Die to the False “I” and Find Real Life
Virtually everyone will admit they want a spiritual life; for starters this just sounds like something that one should have! But probe a bit deeper and by default, in stages, you will hear various declarations that run the gamut from a belief in some incarnation as a source of their salvation, to the belief that they are, themselves, the living light – demigods on their way to Godhood.
The former group holds that they have been given the keys to the Kingdom and need do nothing except affirm that this is so, while the latter claims that they are not only already in heaven, but that they are making it a better place for their being there! All of these assertions are as silly as they are empty, fear-filled, and vain.
It can be stated, categorically, that any person who believes in such things – as in a passage to heaven as their right for merely professing some belief – or who asserts he or she already is one of heaven’s bulwarks – is not just deluded, but constitutes a real danger to anyone foolish enough to believe in their assertion of having such privileges.
This statement can be made without reservation because the fact of its reality is all around us; our lives are the evidence. The choice of our daily actions testifies to the truth of our (present) spiritual shallowness, so that seen aright these facts verify that few have the spiritual life that they claim – either in a “time to come” or in their professed “now.”
We who would be changed must be willing to examine ourselves. Truth must be our religion. We must look at what it is that occupies our minds and hearts for the vast majority of our time. And this vision is easy to obtain if only we won’t turn our heads way from what is before our eyes. Let’s look at what is there:
We move from stressful concerns about our tomorrows to resentment towards anyone who threatens our projected peace. We condemn ourselves for our own weaknesses as fast as we fall asleep in them, and then give ourselves over to their destructive pleasures. We would rather dream of better times to come than contend with those bitter parts of our nature that actively contaminate our present.
If we want a Real Life we should make a list of these contradictions in our own consciousness. And to this thought please add the following: Fear not your findings, but if you must, then fear as necessary until you see through these fears. See the Truth of your self in yourself and that Truth – its Light – will attend to what you have been unable to do until now: let go of yourself.
The point is made well enough: The suffering that marks our day-to-day lives shouts out the opposite of our claim to a consensual life in the light. Yet, we languish because of the lies we tell ourselves and then turn a deaf ear to the sounds of the world within and around us that proclaim this truth.
“The medicine is bitter, but it heals,” said Vernon Howard about seeing these same truths. So, never mind if these words seem stringent or even negative to you. I assure you, the ideas being presented here are your Friend. And know this next thought also to be true: It is the nature of Truth to heal – to help, to correct and confirm what is Good, and not to condemn and criticize. The truth of any discovery about ourselves acts upon us as do beams of light that show us – at once – where we stand now, spiritually speaking, and the Way back to the Land of Light from which this intervening Light has its origin.
For those of us who can recognize the reality behind these words, and that they reveal a true need for a real transformation, the time for this change in our consciousness must be Now. The place for this Work must be wherever we are, regardless of circumstance. And everything inside and outside of us must be subjected to this awakening intention to become New in the Truth.
Not coincidentally, our study has brought us full circle. Only we are returned where we began with something we did not have at the outset: the understanding that something more than an imagined light must go before us, and that our wish to be New without the work to see it through is like hoping we can hear the seashore by pressing a postcard of the ocean to our ear.
Now we must inquire what is our actual and individual part in this true transformational process? What is it that is required of us if we wish to fulfill this nascent longing that we have to be liberated from the stress, sorrow, and captivity of our shallow self? The answer to these fundamental questions is as short as it is, at first, seemingly bittersweet: We must die to ourselves.
This idea of “losing one’s life in order to gain it” is spiritually Timeless, preceding the life of the Christ to whom it is most commonly attributed. And even when considered by the few who dare to wonder at its meaning, still it remains widely misunderstood. The question remains: Will we be one of the few who not only explores its telling, but will we do what we are told in our discoveries?
We are asked by Truth, shown, as it were, by its perennial Light in us, the need for losing what we have mistaken as being our life. In exchange for giving up this lesser life we may realize the unmistakable influx of a Timeless Spirit whose Loving Wisdom makes Its home in us. And contrary to popular belief this exchange of one life for The Life is non-negotiable.
But what exactly does this perennial Truth – to “lose one’s life in order to gain it” – mean? How does this idea strike us, and what part of us responds? Are we like Nicodemus of the New Testament who, when told by Christ that to enter the Kingdom of Heaven a man must be reborn in Spirit, interpreted this literally and asked “does this mean one must re-enter his mother’s womb?”
To understand what it means to “die to our self” we must first investigate what it means to be “living” from what we presently consider being our self. The following description, while necessarily brief, does not come up short in its accuracy. Do take the time to consider what is shown in the following insights:
Essentially, what we experience as being our “self” – for the most part – is our many-layered registrations of whatever sensations we may be having in the moment due to our perception of the conditions around us – a necessarily limited consciousness that works out to be little more than a constantly changing sense of self created by our various reactions to events.
Even more interesting is the realization that the true and unseen nature of these events in our life – the actual character of what is perceived by us as being external to us – is neither what we think it is, nor is the whole of it taking place outside of us. What we are actually experiencing, as our reality, is what our thoughts and feelings are “telling” us about the event.
And what also remains unseen is that these same thoughts that are actively describing our present moment to us are themselves creatures of the past; un-living constructs of memory, bits and pieces of “what was” drawn together through mechanical association and then referenced and deferred to so that we may “know” what has happened to us and what should be done about it!
Of course it may be argued that our thought nature is a “living” system, for it is. But, there is living in the blast furnace of relentless thinking with its dark effect that includes a “time self” born of the opposites, and then there is the possibility of Life outside of time in the birth of our eternal being realized in the Light.
So dying to oneself implies not only understanding what must be sacrificed in us – this time nature and its sufferings born of its own ceaseless selfish considerations – but, for this dawning realization, to be willing to do the true inner work that our new discoveries direct us to undertake in their cause.
For the purpose of bringing this study “down to earth” we will now look at some of the “ways” in which we may each begin working to consciously die to our self. It will be most helpful if we can keep in mind what was stated earlier as regards what actually constitutes the make-up of our present sense of self – with all of its unconscious causes generated in our sleeping consciousness.
Here is the key idea we will work with, and then I will give some explanation of what it means along with a few exercises for its implementation. We must die to the “I” in us, that familiar sense of our self that derives its life through its relationship with whatever it picks up and holds in its “hands” for the moment. For instance here is one meaning of what this last idea entails:
When we are angry the active sense of “I” in us – a simmering self that stands there holding onto a heated state – has its “life” in us for only as long as it is enabled to fuel the fires of certain negative thoughts and feelings. This self searches for what to do about the burning it feels, even as it clings to and unconsciously fans the very states that it feels singeing it!
To die to this “I” means we must drop – consciously end – our relationship with the negative states that support this same sense of self. When we will dare to let go of these sensations that manifest and support our “right” to be self-destructive – in that same moment goes with it our mistaken sense of “I.” It has no life apart from the unconscious machine that makes it appear and ache.
Here are a few other areas where we can work to lose ourselves for the sake of gaining our Real Life: Maybe you can catch yourself about to run off in an anxious state to try and quell some fear of a negatively anticipated moment to come. Deliberately step out of that dark flood of fearful, rushed feelings, and into your awakened awareness that this stressed condition, its conflict, and the sense of self it is generating, are secret conspirators. You can do this once you realize that these punishing and punished parts of you are indeed “one for all” – but that none of them are for you!
Die to the threats of any unwanted moment and that fear-filled sense of “I” that lives only to resolve them will fade away as well. Then true Fearlessness itself will take the place of this shaking self.
Lastly, here is an advanced lesson in this special inner work of dying to oneself: Try to see the self that loves to revel in suffering. Watch your self about to take center stage in the dark drama of something you are sure has been pressed upon you, and right there, right then, walk off the stage. Pull the curtains closed on these self-pitying feelings and you shut down the theater of the absurd – the belief that the self that suffers can rescue the suffering self!
We must each find our own ways and means to do this work of dying to self even though the actual inner task is always the same. And of this you may be assured: There is never a shortage of self-stuff to see when it comes to opportunities to lay our self down for the sake of Truth.
Let me remind you of the Key lesson that sits at the heart of this study: It is not your True Self that fades away when you agree to lose your life in order to gain it. No, it is only your thought-supported sense of self that disappears from view, much as a dark cloud that obscures the sun is dissolved into transparency as the warming light rains down upon it.
You have been given the insight and special knowledge you need to proceed and succeed at what few before you have ever had handed to them. Use these Truths to make True your wish for a real Life in the Light. Nothing can keep you from doing the Work it takes to be free because Freedom Itself stands behind these Truths now in your hands.
Guy Finley is the acclaimed author of more than 30 books and audio programs on the subject of self-realization, several of which have become international best sellers. His popular works, published in 16 languages, are widely endorsed by doctors, professionals, and religious leaders of all denominations. Among many others, his popular titles include: The Secret of Letting Go, Design Your Destiny, The Lost Secrets of Prayer, Apprentice of the Heart, and Let Go and Live in the Now.
To learn more about the work of Guy Finley and his non-profit Life of Learning Foundation, visit http://www.guyfinley.org for a wealth of free helpful information, free audio and video downloads, and to request your FREE Self-Improvement Starter Kit.