Increasingly, I hear strange ideas like I should learn how to embrace my own pain, or walk into my own "shadow-self." Does this mean to accept the very unhappiness that I'm working so hard to be free of?
Accepting any negative state does not mean welcoming it. It means simply to allow Life to teach you what it wants you to learn through whatever relationship there may be at the moment. Life is not throwing questions at us; it is giving us answers. This is one of the greatest secrets in the world. Real answers are complete. Our task is to start understanding this. If you will do your inner work, you will be shown everything you need to know.
I can make myself sick with just the simple thought of a certain painful memory crossing my mind. Is there a way to defuse the hurt instead of sinking into it?
The next time some hostile state takes over your life - either in thought (as in remembering something someone did to you in the past) or in an actual moment of conflict with someone standing before you - ask yourself the following question at the moment you can remember yourself to do so: Is this self that I am presently experiencing the me that I want to be? Or: Is this suffering self how I want to know myself? And then just come as awake as you can to the realization that you are not who you want to be at that moment, but that something foreign to your True Nature has imposed itself on you and taken over your life. Then, once having done this, do nothing else except realize that while you may be temporarily powerless to stop the lower state from possessing you, you are empowered to recognize the negative state as an intruder. This awareness -- this conscious awareness of your true pained condition -- is what it means to put the light on the problem. That is your job. The light will do its part, if you will do yours. Persist until you are free!
Before speaking to someone who intimidates me, I sometimes feel my throat start to close up and my voice choke up with so much tension that I find it hard to speak. I've got to get behind this fear, but I don't know how!
One way in which it's possible for us to outgrow the problems that we face is to not let those problems dictate our behavior to us. In this instance, whenever we run into areas that are challenging, a part of us will urge us to avoid those situations that make us feel uneasy. The answer is to go into the problem, not let the problem take us away from seeing its real cause. The wrong parts of us are always defining us according to their secret limitations. In this instance, anything that we fear, or that makes us behave oddly, will tell us that it's the person or the situation that is causing us the conflict. We must always remember that in all circumstances, our situation is ourselves, and that it is through direct contact with these parts -- and doing what they fear to do -- that will prove to us there was nothing real in the fear. All fear, all negative states, are conditional. This means that if we will stay the course, and be willing to remain aware of ourselves while these parts are threatening us, we will see them fade and disappear. This is the only freedom.
In spite of some of my spiritual progress along the path of self-liberation, whenever bad news arrives via telephone or mail, I still face fear. My heart pounds, I forget everything true, and find myself right back where I started from. What can I do?
Strangely enough, waking up to discover that we have forgotten what we thought we knew is the beginning of a new and higher kind of knowing. Let me explain: For many years, we meet thought with thought, events with right principles. But higher thoughts and right principles are still the same level as the attacking state. We must learn this the hard way, which gradually allows us to stop fighting, stop resisting these negative states. We are not trying to learn how to overpower darkness, we are learning to dwell inwardly where darkness can't touch us.
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