continues. “I told you to dig in the direction towards the ocean. The tunnel you’ve dug leads directly back into the center of the prison yard!”
Armand just looks at him for a moment and says, as if it makes all the sense in the world, “Yes, I know, but the digging was easier in that direction.”

KEY LESSON:

Here’s the real reason why it’s so important to always go the extra mile—to do what you don’t want to do or feel like you can’t do—whenever it comes to your work to be free: there is no other way for you to make contact with, and then call upon, an indwelling limitless resource that will only reveal itself to you after you’ve exhausted your own.

The dark powers that presently govern this world are secretly dedicated to the denigration of character, which they slowly achieve through attrition, glorification of social imitation, and a growing sense of discouragement felt by anyone who sees the promise of humanity slipping away in creeping mediocrity.

Whenever any government anywhere promotes and celebrates the idea of reduced individual responsibility to the point where it becomes a cultural ideal—so that its people are actually thankful to the powers that be for diminishing their own higher possibilities—so dawns a new dark age, which is, as it turns out, the goal of the same dark powers that helped to usher it in.

Question: Can guilt be used to tell me that I did something that needs to be changed?

Answer: Guilt is a wasted, useless, and ultimately self-destructive state. We need only see ourselves as we are in the moment when misstepping. This awareness not only changes what misstepped within us, but it also dismisses any wrong identification with our fault.

To look for reconciliation outside of what the Divine reveals within you in “each” present moment is to look in the wrong place, for the wrong thing.

The only reason the present moment, as it is, seems as though it is not enough as it is to heal whatever hounds us… is because a discontented part of us imagines there should be something more… and if there was, then (at last) we would feel at peace. Seen properly — that is to say, truly — this means that all of our unhappiness with what we have, with what we are, and with what has happened to us in the past, is the unconscious movement of something within us ceaselessly “telling” us that it knows what we need to be happy… even as it creates the very discontent it decries.

Who we really are doesn’t live in the past, and therefore cannot be punished by anything that happened there. If anything, the repeated pain of reliving whatever the problems may have been should be showing us we are in the wrong place… we are in the wrong parts of us. Just don’t go there!

It is important to understand what it means to be in the wrong place. The right place isn’t just where your body is sitting. Have you ever been in the right place physically, paid a lot of money to go there, and then sat there resenting the fact that there was pulp in your orange juice? You can be in the most exquisite spot in the world and at the same time be inwardly in the most exquisite fear, worry, or pain, despite what you have put together for yourself. When we’re in the wrong place inwardly, it simply doesn’t matter where we are outwardly.

What is it that must take place in our life so that we can begin the process of recognizing the simple truth of that idea? The most beautiful truths, are the simplest ones. Our problem is that we just don’t know when we’re in the wrong place. We can be in the wrong place even while thinking we’re in the right place.

Do you know why we don’t know when we’re in the wrong place? Because when we find ourselves in the wrong place, something in us starts telling us how to get out of there. Something inside of us never acknowledges, “You know what? You got here because you were asleep. You got here because you were not attentive to what your heart and mind were saying and doing. You got here surrounded and pressed by these ravening thoughts. You got here because you gave your attention to these punishing feelings when they called for you.”

All you have to do in the moment where you find yourself stressed, tense, worried, irritable, angry — when you find yourself in a negative state, thinking about what to do about your negativity – is realize that you’re in the wrong place. Don’t think about what to do with where you are. Admit to yourself you’re in the wrong place, and then… just don’t go there.

We may, at any moment that we wish, become aware of ourselves sufficiently enough to know where we are inwardly. To know that we’re judging is the end of judgment. If we know, if we are aware that we’re judging, we will be conscious of the fact that we are rendering that pain unto ourselves. When you find yourself living a resentment over again, all you have to do is see that you’re surrounded by thoughts and feelings that were produced by your resistance to a remembered event. That’s all you have to do. Who made you remember what you now wish hadn’t happened to you? Who made you picture the person you resent? Who brought up the failure from your past? Who made clear to you what your parents did thirty years ago? Who did that in the moment when you’re sitting by yourself, or driving in your car, or eating your croissant? Who did that? The answer is something inside of you that is always trying to drag you into a place where it assumes power over you. That’s who! And it’s not a who, it’s a what. It’s not a you. Don’t judge yourself! Don’t condemn yourself for these parts that we’re talking about. They belong to an aspect of an unconscious nature that is still unconscious. Our work is to make it conscious. We’re going to bring this light into ourselves so thoroughly that what now acts upon us will be unable to produce the punishment it does because it gets us into its house, into the world where nothing good can happen. Why? Because we have gone into the wrong place.

Just don’t go there. Can you remember that? The problem is, when we get into pain, our pain immediately gives us the reasons why we’re there. The reasons for being in pain are the wrong place to be. Thinking about our reason for why we’re unhappy is the wrong place to be. It’s part of our unhappiness; it’s not the solution to it. Come wide awake and fully back to yourself so you can say (inwardly): “Hold on a moment. This isn’t a good place for me to be.” Then, step out of that world of time, which is what thought is. Step out of that world of tribulation and into the present moment. Because this Presence Moment is the essence of all that makes a human being whole, healthy, and happy. It is where love exists, and where fear cannot dwell. You have the capacity to stop making yourself powerless by awakening to having put yourself where your powers are stolen from you.