We meet life, with all of its complex relationships, through what we know. Each daily event, with its dozens of unsuspected twists and turns, challenges us to come up with our best answers. Once our most suitable answer is at hand, we launch it and ourselves into action and watch to see what happens. With each situation this challenge and response process is repeated over and over again, until the condition resolves itself for us, either favorably or not.
The point being made here is that at any given moment we always do what we know. This may seem very obvious, but with closer examination, especially in light of the fact we wish to elevate ourselves and what we are getting from this life, we will discover something very astounding.
Read the next three sentences very carefully. I have separated this trio of important ideas for ease of reading, but they are very much connected to each other. Each higher idea leads to the next one, and when they are absorbed all together, they will tell you a great secret.
Before you can get anything different from this life, you must first do something different.
Before you can do anything different with your life, you must first know something different.
Before you can know anything different, you must first suspect and then confirm that it is your present level of understanding that has brought you what you now wish you could change.
Now let’s reverse the order of these right ideas so that we can see how they work from the other way around.
Until you know something different you cannot do anything different.
Until you do something different you will not get anything different.
And until you really get something different from your life you cannot know what you have missed and how much more there is to understand.
Here’s the point. Trying to change what you get from life without first changing what you know about life is like putting on dry clothes over wet ones and then wondering why you keep shivering. You must stop trying to change what you are getting for yourself and go to work on changing what you are giving to yourself.
It is vital for you to realize that life has not held back its riches from you. The truth be known, which it will be, you have been held back from real life by a false nature which thinks life is meant to be suffered through and that all there is to insulate it from a harsh world is what it can win and possess for itself.
While there is no denying our world is becoming more and more cruel, there is also no denying that we are the world. Neither our individual world nor the global one can change until the connection between what we experience and who we are is no longer denied.
This is why we must have a new knowledge. Spiritual knowledge isn’t something mysterious or out of this world. In fact, spiritual understanding is the most important and practical knowledge a person can possess. It is ultimately what we know about ourselves, about who we really are, that determines the quality of our life.
The truth is we cannot separate our answers from our actions and our actions from their results. They may appear to be individual in their operation because they often occur at different times, but they are really one thing. Intellectually we already know this important concept, but its deep significance hasn’t yet become clear.
Let’s look at the old adage, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap.” Here we can see a new significance in this New Testament teaching. What you sow is seed or, in this metaphor, your knowledge. What you reap is the crop, or your results. This spiritual knowledge shows us the great importance of reconsidering what we think we know. Life is trying to reach us and teach us, through our experience of it, that we need new and true answers. These higher answers serve as a special kind of personal shelter that effortlessly keeps out what is harmful and keeps in what is healthy and life-giving. That is its nature.
Here are five examples of how these higher answers can work for you. You’ll see how each one also suggests a new action and promises a new result. Remember that each complete section, one through five, represents a whole action. In reality, you cannot separate your answers from your actions and your actions from their results. Just as warmth must follow sunlight, so must a higher, happier life follow when inner-light is allowed to flourish.
1. Your New Answer: Real strength is the refusal to act from weakness.
Your New Action: See where you have been calling inner-weakness an inner strength; such as calling anxiety concern, or anger righteousness. Dare to live without these false strengths.
Your New Result: The end of your confusion and pain over why your strength so often fails you. At the same time you will realize the birth of a new and true strength that never turns into its weak opposite.
2. Your New Answer: Have the courage to proceed even while knowing that you are afraid.
Your New Action: Dare to take one shaky step after another.
Your New Result: Freedom from a life of fear because fear cannot exist whenever insight is valued above feeling frightened.
3. Your New Answer: Forgiveness is the personal understanding that except for circumstance there is no real difference between you and your offender.
Your New Action: In spite of all the inner-screams to the contrary, dare to treat your trespasser as you would want to be treated.
Your New Result: When you stop punishing others for their weakness, you will stop punishing yourself for yours.
4. Your New Answer: Compassion is the conscious refusal to add to another person’s suffering, even though it may seem to increase yours.
Your New Action: Dare to shoulder one hundred times the mental and emotional weight you think you can carry.
Your New Result: Contained right within the suffering is the glimpse that there is no sufferer.
5. Your New Answer: Real hope is the fact that there is always a Higher Solution.
Your New Action: See that any time you feel pained or defeated, it is only because you insist on clinging to what doesn’t work. Dare to let go and you won’t lose a thing except for a punishing idea.
Your New Result: A new life that fears no inner or outer challenge since defeat can only exist in the absence of a willingness to learn.
Now that you have reviewed these five new and true answers, you may wish to write down some of your own. This is highly profitable for accelerating your inner growth. Don’t be discouraged if at first you can’t come up with any new ideas. There is great gain in your efforts because even the smallest attempt to find new answers is a new answer! The more you work with truthful principles, the more they will work for you.
Always remember when you work with powerful higher ideas such as these that there are many temporarily unknown parts of yourself that may try to mislead you. They know that your growing true spiritual insight will lead you away from their harmful influence and deliver you to true safety. No matter what the harmful voices within may say, whosoever puts the Truth first will never lose anything except for that which was never real in the first place.
(Excerpted from The Secret of Letting Go, Rev. Edition, Llewellyn)
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 40 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in southern Oregon where he gives talks four times each week. For more information visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up to receive a free helpful newsletter emailed to your desktop once each week.
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Permission granted to reprint with author credit.
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