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The Secret Path to Perfect Self-Knowledge

By:Guy Finley
Date: Sun,05 May 2024
Submitter:Life of Learning Foundation
Views:3260

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Key Lesson #1: A tree has many leaves, and - in one way or another - the wind touches all of them; some shake, some quiver, some hardly move at all. And, yes: it may be said the tree "knows" their trembling; but neither the wind, nor the leaves it stirs are the tree that feels their passing touch. Thoughts and feelings are like leaves; learning to watch them move is much better than being carried away with every breeze.

Key Lesson #2: No reaction has the wisdom, let alone the awareness to realize the purpose of its temporary appearance; it is powerless to solve the mystery of itself.

For Further Study

We have in us – built over time as part of the construct of our personality – a literal host of demands. Things that over time have been thought over and over and over again until the construction of those thoughts becomes an unconscious attitude. For instance, if you think enough times, “Why are they doing this? I shouldn't be treated like this!” Gradually, you walk around with a chip on your shoulder, but you don't know it's a chip on your shoulder. It is a creation of a certain level of this nature that waits there in the dark, not thriving, not feeding – until a moment comes along that makes it possible for it to suddenly appear. And then in the strength of its appearance, and our habitual reaction to its appearance, we become immediately passive to its activity in us.

But the key here is that while the reaction is virtually unavoidable and inevitable, identifying with that reaction is not inevitable. Identifying with a negative reaction is not inevitable. And in fact, while the reaction may come up and it may somehow or other grab us, even, there is nothing much we can do in that moment because the condition and the conflict appear as one thing inside of us. You know what it means to be touchy. You don't know you're touchy until somebody touches you. Then you're touchy. What did they touch? Something that was living inside of you that you didn't know was sitting there waiting to bite the hand that touched it.

Nevertheless, there is a certain space that can exist – that does exist – between the “first reaction” and the “second reaction,” which is the identification with the initial resistance. There is a certain space that exists between the two reactions.

The first reaction is inevitable – in fact necessary – because out of the revelation of it, it becomes possible for the man or woman to recognize that if I'm not present to this proclivity of identifying instantaneously with the reaction, then I have no choice other than to be made passive to it. And my “I” becomes the extension of the reaction. I can't tell you how important it is to understand this.

Imagine the holiday season and you're going to be with friends and family. Meaning, you're going to be in conditions where, over time, everything has been hardwired to elicit certain reactions from you when you talk to people and when you are around others. Just seeing people will cause a reaction inside of you that you're not aware of because you immediately identify with that sense of self that comes along to, ostensibly, protect you from the reaction that it has.

How many of you are ever find yourself awash in some dark current of thoughts and feelings connected with something that went wrong somewhere in your past? Yes? Do you know how plagued humanity is by something that has no authority whatsoever to punish them, but because they haven't the knowledge that you're being given – nor the will to go through what that knowledge indicates in terms of a new intention in the moment – they do nothing but suffer.

So here’s a person and something brings up the past. Let's be very clear: you do not bring up the past. You do not bring up that painful moment. You do not decide to revisit where you were victimized as a child, or an adult, or where you victimized somebody. You do not bring it up. That memory, that image that is laden with all of that negative energy, it is brought up mechanically by the appearance of an equally mechanical association that is created because of a certain set of conditions that you accidentally wandered into. It could be that you went someplace and they played one of the old Carpenter songs. “We’ve only just begun….” Or it could be that you wandered into a bad neighborhood in your own mind, looking for something to quell a certain unconscious disturbance, and you were drawn to revisit something that seemed similar, so that the unconscious association produces an instantaneous regurgitation of a particular object of thought and emotion. That onset is the first reaction.

Well, it's actually a second reaction because it is the product of something that was stimulated inside of you. But what happens next inside of you when suddenly you find yourself about to be carried off in a dark current of some kind of reaction that you're having? What happens when you feel yourself being carried off in a reaction? You start resisting the reaction. Now you may say, no, I don't resist the reaction. I try to think through and resolve what my past is reminding me of. Trying to resolve the past is a form of resisting the past, because the past cannot be resolved by anything that the nature that produced the pain of its memory brings to you. They are one thing, producing the same thing inside of you, which is a secondary and tertiary reaction that compounds all of the negative associations and reactions into a single identity that now is being pulled at from multiple directions so that it doesn't know which thought, which feeling to go with. And the more it reacts in this way – responding to this second reaction, identifying with this resistance –the more it is being pulled apart. The more it is pulled apart, the more active it seems.

Can you see that the moment that the negative reaction sets in, that it sets in with a series of thoughts, a series of feelings, and a series of actions that feel like, “this is what I must do in order to resolve it.” Can you see that? And can you see, given what we've described, that that series of thoughts and feelings, and all of the actions they prescribe to rid you of the pain of the initial unwanted reaction, that every last part of that is in fact the continuation of the reaction and not the path to its resolution. Can you see that?

I'll tell you why this is so important – because we're talking about needing a new kind of intention. A new intention – a real intention – is always born out of understanding that something is working in you that you don't know has your will. The intention serves to reveal this nature to you.

Here's what I want you to write down. It's going to be a shock to you. The purpose of any negative reaction isn't to give you something to do. Isn't that shocking? The purpose of any negative reaction isn't to give you something to do.

If it isn't to give you something to do, then what is it for? Ordinarily, if I'm not setting an intention to observe the onset of this second reaction – of this immediate identification with the resistance – if I'm not present to that, then I become that. But if I am present to the reaction – and here's the key – then my new intention of the first reaction is the impersonal observation of the nature that's having it. The new intention is the impersonal observation. Not to do something, but to see something.

For over 40 years Guy Finley has helped individuals around the world find inner freedom and a deeper, more satisfying way to live. His in-depth and down-to-earth teachings cut straight to the heart of today’s most important personal and social issues – anxiety, fear, self-discovery, meditation, relationships, addiction, stress, compassion, and personal peace. His work is widely endorsed by doctors, business professionals, celebrities, and spiritual leaders of all denominations.

Guy is the author of 45 books including his international bestseller “The Secret of Letting Go,” that have been translated into 30 languages and have sold millions of copies worldwide.

He has a weekly program on InsightTimer.com, and is a regular contributor to numerous print and online publications.

Guy is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit Center for Spiritual Discovery located in southern Oregon, with tens of thousands of online newsletter subscribers worldwide. His talks are live-streamed free from the Foundation twice each week. https://www.guyfinley.org/class

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