a couple of months ago

I’m not getting out of this alive

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.

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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