Author Archives: Joey Lott
Author Archives: Joey Lott
I’ve been working hard on something. It’s a big project. It’s the project of me and my life and my success and my winning.
But the deeper truth is that I’ve been working hard to avoid recognizing the truth about what I am conditioned to perceive as uncomfortable, scary, or threatening.
And the even deeper truth is that I am conditioned to perceive EVERYTHING as uncomfortable, scary, or threatening.
So I’ve been hard at work unceasingly. I’ve been hard at work defending, protecting, running.
Everything I do, in fact, is only that. Everything I do is self-defense. Everything I do is rooted in primal fear – the fear that I will be destroyed.
Actually, it’s worse than that. Merely being destroyed is not terrifying enough. Because destruction offers an end. The deeper fear is not a fear of destruction. The deeper fear is fear of endless torture.
The deeper fear is the fear of actually living.
My conditioning creates (or, more correctly IS) the wrong (mistaken, incorrect) perception that life is unbearable, that life is torture, that life is unsafe.
Of course life IS unsafe…for the wrong perception. Life DOES destroy the wrong perception.
But the harder I have worked in my life to defend the wrong perception, the more tightly I gripped and mistook myself to be that tight gripping.
In other words, I’ve only ever been defending the wrong perception. I’ve defended that wrong perception with tight gripping. I mistook that tight gripping to be myself. And round and round it went.
Vicious cycle of suffering.
But HALLELUJAH! It’s a vicious cycle of suffering for no one. It’s a vicious cycle of suffering, period.
I only mistook it for myself. But when I look, it is empty. And it has no attachments. It doesn’t belong to anyone. It doesn’t apply to anyone. It doesn’t affect anyone.
It is simply a vicious cycle, like a cyclone.
This is clear seeing. This is freedom.
Not freedom for me. Blessedly. Because freedom for me would be something more to protect. And I cannot tolerate any more burden.
This is freedom. Period.
Freedom regardless. Freedom unconditionally. Cyclone or not, this is freedom.
Still, soon enough I am back at it. Working hard. Doing something.
Fine. So what? Who cares?
See, I’ve seen that mistake often enough now that I finally started to catch on.
All that hard work ain’t mine. It ain’t my doing. It isn’t anything to do with me.
As a belief that does me no good. I can repeat that over and over (“It ain’t me. It ain’t mine. It ain’t me. It ain’t mine…”) and it won’t do me a lick of good. It will just be more gripping, more wrong identification.
But I can SEE the truth behind it. I can see that truth now.
The way I can see that truth now is to watch the gripping and tell the truth about it.
I just watch. I notice the gripping in the throat. I notice the gripping in the buttocks. I notice the gripping and grasping at threads of thought and memory. I notice the attempts to figure it out, to fix it, to understand. I notice the planning, the calculating.
And that’s it. I just watch.
Am I doing the watching?
No. The watching is effortless.
But I can’t take that as a new belief and expect that will help me. Then I’m back to gripping and grasping.
I can just watch. I can just notice all the impulses to do something. And I can watch them rise and fall like ocean tides.
The “tests” come. The “tests” go. How quickly I seem to forget that everything that happens is a “test”.
When I say “test”, I mean simply that in this moment now I can lie or I can tell the truth. That is the test. Lie or tell the truth.
If I lie, I hurt. I hurt because I lie. Lying equals hurt. Hurt equals lying.
If I tell the truth, I recognize ever-present freedom here now. This is freedom.
Any excuse is a lie. If I say, “But I have to get involved in trying to figure this out and fix it because this is a really serious matter,” I’m lying. And I can know that because I hurt.
Now instantly, I tell the truth. I stop and watch and see the impulses. I see them rising and falling like the tides. Still, I remain.
Everything I can (wrongly) imagine that I am comes and goes like the tides. Still, I remain.
This is not an esoteric insight. This is plain and simple. This is not elevated, reserved only for great saints. This is for losers like me.
This is simply telling the truth. I fear that I will be endlessly tortured. When I examine that experience I find only gripping. That gripping is simply rising and falling impulses. I am watching. I remain free as ever.
This freedom is completely unconditional.
I am afraid of future discomfort. I am so afraid of future discomfort that I make myself uncomfortable now in the idiotic attempt to protect myself against that future discomfort.
I tense. I squeeze. I contract. I shift my eyes. I clear my throat. I swallow. I sigh.
I analyze. I judge. I blame.
All in the moronic attempt to protect myself against future discomfort.
I’m afraid of being cold. I’m afraid to be cold even for a few minutes. I’m afraid that I’ll never be warm (i.e. comfortable) again. Even when I have no good reason to believe that I will never be warm again. Even when I have a warm place to go to. Even with access to multiple warm places, I am afraid.
I’m afraid of being judged badly by others. I’m afraid of being held in low esteem by others. I’m afraid of the judgements and low esteem of my own conditioned mind. In other words, I’m afraid of imagination and thought.
I am afraid of being afraid. I am so afraid of being afraid that I vaguely imagine all kinds of future scenarios that could be terrifying. Losing my mind. Being locked up. Starving. Suffocating. Being homeless – truly homeless. Physical pain.
You’d never guess it to see me, of course. I exude a false sense of confidence. But it’s all habitual fakery. (And consider this for a moment: how does one even know what authentic confidence looks like? Does it even have a look that distinguishes it from non-confidence? And how would we even know that?) Underneath the thin veneer of false confidence, I’m afraid. Shaking in my boots afraid. Peeing my pants afraid. Deeply afraid.
Unconsolably afraid. Unreconcilably afraid.
I’m afraid REGARDLESS of conditions.
That’s the important key that I overlooked for much of my life. I thought that my fear was conditional.
I thought my circumstances generated the fear. I blamed conditions for fear.
So I ran. I hid. I worked hard. I fought back. I tried. I fixed. I calculated. I imagined all kinds of possible remedies.
But my focus was always on the conditions that I imagined were the cause of my fear.
I was wrong. I can see that now. I see it because I look honestly.
That’s it. Just honesty. I haven’t developed some super powers. I am not a more successful human. I haven’t overcome.
I’m just looking honestly. And what I see when I look honestly is that I am afraid.
I am afraid.
Not “I am afraid because“. Not “I am afraid of“.
Just “I am afraid”.
When I see this, I see truthfully. I acknowledge that this fear – or what I call fear – is unconditional. It is not caused by any conditions. It is not dependent on any conditions.
I am afraid. I am not afraid of anything. I am not afraid because of anything. Fear of something and fear because of something are lies. They are distractions, misdirections. They are slights of hand; “Look over here at these conditions that are to blame for your fear and unhappiness and misery,” is what they say. Meanwhile, if I look in that direction, I am overlooking what is closer and plainly obvious.
I am afraid.
When I look honestly here now at this direct experience that I call fear, I begin to see clearly what is rather than what I imagine is.
What is obvious is that I am presently indulging the habit of fear.
To me this is an enormous key. It is so simple and so unassuming that it is easy to dismiss. But it is one of the most important insights I’ve encountered.
I am presently indulging the habit of fear.
When I look honestly, I can’t find an actual object called fear. I can’t find something that can produce this state within me. And neither can I find anything that I can actually identify as.
So “I am afraid” reveals a deeper truth, which is that I don’t know what I am. I know that I am afraid, but I don’t know what fear is. There is no thing there.
As I continue to look honestly, I see that I am imagining this thing called fear. I am imagining some separate entity that can cause me problems and harm. I imagine some force that causes my fear.
If I blindly believe that wrong imagination, I continue to act out my moronic habits. I continue to indulge the habit of fear, which is to say the habit of suffering.
At this point I am seeing truthfully. So I have a choice. I can remain true, or I can start to lie.
If I start to lie, I know what the result will be. It will be more of the same. More fruitless blaming of circumstances. More anxiety. More misery.
That is the “devil that I know”. I have taken false comfort in the habitual often enough to know that it always results in misery. It is a lie. It is FALSE comfort. In other words, it is no comfort at all. It is like a wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing; it LOOKS like what I THINK that comfort looks like, but underneath the thin veener, it is misery.
Not just misery, but endlessly hungry misery. Like a wolf that is never satisfied no matter how many sheep it eats. When I believe the lie and narcotize myself with false comfort, I continue to feed the wolf of endless appetite.
Telling the truth is not “easy” in the common sense of the word “easy”. Though it is actually the easiest thing because it requires no effort. It is simply to see what is. But it is not “easy” in the sense that it necessarily feels the way that I THINK that “feeling good” should feel.
In fact, it is typically the opposite of that. Typically I THINK that the way I feel is bad, wrong, scary.
Now I’m getting closer to the heart of it.
I am afraid. And I justify that fear because of the way I feel.
And the deeper, closer truth about the way I feel is this: I don’t feel very well.
And that seems to be the core of the “problem”.
It’s not that I don’t feel GOOD. I may think that is the problem. But when look honestly, I see that I don’t know what good is. I think that being cold for a few minutes is bad. I think that my wife expressing unhappiness is bad. I think that not having confidence that I can buy my way to safety and security is bad.
But the real, honest truth is that I don’t know what is good or bad. I only judge based on my habits.
And I justify and defend those habits as if they were truth. I make those habits my god. I worship that false god by defending my ideas of what is good and bad.
By tensing. Furrowing. Biting my tongue. Swallowing. Turning away. Closing my eyes. Imagining something else. Trying to figure it out. Etc.
Meanwhile, the deeper truth is that I don’t know what is good or bad.
And the real problem is not about good or bad. It is that I don’t feel WELL.
What I mean is that I don’t feel clearly. I don’t feel truthfully. I don’t feel purely.
Instead, I stop short of the purity and clarity of feeling – which is neither good nor bad, but simply is. I stop short by tensing, swallowing, thinking, reading, imagining, arguing, etc. I stop short by working hard to generate misery.
There is another option, though. This other option is that I can stop stopping short. I can stop indulging the habits. I can stop trying. I can stop avoiding. I can stop making all the habitual, unconscious effort.
And the way I stop is to look. I have to see what I habitually do to stop it.
Maybe a better phrase is “not do” rather than “stop”. Because if it is already happening, I can’t stop it. But I can see the impulse and rest from the unnecessary effort of causing misery.
When I “don’t do”, I discover present peace. I discover that present peace is not separate from or different than what I called fear.
This is the shocking thing. I was fighting against an imaginary demon. I worshipped a false god to fight against he imaginary demon. But it turns out, the imaginary demon never was a demon. The real nature of the imaginary demon is peace.
I can’t know that in a meaningful way until I am willing to stop fighting. When I put down my weapons and actually allow myself to sink to the very core of the demon – the wolf, whatever you want to call it – I find that I was simply wrong. Wrong about everything.
And what a relief to be wrong and found out. No more pretense. No more pride. No more false confidence necessary.
I am not going to get out of this alive.
That’s my reminder to look sincerely, honestly, right now at what and how I am creating my own suffering.
I am not going to get out of this alive. So let me look sincerely at how I pretend otherwise. Let me see how I lie and deceive and pretend in ways that hurt me.
Look, I know this doesn’t sound desirable. On the surface it does not seem at all like what I want. Because what I think I want is future security, future wealth, future happiness, future ecstasy, etc. I think I want to only feel “good” (i.e. the way I am conditioned to think is good) and never “bad”.
But if you’ve read much of my story, you know that I have tried an awful lot of methods for achieving what I think I want. And not only did it not work, it only resulted in more pain, more suffering.
So it got to a point where I realized that going on the way I had been was highly unlikely to give me what I thought I wanted. Not only that, I could look at the general trend of my life and see that the more I tried, the more pain I experienced. It was like a noose was around my neck, and the more I strained, the more it tightened.
Pain, suffering, misery, desperation. These are my teachers. They tell me, “Not your way. Your way is failed. Your way is painful. Your way cannot work.”
Of course, I’d read similar reports from others. I’d read of Ramana Maharshi’s story of experiencing his own death and allowing insects to eat his flesh. I’d read many reports, in fact, of people reporting a kind of death.
But it was all too easy for me to downplay the severity of such reports.
That is, until I reached a dead end myself. The recognition that my way truly is insufficient. My way is hurtful. My way is a lie. That recognition is that every attempt to succeed makes it worse.
Now my only “work” is to cease straining, cease the attempts to get out of this alive. My only work is to watch every compulsion and be deeply honest.
This work is death. From the perspective of my conditioned mind, my false image of myself, this work seems like suicide.
My conditioned mind screams that I should do something to help myself, to fix this, to make others do what is right, to change what is broken, to rally, rebel, revolt, etc.
But I’m not getting out of this alive. And thank goodness that I’m not getting out of this alive. Because think about how horrible that would be if I – this miserable failure – got out of this alive and continued for eternity. That would only be misery forever.
I’m not getting out of this alive. So let me be deeply honest now. Let me see how I strain and struggle and react so that I can rest now. Rest from the strain, struggle, reaction.
Rest from fighting. Rest from arguing. Rest from trying to be right. Rest from trying to win. Rest from trying to protect myself. Rest from trying to be seen. Rest from trying to hide. Rest from trying to live forever. Rest from trying to achieve. Rest from trying of all kinds.
It turns out, this is what I really want. All I really want is rest.
All my efforts to win, all my efforts to get out of this alive, are the only obstacle.
Rest is what remains when I cease trying. When I cease making effort, cease struggling, there is only rest.
Rest is the death of me. And rest is full of potential. That potential is torture to me. My conditioned mind sees that potential only through the lens of fear.
The big lie I tell myself trying to save myself is that I am going to get out of this alive. If only I can hold on, scrape by, figure it out, try harder, and ultimately WIN.
But deep honesty is that I am my own misery. And what I truly want is rest. And that rest is the death of me. And that rest if full of potential. And that my conditioned mind interprets potential through the lens of fear. And that every compulsion is a desperate (and ultimately failed) attempt at the impossible: to get out of this alive and win.
Rest is always available. It is here. All I have to do is stop straining against the noose around my neck.
When I stop straining against the noose around my neck, it doesn’t magically go away. Rather, what happens is that I see that I have no idea what the nature of this experience is. I don’t know what my relationship is to it. I don’t even know that there is an experience separate from me. I don’t know that there is a relationship. I don’t know anything.
There is only this present fullness of potential. This present fullness of potential is the rest I truly want.
My conditioned mind still interprets it through the lens of fear. It still clings to false certainty – idiotic “facts”. These so-called facts are merely repeated as truth, but when I look sincerely I cannot find proof that they are true. I cannot find proof of any basis for them at all. They are like castles in the air.
I cannot express in words what a relief this is. It is not just mental trickery. It is not a belief.
I watch every compulsion and tell the truth. I see that every compulsion is an attempt to win, to protect, to achieve, to defend, to avoid. And I see that they are all doomed to fail.
This is the rest I truly want. It is instantly available now. And I don’t have to earn it. I don’t have to win to benefit from it.
All I need to do is stop lying.
My way is a failed way.
I am 42 years old, and in that time I have not truly succeeded. Not even once.
Oh, sure, I’ve succeeded in creating misery for myself. I’ve succeeded in sustaining anxiety. I’ve succeeded in maintaining idiotic, violent, deceitful habits.
But I’ve never once succeeded in attaining what I truly want.
What I truly want more than anything is peace. No, make that Peace with a capital P.
I am not talking about temporary cease-fires. I am not talking about momentary forgetfulness of my resentments, hatred, disgust, and fear.
I am talking about true Peace. Unconditional Peace. Peace that cannot be disturbed by anything.
When I hurt, I have a choice. I can react or I can look.
My way is the way of reaction. My reactive way only hurts more. Even if I appear to temporarily “succeed” (i.e. narcotize myself), the pain returns with greater force sooner rather than later.
I find it intolerably painful.
That intolerable pain (so-called by me) is my teacher.
That intolerable pain is not truly intolerable pain. I only perceive it as such when I wrongly try to force my reactive way.
My teacher reminds me relentlessly, patiently that my way is wrong. My way is painful. My way hurts. My way sucks.
And because it is true in my experience that my way is utterly failed and completely painful, I trust my teacher.
My teacher whispers that there exists another way. A way that is completely different than my way.
Where my way is lacking, this other way is never lacking. Where my way is violent, this other way is never violent. Where my way is fearful, this other way is never fearful.
I want to know where is this other way? How do I get to it? What do I need to do?
My teacher whispers that this other way is ever present. I cannot get to it. Nothing I could do could help me.
I trust my teacher. Because my way is failed. My way is too painful.
My teacher’s guidance is maddening to my habitual, conditioned mind. My conditioned mind only knows how to maintain my way. Again, my way is violent, spiteful, fearful, anxious. The way my teacher guides me to is not that. It is completely other than my way. It is not even remotely similar to my way. It has no connection whatsoever with my way. There is absolutely no way I can reconcile my way and what my teacher guides me to discover.
If I continue to try to reconcile the ways, I am only lying to myself. I am only maintaining my way. And it hurts. Which is my teacher guiding me.
So I trust my teacher.
My teacher guides me to true surrender here now. Uuconditional surrender.
I fully admit that my way is failed. There is nothing I can do to get it right. It is not fixable. There is no way to rehabilitate it. There is no possibility of succeeding in what I truly want with my way.
Any deviation from this surrender – even the slightest – is intolerably painful.
Any argument. Any indignation. Any self pity. Any worry. Any fear of lack. Any resentment.
I cannot afford to indulge anything of my way. My way only hurts.
This total surrender is a surrender to the other way my teacher guides me to. I do not get to have this other way. This other way is not my way. It will never be my way. I cannot have even a crumb of it.
But I can surrender to it. And in this surrender, I am fulfilled.
This fulfillment is not the fulfillment of my way. It is not conditional. It does not look the way I think it needs to look.
This fulfillment does not depend on how I feel, what others think of me, what I think of myself, whether I like or don’t like my experience, or anything else.
My conditioned mind cannot make sense of this. It cannot reconcile this fulfillment with my way. Because my way is only conditional. My way says that I can have fulfillment in the future once the conditions are right.
But in this surrender here now, I am fulfilled. I don’t need to do anything. It is simply given.
My only “job” is surrender. Which is to tell the truth. Which requires seeing clearly. Which requires this choice of looking rather than reacting.
It requires looking to see my habitual reactions – my way – and how that way is completely failed. When I see clearly that my way can only fail, I am telling the truth.
I cannot fake it, of course. Faking it doesn’t work. Faking it is a strategy of my way. I can’t just remember that I once upon a time saw clearly.
I must see clearly now. Which means pausing and looking sincerely rather than reacting. And if reaction is happening, it means just seeing that rather than getting caught up in trying to fix it.
This radical honesty is totally powerless. I abdicate all my false power, which is the only power I ever had – false power.
I am defenseless. I lay down all my weapons – my strategies of my way.
My conditioned mind screams. To it this is death. It would rather fight and maintain misery.
So the conditioned mind is exposed. This is what telling the truth does. It exposes the lies. The conditioned mind says, “I’ll win this time. I can’t afford to let down my guard now.”
But telling the truth I see clearly that I won’t win. And I cannot afford to maintain the guard. Not even for another second.
My conditioned mind is anxious and fearful. It sees everything as a threat.
Telling the truth, I see that there is no stable center to the conditioned mind. There is nothing there to hold it together. It is only a stream of anxiety, fear, hatred, violence, resentment, hope, etc.
Even the thought that “I am having this experience” is empty of a true center. This thought may arise, but the “I” it references is unfindable.
That is how powerless I am. There is not even a center to this phantom.
Seeing truthfully, I recognize that my way only maintains the lies and the pain. And furthermore, the only thing that demands protection and continued effort and strain is a habitual thought referring to nothing.
Surrender whether I think I want to or not. And in this I am fulfilled.
My life is completely unmanageable. Completely out of control.
I can’t get a grip on it at all. The more I try, the more chaotic it becomes.
Now, what would a sane person do in this situation? Obviously, a sane person would cease trying to manage the unmanageable. A sane person would cease to attempt to get a grip when every attempt produces chaos.
Have I behaved in a sane way?
Not often. More often I have chosen a false position of self righteousness.
What does the term “self righteousness” mean? It refers to the false (wrong, dishonest, deceitful, incorrect) position of being someone right – someone in the right, someone with knowledge of what is right.
Self righteousness is a self proclaimed position. Nobody else can assign me to this position. Only I can do it.
And that is good news. Very good news. Because if nobody else can assign me to this wrong position, it is also true that nobody else is responsible for me maintaining this false position. It always was and always will be false. It does not matter how long I have seemingly maintained it.
In fact, I can instantly topple myself from this wrong and painful position of self righteousness. And miraculously, when I do so, I instantly discover boundless true peace.
But to do so, I must be honest. I must see clearly. I must choose to stop defending myself and my correctness and my goodness right now.
I can’t put it off until tomorrow or even for another minute. Not even for another second.
I must choose this honesty now. Only by choosing it right now do I discover the benefits of such honesty. It will never benefit me in the future. It only bestows its benefits right now.
But I must be empty-handed to receive the benefits. I must be naked. I can’t secretly hold on to anything and simultaneously expect to receive the benefits of true honesty.
If I am sincere in wanting to receive the benefits of honesty, I must let go of every attempt at self defense. Which means I must see every attempt at self defense.
When I see the attempts, I am seeing how I construct the false position. I am witnessing the wrong and PAINFUL behavior. (Which means, by the way, that I see exactly what I have compulsively done to produce great pain and suffering, and in that seeing of its falseness, I am instantly freed.)
From the wrong position of self righteousness, I am willfully blind to my wrong and painful behavior. From the false position all my problems are somebody else’s fault.
From the false position I sit in judgment. From the false position I know how things should be, how people should behave toward me, how life should present itself to me, how I should feel. From the false position, I wrongly believe that I know what my experience means.
The wrong position is heavily fortified. It must be, because it is a false position. It is false in the sense that it is a complete lie. It does not exist in reality. There is no false position. So to maintain the lie I must exert great effort continuously.
That continuous effort appears as judgment, and beneath that rage and fear.
From the false position I think things like “Why can’t people just do the right thing?” and “Why doesn’t anyone see how difficult it is for me?” and “What is wrong with life that I am not rewarded with more enjoyment?”
The wrong beliefs that emanate from the wrong position are countless. They continue for as long as I energize and fortify the wrong position.
The big lie…the BIG LIE of the false position is that once I sufficiently fortify my false position of self righteousness, it will become real…I will become real…and I will hold ultimate power to make everything and everyone comply with my whims so that I will never again feel fearful.
The even BIGGER LIE behind that BIG LIE is that peace is conditional and not right now.
So much effort, strain, work…all to maintain a big lie…all of which is exactly and only identical to pain and suffering.
This is honesty. This is clear seeing. This is truthful.
The truth that sets me free is the truth that exposes the lies. The truth that sets me free may be a truth that the false self of the false position perceives as unpleasant and/or uncomfortable.
The truth that sets me free is the clear seeing now that my life is unmanageable. And that underneath the calm, cool exterior is sheer terror and rage.
The society I grew up in told me not to look this way. The society I grew up in told me to go in the opposite direction. The society I grew up in wants to narcotize me with lies such as, “It’s not that bad” or “It will be okay” or “Look at all the ways you’re succeeding. Look at how much you have achieved” or “Just try harder”.
But the truth is that those lies serve only one purpose, which is to maintain the false position. And that false position is painful. Because it is false. It is a lie. It requires endless strain and effort to maintain…because it is a lie. It is not real.
When I’ve had enough pain and suffering, I am ripe for truth. I am ready for humility. I am ready to receive life as it is without the false buffer of the false position fortified with judgments and self-proclaimed intelligence and knowledge.
When I look sincerely, I see that my life truly is unmanageable. I cannot get a grip. I cannot and will not succeed. I don’t even know what success for this false self would be other than maintaining the false position.
And if that is the greatest success I can hope for, the only sane thing I can do is admit that my life is unmanageable.
This is such a radical act. This is not a light thing. This is not a whimsical thing. This is not something I can do once and then expect to get the fantasy outcome I had wrongly defined from the false position.
This is truly humbling…humiliating. This is about seeing that truly I cannot succeed. Every compulsion – and that is all that is happening is one compulsion after another – is only intended to prop up the false position.
Every compulsion springs from the lie that I know how things should be…and that way things should be is other than how they are.
But true honesty is to admit that I don’t even know what this is. I don’t even know the most basic things. Since I don’t know what this is or what this means…since I don’t even know who or what I am…truth is admitting that my compulsive behaviors are all defending a false position.
And that false position is deeply painful.
I am causing my own pain through all my compulsive efforts to maintain the false position.
This is something I can see now. This is something I can choose now.
My conditioned mind, my habitual, compulsive behaviors scream, “DO SOMETHING TO FIX THIS!”
And the truth is to see that I can’t fix this. I don’t even know what this is. I don’t know who or what I am. I don’t even have a position from which to sit in true judgment.
The truth is seeing that I am completely at the mercy of power outside of my false position. There is absolutely nothing I can do to protect myself. Again, I don’t even know who or what I am. So the notion that I can protect myself is absurd.
Truth is a gateway to true peace. There is a fee to pass through this gateway. The fee is everything.
From the perspective of my false position, “everything” is too great a fee.
From the perspective of sanity, “everything” is a relief.
Right now, in this moment, I choose unconditional surrender. Unconditional surrender of everything. Every thought, every feeling, every action, every belief, every image, every memory, every reaction, every hope…I surrender everything unconditionally.
If I try to add conditions such as “I’ll surrender this *if* I’ll get to have the feeling that I think I want”, I am back to maintaining the false position of self righteousness. Because that condition assumes (wrongly) that I know what my feelings are and what they mean and their value.
True unconditional surrender is simply telling the truth here now. Simply seeing the compulsions. Seeing the self deceit. Seeing the clinging, grasping, clawing, fighting. Seeing the rage. Seeing the terror.
My life is unmanageable. I cannot get a grip. I cannot succeed.
I don’t even know what this is.
Hallelujah. What sweet relief. I don’t have to maintain the false position. I don’t have to make even another ounce of effort to defend myself.
I am truly free.
I can talk all kinds of fancy talk. I can know all the right answers. I can understand so many things…
And yet it does me no good at all.
In fact, my actions – the talk, the turning to answers, the dependence upon understanding – reveal where my loyalty really lies.
If I consult my mind, I am revealing that my loyalty is with the past, with self-defense, with fear, with arrogance.
And what will I get as a result? I will be rewarded richly by all that the conditioned mind has to offer. All the destruction, venom, hatred, pity, misery, defiance, righteousness, piousness, and so forth.
Now is the time for radical honesty. That is, if what I TRULY want is freedom. Which it is! I truly want freedom. So I must bring by actions into alignment with that true desire.
To bring my actions into alignment with that true desire requires first and foremost, radical honesty.
And that is the long and the short of it.
Step one is radical honesty. And there is no second step.
Radical honesty requires actually looking for myself truthfully right now.
Looking right now at the truth of what is right now.
Not blanking out. Not creating a new and more desirable state. Not seeking.
But actually looking honestly. And seeing the unthinkable pain and horror that my efforts generate.
That is radical honesty. But again, I have to actually look now and see this now. I can’t fall back on memory of having seen it in the past.
I have to look now.
I have to see how I am trying to defend myself right now. I have to see how I am trying to prop myself up right now. I have to see how I am trying to be right, right now.
If I think that none of these unpalatable things are true, I am lying to myself. I am narcotizing myself with lies.
Radical honesty is to see what is really happening. And that means seeing that all I conceive of myself as is lies and misery.
Everything I habitually do is lies and misery. I dress it up as being a promise of future salvation. I dress it up as hope. I dress it up and being right. I dress it up as progress. I dress it up…
But the deeper truth, the REAL truth is that all those actions produce misery now. They are all lies. They all rest upon the false notion that despite my complete failures to attain lasting happiness, I will succeed at some point in the future.
It is a lie! I must see it as such if I am sincere about freedom.
So my actions reveal my true loyalty. And if I am sincere in my loyalty to freedom, I can only demonstrate that by way of radical honesty.
Again, that radical honesty is the first and only step. There is no step two.
Radical honesty happens now. It means watching every compulsive behavior. Every compulsive turning to thought. Every compulsive grasping at promises. Every compulsive hope. Every compulsive attempt to fix, get rid of, get, solve, etc.
This sounds awful to my conditioned mind.
My conditioned mind thinks this is the stupidest idea ever. It thinks it knows better.
My conditioned mind – despite its utter failure to succeed in the only thing that truly matters – continues to lie and lie and lie. It says, “Sure, I failed all those other times, but THIS time I’m going to succeed. And anyway, my way is the only way there is!”
I’ve been led down that dark alleyway and mugged a million times. Will I do it again? Will I remain loyal to my mugger just because it claims that this time will be diffrent?
Or will I finally get an ounce of true intelligence and remain still?
The false self, the conditioned mind, wants to answer this question. It wants to think about it. It wants to imagine.
But I choose to remain with the question. Open. Unanswered. Alive.
My loyalty is with Truth only when I remain with it no matter what.
I sometimes I think that I feel bad.
By “bad” I mean any experience I think I don’t like. There are many variations on this theme. I might call one anxiety and another anger. Still another I might call physical pain. And another I might call disrespected. Impotence is another possibility. There are dozens or hundreds of variations.
All these different types of feeling bad have a shared underlying nature. Which is that they are all experiences that I think I don’t like.
What I learned from society is that when I think I feel bad, I should try to figure out how to feel better.
For most of my life I followed that conditioning blindly, unquestioningly.
I did that until it hurt so badly that I couldn’t go on doing that.
It hurt really badly. So badly that I stopped merely thinking that I felt bad. Instead, I started thinking that I felt so bad that I wanted out at any cost, even if that meant killing myself.
I hurt physically, emotionally, and psychically. I was in torment. Hell.
And I didn’t see any way out. I had TRIED to get out. I had tried really hard.
I thought of myself as an intelligent person. I had been told by society that I was intelligent. I was rewarded by society for being intelligent. I was told that I was successful.
But I couldn’t solve the most basic problem in my life. Which was that I was in torment. I couldn’t figure out how to get out of hell. In fact, the more I tried, the slipperier the walls of hell became and the more I slid into greater depths of torment.
I tried lots of what I thought were different approaches to curing myself. But I failed. And worse than failed, I had made things worse.
I thought that if I could not use my intelligence to succeed in escaping hell, I stood no chance. And so I genuinely considered killing myself. Not just once, but daily for years did I consider killing myself.
By grace a new thought occurred to me. Since I was fixated on thoughts, this was the way that something new had to enter my consciousness.
This new thought went something like this. “Before you kill yourself, don’t you think you ought to be sure that you’re right in your assessment?”
In other words, killing myself would have been drastic. And I hadn’t truly exhausted all possibilities. I had only exhausted the possibilities within the extremely limited world of me and my supposed intelligence.
That so-called intelligence is not real intelligence, by the way. All it really is, is a collection of ideas and interpretations of past experiences. It has no true foundation. It is like a castle in the air. It could appear impressive, but it is not rooted in reality. And therefore no matter how impressive it may appear, it is almost certain to be based upon wrong assumptions.
My so-called intelligence was based upon a lot of wrong assumptions. And one such assumption was that I knew the meaning of what I felt or experienced.
By grace I saw this. I caught a glimpse.
The glimpse was and is humbling. And humiliating. In my experience, I don’t get to enjoy the benefits of humility unless I am also willing to be humiliated all the way through to complete transparency.
The glimpse did and does reveal that I don’t know. I only assume.
This insight did not deliver me to an eternal free ride on the Freedom Express. What this insight did was show me the way to purchase a ticket to the Freedom Express.
The purchase method and the purchase price is everything. It costs everything that I think I know. Everything I think I am.
When I am willing to surrender everything, I wake up here now to true freedom. This freedom is unconditional. But to discover it here now I must give up my conditions.
If and when I think that I am feeling bad, I am presented with a double-edged sword. I can use it to leap into hell. Or I can use it to reflect the truth.
The truth is I don’t know. I don’t know what this feeling is or what it means.
All my ideas are based on past experiences. If I am dissatisfied with the results of the past, I will do well to admit that and not repeat the same idiocy in hopes of something new.
If I want something new, I have to admit that I don’t know the answer. I don’t even understand the problem. I don’t even know what this experience is or what it means.
When I open to newness that much – so much that I truly surrender my efforts to win even to the point of admitting that I don’t even know where to begin – then something truly new can enter.
This is in the opposite direction of what my conditioning says. It is in the opposite direction of what society says.
But I have to be honest. Honesty is that my conditioning has failed to produce satisfying results. And honesty is that society is a mess and that society rewards idiots, not true wisdom. So I am a fool to take direction from society.
Honesty is that I don’t know and nobody “out there” knows. The only truly honest thing and truly sincere thing I can do is nothing.
Instead of trying to fix my supposed problem (feeling bad), I choose to do nothing.
Doing nothing doesn’t mean zoning out. Doing nothing is very much alive. It is a fully present experience. It means I watch every impulse and I don’t energize it.
My habits, my conditioning, would have me doing a million different things, flailing about in desperate attempts to fix something – to feel better.
So doing nothing means I watch the impulses, watch the conditioned reactions, and rest instead of energizing them.
Sometimes it seems I’m being squeezed or crushed. I think, “This is very uncomfortable!”
But that is just more of the conditioned reactivity. So I watch and rest.
I just keep surrendering every impulse, every thought, every reaction. No matter what.
Because I don’t know the unknown. But I do know that every attempt to fix the problems has resulted in suffering. So I don’t know anything except that everything I think I know is the building material for hell.
And I have had enough of suffering. I don’t want hell anymore. So I refuse to construct it.
In the present seeing of the conditioning as it arises, I rest in freedom.
This freedom is so great, so inclusive, that everything is welcomed. Everything is included. Everything is seen. And everything is seen *through*.
And it starts always now with admitting the truth. When I think anything, when I believe anything, when I cause myself pain of any kind. Right now. Simply seeing what is happening as it is happening.
And recognizing that I don’t know what this is. I don’t know what this means.
I *still* have thoughts that simply seeing is inadequate. I still have thoughts that I need to jump in and fix things.
For me, freedom is not about getting rid of those thoughts. Neither is it about getting rid of the feelings that I think I don’t like.
Because that freedom is conditional. That is freedom that is always in the future or in the past. That is not a freedom I can actually taste now.
The only freedom I can taste now is unconditional freedom. If I place conditions on it, it vanishes.
Any label or judgment about this present experience is a condition. If I say “this is good” or “this is bad”, I am making this conditional.
Let me make that clearer. If I say “this is good”, I am generating anxiety. Because I know that this so-called goodness wasn’t always the case. This so-called goodness is temporary. So I know that it will go. And I experience anxiety about when it will go and what it will be like when the so-called goodness goes.
If I say “this is bad”, I am struggling to change this.
Either way, I am not at rest. I am suffering either way because I am not tasting present freedom. Instead, I am calculating. (Thank you to my friend, John Veen, for sharing something with me recently with that word “calculating” in it, because that is the right word.)
I can only taste freedom here now. And I can only be present here now when I drop the conditions, which means dropping the foolish arrogance that I know.
The miracle that I experience every time I choose to surrender is the miracle of present unconditional freedom.
This miracle is complete here now. It is completely fulfilled here now. There is nothing to attain in the future. No conditions need to be met.
And in this surrender I discover clarity. Simple clarity. Obvious clarity. So simple that it is shocking that I overlooked it.
The simple clarity is this: This present unconditional freedom is what I was always looking for. But I overlooked it because I was injecting a false separation. I was generating a falsely separate sense of self whose job it was to judge and critique every experience. I wrongly had believed that it was my duty to judge rightly what is good and to pursue and attain that.
And in so doing, I habitually practiced misery. Therefore I was experiencing misery…because I was doing misery.
It is that simple. I was miserable because I was practicing misery.
And the radically simple discovery here now is that instantly when I cease to practice misery (i.e. judging every experience as good or bad from the false position of separation), unconditional freedom is revealed.
I don’t have to earn it or attain it. I don’t even get to have it.
But when I cease to practice misery, I am instantly welcomed home to unconditional freedom. All falseness is made transparent.
My only job in this is to observe and rest.
Whatever happens, I observe and rest.
Even when thoughts that I am being harmed arise, I observe and rest. Even when so-called bad feelings arise, I observe and rest.
And I observe and rest not because I am virtuous. Rather, I observe and rest because I cannot tolerate suffering.
As I have said, I sometimes perceive this observing/resting/unconditional freedom experience as crushing, squeezing.
These moments are the true test. After all, it is easy to do nothing when my conditioning says, “This is great! You’re doing well! You’re feeling good! You’re successful!”
But when my conditioning says, “You’re dying! You’re in danger! It’s not okay! You’ve got to do something!,” that is when I must be deeply truthful.
I observe and rest.
I don’t have a rule that says I cannot act. That would be restraint and only more suffering. So observing and resting does not preclude action.
But I observe and rest and tell the truth.
Telling the truth means acknowledging that my past efforts have only resulted in hell. I means acknowledging that I still don’t know anything for sure. It means acknowledging that I am not going to succeed in my efforts to gain perfect security, and if I cannot succeed in that I am only practicing anxiety and unhappiness. Therefore anything I can do *with attachment to outcome* will only produce present anxiety and unhappiness.
Seeing this and doing nothing, I discover unconditional freedom here now.
Years ago I read something attributed to Nisargadatta Maharaj, an influential spiritual teacher of the previous century. It has had quite an impact on me. And I want to share it with you in hopes that it may impact you too.
What I remember reading was that Nisargadatta said that his teacher had told him to attend only to the sense “I am” and *nothing else*. And that he, Nisargadatta, believed his teacher and thus followed the advice. He attributed his success in discovering unconditional peace to his discipline in following his teacher’s guidance.
In my life there is always something apparently happening. And I have conditioned reactions to most if not all of it.
In other words, I have countless excuses. Countless excuses to suffer. To blame, to regret, to worry.
But my saving grace is that I believe my teacher. My teacher – life – tells me to attend only to what is and nothing else. I believe my teacher and follow my teacher’s advice.
And by this grace alone do I discover unconditional peace.
For me this is essential. Everything else is a condition, an excuse. Everything else is suffering.
I am completely responsible for my suffering. If I suffer, it is my doing. It is because I am not heeding my teacher’s advice. It is because I am attending to something other than the immediacy and purity of what is as it is.
Again, I want to emphasize that it is by grace alone that I discover unconditional peace. I do not attain it. I do not earn it. I don’t win. I don’t overcome.
It is by grace alone. It is by surrendering.
Nisargadatta’s words are particularly helpful because he was a householder. He lived in this world. He had a family and a business. He was like me in that respect.
With many other teachers, I can invent excuses for why they were special and why their advice does not apply to me. But Nisargadatta chain smoked cigarettes and died of throat cancer. This makes him more approachable. More in this world. Less “ideal”. More like me.
Years ago I had the fantasy that I was going to “pop” out of suffering. I imagined that enlightenment would be a wonderful event, after which suffering simply would stop without anything further needed of me.
But look at this fantasy with me through the lens of Nisargadatta’s teacher’s advice. Look at it through the lens of what I am proposing to you in this message – that I am completely responsible for my suffering.
This fantasy maintains suffering. This fantasy projects freedom into the future and makes it conditional. This fantasy creates the illusion of separation – that I might get to have this wonderful experience in the future.
This fantasy is at odds with the advice that life offers me. Life offers me the instruction to remain with the truth of what is, who I am prior to any conditioned thoughts or reactions. The promise is that when I follow this instruction I discover unconditional freedom/peace NOW.
And this is true in my experience. This promise is absolutely fulfilled.
But there is no room for me and my suffering here.
Which is the “catch”.
Because in the fantasy version of enlightenment I imagined that I was going to get to have enlightenment. I thought that I would get to enjoy my fantasy self minus suffering.
What I discover in the light of following this simple instruction given by my teacher – life – is that what I have believed myself to be IS suffering. There is no possibility of that false self getting to enjoy non-suffering. It is suffering.
That false self that I wrongly believed myself to be is composed entirely of suffering. It is made entirely of worry, anxiety, spite, jealousy, deceit, hatred, etc.
And it is constantly spinning around trying to win. Trying to escape itself.
Like a dog chasing its tail.
The remedy that Nisargadatta’s teacher proposed is the remedy that works for me.
The remedy is to remain with the immediacy and purity of what is prior to any conditioned reactions. To remain with this immediacy and nothing else. Following this advice I remain free as I always am.
The temptations arise. Again, I am living still living in this world. I still have a family. I still have this body. So the temptations arise.
The essence of the temptations is that “this should not be like this, and I should get involved to fix it.”
If I indulge the temptation, that is suffering.
Freedom is instantly discovered the moment I cease the indulgence and remain with the immediacy of this as it is prior to any conditioned reactivity.
It really is that simple.
It is so simple, but it is radical. Radical means it goes right to the root. And the root of suffering is false identification.
If I identify with this false self, which is only a bundle of conditioned reactivity, I am identified with suffering.
From this false position I can try to solve this problem. But every solution I can come up with (that maintains the false position) is only reinforcing suffering.
The only real remedy I have discovered is the remedy Nisargadatta’s teacher offered. This remedy is, as I have said, radical.
This remedy goes in the opposite direction from all false “solutions”. All false solutions seek to prop up the false (suffering) self. All false solutions seek a future enlightenment in which the false self gets to enjoy some fantasy bliss.
The radical remedy looks for this supposed (false) self and finds nothing but a bundle of habits, conditioned reactivity. The radical remedy finds something shocking. The self I have been defending does not exist.
This truly is shocking. It is shocking every time.
In this world we are taught to avoid the shocks. We are taught to seek comfort.
But the suffering of avoiding shocks is too great for me. The promises of comfort are empty to me.
So I choose the shock. I choose peace NOW at any cost.
And the cost is everything. The cost is every false image or idea of myself I can come up with.
That includes both the “good” and the “bad”.
So if I believe “I am a good father” that is suffering just as much as believing “I am a bad father”.
The remedy for me is to simply see what is beyond doubt, beyond belief. What is actually truly real?
Before any idea arises, before any conditioned reactivity there is this as it is now.
I don’t know anything about this. I cannot say anything truthful about this.
And this is the death of everything that I can imagine myself to be.
Shocking, like I said.
This is not an idea. A mere idea cannot shock like this.
This shock takes everything instantly now.
My conditioned mind comes up with lots of excuses. I live in this world. My mind says I should think about and do so many things. It seeks comfort and familiarity at any cost.
But I see that is suffering.
So I let go even as I reach to grasp. And this is peace beyond imagination. This is freedom beyond any concept. This is truly unconditional. This is now.
I fought under the delusion that I needed to win. I fought under the delusion that winning was the only option. I fought under the delusion that if I failed, I would suffer. And I thought that suffering was to be avoided at all costs.
And *that* was pure suffering.
I just looked up the word “irony” in the dictionary. And what I’ve just described is the definition of irony.
I was struggling to avoid suffering…and that was suffering.
I have been using past tense to describe this irony. And it is true that it is past tense. But it is always past tense (or future tense…but never now). It has always been past tense (or future tense…but never now). It is past tense (or future tense…but never now) for everyone, including you.
Suffering is past tense. Or future tense. But never now.
But it is not LONG past. It is immediate past tense. And it is always immediate future tense…just waiting to pounce in the next second.
Seemingly sandwiched between the immediate past suffering and the immediate future suffering, here I am. Here is my life, being squeezed between these two immediacies.
Like a hunted animal…like a *trapped* hunted animal…here I am. Me and my life squeezed between these two immediacies.
Now, in the past I fought. And in every future I can imagine I am fighting.
Here now being squeezed, I am in a unique position.
Here now I can choose to maintain the unbroken fighting streak, to carry it through from the immediate past to the immediate future.
Or I can choose to tell the truth.
The truth is that my life is too much for me.
I look honestly at all my struggles, all my fears, all my reactivity, all my conditioning as it shows up here now, and I tell the truth. I am a trapped hunted animal.
And now here’s a question I never asked in the past and I’ll never ask in the future. But I can ask it here now. That question is: what will win if I win and what will I lose if I lose?
And the honest answer is that I don’t know.
This is where I find peace. In the most unexpected place and in the most unexpected way. It is a surrender to the unknown.
Surrender isn’t safe. It is not arrival. It is not winning.
Surrender is unknown. Which is simply the truth.
My life is too much for me.
I find peace here now surrendering to “my life” as it is, as it “unfolds”.
I don’t find peace in the pursuit of winning. I only find suffering.
My life is too much for me. And the invitation here now is to stop carrying the burden.
What a relief.
I have dozens if not hundred if not thousands of hopes each day. These hopes are imbecilic ideas I grasp at, as I call out “Save me!”
Each of those imbecilic ideas involves some fighting, some struggle, some method of overcoming what is hunting me. Each is based on the false notion that I will escape my trap.
I am not a winner. I have not arrived at victory.
My only salvation is found here now in admitting defeat *and* receiving defeat.
I can’t just use empty words or rely on some hollow memory of some supposed insight. I can’t fake true defeat. Any fakery is suffering, which is pain.
I can’t afford to fake it. I’m bankrupt. I’m completely without any further resources to draw upon. I’m a trapped hunted animal.
I have to be sincere in my honesty. Anything less is not true honesty. And only truth can deliver me from suffering.
Truth is not something I remember. Truth is something I recognize. I must look here now and see this freshly now. I must see that my life is too much for me.
And I see that by watching all the impulses to fight, to struggle, to win. Just watch them. Just watch their complete impotence.
And then watch the rage and terror just underneath the surface. The instant the veneer of being someone, having something, or knowing something is seen through, there just beneath is the rage and terror.
This is what I have attempted to avoid. This is what I thought was suffering.
But I must see clearly here now that the trap that I am caught in is 100% of my doing. It is 100% made of attempts to avoid suffering.
My suffering is only my attempt to avoid suffering.
And seen more clearly, my suffering is only my attempt to avoid the rage and terror just beneath my complete impotence.
My life is too much for me. And the only things I can grasp at for protection are rage and terror.
When I see this clearly, I discover peace.
No, let me rephrase that. When I experience the truth of this, I discover peace.
True seeing is the same as experiencing the truth of this. That is the same as surrender. That is the same as defeat. That is the same as not knowing. That is the same as telling the truth.
This peace is not mine. I don’t get to have it.
And isn’t that good news? I may not be the smartest person on the planet, but I can spot an obvious truth such as this one: I cannot be trusted with peace. I would only mess it up.
So fortunately, I don’t get to have it.
But I do get to surrender to it. I do get to admit the truth: my life is too much for me.
Do you want peace?
“Of course I want peace!,” says the conditioned mind.
The conditioned mind knows the right answers to just about everything. It knows that peace is the right answer.
But the conditioned mind is a fraud. You are a fraud.
And if you don’t believe me, just watch what is happening within yourself. You say you want peace, but what are you doing right now? Are you at peace? Or are you at war?
You’re at war. Tell the truth. You love war. You’re so in love with war, you don’t even recognize peace. You are so in love with war that you call war peace and you call peace war.
You have it all inverted.
And just watch what is happening. You’re getting agitated. You don’t like what you think are accusations coming from me. Accusations such as “you don’t want peace” and “you’re a liar”. You don’t like it.
But these aren’t accusations. These are truth. And the truth will set you free if you allow it.
Now, hear this. If you really allow this truth to seep in, you discover the truth of peace. You discover it now.
But you have to surrender. You have to allow the truth of peace to take you over.
Here’s a story. Once upon a time there was a large extended family that lived together near a lake. Like all families, they had disagreements. But they depended upon the lake. They needed the lake for life. So they did the intelligent thing. They recognized the greater truth and did not worry about disagreements.
Now, among the people there was a man who began to speak out loudly. And here is what he said, “This lake is a holy lake. And only those who are holy should be allowed to approach it. There are some among us who are unholy. And they should not be allowed access to the lake. Those of us who are on the side of what is holy must do our duty and chase away the unholy. We must keep the lake clean and pure and holy as it should be.”
At first most of the people thought he was crazy. But little by little they began to be persuaded by his arguments. And soon enough there was a large enough group that they began to make war on the others.
First they protested. They put up signs. They chanted “Unclean people go away from the holy lake!”
Then they began to form barriers. Human barriers at first. Then a great wall that they guarded so as to allow only the “holy” access to the lake.
Well it didn’t take long for this to come to blows. Hitting and kicking started. Then someone threw a rock. Then the first arrow flew.
And once the first person was murdered, both sides felt justified in continuing. One side would murder someone on the other side for retribution.
Both sides were certain they were right.
One side was certain they were holy, doing the work of God. The other side was certain they were acting only in self-defense and therefore it was justified.
Both sides said they wanted peace.
But both sides continued to make war.
This continued for many generations. And so it was that children grew up knowing nothing but war.
Eventually there was a child who grew up seeing war day in and day out, but this child did something no one else had done before. He sincerely wanted peace.
When he got to be old enough that he was expected to fight, he simply would not.
He had grown up on the “holy side”. Those who considered him to be their brother first tried to “bring him to his senses” by talking to him. They tried to persuade him to do his duty, to fight for a just cause.
When that did not work, they locked him up in prison to teach him a lesson. They forced him to undergo therapy to correct his way of seeing life.
None of that worked.
It came to pass that the “unholy side” heard rumors of this man, and they began to talk among themselves. “Maybe he will fight for our side!”
So they worked hard and broke the man out of prison. They stole him away. And they treated him like a king.
They had a great feast for him. They gave him all the best things they had. And then they demanded, “Now fight for us!”
But he would not.
And so they turned on him. They beat him. They imprisoned him. They tortured him.
But still he would not fight.
Because he wanted peace. And he knew the secret to peace which none of the others knew.
Everyone else wrongly thought that peace could only be had in the future…once the conditions they had invented were fulfilled. They all believed that peace was only possible in the absence of conflict, in the absence of unpleasantness, in the absence of discomfort, in the absence of fear, in the absence of doubt. They all wrongly believed that peace could only be when their side was victorious.
But he knew the true secret to peace. Which is this: peace is now. Peace is unconditional. Peace is this.
And he did what almost nobody does. Because most people talk about peace but don’t choose it. He chose peace. He remained with the truth of peace.
Choosing peace is a radical act. To the world – the violent, warring world both inner and outer – the truth of peace looks insane.
But the truth is that the violent warring world (both inner and outer) is insane. And if you take that to be truth, you are insane.
The good news is there is a remedy. And the remedy is peace. And the remedy is available to all who sincerely choose it now.
Choose peace. And don’t betray it.
Now, let me spell this out even more clearly. Because I know the doubts that creep in that try to persuade you to keep making war. And I want to be clear about this so you don’t make the mistake of furthering warfare in the name of peace.
You will have doubts. You will believe that you have a special exception to the Cosmic Rule. You will believe that you must just fight this one last battle before you can choose peace.
And the “one last battle” will never be enough. There will be endless “one last battles”. Every one will seem justified.
You will think that you must defeat this feeling, this pain, this circumstance, this disrespect, this injustice, whatever, on and on.
You will find endless exceptions. You will say that you have to because you must be responsible and good. You will lie to yourself over and over.
Don’t believe the lies. If you want peace, choose peace now.
If you want war, choose war…and be honest about it. Tell the truth that you are choosing war and that it is only war and not peace. Tell the truth that war only begets war and never peace.
And in this way, by telling the truth of your violent, reactive, hostile, fearful, LYING conditioning, you start to see the truth of it more and more deeply. You start to see that truly peace cannot be had through war.
You start to see that war only begets war. And you start to see all the lies that you’d believed until now.
You start to see that you cannot be responsible or good. You don’t even know what it means to be responsible or good. You only have your conditioned ideas about responsibility and goodness, and those ideas were inherited from a sick and warring society. They lead only to war. They are nothing more than propaganda. You start to see how everyone is walking around lying to one another.
You start to see just how sick you have been. And you see the complete hopelessness of ever fixing the problem…because you ARE the problem. Everything you can come up with to fix the problem is only more of your conditioning – all of which was inherited from this sick and warring society.
Now you start to see how radical peace truly is.
This world – this warring sick world (both inner and outer) – will not tolerate peace. It will attack you.
You must know that every attack is a lie. Every attack is war, which is not what is true.
If you want truth, peace, you must see this and HAVE FAITH. Faith is to remain still so as to reveal the dream-like illusory nature of war.
It was only a bad dream. But only living faith can prove it.
Allow the so-called attacks. Allow the so-called rage, terror, depression, hatred, squeezing, crushing, disrespect, humiliation, failure, and all the rest of it. Allow your fearful imagination.
Make no effort to fix any of it. To fix is to make war. Which is to continue the lies, the bad dream.
To wake up, you must recognize the dream as a dream. You can only do this if you make no effort to defend, protect, or offend. Only then can you have truly living faith in which you know the true nature of reality. Only then can you know that the dream is a dream. When the dream attack does not harm you EVEN THOUGH the dream may insist otherwise…when you find that you remain despite losing everything…you know the dream is a dream.
That is peace.