Know Thyself – The Path to the Heart

Large tree in field

War

We live in a world that is torn apart by strife and warfare. Whether it is in the name of politics, economics, nationalism or religion; so many needless wars are fought and there is so much suffering and death. Billions are spent each year on the “industry” of warfare – on man’s inhumanity to man. Increasingly every rational person understands that no war is ever won – the devastation and loss on both sides are proof alone of that. The aftermath of pain and loss and suffering compound it even more. So why are we are so easily swept into yet another tidal wave of vengeance and retribution? What keeps us stuck in lashing out at others, making them wrong and affirming that we are right? Surely it’s because we suffer from an inability to truly be at peace within ourselves. We cannot bear to examine our inner anguish and it is from this deep seated lack of self acceptance that we are then pushed into the much easier option of highlighting the “faults” of others. This may seem a very sweeping statement;

yet if we take war away from the world stage and observe what goes on within our own lives, our families, our workplace; we see that there are numerous “small” wars being fought all the time.

Duality – The Suppressed Bad –v- The False Good

Duality

We have all been conditioned from birth to see things either as “right” or “wrong”, “good” or “bad”, “light” or “dark”. Part of this conditioning encourages us to push away and deny all that we believe to be “bad” about ourselves. And so of course we try to disown our anger, fear, hatred, and aggression. These are aspects of ourselves that we don’t want to face. So why do we live in a world that’s so violent? We perpetuate violence because we are caught up in the duality of our own ongoing inner violence – the “suppressed bad” –v- the “false good”. What is this “false good”? It is all the ways that we believe we must “try harder”, “be strong”, “be brave” etc.

All this striving is only compensating for the buried pain of these unwanted “bad” emotions and is actually coming from a profound lack of self acceptance. The “false good” is driving us in one direction, while the “suppressed bad” is tearing us apart in another. What lies in between this “black and white” way of seeing ourselves? – our emotional, mental and physical pain that is trapped in what appears to be a double bind.

When we try to suppress our painful emotions, they don’t just go away – they only lie dormant within us, more or less ignored.

Emotions that are denied in this way actually become far more dangerous because, instead of our being fully aware of them and therefore better able to handle them, they can subversively run the show; they can control us and explode in ways that create so much damage in our lives. When stress, challenge or hostility come into our lives, these denied emotions are all too likely to erupt into full blown dramas. Yet every one of us will ONLY attack another when we’re in pain ourselves.

Unfortunately, all too often, it’s much easier to direct our pain outwards making another person wrong, rather than directing the focus of our attention within, and looking at our own very real pain.

Judgement and Lack of Forgiveness

When we judge and condemn others, we do so from a deep sense of our own inadequacy and self blame. We either compare ourselves unfavourably to others, or we look down on others in an attempt to boost ourselves up. This voice of comparison, running away like a useless program at the back of our head, diminishes our best efforts, steals away our creativity, and robs us of the right to enjoy the simple things in life.

When we’re living our lives from a deep seated sense of “I’m not good enough” or “they’re so much better”, our every action, our every endeavour will only be making up for this deeply held sense of lack. Our decisions and actions in life try to compensate for this “I’m not good enough” belief.

Often our striving to “get ahead” is built on a foundation of self rejection and avoidance of our inner pain.

I call this the “false good” because it ultimately brings us neither joy nor peace.

What happens to all this “bad” stuff when the “good” side of us wants to push it away? What happens to all this “dark” stuff when we don’t even want to acknowledge its existence? It gets pushed away and hidden, like unwanted baggage piling up in the storerooms at the back of a shop while the only stuff on display in the front window is what we want others to see. It takes an enormous amount of energy to keep our emotional pain hidden away in this way; energy that deserves to be used to enrich our lives in a positive productive way. I call this the “suppressed bad” because it’s really a part of ourselves that’s crying out to be healed.

Isolating

Keeping up the pretense of the “shop window” is very isolating.

Having to “keep up appearances” and hide behind a “brave face” is so very lonely when on the inside we want to yell out “I’m scared” or “I’m hurting”.

Very often our feelings of self rejection come from tiredness, pain and stress. When we’ve already got so much to do, and the kids just won’t behave, or we have to meet that business deadline and others seem to be making even more demands on our time – these are the times when our energy is under pressure and these self rejecting thoughts, these angry feelings, come to prey on us, robbing us of even more energy. These thoughts and feelings have their source in beliefs that were programmed into us in our childhood (by our parents, teachers or peers) and they do not serve us in any way. And just like useless programs in a computer running away all the time in the background and wasting power, they squander our reserves of energy. These are the programmed beliefs that need to be transformed and released instead of pushing ourselves even harder to achieve more.

Know Thyself

The journey from the head to the heart – that is the greatest journey we will ever make in our entire lives. In finding ever deepening levels of acceptance for ourselves, in embracing our own wounded heart in love and tenderness, we open ourselves to the love of God and discover that it has always been there waiting to be discovered. A very wise sage upon being asked “what can I do to save the Planet” replied – “Realise Yourself”.

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