Letting Go with Guy Finley

Question: Most of us have made drastic changes trying to make a fresh start in life, and yet no matter what we do, we always end up feeling the same way. The outer conditions may be different, but inside we’re still the same. We know that changing the outside condition isn’t really going to give us the fresh start we want, so where does a genuine fresh start begin?

Answer: It’s a good question. We could break down the idea of making a fresh start into four separate and yet united ideas — the first and perhaps the most important being the knowledge that it’s possible to make a fresh start and the simultaneous discovery of what it is that is prohibiting making a fresh start. Everybody wants to make a fresh start. We can do it right now. The knowledge that it’s possible, coupled with understanding what prohibits it — let’s start there, and then we’ll go on to the other steps.

First, so many of us have tried so many ways to make a fresh start: get rid of the relationship that is dragging me down, find a more fulfilling career path, move to a different part of the country, change my body in any one of the zillion ways in which a person can do that today, travel… and eventually, every one of the paths we take (that we plan out very carefully), prove themselves to be incapable of producing what we imagined we would have when we achieved what we had envisioned. So the first fact that we need to understand — because it runs completely contrary to our idea of starting over — you can’t plan to do it.

If I plan a new start, then in my mind I’ve envisioned this new position, this new power, this new possession by which I will have a sense of newness in myself. But what I can’t see is that everything that I imagine is a part of my past. The more I think about what I want to do with my life, I can only think through what I wish to do or become according to variations on a theme of past experiences. Something didn’t work out, so I’m going to change it and it will become different in my future. But everything that the mind projects, it pulls from its past, and anything that I pull from my past is not a fresh start but a reconfiguration of a self and a life that didn’t produce what the new start was supposed to be. This is what prohibits a fresh start: we have in our minds a certain feature that tells us what it means to be a new human being.

Let’s now equate a fresh start with what we’re really after, which is a sense of myself that isn’t burdened by my own life. When we examine it, when I talk about making a fresh start, I get this wonderful feeling, don’t I? “Yahoo!” I can feel all that new energy pumping through me just based on this wonderful idea of a fresh start, because when I start to think about it, there is no conflict yet. It hasn’t run into the obstacles. It’s not being punished by what didn’t work out according to the plan. It’s just a stream of what seems to be new energy that gives me the energy to set out on this path to the new life.

The fact is, this new life (which is what we’re really after in a fresh start) doesn’t belong to a person. It’s not a possession. Anything that we possess in our mind, by the very nature of having first created the idea, the image, and then getting our hands on it by manifesting it in life, eventually turns out to be part of a past for us, part of a problem for us… not that the thing itself is a problem, but that it ceases to provide us what we originally envisioned or felt it would give us.

The whole idea of a new life has its root inside of understanding a completely different relationship with life itself — and now to the point — that relationship is not to be a planner of it but a participant in it. Look out on a spring day and you know that everything is changing. There is nothing that is not continually renewing itself, but that constant renewal is out of the ground of what no longer is. A flowering is taking place, and this flowering is newness itself. In the end and in the beginning it is one continual movement. So, if we want to make a fresh start in life, we must put ourselves where a fresh start actually takes place… and it doesn’t take place in our minds but in our awareness of the present moment.

Before I can have that relationship with being in the present moment thought, I need to understand that unattended, my mind gives itself to every vagrant image (and its object) promising to give me a fresh start. It isn’t the object — the new job, the new relationship, the new person — that is the illusion, because we can obtain those. The illusion is the freshness and the newness in it, and this part of me that attributes starting over to it, and that continues to find out that it isn’t new after all.

At a certain point — which brings us to what would be the next step in how to make a fresh start — is the idea that a person gradually has to have a real wish for it. A real wish. Now I’ll translate that: I see the necessity to become present to myself so I can see that there is a big difference between the desire for a new start and the need to be a new person.

Which brings us to the next step in this process of truly starting fresh. We said new knowledge and the understanding of what prohibits it, then the real wish (which is the necessity), and now the willingness to risk. Risk what? Here I am and my mind is telling me that if I don’t think along the lines of what it is handing me (which is nothing but a noose), something terrible is going to happen to me. “You’re going to disappear forever if you don’t take some immediate action to give yourself a fresh start!” Then you go there, and every time you say, “Oh, I was just kidding,” and you do one of two things: you either sit in a depression, in an unsolvable miasma of thought, or you start to think about how to get out of the condition you’re in and what caused it.

At a certain point, the Light and your own work has made it evident to you: I’m not going to do anything in this moment other than become a participant in it, in watching it. That’s all I’m going to do. Why? Because the fresh start that I long for cannot be produced by the pain that is producing that longing. The fresh start is not the extension of that pain. It is the entrance into that moment of thinking “I’m nothing without my plan, without this fresh idea. What’s going to happen to me?” It’s the entrance into what we call nothingness. It’s not nothing, but the part of us that only knows itself by what it perceives as being a new pleasure and a new beginning looks at this idea of not producing more of ourselves, and it says: “Look at this emptiness. My God, it’s a bottomless pit. If you don’t do something, something is going to happen to you.” So there is a willingness to risk what your own thoughts and feelings are doing to you. And the more you’re willing to watch this, you’ll see, why would I want to do anything that my present nature is telling me? It’s obviously trying to seed itself into further suffering.

When we’ve seen the fact of what we’re talking about, there is really no choice in it, and we’re willing to take this risk to see what happens. Then comes the last of these steps, which is the interior resolve to persist. We’re a spiritual fast food world today. Whatever it is, I want my gratification, and that nature that seeks gratification always seeks it in something that it creates in its own image without knowing it. At a certain point, we have to be willing to cease this ridiculous kind of continual gratifying of ourselves through what appears to be empty food, meaning empty life. Resolve to persist. I can tell you that moment in which you refuse to participate in a false start, the new start that has just taken place isn’t going to feel to you like a new start. It’s going to feel empty. But the awareness that allows you that is fullness itself.

This is where we go back to the beginning, this shift in our attention. To what do I give myself? Gradually as we work like that, the whole process of time as we’ve known it — the whole idea of “I’m here, I need to get there, I need to become that” — begins to finally collapse in on itself, because awareness allows the recognition of what is real and what is not. Out of that a person has born in them — through the willingness to give themselves up — not a fresh start in life, but they become part of a life that is always fresh.

The opportunity is always there. We’re living in it and breathing it. The understanding of that leads to a fearless life, because if I don’t have to protect a plan that I’ve made, what do I have to be afraid of relative to its loss or trying to enlarge it? I don’t. I’m free. I can just drop whatever the past moment has been, and start over… and over again. You must be an example for yourself. This is not about other people seeing you do something. This is about you… right in the root of that moment of life, seeing it clearly, and then taking the action that you know is true.

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