The Three Gateways by James Allen

A man will reach the Kingdom by purifying himself, and he can only do this by pursuing a process of self-examination and self-analysis. The selfishness must be discovered and understood before it can be removed. It is powerless to remove itself, neither will it pass away of itself.

Darkness ceases only when light is introduced; so ignorance can only be dispersed by Knowledge; selfishness by Love. Seeing that in selfishness there is no security, no stability, no peace, the whole process of seeking the Kingdom resolves itself into a search for a Principle; a divine and permanent Principle on which a man can stand secure, freed from himself—that is, from the personal element, and from the tyranny and slavery which that personal self exacts and demands.

A man must first of all be willing to lose himself (his self-seeking self) before he can find himself (his Divine Self). He must realize that selfishness is not worth clinging to, that it is a master altogether unworthy of his service, and that divine Goodness alone is worthy to be enthroned in his heart as the supreme master of his life.

This means that he must have faith, for without this equipment there can be neither progress nor achievement. He must believe in the desirability of purity, in the supremacy of righteousness, in the sustaining power of integrity; he must ever hold before him the Ideal and Perfect Goodness, and strive for its achievement with ever-renewed effort and unflagging zeal.

This faith must be nurtured and its development encouraged. As a lamp, it must be carefully trimmed and fed and kept burning in the heart, for without its radiating flame no way will be seen in the darkness; he will find no pathway out of self. And as this flame increases and burns with a steadier light, energy, resolution, and self-reliance will come to his aid, and with each step, his progress will be accelerated until at last the Light of Knowledge will begin to take the place of the lamp of faith, and the darkness will commence to disappear before its searching splendour.

Into his spiritual sight will come the Principles of the divine Life, and as he approaches them, their incomparable beauty and majestic symmetry will astonish his vision, and gladden his heart with a gladness hitherto unknown.

Along this pathway of self-control and self-purification (for such it is) every soul must travel on its way to the Kingdom. So narrow is this way, and so overgrown with the weeds of selfishness is its entrance, that it is difficult to find and, being found, cannot be retained except by daily meditation. Without this the spiritual energies grow weaker, and the man loses the strength necessary to continue. As the body is sustained and invigorated by material food, so the spirit is strengthened and renewed by its own food – namely meditation upon spiritual things.

He, then, who earnestly resolves to find the Kingdom will commence to meditate, and to rigidly examine his heart and mind and life in the light of that Supreme Perfection which is the goal of his attainment.

On his way to that goal, he must pass through three Gateways of Surrender. The first is the Surrender of Desire; the second is the Surrender of Opinion; the third is the Surrender of Self. Entering into meditation, he will commence to examine his desires, tracing them out in his mind, and following up their effects in his life and upon his character; and he will quickly perceive that, without the renunciation of desire, a man remains a slave both to himself and to his surroundings and circumstances. Having discovered this, the first Gate, that of the Surrender of Desire, is entered. Passing through this Gate, he adopts a process of self-discipline which is the first step in the purification of the soul.

Hitherto he has lived as a slavish beast; eating, drinking, sleeping, and pursuing enjoyment at the beck and call of his lower impulses; blindly following and gratifying his inclinations without method, not questioning his conduct, and having no fixed centre from which to regulate his character and life.

Now, however, he begins to live as a man; he curbs his inclinations, controls his passions, and steadies his mind in the practice of virtue. He ceases to pursue enjoyment, but follows the dictates of his reason, and regulates his conduct in accordance with the demands of an ideal. With the introduction of this regulating factor in his life, he at once perceives that certain habits must be abandoned.

He begins to select his food, and to have his meals at stated periods, no longer eating at any time when the sight of food tempts his inclination. He reduces the number of meals per day and also the quantity of food eaten.

He no longer goes to bed, by day or night, to indulge in pleasurable indolence, but to give his body the rest it needs, and he therefore regulates his hours of sleep, rising early, and never encouraging the animal desire to indulge in dreamy indolence after waking.

All those foods and drinks which are particularly associated with gluttony, cruelty, and drunkenness he will dispense with altogether, selecting the mild and refreshing sustenance which Nature provides in such rich profusion.

These preliminary steps will be at once adopted; and as the path of self-government and self-examination is pursued, a clearer and ever clearer perception of the nature, meaning, and effects of desire will be developed, until it will be seen that the mere regulation of one’s desires is altogether inadequate and insufficient, and that the desires themselves must be abandoned, must be allowed to fall out of the mind and to have no part hi the character and life.

It is at this point where the soul of the seeker will enter the dark Valley of Temptation, for these desires will not die without a struggle, and without many a fierce effort to reassert the power and authority with which they have hitherto been invested. And here the lamp of faith must be constantly fed and assiduously trimmed, for all the light that it can throw out will be required to guide and encourage the traveller in the dense gloom of this dark Valley.

At first his desires, like so many wild beasts, will clamour loudly for gratification. Failing in that, they will tempt him to struggle with them that they may overthrow him. And this last temptation is greater and more difficult to overcome than the first, for the desires will not be stilled until they are utterly ignored; until they are left unheeded, unconditionally abandoned, and allowed to perish for want of food.

In passing through this Valley, the searcher will develop certain powers which are necessary to his further development, and these powers are—self-control, self-reliance, fearlessness, and independence of thought.

Here also he will have to pass through ridicule and mockery and false accusation; so much so, that some of his best friends, yea, even those whom he most unselfishly loves, will accuse him of folly and inconsistency, and will do all they can to argue him back to the life of animal indulgence, self-seeking, and petty personal strife.

Nearly everybody around him will suddenly discover that they know his duty better than he knows it himself, and, knowing no other and higher life than their own of mingled excitement and suffering, they will take great pains to win him back to it, imagining, in their ignorance, that he is losing so much pleasure and happiness, and is gaining nothing in return.

At first this attitude of others toward him will arouse in him acute suffering; but he will rapidly discover that this suffering is caused by his own vanity and selfishness, and is the result of his own subtle desire to be appreciated, admired, and thought well of; and immediately this knowledge is arrived at, he will rise into a higher state of consciousness, where these things can no longer reach him and inflict pain. It is here where he will begin to stand firm, and to wield with effect the powers of mind already mentioned.

Let him therefore press on courageously, heeding neither the revilings of his friends without nor the clamourings of his enemies within; aspiring, searching, striving; looking ever toward his Ideal with eyes of holy love; day by day ridding his mind of selfish motive, his heart of impure desire; stumbling sometimes, sometimes falling, but ever travelling onward and rising higher; and, recording each night in the silence of his own heart the journey of the day, let him not despair if but each day, in spite of all its failures and falls, record some holy battle fought, though lost, some silent victory attempted, though unachieved. The loss of today will add to the gain of tomorrow for him whose mind is set on the conquest of self.

Passing along the Valley, he will at last come to the Fields of Sorrow and Loneliness. His desires, having received at his hands neither encouragement nor sustenance, have grown weak, and are now falling away and perishing. He is climbing out of the Valley, and the darkness is less dense; but now he realizes for the first time he is alone. He is like a man standing upon the lowest level of a great mountain, and it is night. Above him towers the lofty peak, beyond which shine the everlasting stars; a short distance below him are the glaring lights of the city which he has left, and from it there come up to him the noises of its inhabitants—a confused mingling of shouts, screams, laughter, rumblings of traffic, and the strains of music. He thinks of his friends, all of whom are in the city, pursuing their own particular pleasures, and he is alone upon the mountain.

That city is the City of Desire and Pleasure, the mountain is the Mountain of Renunciation, and the climber now knows that he has left the world, that henceforth for him its excitements and strifes are lifeless things, and can tempt him no more. Resting awhile in this lonely place, he will taste of sorrow and learn its secret; harshness and hatred will pass from him; his heart will grow soft, and the first faint broodings of that divine compassion, which shall afterwards absorb his whole being, will overshadow and inspire him. He will begin to feel with every living thing in its strivings and sufferings, and gradually, as this lesson is learned, his own sorrow and loneliness will be forgotten in his great calm love for others, and will pass away.

Here, also, he will begin to perceive and understand the workings of those hidden laws which govern the destinies of individuals and nations. Having risen above the lower region of strife and selfishness within himself, he can now look calmly down upon it in others and in the world, and analyse and comprehend it, and he will see how selfish striving is at the root of all the world’s suffering.

His whole attitude toward others and the world now undergoes a complete change, and compassion and love begin to take the place of self-seeking and self-protection in his mind; and as a result of this, the world alters in its attitude toward him.

At this juncture he perceives the folly of competition, and, ceasing from striving to overtop and get the better of others, he begins to encourage them, both with unselfish thoughts, and, when necessary, with loving acts; and this he does even to those who selfishly compete with him, no longer defending himself against them.

As a direct result of this, his worldly affairs begin to prosper as never before; many of his friends who at first mocked him commence to respect, and even to love him, and he suddenly wakes up to the fact that he is coming in contact with people of a distinctly unworldly and noble type, of whose existence he had no knowledge while living in his lower selfish nature. From many parts and from long distances these people will come to him to minister to him and that he may minister to them, spiritual fellowship and loving brotherhood will become potent in his life, and so he will pass beyond the Fields of Sorrow and Loneliness.

The lower competitive laws have now ceased to operate in his life, and their results, which are failure, disaster, exposure, and destitution, can no longer enter into and form part of his experience; and this not merely because he has risen above the lower forms of selfishness in himself, but because also, in so rising, he has developed certain power of mind by which he is enabled to direct and govern his affairs with a more powerful and masterly hand.

He, however, has not yet travelled far, and unless he exercises constant watchfulness, may at any time fall back into the lower world of darkness and strife, revivifying its empty pleasures and galvanizing back to life its dead desires. And especially is there danger when he reaches the greatest temptation through which man is called to pass— the temptation of doubt.

Before reaching, or even perceiving, the second Gate, that of Surrender of Opinion, the pilgrim will come upon a great soul-desert, the Desert of Doubt. And here for a time he will wander around, and despondency, indecision, and uncertainty, a melancholy brood, will surround him like a cloud, hiding from his view the way immediately in front of him.

A new and strange fear, too, will possibly overtake him, and he will begin to question the wisdom of the course he is pursuing. Again the allurements of the world will be presented to him, dressed in their most attractive garb, and the drowning din and stimulating excitement of worldly battle will once more assume a desirable aspect.

“After all, am I right? What gain is there in this? Does not life itself consist of pleasure and excitement and battle, and in giving these up am I not giving up all? Am I not sacrificing the very substance of life for a meaningless shadow? May it not be that, after all, I am a poor deluded fool, and that all these around me who live the life of the senses and stand upon its solid, sure, and easily procured enjoyments are wiser than I?”

By such dark doubtings and questionings will he here be tempted and troubled, and these very doubts will drive him to a deeper searching into the intricacies of life, and arouse within him the feeling of necessity for some permanent Principle upon which to stand and take refuge.

He will therefore, while wandering about in this dark Desert, come into contact with the higher and more subtle delusions of his own mind, the delusions of the intellect; and, by contrasting these with his Ideal, will learn to distinguish between the real and the unreal, the shadow and the substance, between effect and cause, between fleeting appearances and permanent Principles.

In the Desert of Doubt a man is confronted with all forms of illusion, not only the illusions of the senses, but also those of abstract thought and religious emotion. It is in the testing of, grappling with, and ultimately destroying, these illusions that he develops still higher powers, those of discrimination, spiritual perception, steadfastness of purpose, and calmness of mind, by the exercise of which he is enabled to unerringly distinguish the true from the false, both in the world of thought and that of material appearances.

Having acquired these powers, and learned how to use them in his holy warfare as weapons against himself, he now emerges from the Desert of Doubt, the mists and mirages of delusion vanish from his pathway, and there looms before him the second Gate, the Gateway of the Surrender of Opinion.

As he approaches this Gate, he sees before him the whole pathway along which he is travelling, and, for a space, obtains a glimpse of the glorious heights of attainment toward which he is moving; he sees the Temple of the Higher Life in all its majesty, and already he feels within him the strength and joy and peace of conquest. With Sir Galahad he can now exclaim: “I….saw the Grail, The Holy Grail… ….And one will crown me king Far in the spiritual city.” for he knows that his ultimate victory is assured.

He now enters upon a process of self-conquest, which is altogether distinct from that which he has hitherto pursued. Up to the present he has been overcoming, transmuting, and simplifying his animal desires; now he commences to transmute and simplify his intellect. He has, so far, been adjusting his feelings to his Ideals; he now begins to adjust his thoughts to that Ideal, which also assumes at this point larger and more beautiful proportions, and for the first time he perceives what really constitutes a permanent and imperishable Principle.

He sees that the righteousness for which he has been searching is fixed and invariable; that it cannot be accommodated to man, but that man must reach up to, and obey it; that it consists of an undeviating line of conduct, apart from all considerations of loss or gain, of reward of punishment; that, in reality, it consists in abandoning self, with all the sins of desire, opinion, and self-interest of which that self is composed, and in living the blameless life of perfect love toward all men and creatures. Such a life is fixed and perfect; it is without turning, change, or qualification, and demands a sinless and perfect conduct. It is, therefore, the direct antithesis of the worldly life of self.

Perceiving this, the seeker sees that, although he has freed himself from the baser passions and desires which enslave mankind, he is still in bondage to the fetters of opinion; that although he has purified himself with a purity to which few aspire, and which the world cannot understand, he is still defiled with a defilement which is difficult to wash away—he loves his own opinions, and has all along been confounding them with Truth, with the Principle for which he is seeking.

He is not yet free from strife, and is still involved in the competitive laws as they occur in the higher realm of thought. He still believes that he (in his opinions) is right, and that others are wrong; and in his egotism, has even fallen so low as to bestow a mock pity on those who hold opinions the reverse of his own. But now, realizing this more subtle form of selfishness with which he is enslaved, and perceiving all the train of sufferings which spring from it, having also acquired the priceless possession of spiritual discernment, he reverently bends his head and passes through the second Gateway toward his final peace.

And now, clothing his soul with the colourless Garment of Humility, he bends all his energies to the uprooting of those opinions which he has hitherto loved and cherished.

He now learns to distinguish between Truth, which is one and unchangeable, and his own and others’ opinions about Truth, which are many and changeable.

He sees that his opinions about Goodness, Purity, Compassion, and Love are very distinct from those qualities themselves, and that he must stand upon those divine Principles, and not upon his opinions. Hitherto he has regarded his own opinions as of great value, and the opinions of others as worthless, but now he ceases to so elevate his own opinions and to defend them against those of others, and comes to regard them as utterly worthless.

As a direct result of this attitude of mind, he takes refuge in the practice of pure Goodness, unalloyed with base desire and subtle self-love, and takes his stand upon the divine Principles of Purity, Wisdom, Compassion, and Love, incorporating them into his mind, and manifesting them in his life.

He is now clothed with the Righteousness of Christ (which is incomprehensible to the world) and is rapidly becoming divine. He has not only realized the darkness of desire; he has also perceived the vanity of speculative philosophy, and so rids his mind of all those metaphysical subtleties which have no relation to practical holiness, and which hitherto encumbered his progress and prevented him from seeing the enduring realities in life.

And now he casts from him, one after another, his opinions and speculations, and commences to live the life of perfect love toward all beings. With each opinion overcome and abandoned as a burden, there is an increased lightness of spirit, and he now begins to realize the meaning of being “free.”

The divine flowers of Gladness, Joy, and Peace spring up spontaneously in his heart, and his life becomes a blissful song. And as the melody in his heart expands, and grows more and more perfect, his outward life harmonizes itself with the inward music.

All the effort he puts forth being now free from strife, he obtains all that is necessary for his well-being, without pain, anxiety, or fear. He has almost entirely transcended the competitive laws, and the Law of Love is now the governing factor in his life, adjusting all his worldly affairs harmoniously, and without struggle or difficulty on his part.

Indeed, the competitive laws as they occur in the commercial world, have been long left behind, and have ceased to touch him at any point in his material affairs. Here, also, he enters into a wider and more comprehensive consciousness, and viewing the universe and humanity from the higher altitudes of purity and knowledge to which he has ascended, perceives the orderly sequence of law in all human affairs.

The pursuit of this Path brings about the development of still higher powers of mind, and these powers are—divine patience, spiritual equanimity, non-resistance, and prophetic insight. By prophetic insight I do not mean, the foretelling of events, but direct perception of those hidden causes which operate in human life, and, indeed, in all life, and out of which spring the multifarious and universal effects and events.

The man here rises above the competitive laws as they operate in the thought world, so that their results, which are violence, ignominy, grief, humiliation and distress and anxiety in all their forms, no longer occur in his life.

As he proceeds, the imperishable Principles which form the foundation and fabric of the universe loom before him, and assume more and more symmetrical proportions. For him there is no more anguish; no evil can come near his dwelling; and there breaks upon him the dawning of the abiding Peace.

But he is not yet free. He has not yet finished his journey. He may rest here, and that as long as he chooses; but sooner or later he will rouse himself to the last effort, and will reach the final goal of achievement—the selfless state, the divine life.

He is not yet free from self, but still clings, though with less tenacity, to the love of personal existence, and to the idea of exclusive interest in his personal possessions. And when he at last realizes that those selfish elements must also be abandoned, there appears before him the third Gate—the Gateway of Surrender of Self.

It is no dark portal which he now approaches, but one luminous with divine glory, one radiant with a radiance with which no earthly splendour can vie, and he advances toward it with no uncertain step. The clouds of Doubt have long been dispersed; the sounds of the voices of Temptation are lost in the valley below; and with firm gait, erect carriage, and a heart filled with unspeakable joy, he nears the Gate that guards the Kingdom of God.

He has now given up all but self-interest in those things which are his by legal right, but he now perceives that he must hold nothing as his own; and as he pauses at the Gate, he hears the command which cannot be evaded or denied: “Yet lackest thou one thing; sell all that thou hast, and distribute unto the poor, and thou shall have treasure in Heaven.”

And passing through the last great Gate, he stands glorious, radiant, free, detached from the tyranny of desire, of opinion, of self; a divine man—harmless, patient, tender, pure; he has found that for which he had been searching—the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness.

The journey to the Kingdom may be a long and tedious one, or it may be short and rapid. It may occupy a minute, or it may take a thousand ages. Everything depends on the faith and belief of the searcher. The majority cannot “enter in because of their unbelief”; for how can men realize righteousness when they do not believe in it nor in the possibility of its accomplishment?

Neither is it necessary to leave the outer world, and one’s duties therein. Nay, it can only be found through the unselfish performance of one’s duty. Some there are whose faith is so great that, when this truth is presented to them, they can let all the personal elements drop almost immediately out of their minds, and enter into their divine heritage.

But all who believe and aspire to achieve will sooner or later arrive at victory if, amid all their worldly duties, they faint not, nor lose sight of the Ideal Goodness, and continue, with unshaken resolve to “press on to Perfection.”

– James Allen – All These Things Added (1903)

On Being Truthful by Adyashanti

“I have found over the years of working with people, even people who have had very deep and profound awakenings, that most people have a fear of being truthful, of really being honest—not only with others, but with themselves as well. Of course, the core of this fear is that most people know intuitively that if they were actually totally truthful and totally sincere and honest, they would no longer be able to control anybody.

We can not control somebody with whom we have been truthful. We can only control people if we tell half-truths, if we shave down what is true. When we tell the total truth, our inside is suddenly on the outside. There’s nothing hidden anymore. For most human beings, being that exposed brings up incredible fear. Most people walk around thinking, “My god, if anybody could look inside of me, if anybody could see what is happening in there, what my fears are, what my doubts are, what my truths are, what I really perceive, they would be horrified.”

Most people are protecting themselves. They are holding a lot of things in. They are not living honest, truthful, and sincere lives, because if they were to do so, they would have no control. Of course, they don’t have control anyway, but they would have no illusion of control, either.

Most people don’t get out of childhood without having many experiences of being wounded for telling the truth. Someone said, “You can’t say that,” or “You shouldn’t say that,” or “That wasn’t appropriate.” As a result, most of us have very deep underlying conditioning that being just who we are is not okay. We have been conditioned to believe that there are times when it is okay to be truthful and honest, and there are times when it is not okay to be truthful and honest. Most human beings actually have an imprinting—not only in their minds, but in their bodies and their emotions—that if they are honest, if they are real, something bad is going to happen. Somebody is not going to like it. They won’t be able to control their environment if they tell the truth.

But telling the truth is an aspect of awakening. It may not seem like it, because it’s very practical and very human. It’s not transcendent. It’s not about pure consciousness, it’s about how pure consciousness manifests as a human being in an undivided way. We must be able to manifest what we realize, and we must also come to grips with and start to notice the very forces within us that keep us from manifesting truthfulness in every situation.

Almost every time I’ve given a talk like this in public, someone will come up to me later and say, “You know that talk you gave on truthfulness and honesty and all that?” And I’ll go, “Yeah, I remember the talk.” And they’ll say, “Well, somebody came up in the parking lot afterward and decided that she needed to tell me all the rotten things she thought about me, in the name of honesty.

And I just kind of shake my head. I hesitate to even give talks on this topic, because it’s so easy to misunderstand.

Truth is a very high standard. Truth is not a plaything. To tell what is true within ourselves is not to tell what we think; it is not to tell our opinion. It is not to dump the garbage can of our mind onto somebody else. All of that is illusion, distortion, projection. Truth is not unloading our opinions onto someone. That is not truth. Truth is not telling our beliefs about things. That is not truth. Those are ways that we actually hide from truth.

Truth is much more intimate than that. When we tell the truth, it has the sense of a confession. I don’t mean a confession of something bad or wrong, but I mean the sense where we come completely out of hiding. Truth is a simple thing. To speak the truth is to speak from a sense of total and absolute unprotectedness.

To tell truth with any consistency, we not only have to meet every place in ourselves that is afraid of telling truth, we also have to see the belief structure we have that tells us, “I can’t do that.” Those belief structures are by their very nature based in unreality. To know this is not enough; you have to actually see it, to really perceive exactly what you believe. What are the exact belief structures that cause you to go into duality, that cause you to go into conflict and hiding? Only then can you tell truth in the way I’m discussing here.

Freedom is the realization that everything and everybody gets to be exactly as they are. Unless we’ve come to that point, unless we’ve seen that this is how reality sees things, then we’re actually withholding freedom from the world. We’re seeing it as a possession, and we’re only concerned with ourselves. How good I can feel? How free I can feel? True freedom is a gift to everything and everybody.

The important thing is allowing the whole world to wake up. Part of allowing the whole world to wake up is recognizing that the whole world is free—everybody is free to be as they are. Until the whole world is free to agree with you or disagree with you, until you have given the freedom to everyone to like you or not like you, to love you or hate you, to see things as you see them or to see things differently—until you have given the whole world its freedom—you’ll never have your freedom.

This is an important part of awakening, and it is an easy part to miss. Again, if we were fully awake, it would be impossible to miss this, but most people do not awaken all at once. The idea of freedom is very important, however. Everybody gets to be as they are. Only when everyone is allowed to be as they are—when you have given them that freedom, the freedom they already possess—do you find within yourself the capacity to be honest and real and true.

We cannot be true as long as we are expecting or wanting others to agree with us. That will cause us to contract—maybe they won’t like what I say; maybe they won’t agree; maybe they won’t like me. When we are protecting ourselves, we are also withholding freedom from everybody else. When we realize that we are the one and only Spirit that manifests as everything and everyone, in the very nature of that realization is total freedom for all.

There is a certain fearlessness in this realization. People sometimes come to me and say, “Well, Adya, there’s still some inner place”—and, I find, it’s often a very early childhood place—“that’s afraid to just be what I know to be true.” And, of course, I’ll say, “You have to look at it, to see how you, yourself, formed certain belief structures based on what happened in the past. You have to look into it and see if those belief structures are really true.” But also, we need to recognize that we have no way of knowing or predicting how the world will receive us. Part of being awake is being willing to be crucified. If we think that to be awake means the whole world will agree with us, then we are in a total delusion.

Inside human consciousness there is a deep taboo that says it is not okay to realize the truth of being. I’m not talking about preaching it, necessarily; I’m talking about just being what you perceive. This taboo says, “That’s not okay. You will be crucified for that; you will be killed for it.” Of course, in our human history, people have been killed for it. We have a long history in many societies of getting rid of or killing truly enlightened beings, because true enlightenment does not conform to the dream state. In fact, many times the dream state feels offended and threatened by true enlightenment, because a truly enlightened being cannot be controlled. Even the threat of death cannot control an enlightened being.

Thus, as a human being, we can’t have these childish ideas that enlightenment means “everybody loves me.” Maybe everybody will love you, but more likely some will and some won’t. But when you have given the whole world its freedom, then you have gone a long way toward finding your own freedom. They are tied inextricably, one to the other.

The most important thing is not that you try to convince anybody of the truth that you see. What is really important is that you are truthful with yourself. If you can be truthful with yourself, then you can be truthful with anybody. There is no real usefulness in becoming overly focused on being truthful with everybody else. Although that’s necessary, the place to start is with yourself—can you be totally sincere with yourself? Can you go to that place that is beyond blame, beyond judgment, beyond should and shouldn’t? Can you go to that place that is so sincere you won’t shy away from any part of yourself that is still in conflict; you won’t use the perception of truth to hide from something that feels less than liberating?

It is really a question of sincerity. As I said, this is not a self-improvement program. Once you discover the level of sincerity and honesty I am describing, you find that sincerity and honesty are manifestations of the absolute nature of being. To be this sincere with yourself may not be easy, initially. You may see things about yourself you don’t want to see. You may see the parts of yourself that stand in seemingly stark contrast to everything you have realized. Nonetheless, this is where awakening moves; awakening moves toward and into that which is not awake. Sincerity is what allows this movement to happen, and it does happen if you are real with yourself.

Coming completely out of hiding, being willing to see every point of fixation, every way you go into division, enables this part of the journey to continue. As this happens, you feel your heart opening, your mind opening; you feel yourself opening on levels that you never dreamed possible. These levels are not just transcendent of humanness, but also right within your humanness, because there is no separation between your human being and your divine being.

Sincerity is the key. You have to be willing; you have to want to see everything. When you want to see everything, you will see everything.

A lot of students who come to see me have the unconscious idea that enlightenment means one should be able to feel complete happiness, total bliss, and total freedom in any situation. This is one of the unconscious beliefs that many people have about awakening, and it’s another misperception.

If you believe the misperception that enlightenment is only about happiness, bliss, and freedom, you will be motivated to transcend or escape those areas of your life that feel less than fully functional. But sooner or later, as we become more awake, we find that there is more and more pressure to encounter and deal with those areas of our lives that we have been avoiding, where we are less than fully conscious.

I have found that a lot of people become quite afraid when they start to realize where this whole movement of awakening is taking them, that it is taking them into an area where they will be called to be unusually honest and real and come completely out of hiding. This is contrary to the idea of awakening being simply a transcendence of life, the finding of a safe haven in some inner experience where we don’t have to deal with life as it is. Awakening is, in fact, quite the opposite: it’s a state of being in which we find the capacity to deal with our lives as they actually are. But as I said, many people are afraid of this part of the process, because it demands that we come out of hiding on every level.”

~ Adyashanti, The End of Your World

Finding The Way Out of Confusion

I haven’t yet come out the other side, but these are some things that I found important when making decisions/ figuring things out.

1. Find your real motivations for doing something:

“As you view what is at stake in an issue, you will seldom find an answer by asking whether the action you contemplate is right or wrong. Since none of you would ever consider committing an antisocial or sinful act, the decisions you are faced with could be right either way in principle. Yet, for each individual there is always only one right way and many, many wrong ways possible. So you have to consider your honest motives behind your apparent good motives; that will determine the right or wrong action for you, not the ethical value of the action itself. As long as you have not found all the motives behind a desire, you will not be able to know the right action for you. The right procedure is not to ask God simply to let you know whether to do such and such, thus avoiding the work of self-knowledge on your part. There may be isolated instances where this can be the right thing to do, but not generally, not when there seems to be a repetitive pattern and a conflict involved. The right procedure is to decide wholeheartedly that you wish to find all the motives behind the conscious motive, and for that you should pray for God’s help.” – Eva Pierrakos

“People who do not recognize their hidden motives cannot conduct their lives freely. They are enslaved to their lower selves, to their unrecognized desires, which push and pull them backwards and forward, left and right.” – Eva Pierrakos

2. Consider whether you are ready to pay the price:

“You often desire the impossible, like a child: you find yourself desiring something that cannot be had, or for which you are not prepared to pay the price.” – Eva Pierrakos

“In your unwillingness to pay the necessary price for a desired goal, you leave the issue in the unconscious, thinking childishly to go around it.” – Eva Pierrakos

3. Don’t expect the Divine to solve your problems without your active participation:

“If your present situation feels unsatisfactory in any way, or if you are not clear about a decision you are called upon to make, do not expect God to decide for you or to alter an unpleasant situation without your active participation in the process. You have to realize that there must be something in you that contributed to the undesirable circumstance to begin with and be willing to find what it is and change it. Do not forget that the wrong is not necessarily a sinful action or thought, but an unrecognized emotion that surges in a wrong channel or violates a spiritual law. God recognizes your goodwill, and if you combine prayer with the work of self-examination and tearing down your masks, His answer will become ever more clear, so that there will be no possible room for doubt in you. But as long as your resistance against this way of working persists, no matter what the pretexts and excuses are, the sluggishness and the immaturity of your lower self has the better of you. You will have wrong reactions and distorted instincts, which you will then want to interpret to fit the resistance of your lower self.” – Eva Pierrakos

“Those who will not make a decision are often the same who most sincerely strive to follow their soul’s yearning. Although they truly want to do what is right and just, they shy away from doing something because it may not please God. They are afraid of doing wrong so they do not do anything. They do not understand that by not making a decision they also make a decision. The world, and what you call time, never stands still. Everything is in the stream of life, and whatever you do, including not doing anything, must have a consequence. When you shy away from making a decision, it means you have not yet found a key to your soul. You live, possibly without being aware of it, in fear. You do not take command of your ship, believing and hoping—again unconsciously—that God or fate will make the decision for you. Once in a while this may even happen, but, in general, God’s world is not permitted to interfere, since one of the things you have to learn is to take responsibility for your decisions. You have to learn to pierce the dark cloud which obscures the truth and creates confusion. You must do so by your own effort, by your personal spiritual endeavor, by your increasing self-awareness.” – Eva Pierrakos

“The answer and the key to God’s will are within you.” – Eva Pierrakos

This makes me realize that words of wisdom need to unlocked. It’s like you receive a treasure chest, but you have to find the key within yourself to open it. The tricky part is that we may interpret certain words to mean something that appeals to the lower self, so experience/reflection is needed.

4. A shift in perspective can bring about change on its own:

“So you overlook the simple fact that first your ideas have to change before the vexing conditions have a chance to change too. Thus you find yourself at a certain crucial point on this path in a vicious circle: you wait for a change in your conditions, while the conditions wait for you to change your ideas.” – Eva Pierrakos

“But whatever the problem is, be aware that this problem is in direct connection with an inner wrong attitude of yours and pray for recognition, for guidance, for enlightenment in this respect. If you search in this direction at all and if you are really open to find your particular answer and to see the connection of your outer problem with the inner one, guidance can be given; or rather, the recognition will come to you, for often the guidance is there but you refuse to see it! You refuse to see the signs, the many pointed signs, that are constantly given you.” – Eva Pierrakos

5. Abundance needs to be cultivated from within:

“The open energy system which creates richness flowing into you both from within and without must come from your own richness that can afford to lose at the moment. Then you can afford to tolerate the temporary pain of finding what really obstructs the fulfillment of the unfulfilled need, and ultimately remove it by changing an inner attitude. This is the way to create richness from poverty.

A sequence of steps must be undertaken in this process. Step number one: recognize the conflict we have just discussed where you struggle between resorting to hopelessness or to pushing, holding, and applying pressure from above. Step number two: see that this conflict exists because you operate from the premise of an imaginary poverty, convinced that you could not have what you need if you gave up the pushing, holding, pressuring struggle. You believe that you are condemned never to experience the fulfillment you long for, without which your personality cannot thrive. Step number three: commit yourself totally to working out the real reasons for your unfulfillment in the usual way you learn on this path. This must be done in a spirit of honesty, perseverance, patience, and humility. Humility means not blaming the universe for your poverty in a particular area of your life, but instead searching for your distortions that have created this poverty.” – Eva Pierrakos

“You must first create the inner attitude in which you can accept the not having with good grace and still feel, perhaps even because of it, your inner wealth.” – Eva Pierrakos

6. See the connection between freedom and self-responsibilty:

“The infant in you desires everything the way it wants it, how it wants it, and when it wants it. But it goes further than that. This desire includes wanting complete freedom without responsibility. You may not be aware that you desire just this. But I am sure that by investigating some of your reactions and asking yourself what they truly mean, when you come to the root, you will undoubtedly find that this childish part of your being desires just that. You want to have a benign authority above you who steers your life in all ways as you desire. You wish complete freedom in every way; you want to make independent decisions and choices. If these prove good, it is to your credit. However, you do not wish to be responsible for anything bad that happens. Then you refuse to see the connection between such a happening and your own actions and attitudes. You are so successful in covering up these connections that, after a time, it takes a great deal of effort indeed to bring the connection out into the open. This is so because you wish to make this authority responsible for the negative things only.” – Eva Pierrakos

“It is not only the pain of unfulfillment that you cringe away from, however. You also do not want to take upon yourself mature self-responsibility. This may not apply to all your outer material life, but may affect the emotional plane. If you do not wish to love, and live in fear of being hurt, if you do not wish to take the risk of living upon yourself, you wish to remain the child who waits helplessly for life to fulfill its needs without the necessity of self-involvement. The price you pay for such evasion is very high. Many of you do not yet realize how high that price is. This running away from self-responsibility and from the apparent risk of living and feeling is caused by an original sense of inadequacy, and continuing to run away increases that sense of inadequacy. Only as you change this pattern will you find your sense of adequacy and self-confidence. The psychic law that says that running away from the original pain of unfulfillment increases the unfulfillment, and therefore the pain, operates here, too.” – Eva Pierrakos

7. Identify dual either/or thinking (rebellion vs submission) / Accept current limitations:

“As you accept the narrow structure and recognize it for what it is—the product of your limited thinking—so will your scope of freedom widen. But it does not widen by rebelling against the necessary outer boundaries, and against what appear to be restrictions. Freedom comes from an intelligent recognition of the structure and from the choice to accept it. This choice is made not out of fear and weakness, dependency and submission, nor is it a rebellion of the inner tyrant, which disregards reason and wisdom. It is made with the will to see the truth and meaning and lovingly accept, on those grounds, the narrow structure of the present, even if this seems at first to restrict personal desires. This is the act of love and freedom. The first two alternatives of fearful acceptance and blind rebellion are obviously unloving and unfree. They are not deliberate choices, but blind, automatic reactions, and they bear the seed of hate, distrust, suspicion, selfish demands, maligning of truth.” – Eva Pierrakos

8. Save yourself:

“When I cast my mind back to my upbringing and my life overall, I recognize the times when I was hostage to factors which set me desperately searching for rescue. Rescue implied to me that an outside force, person or persons, would appear to help me out of my unhappy circumstances. But no one would appear. No rescue was at hand. I could have sat on the “rock” of my solitude until I was a very old man, awaiting some nameless, faceless rescue “party”, like someone lost in the wilderness. But when I realized that the wilderness was the landscape of my own making – and of my own mind – I began to feel a strong impetus to take action to get out of the uncomfortable place in which I had somehow landed. That rescue, I eventually concluded, could only come from within myself.” – J. Paul Nadeau, Hostage to Myself

9. Use your willpower wisely:

“You can use your willpower in two very distinct ways. One creates a pressure and tension that will rob you of your peace; it leads you away from the state of detachment so necessary for attaining spiritual and emotional maturity. The other flows freely, strongly, and vitally and will never hamper your serenity; it works deep inside and yet quite consciously; it wills strongly and yet patiently; it leaves you free and detached, yet never passive and resigned. One will-stream comes out of your higher self, the other out of your lower self. If you will something that is against divine law and divine will, it will never give you peace. However, it is also possible for you to will something that is utterly right for you, but to do so in the wrong way, thereby mingling in wrong currents or wrong motives.” – Eva Pierrakos

10. Choose wholeheartedly:

“unless it comes out of
your soul like a rocket,
unless being still would
drive you to madness or
suicide or murder,
don’t do it.
unless the sun inside you is
burning your gut,
don’t do it.

when it is truly time,
and if you have been chosen,
it will do it by
itself and it will keep on doing it
until you die or it dies in you.

there is no other way.

and there never was.”

– Charles Bukowski

“Wherever conflicts exist, in one way or another, you have not made your decisions properly. Do not remain on the surface level; you will have to dig deeper into your emotions in order to find the answer. Within your emotions, sooner or later you must find—provided you search honestly—that you have somehow not made a whole decision; you had somehow hoped to gain the advantage without accepting the disadvantage. And often you even hope—again without thinking it through clearly—to at the same time gain the advantage of both alternatives and to be spared the disadvantage of either. This amounts to cheating life, and the result must inevitably be that life will teach you a lesson and you will reap the disadvantages of both or all sides which you wished to avoid.” – Eva Pierrakos

11. It’s ok to admit that you don’t yet have the answer:

“If, after taking on the problem, you come to the conclusion that you are not yet capable of making a decision because you are not yet able to perceive which direction to take, you are in a totally different state. Then you can ask God for inspiration and knowledge and thus be ready to receive it and act accordingly. The needed recognition will come to you when you have prepared yourself through your own endeavors. It is one thing to avoid a decision, cover up everything that relates to it, and turn away from the problem altogether. It is quite another to strive for truth and knowingly and willingly decide not to make a decision until, after more personal effort, you are ready to take the right course. And when the decision is truly the right one, no shadow of a doubt will be left in you. The result will be ever-increasing inner peace and harmony in your soul. Only in this way can you become the captain of your ship.” – Eva Pierrakos

12. There is a difference between intuition and resonance:

Ideas can resonate with the lower self or with the higher self. They can resonate with hidden motivations and fears that haven’t been made conscious and they can feel ‘right’ too, although from my experience they have a more temporary nature.

13. Being aware of your fears helps:

“The great enemy is fear, and the best way to meet and conquer this enemy is first to ascertain, admit, and articulate it. This approach will diminish fear to a considerable degree and open the way to further measures for ousting it. Of course, the desire to do so must, as always, be clearly expressed in one’s thinking and intentions. However, if you struggle against fear out of fear of fear, this will be difficult. Therefore, the calm admission and the momentary acceptance of it will do more toward its elimination than fighting against it would.” – Eva Pierrakos

14. Ideas of right and wrong (should/must/have to) can delay/hinder progress:

One time during meditation I had the following thought:

“I want to… because… ! I don’t wanna hear any I have tos! ”

And I believe that the motivation for doing something is where it’s at.

“As long as your “right” conduct is motivated by stringent self-moralizing, based on “good or bad,” your goodness or righteousness is not genuine. It does not come from natural insight and inner growth but from fear:  the fear about your imperfection. Therefore, such “goodness” is ineffectual, unconvincing to yourself as well as to others. It is a compulsion, not a choice. And you cannot be in reality when you are compulsive, for reality cannot be evaluated in the extreme terms of good or bad. When these terms cease to apply to anything but very crass issues, the borderlines become subtle and hazy. The issue is no longer capable of being settled by quick judgment about what is good or bad. Then the truth can be found only deep within yourself, instead of in the rigid laws and rules you borrow because you are too insecure to delve into your own soul. But since you don’t dare to find the truth there, you adhere to ready-made rules, and the moment you do you moralize.” – Eva Pierrakos

“This moral structure actually takes the place of the self: you trust in rules rather than in yourself. This is a very shaky trust, for such rules may often be inapplicable to certain real situations. You may often have to grope when you find yourself not knowing what is right. However, if you cannot accept yourself as a human being, fallible and often confused, then this unavoidable confusion has the power to disrupt you completely. You may attribute the disruption to the situation itself, but in reality, it stems from your attitude about yourself. You will always want to find the final solution at once. And this urge is dictated by the false belief that you prove yourself unworthy if you admit that you do not know the answer, or simply have negative, undeveloped reactions.

So the first thing to learn on this path now is the ability to accept not only your fallibility but that you often do not know the answer. If you learn this and at the same time still like yourself, then slowly but surely your emotions will mature and your reactions will change, and a healthy trust in yourself, in your natural, spontaneous reactions, will follow. You will become more lenient with yourself and will no longer need perfection as the only basis for respect.” – Eva Pierrakos

15. Difficulties can be linked with personal defects:

“Although you really want to claim your goal, you still feel it is impossible. There is some wall that does not let you get through. This wall must never, under any circumstances, be disregarded or glossed over. You must never use pressure from your will to overcome the “no” of this wall. Such forcing will remove you further from your real self within and hence from the reality of the life where all good is available. Instead, you have to interpret the meaning of the wall. Translate it into clear words. Whether you doubt that you can have your goal or feel guilty about getting it, or have a sense of not deserving it, or are afraid of life’s demands when you do have it, these still do not add up to the final answer. The reservation within yourself must be linked with a character defect you have not really faced, nor do you wish to, because you do not want to abandon it.” – Eva Pierrakos