4 weeks ago

I trust my teacher because my way hurts

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.

Joey Lott

Joey Lott is the author of numerous books, including The Best Thing That Never Happened and The Little Book of Big Healing. He lives in southern Vermont with his wife and children.

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