Last year, thousands of people went to Home Depot and bought a drill, yet none of them actually wanted a drill. What they wanted was a hole. It’s sort of like that with our spiritual work. We must be willing to apply the right tool in doing our work—even though we may not really want to—if we hope to achieve a more open and peaceful state of mind, to experience ourselves as more whole.
One of the easiest places to begin poking around is by looking more closely at our fear. For generally speaking, we are aware of our fear. We’re anxious, we’re worried, we’re unsettled, we can’t sleep. The fact that we have fear is not news to us.
And it really doesn’t help to tell ourselves that all fear is an illusion, because whether that’s true or not, it’s still here. We can’t just wish it away. But if we turn and take a look at it, it will reveal more of itself to us. What are we afraid of? Perhaps the answer is ‘that then they won’t like me.’ So then the next question to pry the lid with is, ‘And then what?’ What do I fear will happen?
Such poking and probing can help illuminate more aspects of our fears, including our fear of what we fear. It’s actually that secondary fear that often does more damage, becoming bigger than life and sinking us deeper into illusion. We get lost in our fear.
Self-will is the tendency to either apply too much gas or too much brake.
Once we get a handle on our fear, we need to select a different tool from our bag and start hunting around for our self-will. This is the second leg of our Lower Self stool. Self-will is the tendency to either apply too much gas—using a forcing current to get our way—or too much brake—withholding our thoughts and emotions from others as a form of both protection and punishment. We tell ourselves that we are just defending ourselves, when more truthfully our holding back is often used as a powerful weapon.
Now it’s time to surface our pride, the third leg of our stool. Pride is often easiest to spot in our judgments, where we set ourselves above others as we look down upon the world and people’s pathetic behavior. What we fail to see is how we’re using this as a cover for our own faulty impression of ourselves. For if we didn’t see ourselves as less than—if we didn’t feel that deep down we don’t matter—we wouldn’t feel the need to look down on anyone else in our effort to elevate our own limping inner less-than-worthy selves.
The best tool to use for addressing pride is this simple prayer: What is the truth of the matter? Never will this prayer go unanswered. And never will the answer add more pity to our position. Rather, this is the prayer that will open us up to the light of truth—to the truth of who we are.
We all come here to this challenging dualistic sphere because we desire to become more whole. Our work is to fill in the gaps in our awareness of how we are the ones creating and maintaining holes in our souls. The Guide has given us the tools we need to change this, but we must become willing to pick them up and use them. We must do the work.
Read more about Doing the Work.