We human beings are born with an indefinable longing to grow beyond ourselves, to penetrate and illuminate the mysterious depths of our own heart. The ideal and pursuit of perfection is literally seeded into our soul; it pervades our very being. Our longing to walk among the stars does not seem out of reach; the wish to be eternal goes with us everywhere. In more down-to-earth terms, if we wish to live without resentments that linger in our hearts and rid ourselves of fear with all of its debilitating limitations, we must shed the skin of our selfishness. We must learn what it means to consciously suffer ourselves without complaint and have compassion even toward those with whom we disagree.
Nothing can stop us from receiving the Niagara Falls of celestial impressions whose light not only serves to reveal the still in the dark character of our undeveloped nature, but also pours into us, all that is needed to evolve beyond it. Now all we need is to learn — and practice — the specialized part we must play in our own transformation.
Say that we’ve worked hard to be more aware of ourselves in the Now, and that for this effort we catch a glimpse of how quick we are to judge others, to criticize them for their “failings.” This pain that strains us — and those we touch with it — is itself a creation of a false sense of our own perfection. But our awareness of its punishing presence within us is the same as our invitation to transcend the negative nature that is responsible for it. So, if we want to realize the higher level of Self that reveals the need for further transformation, then we have work to do. We must actualize this new level of ourselves by acting from our new understanding in a whole different way.
In each instance where we see that we still have more to understand about ourselves, we must use our lives to become a living example of those qualities of character that we need to learn. In other words, in order to transcend what we have seen as limiting us, we must teach, by example, what we would further understand.
Following are four ways to teach the truths that transform the world we live in, even as we ourselves are transformed by our own actions. It is vital for us to remember that these suggested practices are designed to help us achieve an enhanced spiritual balance in ourselves, even as, through these same actions, we teach others around us about the possibility of living from a whole new order of self-understanding.
1. We teach others when we do not react in alarm to some potentially frightening news or event. The world around us receives the lesson that those events — in themselves — do not have the power to make or break the awakened soul. Our lesson — if we will teach it — is to see that we need not ride along on our own three-alarm nature that loves getting set off.
2. We teach others when they can see us laugh at our own mistakes. The world around us receives the lesson that there is a big difference between making a mistake and thinking of oneself as being a mistake. Our lesson — if we will teach it — is to see that any compulsive wish to be seen as perfect in the eyes of the world is a punishment that can never be a part of our true peace and contentment.
3. We teach others around us when we won’t give voice to complaint. The world around us receives the lesson that there are superior ways to handle times of discomfort or disappointment that do not include expressing negative emotions. Our lesson — if we will teach it — is to see that we can use passing dark states to awaken to and realize an interior wisdom that knows how to use everything for its own growth.
4. We teach others whenever we refuse to psychologically defend ourselves — be this against simple sarcasm or even vicious slander. The world around us receives the lesson that what is true needs no defense and that what is false cannot be defended. Our lesson — if we will teach it — is the realization that people only feel the need to attack what frightens them and that we need never live in fear of any frightened person.
Our real spiritual development is under invisible laws: To grow, we must learn. To learn, we must teach. To teach we must lead. To lead, we must make mistakes. Making mistakes tills the ground of us, making it receptive to new and higher lessons, and thus the positive spiral completes itself, even as it rises above its original starting point.
Take these suggested exercises and work with them to teach the truths that transform the world around and within you. Make up your own exercises based on the lessons you know that life is asking you to learn. Always strive to remember that anything we work to change in ourselves cannot help but change everything. What can be more promising than that?
(Excerpted from Let Go and Live in the Now, Red Wheel/Weiser)