Before spiritual readiness we will hide from the worst or dramatize the worst with tragic melancholy. Or we may deny it altogether. The thinking process of our brain is filled with powers that allow us to decorate reality or dodge and cover whatever may threaten our version of reality. Finally we recognize that aspect of inner bondage that we most fear is who or what we really are. If we have been secretly frightened by our hidden inner self, and if we have been taught that our true nature must be tamed into submission because of its potential for selfish evil, we will keep our conscious attention separate from and be afraid of that naked core of ourselves.
Even if our upbringing has been more enlightened, and we are taught that we are essentially pure and good, the wild untamed parts of our personality are likely to frighten us enough that we keep them hidden in shamed secrecy. They show themselves in nightmares and in images of hell.
To be willing to turn toward the aspects of ourselves that we knowingly separate from our outward self-image is the mark of maturity. This maturity is inseparable from the readiness to be free. Not free of what we know to lurk in the core, but free to discover directly and unflinchingly what is there. When we are free of our conceptual definitions of ourselves, we are free to be fully whole. We then directly know ourselves as indefinable consciousness, freely being itself. When we are willing and ready, whatever we think is the worst of us turns into one of the most important teachers of freedom.
It is not always so easy to meet the beast we think lives inside us. We don't often choose to leave a protected place, even if it is a prison. Although some ideas we have about ourselves are easily put aside or easily fall away on their own, transformational leaps take us, or throw us, into unknown territory with no reference points.
We may feel an internal pull toward what is calling us in this unknown realm and be terrified of it at the same time. We may find ourselves losing what we never considered could be lost: our perceived protection from our innermost selves. Desperately struggling with and fearing who we think we are, we finally find the courage to take a moment and directly inquire into this "thing" that has us by the throat.
When we can recognize that the soul matures naturally and sometimes with pain, we can be more willing to open to whatever we are feeling. We can stop our process of self-protection and instead self inquire. If we don't resist whatever is being experienced, then the underlying sweetness of life is found even in the bitterest parts.
--- We can't know beforehand that even in the worst the best can be discovered. But we can discover the truth of that. We can try to remember our discovery for whenever the next change occurs, and that memory may be somewhat useful. But to directly know what is here in this moment, all memory -- even the most supportive -- must be put aside. When your attention is fully present here, in this moment, regardless of what is appearing here, there is a great discovery. Every definition of yourself comes from references to the past and hopes or fears for the future. When your mind is freed from definitions of any kind, you can easily and directly discover what is really here rather than clinging to any definition of what is here. Falling into the core reveals the radiant spaciousness at the core.
This blog is adapted from Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story, now available in paperback for the first time on Sept. 13, 2012.