Many spiritual philosophies agree that experience is all-important. We could even say the true meaning of life is to experience it, in all its many facets—to breathe in the full depth and breadth of it. But when a spirit being is called to this dualistic sphere—to this material plane—we are drawn here because it’s a match for where we are in our development. Our consciousness is limited, so true reality is blurred out to a great extent.
The only way we can experience more of life is if we expand. Doing so requires us to come here, again and again, until all our blocks against life are gone, and we have tasted, savored and assimilated all of it. Then we can experience the totality of life, in all its splendor.
Usually when we hear the word “experience,” we think of an outer experience. This, however, is not really the meaning of the word. The real meaning is inner experience. To wit, we can have outer experiences of all varieties, but if our inner experience is inhibited, the outer won’t mean much.
If our inner experience is dead, all these experiences will add little, if anything, to our life.
We can travel far and wide. We can experience all kinds of situations, experimenting with every “experience” under the sun. We can look at life from every angle, experiencing art, science and nature. We can do all these things, learning everything our brains are able to master, but if our inner experience is dead, all these experiences will add little, if anything, to our life.
Actually, it is possible that such full outer experiences will add to our despair. For it’s very disquieting to not understand the cause of what is happening. A person can have everything they ever wanted, and still, a nagging dissatisfaction remains. They can try to grab for more goodies, or run for more accomplishments, but living a fruitful life becomes ever more elusive. For the inner capacity to fully experience life has not been cultivated. The inner soil has not been prepared. Worse, it has been practically plowed under altogether.
THE IMPORTANCE OF FEELINGS
For inner experience to be possible, we must be able to feel. If all our feelings have been blocked, then no inner experience can happen. When we deaden our feelings, we deaden all of life. As a result, we can’t feel our lives. And so it is that we must return to the material existence again and again, until we learn to savor the experience, as best we can, given where we are on our spiritual journey.
What is really causing our suffering is our fight against what we fear.
To fully savor life, we will need to eliminate the defenses we have built against feeling our feelings. This means we will have to walk through our fear of painful feelings. We’re going to need to accept what we fear, experiencing it as it shows up in this moment. Chances are good, the way we feel right now is the result of feelings from long ago that we never fully experienced. All this time they have been stagnating, and thereby creating a block in our system.
Whenever we fear a feeling, we block the experience. We go numb. Denial and this kind of emotional anesthesia often seem like the only protection we have against feeling awful pain and suffering. And yet, as we do our personal healing work, what we discover is this: What is really causing our suffering is our fight against what we fear.
Regardless what has been inflicted on us from the outside when we were helpless and defenseless, it won’t cripple us if we learn to receive it in the right way—in a healthy way. This, friends, is the only way to rid ourselves of what is undesirable. When we dare to experience—inside ourselves—whatever comes to us, it will no longer be a threat.
FACING OUR WORST FEELING
Now we’ll look more deeply into the significance of our inner emotional experience. In particular, we’ll explore what happens when we block our feelings, and therefore cut off our inner experience.
Of all our emotions, which is the most destructive? That would be fear. When we don’t meet and transcend our fear, it becomes toxic. Fear is a poisonous energy that, when unconscious, will show up indirectly, making it even more debilitating. And the most insidious fear is fear of feelings. These are more destructive than a fear of something outside ourselves. For if we fear a real danger, we can overcome it. In some cases, we’ll exaggerate a fear of some outer occurrence, which wouldn’t be all that harmful, except that such a phobia must be an expression of a feeling we haven’t recognized or felt.
Which is the most destructive emotion? Fear.
We can deal with anything that is outside us through outer action. Feelings, though, can only be dealt with by experiencing them. And they can’t be experienced when they are denied. When we are afraid of being rejected, not getting our way, or having our pride hurt, or when we’re frightened of pain or loneliness, in all these cases, our primary feeling is fear.
Only by experiencing what we fear—let’s say, rejection—will we experience the pain of it. So what we are basically dealing with is fear of pain. When we allow ourselves to go into the fear, we can experience the pain. Then the pain will release and go away, and we will have mastered a slice of life we won’t need to avoid any more.
What we usually do is blindly avoid our fear of pain until we lose track of the fact that we fear a specific pain. We are no longer aware of why we feel numb and dead inside. When we do this, we create a magnetic block of energy in our psyche, which is a powerful force. And this magnetic block is going to draw to us the very experience we wanted to avoid.
Now the pain we were avoiding comes to us from the outside. This will happen time and again, until we can no longer run away from it. This is a spiritual law of life.
If we arrive into the world with such a fear, our life circumstances are going to bring forth the conditions we ran away from in a previous life. In other words, if the circumstances of our early life were hard—filled with pain and deprivation—and we once again protect ourselves by denying the pain, instead of fully experiencing it, later in life we will find those circumstances showing up that replicate those earlier conditions.
Eventually, crisis will come, giving us another chance to overcome our fear.
This will keep happening until we open up to what we fear and allow the experience to be in us. This is the only way to dissolve the associated pain. By fully savoring the painful experience, we truly overcome it. This dissolves the energy of the magnetic block, returning it to the general flow of life inside us. After that, the experience we feared will stop coming to us.
It’s possible we have temporarily avoided the experience we fear by successfully using our inner defenses to so completely shut off life that nothing can touch us. And using our willpower, we may have built an eventful outer life that manages to fill our inner void, at least to some degree. This works, as long as we don’t hold still. This, however, is nothing but a temporary peace before the storm.
Eventually, crisis will come, giving us another chance to overcome our fear. For the more we run, the more energy we invest in blocking off the feared feeling, the more potent the magnetic energy block becomes, the more certainly we will attract a crisis that could be just what we need to heal—if we choose to change our focus, and pay attention to our inner life.
From AFTER THE EGO: Insights from the Pathwork® Guide on How to Wake Up, Chapter 7: Inner and Outer Experience (Now Available on Amazon)