a couple of months ago

I’ve been working hard on something

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.

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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