When you start looking into the illusions of the selves, it is quite common to end up feeling somewhat confused. It seems almost impossible to distinguish between what is the dualistic “truth” of the selves and what is the real truth of higher awareness. It seems very difficult to know when you are acting from the selves and when you are not. Some will even feel a sense of hopelessness, as if it seems impossible to ever overcome the selves and its subtleties.
These feelings are understandable, but it is simply a necessary phase on the path that all people must pass through before they can rise above the lower aspects of the selves. Every person who has ever attained higher awareness has passed through this phase. You are not alone and it is indeed possible to pass through this phase, even though it can seem hopeless at times.
The state of honest confusion is actually a magnificent state of consciousness. Instead of feeling despair or discouragement, you should congratulate yourself for having won an important victory. By being willing to move into a state of confusion, you have taken a very important step on the path of freeing yourself from the selves. Why is that so?
The selves have an insatiable desire to be in control of every situation. They are constantly seeking to set themselves up as an authority figure that cannot be questioned or gainsaid. Being an authority figure comes with a subtle temptation that has caused many otherwise sincere people – especially in the field of politics – to fail their missions in life.
Certainly, the selves have no way of resisting this temptation. The temptation is that if you are an authority figure, it seems as if you should always be right. If you are not right, your authority is brought into question, and this gives rise to the fear that you could lose your position and its privileges.
A self lives in a constant state of fear that if it is proven wrong, it will lose its control over you and thus it will die. This is a well-founded fear in the sense that once the conscious self begins to see the fallacy of the self’s dualistic, fear-based and control-seeking reasoning, the self will lose its control over you and it will eventually die.
Here comes the subtle reasoning. The path that leads to freedom from the selves is that the conscious self must stop identifying itself with the selves and the selves’ dualistic beliefs. If a person is completely identified with his or her selves, the person will feel the selves’ fear of losing control. This person will feel compelled to defend the selves’ beliefs as if it was a matter of life and death. The person will feel it is of utmost importance never to be proven wrong.
How does the selves attempt to avoid being proven wrong? By creating beliefs that are based on either black-and-white thinking or gray thinking. The selves defines a world view, and as long as the person accepts this world view, the person can never be proven wrong. The person will always be able to twist any situation or argument so that it seems like he or she is never wrong.
The consequence of this approach to life is that it truly gives a person a sense of certainty, which can make people feel very sure that they are right, that they are okay or even that they are superior to others. This is a false security that is in constant danger of being threatened or shattered by events over which neither the person nor the selves have any control.
When a person is completely identified with the selves, the person is using black-and-white or gray thinking to refute any idea or viewpoint that questions the selves’ dualistic world view. Such a person simply is not teachable, and a spiritual teacher has little opportunity to reach the person.
When you identify yourself with the selves, you have the selves’ superficial certainty, and thus you can deny any confusion. In a sense, you are never feeling confused because the selves always
have ready-made answers to any question or situation. The very fact that you now feel confused and that you are willing to recognize that you feel confused is a clear demonstration that the conscious self is no longer completely identified with the selves.
Recognizing the true teacher
In a certain way, the dissolution of the selves’ superficial certainty will feel like a loss, but only when you look at it from a narrow perspective. Once you step back and look at the forest instead of the trees, you see that being confused is a major step forward because you have now become teachable for both your higher self and your spiritual teachers.
As the old saying goes: “When the student is ready, the teacher appears.” Instead of looking back towards the “good old days” when you thought you knew everything and had life under control, you need to refocus your attention and look for the teacher who is here with you right now and is ready to help you take the next step.
Many spiritual seekers finally see through the selves’ false certainty and give up the security of the selves’ old belief system or world view. However, they do so reluctantly and they immediately start looking for some other source of security. In so doing, they are often attracted to a guru or organization who makes very strong – even absolutist – claims.
This often gives them a sense that because they are now with the true guru or savior, they can feel secure again. Obviously, this approach simply gives the selves a new lease on life because they will now start using the new belief system to enslave you.
Some seekers give up the security of an old belief system, yet they adopt a new one that makes them think they are on the path to enlightenment. They think that once they reach that state, they will once again feel secure and have the certainty of knowing everything. However, even an enlightened person does not know everything.
The more constructive approach is to go beyond the need for outer certainty and security by making conscious contact with the ultimate teacher, namely the inner teacher of your higher self and through that with your ascended teachers. You can enter the kingdom of God, higher awareness, only through an inner process. It follows that in order to complete this process, you must make contact with your inner teacher.
This is not denouncing an outer teacher or teaching, as both can be very helpful. You will always attract to you both the true teacher that can help you take the next step and the false teacher that will make you feel like you shouldn’t take the next step. If you look for certainty, you will inevitably be attracted to the false teacher. Only if you are willing to remain confused, will you find the true teacher. Why is that so?
The selves seek to control you, and the last thing the selves want is for you to become self-sufficient and spiritually independent. In return for letting them control you, the selves offer you the false sense of certainty—that you are always right, that you are guaranteed to be saved, that you are superior to others or whatever your particular need might be.
In contrast, the true teacher wants you to become self-sufficient, and thus a true teacher will never seek to control you. Instead of offering you a superficial certainty, the true teacher offers you the true, inner path—and this is an ongoing process of expanding your consciousness.
The path never ends, meaning that there is no limit to how much you can grow in awareness and understanding. However, what exactly does that mean? If you are open to the possibility of never-ending growth in awareness, it means that there is no belief or viewpoint that can be considered absolute or infallible.
The true inner path does not offer you the outer certainty of the selves, namely that this or that belief is absolute. On the contrary, on the inner path there are no absolute beliefs, as any belief can be expanded or replaced by a broader awareness. This leads to two essential considerations:
- It is not the essence of the inner path that you become codependent upon the inner teacher. It is the essence of the path that you become self-sufficient so that you no longer need an outer teacher. This means that the true teacher will not tell you what to do, as the selves and false teachers will gladly do. The true teacher will give you a greater understanding so that you have a better foundation for making choices. It is you who must choose because only by choosing will you grow in self-sufficiency. Unless you are willing to make your own decisions, you might easily overlook the directions of the inner teacher, thus prolonging the state of confusion unnecessarily.
- On the inner path, there is no outer certainty or security. It is essential that you develop an inner sense of certainty and security. The selves are trying to say that as long as you believe in their infallible doctrines, you are okay. What you need to do is go beyond this need for an external security and find an internal source of security. This will be our next consideration.
Finding true certainty
The key to finding inner certainty is to follow Jesus’ command:
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
Instead of seeking a human sense of certainty – by believing in a man-made doctrine or living within a set of man-made rules – you seek a direct experience of higher awareness. However – and here is a point often overlooked – you will not find higher awareness until you are willing to let go of the selves’ certainty and be willing to be confused.
You must let the selves’ sense of certainty die. Only when you are willing to take a step into the unknown – by being willing to be confused for a time – will you begin to see beyond the veil of duality created by the selves. That is why Jesus said:
Jesus said unto him, If thou wilt be perfect, go [and] sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come [and] follow me. (Matthew 19:21)
It does not literally mean that you have to give away everything you have. The spiritual meaning is that you are willing to give up the certainty of the selves and be willing to be confused for a time. Non-dual truth is entirely beyond the dualistic “truths” of the mind of separation. Because you have grown up in a world that is so heavily influenced by the mind of separation, it will take you some time to free your mind from this influence.
You simply must go through a period in which it seems like there is nothing that is certain, nothing you know for sure. This should be embraced as a positive sign that you are rising above the selves and you should strive to keep your mind open to a higher understanding.
Unfortunately, many seekers open their minds only for a brief period, which is enough to give their higher selves a chance to give them direction to look at an outer teaching or teacher. As soon as they enter that “safe zone,” they again close their minds to inner direction and focus on the outer direction.
Instead, you should strive to keep your mind open to the inner direction. The catch here is that inner direction will always seek to take you beyond your current mental box by questioning your “unquestionable” beliefs. There are actually some people who reject the true teacher as threatening their infallible beliefs, and they cling to the selves and false teachers who do not question their most cherished beliefs.
Only one thing can take you beyond these reactions and the entire need for outer security, namely that you find an inner source of security. The key to doing this is to realize a very simple yet profound truth. Behind the selves’ desire to set themselves up as an infallible authority is the selves’ built-in insecurity. The selves feels that they are inherently unworthy, and this is true because the selves were never created by higher awareness.
The selves don’t understand and cannot acknowledge this, which is why the selves are trying to create the appearance of their worthiness by using what is available to them in the material world. The selves are trying to build a tower of worthiness, and it inevitably becomes a tower of Babel. It will never reach into the heavens but will eventually collapse under its own weight.
The problem is, of course, that as long as you identify with the selves, you will also feel unworthy and fear that you are unacceptable in the eyes of God and that you will “burn forever in hell” or however you define the ultimate misfortune. When you can no longer hold on to the selves’ certainty, your inner fear of damnation will surface and you have to deal with it. Some refuse to do so and thus throw themselves into an(other) outer belief system that offers them reprieve. At some point in life, you have to deal with this ghost.
The key to overcoming unworthiness is to realize that the core of your lower being is the conscious self, and it is more than the selves. The conscious self is more than your entire worldly sense of identity. The conscious self is an extension of higher awareness, and thus it is inherently worthy. You are worthy by the fact that higher awareness created you out of its own Being.
You might not feel worthy and telling you that you are worthy might have little effect as long as you feel confused. Let us attempt to part the confusion somewhat. For many people, the concept of the conscious self can seem abstract, but seeing is believing. When you experience the conscious self, you will know you are more than the lower sense of identity. The fact is that if you recognize that you feel confused, you have already experienced the conscious self.
Your selves never feel confused, for they will simply replace one failed absolutist belief with another one. The conscious self has the capacity for self-awareness, and that is why it can recognize that it is confused and wonder about whether it is worthy. Your selves are incapable of self-observation, meaning that they cannot stand back, look at your life and reach the conclusion that they want to change.
The conscious self can do this, and the fact that you are studying this teaching means that you have started separating yourself from the selves. You have started becoming aware that you are a spiritual being who is more than your earthly identity.
You are already experiencing the conscious self because only the conscious self can step back from your life and even consider that you have selves and that you are more than the selves. Only this realization will make you aware of and interested in following the path. You simply need to deepen this experience so that you begin to internalize the fact that you are more than your outer viewpoints and beliefs. Doing this has a very important psychological effect.
You are more than your beliefs
In reality, the selves have no inherent or self-sufficient sense of identity. The selves are their beliefs and viewpoints. That is why the selves must base their sense of identity and worth on their beliefs. If one of those beliefs is threatened, the selves feel their worth, even their very existence, is threatened. That is why people who are identified with their selves are willing to kill other people in order to destroy a threat to their belief system.
The conscious self does have an inherent sense of identity and worth that is independent of your outer beliefs, opinions and viewpoints. As you begin to focus on the fact that you are the conscious self, you can gradually reconnect to that pure sense of being. You can even experience a state of consciousness in which you are aware, but your mind is free of specific thoughts. You experience pure consciousness, and when you have such a transcendental or mystical experience, you know you are more than the contents of your mind.
All seekers have had at least brief glimpses of this pure consciousness or they would not be longing for something beyond what this world has to offer. Not all seekers are consciously aware of what they have experienced. Many even take these experiences for granted because they seem so natural or because they have never been taught what they mean. As you begin to contemplate these concepts, you will realize that you know you are more than your beliefs.
As you become more aware of the “you” that is behind the contents of your consciousness, you naturally become less attached to those contents. You begin to realize that any belief or viewpoint you hold on Earth is simply a particular expression of truth. As you are more than the contents of your mind, truth is more than any particular expression.
When you recognize that truth is more than any expression of truth found on Earth, how can you remain attached to one particular expression? You lose your fear of letting go of your present understanding of truth and letting it be replaced by a higher understanding. As you stop holding on to the dualistic beliefs of the selves, you will become gradually more open to the non-dual directions of higher awareness and spiritual teachers.
This will eventually give you a conscious connection to higher awareness, and you will then begin to gain a foundation for avoiding the negative aspects of confusion, namely the sense that you don’t know what is right and wrong, true or false. You will begin to experience the Spirit of Truth directly, and this will remove confusion although it will not give you an outer certainty as many people imagine.
Being wrong without being wrong
The greatest advantage of this shift in consciousness is that you lose your fear of being wrong. Take a few seconds to step back and look at what a heavy burden has been put upon you by the selves and perhaps also by your upbringing. Take an honest look at how much the world revolves around the compulsive desire to always be right.
See how it creates conflicts between people, often leading to wars. See how it creates conflict in yourself, often putting you on a downward path where all of your energy is fed into proving that you are right so you have no attention left over for enjoying life.
This obsessive-compulsive desire to be right springs from the selves’ belief that if their viewpoints are proven wrong, then they are proven wrong. This belief is perfectly true—for the selves. It is not true for the conscious self because you are more than your viewpoints. If one of your beliefs is proven wrong, it does not mean that you are wrong or that you are a bad person. This means you can let go of the entire weight of having to always be right.
Once you do this, you will literally feel as if the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. You will feel reborn and feel that you have received a chance to start life anew.
Look at a child who is learning how to walk. It does not carry the heavy burden that it has to be perfect every time or that it should feel guilty for falling down. It simply gets up and tries again, laughing at its own mistakes while still learning from them. When you separate yourself from the selves’ need to be right, you too can become as joyful as a little child, and then the path becomes a joy-filled journey rather than the Via Dolorosa.
Take note that children are always eager to learn, meaning that they don’t think they know everything or that they have to know everything. They have no resistance to learning something new.
The selves will always resist having a belief proven wrong, but once you connect to who you are, you can actually see it as a great opportunity to have a belief proven wrong. Instead of continuing to live with a limited or incorrect belief, you can now rise to a higher understanding, which can only enrich your life. Having a belief proven wrong becomes a stepping stone for growth rather than a loss.
Embrace the magnificent confusion
The selves want you to believe that if one of your beliefs is proven wrong, you will lose something and you will end up in a black hole. The reason is that the selves’ sense of identity is based on their beliefs so if one is taken, the selves lose part of their identity. Once you realize that the conscious self is more than your beliefs, you can avoid this trap.
Instead, you can see that losing a limited belief never leaves you in a vacuum, for the limited belief is always replaced by a broader understanding. Your inner teacher will question your limited beliefs but will never leave you empty. Your inner teacher will always offer you a higher understanding to replace the limited one.
When you embrace this process, you will never feel a loss. Instead, your life will become a constant process of discovery that leads to a greater and greater understanding of life. For this to happen, you must become aware of the selves’ fear of loss, and you must consciously choose to dismiss it.
Instead, you must embrace the true inner path as an ongoing journey that never stops. On the true path, you will never again have the outer security that is based on specific beliefs and viewpoints. Instead, you will develop an inner certainty that is based on knowing who you are and that who you are is perfectly worthy in the eyes of higher awareness.
The true spiritual path is the River of Life and it is always flowing. Everything in the River of Life is constantly transcending itself and becoming more. The selves cannot be part of this process, but the conscious self can—as long as you are willing to flow with the river instead of resisting it. People who identify with their selves are resisting the river; they are refusing to flow with it.
They are like people in a river who are desperately clinging to a branch on the river bank. They think flowing with the river is dangerous, and thus they cling to the sense of security and stability that the bank seems to offer. Once in a while, the current becomes so strong that they lose their grip and must let go. They feel a sense of panic and desperately grasp for anything they can hold on to. Their entire lives are swallowed up by feeling threatened and by resisting their own growth.
The wise seekers realize that true growth means that you never stand still, and thus you never have the false sense of security that can only come from standing still. Instead, these seekers embrace the process and start enjoying the journey instead of either obsessing about or fearing the destination.
They voluntarily let go of whatever they are holding on to on the river bank and lovingly embrace the river itself. They decide to flow with the current instead of resisting it. They soon realize that flowing with the river is so much more enjoyable and peaceful than fighting the current that only seeks to carry them towards the ocean of self.
The really wise ones even realize that the ocean is not nearly as important as the journey. After all, the ocean is made of water and so is the river. You will be no more wet in the ocean than you are in the river. There is a distinct enjoyment in feeling the water moving and feeling yourself moving with the water.
If you embrace the flow, you will not fear leaving the bank behind, nor will you feel that you will be incomplete until you reach the ocean. You will feel complete in being in the flow, and you will enjoy watching the journey unfold all around and within you. You will then be one with the River of Life, and you will be one with higher awareness in the ongoing dance of self-transcendence.
There is no greater certainty than this oneness with the Spirit of Truth, yet it is not based on outer beliefs. In oneness with the process of self-transcendence there is no belief that cannot be expanded and replaced with a broader understanding. If your present understanding could not be expanded, how could self-transcendence be possible? If there was no self-transcendence, life itself would have stopped. Stillstand is never a reality but only an illusion created by the selves.
Embrace the process of life and go with the flow. The sooner you let go of the need to always be right or the need for certainty, the sooner you can embrace the state of magnificent confusion. This means you have no outer certainty but that you have the inner certainty of knowing you are one with the River of Life itself.