We all want the good stuff: love, truth, goodness and light. These desires emanate from the divine spark at the center of each person. But like sunlight trying to shine through dirty glass, these rays often taken on hazy shades as they penetrate our layers of imperfection.
So, yeah, our best self wants to be good, and to do good. At the same time, our efforts are often also colored by selfishness. Our motives are mixed, making us confused about what to do next.
Our path will become easier if we can accept that some of our motives come from a pure place and some come from a selfish one. Such clarity won’t be flattering or comfortable, but it will actually give us peace of mind. Truth, after all, is soothing once we’ve made up our mind not to fight it. Plus, coming down from our high horse is healthy and always has a positive effect on us.
So as we start out on a spiritual path, we may want to do good outwardly, while at the same time we harbor selfish thoughts within. This is normal. Our work at this point is to face ourselves as we are, and accept that we can’t change this quite yet. Then one of two things will happen. Either we will go about doing good deeds while hoping to gain admiration, or else we will explain away our lack of good deeds by pointing out how others also fall short. The latter is called hypocrisy and we can see it everywhere.
As we go along doing our spiritual work, things tend to become more tricky as the hypocrisy becomes more subtle. After a while, our selfishness is no longer so obvious, even to us, and this is where the bigger trouble sets in.
It is only by facing and admitting our wrong desires that we can change them.
Because the more we work to hide our selfish motives—rather than to continue to search for them and to bring them into the light—the more confusion and disorder sets in. After all, it is only by facing and admitting our wrong desires that we can change them. And yet the further along we are on our path of self-knowing, the more tempting it becomes to suppress these unpopular bits.
As such, anywhere that our conscious opinions, ideas and feelings are separated from what’s in our unconscious, a wall is created in our soul. The walls we build in our outer material world are actually far easier to destroy than this inner wall.
On this side of the wall lies everything we know about and are willing to face. On the other side of the wall is where we store all the stuff we don’t want to face. This is a collection of unpleasant faults and weaknesses, along with whatever frightens us and confuses us. We seal all this shut using an unconscious wrong conclusion, like, if I see this about myself it will confirm that I’m bad. With that, we lock the gate and throw away the key.
What this Wall is Made of
So what is this wall made of? In the case of a material wall made from brick, wood and the like, we choose a material based on our taste and various needs. Such a wall has nothing to do with us. Our inner spiritual wall, on the other hand, is formed directly from our thoughts, beliefs and feelings.
We can’t use something we haven’t got, and all we have is whatever we are. Therefore, our wall will be made up, in part, from our goodwill that is ineffective due to our wrong conclusions and ignorance. Case in point, one of the reasons we create an inner wall is to hide certain unpleasant aspects, and our motive for doing this is the misuse of our goodwill.
Let’s go ahead and add laziness to our list of wall ingredients.
In addition, we will find fragments of cowardice in our wall, along with impatience, pride and self-will. We can see evidence of our impatience in the mere fact that we’ve built this inner wall, hoping to reach perfection by piling our less-than-perfect parts behind it. Because heck, it sure is easier to put up a wall than take the time and effort needed to eliminate our misunderstandings and disharmonies.
And let’s face it, that kind of self-honesty doesn’t happen without a lot of inner work. So let’s go ahead and add laziness to our list of wall ingredients. Indeed, all these trends are the building materials we’re using to make our inner wall.
Gradually Dismantling the Whole Wall
As we do our work, we are taking certain attitudes and trends, one by one, out from behind our wall, and transposing them back into conscious awareness. Bit by bit, the wall goes down. The more work we do, the fewer trends that remain locked back there. This is good use of our will, and this work needs to continue until the whole heap has been cleared.
If we want to become whole and truly happy, the entire wall must come tumbling down.
In fact, if we want to become whole and truly happy, the entire wall must come tumbling down. As long as there is any wall remaining, no matter how much of it we have dismantled, we are not yet whole and we can’t function the way we’re meant to.
Our goal, then, is not to just pick at the wall; we have to get serious about destroying the wall altogether. Most often, this can’t be done all at once. Moreover, if we are hasty in our efforts, we can end up causing ourselves a breakdown. So typically, it is better to gradually lift out what’s behind the wall. This not only reduces the wall, but if done right, it weakens the substance the wall is made of.
The Danger of Half-Measures
The concern is that we might succeed in taking out certain things, only to push the wall a little further into the background. When we do this, the wall remains in full force, and maybe even gets a little stronger. This is a real danger that we need to guard against.
It’s goes something like this. We get off to a good start discovering some unpleasant trends, but then only give our work half-measures. How does this happen? We take a true thought or teaching and use it as a camouflage to hide behind. There is no truth that is free from this possible fate of being twisted just enough to be used as a reinforcement for our wall. When this is done in a crass way, it’s easy to spot. Like when a fanatic or someone who clings to religious dogma commits all sorts of wrongs or has all sorts of wrong reactions, while expounding the “religious truth” of their choosing.
There is no truth that is free from this possible fate of being twisted just enough to be used as a reinforcement for our wall.
But in principle, this same thing is going on in some way in almost every single one of us. We are, of course, just more subtle about it. Spiritual, ethical and psychological truths are all just as susceptible to being usurped. Theories, terms and expressions can also be abused, making them dead, rigid or meaningless.
We need to stay watchful, always looking for where this tendency hides in ourselves. Even these teachings from the Guide can be used. We don’t do this on purpose, perhaps, but we may unknowingly sidestep our work in this way.
What might that look like? Let’s say we’ve found a particular fault, or we’ve unearthed a wrong conclusion about life. Now we might hold this up as the outer façade of our wall, as though we are saying, “That’s it. That’s as far as I will go. I am willing to admit this one thing, but nothing more. This should pacify everyone that I have reached the center of my being. Now no one can say I am not doing my work. But the things that really bother me, that’s all staying put. This is great. I have found a wonderful way to go on hiding.”
Resistance is Part of our Wall
Don’t lose sight of this fact: resistance to doing our work is a big part of what our wall is made up of. So as we have gotten started in doing our work, we have passed the stage when we resisted facing ourselves, using excuses and rationalizations for even embarking on a spiritual path. So then likely we have made certain recognitions and pushed the wall back a bit. We have seen some of our destructiveness filtering through from the other side.
By letting our findings grow to disproportionate significance, we prevent ourselves from going any deeper.
At this point, we are well launched. But that doesn’t mean our resistance has been overcome for good. Because as long as the wall remains intact, resistance is inevitable. The form that the resistance takes, however, will change. Before, we had doubts and excuses. Now we have reservations that cause us to take the findings we’ve made so far and blow them out of proportion.
By letting them grow to disproportionate significance, we prevent ourselves from going any deeper. Often, we start to use the same words again and again, until all the life has been wrung out of them. If our words have become automatic, it’s time to take a close look and find our wall again. Then we can once again wage a healthy war against our resistance and our ignorance.
We are the only ones who will be able to sort out how we’re hiding and what truth we are misusing. If we’ve come this far, having a few spiritual wins under our belt, chances are good we’re going to keep going. We’ve conquered some of our resistance, but now we need to locate the other resistance lying in wait. For while we might not leave our spiritual path, we may easily get stuck, spinning around in circles without ever going any deeper.
The Goal is to Empty Ourselves
Our unconscious does not give itself up readily, for it thinks that coming out into the light creates a grave danger. So it’s going to come up with some good ruses to keep us from working in this direction and causing this wall to crumble. We need to get wise to it. Good intentions are one thing, but they won’t go far enough.
If we want to gain victory over our own souls, we must avoid stagnation and continue to question every inner disharmony. Our goal is to become empty. We want to be able to stand naked in front of ourselves and in front of our maker. For we must become that naked and empty for divine substances to take root in us and fill us up.
We want to be able to stand naked in front of ourselves and in front of our maker.
As long as our wall remains in place, no matter how weakened it might be, divine substances will be ineffective in us. In other words, the stronger our wall, the weaker will be our light.
It’s always easier to notice someone else’s wall, even as we kid ourselves that surely we don’t have one. We may hide behind a different truth or awareness, but often, we are hiding just as much as the next guy. We need to ask for the courage to see our own wall, and the humility to break it down. If we observe our own reactions, we’ll know where our wall stands, and we’ll find the way to eliminate it altogether.
—The Guide’s wisdom in Jill Loree’s words
Adapted from Pathwork Guide Lecture #47 The Wall Within.