No one likes emotional pain, and yet we all have it. Some of us carry around a lot of it. We all want to heal; yet doing that seems almost beyond our reach. We try and try and sometimes it doesn’t seem as though we are accomplishing very much. We look for answers in the stars, get advice from psychics, do the I-Ching and consult all manner of oracles. We look to God for help, and feel frustrated and abandoned when our pain and problems continue. Interestingly, we persistently refuse to do the one thing that would make a real difference.
What is it that keeps you from being at peace? What stifles your passion and keeps you from being the person you could be? Yes, life can be unfair and your partner can be a jerk, but those aren’t the things that really hold you back, are they?
When push comes to shove, you get scared. You’ve been hurt and you’re afraid to be hurt again. You shut down, close off and pull back from life. This isn’t about sexual or racial discrimination or being smart enough or the hundred other things you blame your failures on. They can be factors, but they are not causal. The bottom line is that you fear that when you are tested, you won’t measure up. It has felt that way in the past, so it’s better to hide in obscurity than to risk being found out and rejected.
I’m not here to give you another pep talk about overcoming your fears or self-doubts. That stuff doesn’t really work anyway. What we have to look at is the conflict between the deeper truth that you know – that you really are a beautiful, wonderful, special being, and the manifested fears that dominate your life. This conflict is the reason that life and healing can be so difficult.
You come to the table sincerely wanting to heal your pain, while at the same time, another part of you holds powerful negative beliefs about yourself. It’s like a two-headed monster pulling in opposite directions. You want peace, you want to heal, and this other part of you is so convinced that this is not possible that it finds ways to sabotage everything you try to do. It’s not being contrary, it sincerely believes that it must keep you safe by protecting you from certain condemnation. I love Bartholomew’s line that, “If you had a friend who said the kind of things you say to yourself, you’d get another friend!”
This all becomes more complicated because we have free will. Having free will means that if we are going to change our beliefs, we must be the ones who decide. No one else can do it for us. Essentially, you look to God and plead, “Please help me to heal.” And God looks down and says, “How? You won’t let me!” And so long as you hold beliefs that you are unlovable and unworthy, you’re not going to get very far in your healing. And God cannot do much about it (at least directly – more about this later). To do so would violate free will.
So, God cannot help you until you decide to accept His love. And unfortunately we humans can be pretty stubborn. This is not a small matter. Many people force themselves to endure extraordinary pain and suffering before they give up their ego-based beliefs and surrender to His love. When people come to me for healing it is because they are desperate, beaten down and frustrated. If they felt that their old way of doing things could still work, they wouldn’t be asking for my help. Sometimes people come wanting a miracle so that they can avoid their pain, not have to change and go on with life, but it doesn’t work that way. Saving them would be about the worst thing I could do for them. That’s why God doesn’t do it either.
We see this pattern very clearly with alcohol and drug addiction. Addicts begin to destroy their lives and create a lot of pain for themselves and the people around them. Hopefully at some point they realize that something is very wrong. They (usually with the help of loved ones and friends) put themselves into a rehab program, and then they very frequently relapse. Why? Because they have stopped using, but they have not dealt with the deeper pain that caused them to abuse in the first place. It is only (in most cases) the second collapse that makes them realize that they are going to have to reach much deeper if they are going to deal with what’s actually driving them. Then real healing can occur.
Unfortunately, our society really gets in the way of people’s innate healing processes. One of the great foundations of Western civilization has been our attitude toward overcoming obstacles, no matter how difficult. We have tamed rivers, conquered diseases and walked on the moon. We have built great cities in hostile deserts and harnessed the vast power of nuclear energy. We can do almost anything we choose.
Our Roman ancestors gave us the motto, “carpe diem”, which translates to “seize the day,” and it expresses our attitude toward taking control of life. We seek to conquer nature so that we can control our fate. All you need do is reach out and seize life by the throat and bend it to your will. It’s only a matter of desire and determination. If it is not happening, either you are not doing it right, you’re not trying hard enough or something else is wrong with you. Right? Well, not exactly.
That’s the funny thing about life. Whenever you act in contravention to the Universal, something always comes through the cracks to upset the furniture. Feudalism didn’t work, slavery didn’t work, monarchy didn’t work, religion didn’t work, colonialism didn’t work, fascism didn’t work and materialistic capitalism is next. People oppressed by these social structures will always create conflict with it. As has been said, “Those who you keep down will eventually drag you down.”
One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. What the establishment calls terrorism, repressed people will see as patriotic heroism. Whatever you call it, it keeps tripping up and undermining the establishment.
The thing is, regardless of what you would like to have happen, the you that you see in the mirror does not control your life. The Universe (another you) does. You may want to be the captain of your ship, but the fundamental trajectory of your life is controlled by a process far greater than your worldly desires. And that is a very difficult concept for some Westerners to swallow.
We have created a culture that in some very important ways runs almost completely counter to the Universal. As an example, “success” in the West means checking your humanity at the door. Al Davis crystallized this philosophy with his slogan “Win baby, win,” for his Oakland Raider football team. Unspoken in his words are, “at any cost.” The great football deity, Vince Lombardi preached, “Winning isn’t everything. It’s the only thing.”
The shadow side of this version of achievement is that when people “fail,” the emotional burden placed upon them can be very heavy. If you don’t climb to the top of the heap, or if you don’t want that kind of success, you are just not as good as the other guys. We build shame and feelings of inadequacy into the process as negative motivators.
We have always known that the captains of industry could be heartless and that politicians were corrupt. We leave the idea of compassion to our spiritual teachers and healers. It seems that in this society one can have truth or power, but not both. However, this is mostly because what we call power is not true power. It is intimidation and manipulation, and these qualities are incompatible with truth.
People of real power – the Lincoln’s, Gandhi’s, Martin Luther King’s and Mother Theresa’s of the world, achieved real success by touching the fundamental humanity in people’s hearts. Bill Gates, Ken Lay, Dick Cheney, John Ashcroft and most of corporate America cannot do that. They have bought into another belief system built on false power, manipulation and a “win at any cost” mentality. These people have turned away from the basic reason we have come to earth. They worship “false gods” as it were, as compensation for the truth that they have forsaken. We came to earth to learn to listen to our hearts – the very thing that Western scientific society strives so very hard to deny.
What is shaping and controlling your life is the degree to which you love yourself, or your relationship with God (which are the same thing). You are not in control of that process. A much larger force, we could call it “love of self,” is shaping and guiding the events of your life. You have influence on that path, which I will talk about later, but you do not determine it. And, as loving and wonderful as the place of self love can be, we fear it.
I want to tell you about one of my favorite cartoons. The setting is the foyer of a lecture hall with doors opening to two different lectures. At the first door there is a large line of people waiting expectantly with pens and notebooks in hand. There is no one at the second door. The sign over the first lecture hall reads, “Lecture about God.” The sign over the [empty] second door, simply reads, “God.”
We can chuckle at the cartoon, but it illustrates the fundamental dilemma that we all face in reconnecting with our God-consciousness. It’s easy to read books and learn to meditate and go to workshops about spiritual growth, but actually facing God is a significantly different matter. It forces us out of the protection of our intellect into what feels like the less secure realm of feelings and emotions. Unfortunately, this is what life on earth is ultimately about. A matter at which, by the way, we have done rather poorly.
It’s pretty incredible if you think about it. If you were to add up the hours spent and the energy expended over these thousands of years in prayer, doing ceremony, going to church and reading holy writings like the Bible, Buddha’s Sutras or the Bhagavad-Gita, etc., all over the world, by a hundred generations, the total expenditure of human time and energy has been simply astronomical. All the effort that has been expended toward spiritual development – to reach enlightenment, or personal peace, or God awareness, or whatever you want to call it, could have built thousands of great cities, but what have we gotten for it?
It wasn’t a waste of time. There have been notable and laudable achievements. Feudalism is gone, slavery is uncommon and many people around the planet live in relative freedom today. But ethnic and racial conflict and strife are frequent. We still let people starve and die from easily preventable diseases. Half the world’s population doesn’t have clean drinking water, decent sanitation, etc., etc. So we have a long way to go in terms of learning to love each other, and to that end, I think one has to question whether we’ve been really getting our time and money’s worth from our spiritual endeavors.
Fundamentalists will tell us that we have been impeded toward enlightenment because of our personal weaknesses and sinful behavior, but I do not think that is the case. That is a setup to create guilt and shame and to make people dependent upon fundamentalist religion for salvation. As an aside, the more I learn about these fundamentalist beliefs, the more difficult it is for me to see these people as Christian. It’s like a Middle Eastern terrorist wrapping him or herself in the cloak of Islam. No matter what you wrap it in, a fish still smells like a fish.