The Search for Our Own Precious Self
Prospecting for gold combines the lure of potential, the excitement of seeing a sparkling possibility, and the patience of a saint. Finding the self, the whole amazing nugget of our true selves, at the core of our being is not so different.
We must delve into areas of ourselves that have long been hidden from view, looking with self-compassion whenever a new awareness surfaces. We need to search for understanding and then follow it all the way through, mining it for every precious ounce of healing possible. Every glimpse of our true self will inspire us to go on.
To do this work, it helps to have a map of our inner landscape and a headlamp for seeing into dark corners. That’s what Jill Loree has created in this collection of spiritual teachings called Finding Gold. It taps into a rich vein of wisdom about the work of finding the self, illuminating the journey from various important perspectives.
To gain a deeper sense of our own true value is to find gold. And wow, what a worthwhile prospect that is.
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Self-Development | General • Self-Acceptance • Self-Assertion • Self-Authority • Self-Care • Self-Confidence • Self-Criticism • Self-Destructiveness • Self-Discipline • Self-Dislike / Rejection • Self-Distraction • Self-Doubt • Self-Esteem • Self-Hate • Self-Healing • Self-Responsibility • Self-Righteousness • Self-Sacrifice • Self-Sufficiency
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It really would be good to spend more time thinking about yourself, said no spiritual person ever. Because spiritual people know it is always way better to think about others. Occupation with the self only ever leads to one thing—selfishness. Right? It all depends on how we go about it.
So many of us are sincere in our desire for spiritual development. But our faith is not whole. There’s this little smidge of doubt that says: “Is this really true? Am I not just making all this up?” What do we do with this? Job one is never going to be: push that aside. Such avoidance is done with the very best of intentions. We just don’t want to have these doubts. We hope that if we ignore them, they will go away. This whole idea that we can stuff things into our unconscious to make them go away is the genesis of most of the hurt in our lives.
The more we battle against all that we can’t change—which largely includes everything and everybody—the more unhappy we become. This happens regardless of how right we are or how wrong the other may be.
Which brings us face-to-face with our opinions. What exactly are they, these ironclad opinions of ours, many of which we’ve accepted as gospel when we don’t even know if they are truly ours—or why we believe in them.
Any truth can be distorted into an untruth. This is, hands down, one of the most powerful weapons of evil. Complete untruth is not the problem. But take something true in one setting and apply it over there, where it doesn’t belong—especially when it’s set up as a rigid rule—and we’re in dangerous territory. In this way, any truth can be bent into a distorted extreme that makes the truth null and void.
And so it is too with self-love. There’s a healthy version that exists in mature souls. But then if we fold in a few distorted currents, suddenly we end up with the wrong flavor of self-love. The crudest of the many forms is selfishness, where we want an unfair advantage or to put ourselves always in a better light than others.
Suffering is what we produce in the struggle between the spirit world of truth and the material world, or matter. Because what makes us suffer is untruth. And another word for untruth is unawareness. And matter is what results from unawareness.
When we attempt to master our life by mastering matter, what we are really hoping for is mastery over untruth. This is more than a general life-thing. It exists in each one of us—in the makeup of our being that has led to us becoming matter. So where must we search for untruth? In ourselves.
Here’s a quick recap of some of the symptoms of self-alienation: not relating to ourselves or other people as we truly are; not living from a core of real strength; identifying with a fake version of who we are; relying on public opinion rather than our own convictions; operating from our defenses that we have built into fortresses over many years of diligent effort.
The upshot of all this is that we end up held back from living by the sheer result of feeling tired and apathetic. We then feel angry and guilty for what looks to be laziness. This laziness, lo and behold, is but another symptom of our self-alienation.
To be present now, we have to have a sense of ourselves and be in reality. For many of us, we’re mostly convinced that this is already true about us. But upon closer inspection, we discover another situation. We only need to sit quietly for a few minutes in meditation to verify the mind’s predilection to jump to any-other-moment-but-this-one. Discovery is always the first step.
Living in this land of duality, we are continually harboring arbitrary either/or concepts. Some of these, we may not even be aware of. One of the most common ones, which causes one of our greatest limitations, is an attitude we hold about winning or losing.
In this way of looking at things, being a winner means being ruthless…Being a loser, then, means to be unselfish…Neither of these two choices is good. Neither is better or worse. Both have the same misconceptions built into them. And both lead to nothing but loneliness, resentment, self-pity, self-contempt and frustration. No bueno.
What is this bliss of which we speak? It’s actually a state we are wired to experience. This isn’t theoretical. It’s a natural law. Not being in bliss is what’s not natural. What takes us from bliss is some kind of disturbance. Otherwise, that’s where we’d be…
Deep down, we know this is our birthright. And we all want it, this pleasure supreme. Whether or not we realize that we’re the ones with the misdirected strivings doesn’t alter the facts. Which all means that we could recalibrate our search and find what we’ve been looking for. Let’s look at the two main aspects of this search.
If we want to be compatible with universal power, we have to have a state of mind that is totally chill—inner and outer relaxation…This relaxation is rhythmic and effortless, expanding and contracting as though it were breathing. It’s poised and calm, peaceful and yet dynamic. This is not indifference, passivity or laxness. Those are for chumps. This kind of relaxation is not wound up with fear, pride or self-will. Needless to say, this is not a state that many are in the habit of inhabiting.
No, our typical state is more or less to be intense. This, of course, is foreign to—and incompatible with—universal power. Our intensity, pulled taut as a piano wire, has the final effect of making us immobile, paralyzed and passive. This we must learn to work out of our souls.
Have you ever noticed in yourself feelings of uncertainty, fear, insecurity, guilt, weakness, doubt, negativity, inadequacy or inferiority? Brilliant. You’re in the right place. Let’s look at how these correspond to the same degree we have self-esteem—or the inevitable lack thereof. This is going to give us a key for tackling our problems more directly.
We confuse self-acceptance and self-forgiveness with whitewashing the Lower Self, condoning its negative ways. Let’s go one more. We also confuse self-devastating guilt and self-hate with honestly admitting what’s wrong with us and needs to be changed. The confusion in this duality really kicks our tails.
Either approach is a real buzz-kill for doing the hard work of growing, expanding and becoming one with God. Thing is, we do have to accept and forgive our negative aspects, seeing them in context with the rest of ourselves. But that doesn’t mean we condone them. If, by now, this seems like a common theme in these teachings, it is because it bears repeating. Because we tend to stumble on this part again and again.
There are essentially two value systems governing all of us. Being values is one of them, and appearance values is the other…
Most of us are operating on the level of appearance value most of the time. It takes some serious investment in personal work before we start functioning for the sake of what is, and not for the sake of what it looks like in the eyes of others.
Our minds bounce around inside a narrow box, as it were, made up of screwy and limited perceptions. As we get to know ourselves, we gradually connect the dots about how we are related to life. One area where our judgment is particularly off is in thinking that we see the whole picture. Really, we can barely see our own little wedge. And this totally skews everything. It’s like seeing the bottom left corner of a huge painting and believing we know what the whole thing is about.
In truth, the human mind is capable of infinite expansion. And eventually that’s what will happen. In the meantime, what do we typically do? We buy our own limited beliefs and perceptions, which keeps our mind conditioned to stay in the box.
*The order for reading these teachings is flexible. Follow your intuition and go where you feel called. If you get stuck on a teaching, move on. Sticking points may indicate something important to explore more deeply, but don’t let a speed bump derail you.