The main reason we suffer or feel bad about ourselves or our current circumstances isn’t because conditions in our lives have the power to punish us—because they don’t. We suffer only from spiritual amnesia. We’ve forgotten that God, the Divine (by whatever name you choose) is Good: not sometimes, not for just the “deserving,” but for all … and in all ways.
Storms of Negativity
Whenever we find ourselves identified with some dark stream of thoughts and feelings, as opposed to being quietly aware of their downward-trending presence, we fall—in that same moment—into a world filled with unwanted negative states. The reason so much of what’s going on within and around us seems “bad” is because that’s all we can see. Just as beauty is in the eye of the beholder, so it is true when it comes to all our inner states, including fear, depression, and bitterness. In such moments, having become bound up in thoughts and feelings we don’t want, and then seeing a world that confirms our sense of captivity, we literally forget that none of what we’re going through is necessary.
The Power that Takes You Out of Harms Way
The only reason that we’re standing in that storm of negative states is because we’ve fallen asleep! We’ve forgotten who we really are, including our divine right to call upon a power that instantly transports us out of harm’s way. Anytime we can remember to do so, we are free to wake up and return to our true home—within us—beyond the reach of fear, doubt, or any other dark state.
If our wish is to walk freely through this world without fear of sudden storms—to know that we have an interior home whose light cannot be breached by any darkness—then our task is clear.
Call to Action
First, we must see how this spiritual amnesia blinds us and then binds us in a prison of false perceptions induced by having fallen spiritually asleep. To this end, use the following insight as the wake-up call to action that it is intended to be:
Nothing in the universe can take from you your right to be spiritually free; it is a divine gift, which means that anytime you find yourself struggling to escape the grip of a negative state, it’s only because you’re in a dream from which you have yet to awaken. There’s only one real prescription that has the power to end your pain: you must shake yourself awake from the forgetfulness that has caused you to forget your immortal Self.
Remembering the truth of yourself is one and the same as reclaiming your right to be free.
Moments that Challenge
In moments of challenge, the tendency is to resist the unwanted situation because of the pain that seems to appear with it. But the truth behind these moments is very different from our habitual perception and mechanical reaction to them.
No moment in and of itself causes our pain. The real source of our suffering is some unconscious demand that we’ve placed on life … and not what life seems to be denying us.
The pain of impatience, anxiety, or most any stressed state doesn’t exist without some unseen level of ourselves secretly demanding that events unfold precisely as we’ve imagined them.
Make One Less Demand
We can’t change others—or the purpose of any given moment as it unfolds—but we can work to place one less demand upon both. Only in this action can we hope to find the freedom for which we seek, because the only thing that imprisons us, in the end, is our resistance to whatever runs against our deeply seated demands.
The False Way Out of Pain
Of course we feel resistance to any unwanted moment; no one contests this, or that its attending pain isn’t powerful, but the “why” behind this negativity is an illusion.
We can’t get upset with traffic unless we’ve driven into that jam with an unconscious want. We don’t see this psychic passenger until its pain is upon us; it lives in an unconscious desire that no one else be on the road when we are! The onset of this immediate resistance causes a constriction, and then comes its pain. Our immediate reaction to this pain is to escape the traffic we blame for it, but the traffic doesn’t cause this pain; rather, it reveals the desire in which this potential pain always dwells. Still unaware of our actual condition, we rush to take whatever familiar escape route is offered to us: blame someone, break down, or break out of whatever we must to be free. We are being handed a “way out” of our pain by the same level of desire that created it in the first place! As long as we ride this wheel of misfortune, we can do nothing but go round and round.
What’s the alternative? We must learn to use this same moment of suffering to discover that this negativity is not ours! As paradoxical as it may sound, no such unhappiness belongs to us unless we don’t want it!
Resistance—not wanting something, anything—is a secret form of identifying with what is unwanted. This is why the more we struggle with not wanting, the stronger our attraction grows to what we don’t want! Just ask anyone who tries to diet, give up smoking, or stay sober.
Think of the old Chinese straw finger puzzle. Once you put one finger from each hand in either side of the tube, the harder you pull in opposing directions trying to get free, the tighter grows the trap. You are released the moment you realize the solution is to stop pulling. In exactly the same way, freedom from unwanted moments is no farther away from us than this unthinkable realization: nothing real binds us.
Resistance to unwanted moments seems intelligent; it feels wise to disagree with whatever we perceive as punishing. But this resistance does not separate us from our suffering; instead, it binds us to it.
Welcome the Lesson
How can we be sure that letting go can help us outgrow our suffering, let alone learn to welcome those unwanted moments that seem to deliver us into its dark hands?
Whenever we finally learn the lesson in some moment and see the truth of it, the feeling is more like we’ve suddenly remembered something than one of having stumbled upon something formerly unknown to us. These moments of illumination are like running into a long-lost friend—and, in a way, that’s what they are: the remembrance of any timeless truth reunites us with our immortal Self. We are led to these moments by a loving Intelligence that waits within us to show us that we have never been alone—and never will be.
This means that our life lessons appear as they do, when they do, to serve a beautiful single purpose: to release us from the painful illusion that when something we love comes to an end, love itself comes to an end.
What punishes us in these moments is our identification with a lower level of self that’s trying to hold onto a form of love that can no longer be sustained in this world.
The indwelling love of the Divine never dies; it only assumes new ways to teach us this truth so that we may share in its ceaseless rebirth within us.
In many ways, the true blessings of life often come disguised as the worst moments, but those who will patiently bear the presence of that emptiness—of what seems to be a loss or painful limitation of some kind—will soon see its temporary mask fall away and witness there, in its place, the appearance of an impossibly kind and loving face.