You possess a potential power that is superior to any difficulty that life may ever present. This immense inner capability enables anyone who will claim it to instantly rise above his challenger. It makes no difference what form the challenge may assume or how huge it looms. This latent power of yours can render it harmless and ultimately make it disappear.
This friendly force that can turn your life into a series of victories is the power to question defeat. Now, before you start insisting that you already question your stresses and strains, allow me to show you the difference between right intention and right direction. A little story will help illustrate this higher idea.
A happy traveler noticed a tired-looking man seated off to the side of a small but pleasant country road. It appeared that even the cool shade of the tree seemed to weigh upon him. The traveler asked if he might sit for a while and refresh himself. It wasn’t long after they had shared some bread, an apple, and sparse, polite conversation that the obviously unhappy man spoke up. He begged his new companion’s forgiveness and went on to ask if the traveler could help him.
It seemed he had been wandering for weeks, going through all kinds of difficulties; but for all his intense effort, he could tell he wasn’t getting any closer to his destination. He wanted to return to the home of his childhood. The traveler understood his plight and asked where was this home. The man, showing his first smile, called out the name of the small town where he had been born. The traveler looked at him gently and then spoke. “I know how it feels to want to go home; but along with your right intention, you’ve got to have the right direction. You’ve been headed the wrong way, friend.”
The kind traveler then pointed him in the right direction and the wandering man soon made it back to the home of his youth.
Let’s look at this story through the eyes of a new understanding. In that way we too can make it back to our authentic inner home, our True Self. First we must realize that our stressful, pain-filled experiences are not caused by people or events, but by our reactions to them.
And yet, if we will honestly examine the way we presently question our defeats, here’s what we see: we are still desperately seeking answers that serve only to correct the surface or exterior conditions. We are still blaming circumstances for crushing us. The direction of our questions proves that we are still thinking incorrectly toward our problems. This is supremely important to grasp if we wish to change our inner and outer world.
By their very nature our old questions tend to make and then keep us victims. They imply that someone or something outside of ourselves is punishing us. No human being is a victim of any punishment outside of his own undeveloped life-level from which his inner reactions are seen as outer attacks. This is why we must learn to turn our questions into tools for developing self-wholeness instead of letting them lead us off in the wrong direction. As a matter of fact, there should be a new question forming in your mind just about now. If you will, let me help you formulate it, because this question is pointed in the right direction. It goes something like this:
“Where in the world did I get all of those wrong questions that have kept me the victim and at odds with the world?”
“I’ll let you answer this right question for yourself. Based on what we’ve discovered so far, who stands to gain the most from keeping you fighting with shadows and grasping at straws?”
“The false self!”
“That’s right. This false nature always divides in order to conquer. From this moment forward, we are going to learn to ask our own questions — questions that address and illuminate what it is within us that always feels as though it is being punished.”
These new questions are the power that defeats defeat. They alone insure total victory. Each time you ask the right question about an inner ache, you receive the new and right result of being released from the dark deceptions of the false self that wants you to fight with life. Here are ten new questions that lead to self-wholeness. Use them to see the difference between how you used to think and how you will question defeat from now on. You will win!
Questions for Self-Wholeness
1) Instead of always asking yourself why things always happen to you, learn to ask What is it inside of me that attracts these painful situations?
2) Instead of always asking yourself why things had to go this way or that way, learn to ask Why is the way I feel always determined by external conditions?
3) Instead of always asking yourself how to protect yourself in challenging situations, learn to ask What is it in me that always needs to be defended?
4) Instead of always asking yourself how to clear up your mental fog, learn to ask Can confusion know anything about clarity?
5) Instead of always asking yourself what to do about tomorrow (or the next minute, learn to ask Can there ever be intelligence in anxiety or worry?
6) Instead of always asking yourself why does so-and-so act this or that way, learn to ask What’s inside of me that wants to hurt itself over how anyone acts?
7) Instead of always crying out, “Why me?” learn to ask Who is this “me” that always feels this way?
8) Instead of always asking yourself if you’ve made the right choice, learn to ask Can fear ever make a safe decision?
9) Instead of always asking yourself why doesn’t so-and-so see how wrong they are, learn to ask Is what I’m feeling about that person right now good for me? Or them?
10) Instead of always asking yourself how to get others to approve you, learn to ask What do I really want, the applause of the crowds or to quietly have my own life?
(Excerpted from Let Go and Live in the Now, Red Wheel/Weiser)
Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 38 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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