The essence of this practice is to give up the tendency to try to fix the inner through outer action.
When we look at the man-made world around us we see all manner of events and situations which appear to be wrong. We believe that these things need to be fixed, altered or corrected in some way. We see what we believe to be injustice. We see people treating other people or other forms of life unfairly or unjustly. We believe that we, or someone, must DO something about it.
But everything that people do in the outer world is a reflection of what is happening in their inner world. Everything we do is simply an “acting out” of our inner fears, desires, hopes, beliefs and judgements.
In theory a law could be imposed from without to force everyone to behave fairly towards one another. So we could, in theory, bring about a great deal of change in the outer world. But making alterations in the outer world is relatively meaningless unless it is accompanied by a change within the hearts and minds of the people. People behave unfairly towards others because of the pain that is in their hearts and minds. If we force these people to behave fairly, it will simply add to the pain that they already feel. Whatever is in our hearts and minds has to be “acted out” in some way, so if we force people to change their behaviour without helping them to heal their pain, that pain will simply multiply within them and lead to an even greater expression of injustice later on.
So meaningful change in the world has to begin with a change within the hearts and minds of the people, or, at the very least, for change in the outer world to be meaningful it must lead to a change within our hearts and minds.
In our own lives, if we feel that something is wrong, no amount of fixing, adjusting or alteration will change that unless it leads to an inner change. We are so accustomed to projecting outwards into the world, that whenever we sense that “something is wrong” we look to the outer world to find the cause and see what needs “to be done”. But if something feels wrong then it is always a sign that we have become misaligned from our Inner Being OR it is a sign that we have been out of alignment with our Inner Being for some time, and now that we are coming more into alignment, it is flushing out the frustration that we have felt from being out of alignment.
Faith in nature
Many of us, disillusioned with the man-made world around us, turn to nature for answers. We put our faith in nature as a symbol of all that was pure before man started messing with things. But in so doing we are still focusing our attention on the outer world, and not the inner. Turning to nature in the outer world can become a substitute for reconnecting with our own essence which in itself is pure and uncontaminated.
The natural world around us is a wonder and a source of great joy for many people, but it has its greatest effect when it helps us to reconnect with our own nature, with our own Inner Being.
Where are you coming from?
Whatever we do and however we feel, we need to ask ourselves the question: “Where am I coming from?” Am I coming from a place of woundedness, from fear or from some concept in the mind? Or am I coming from a place within me which is my deeper Self? Is what I am doing in the world a true reflection of what I feel to be my inner nature?
The industry of spiritual methods
The purpose of all spiritual practice should be to connect us with our own inner nature, but so many of the spiritual methods available to us actually seem to focus our attention on the outer. Instead of being reminded that our inner nature is available to us right here, right now, we are told that we need to study, to learn new practices, to obtain crystals and oils. Instead of being reminded that our innermost being is perfect at all times, we are encouraged to embark on a journey of self-improvement.
We are told that we need to do this course or that course, to chant this mantra or that mantra, to use this symbol or that symbol. We are told that we need so many “things” in order to take us back to our true nature. But the very focusing of our attention on these “tools” leads us, more often than not, to becoming more attached to objects and concepts. Even when we are told that we need to learn acceptance or equanimity, we can become hooked on these concepts. Convincing ourselves that we have attained the goal of these concepts then becomes the aim of our spiritual practice.
And yet, to simply say that we are perfect in every moment very rarely helps us to become more enlightened. So how should we approach our spiritual practice?
Our practice should always have but one aim: to align with our inner essence. Once aligned, we will naturally express ourselves in the most appropriate way. Although our inner essence is perfect and requires no adjustment, our outer expression is a constant process of refinement. It is a constant process of creating better and more effective expressions of our inner essence in the outer world. So there is a kind of development going on, but it is not a development of the Self. The Self is unchanging and in need of no development. What requires development is our expression of our Self. So yes, we need to practise and to do work, but that work is not about becoming a better person or becoming more enlightened, it is about bringing our inner and outer realities into alignment. The goal then, if we need one, is to become more adept at tuning in to our essence. If we can wake up in the morning and be aligned with our inner essence then we will spread much more love and light during that day.
A mantra may help us in some way to connect more readily with our Inner Being, but once we have learned to do that we must be ready to discard the mantra. The mantra was merely a vehicle to carry us from point A to point B. We may need a boat to cross the river but once we have reached the other side it is pointless to carry the boat around with us.
Living without an agenda
Living without an agenda is the difference between allowing our light to shine (which may have the consequence of inspiring someone to positive change) and trying to change other peoples’ attitudes or trying to inspire them towards positive change.
When we trust the light, we do what we feel to be right, not because we believe it will make the world a better place or correct some injustice, but purely and simply because we believe it to be right. In so doing, every action becomes its own purpose. Doing something well, rather than doing something as a means to an end becomes the sole purpose.
*** This chapter is taken from my book The Light Within ***