Almost everybody has something that keeps them from truly being happy; something which holds them back from growing. It is usually something that happened in childhood – maybe something you donâ€™t even remember. But it was something that hurt you very deeply; something which changed you from being an innocent, self-contained child to a person who is forced to acknowledge the imperfections of the world.
This event sparked a struggle of the self against the universe. The maturation process always involves opening oneâ€™s mind to accept more of the world into our consciousness. Maturation comes with life-experience, which always includes suffering of some kind. Pain is essential as the prime motivator of living beings. We experience pain and then grow a tougher hide to protect and heal ourselves. Throughout our lives, we grow tougher and tougher hides to protect our many cuts and scratches. But underneath all that callous is a wound that has never healed. The wound which mercilessly pushed you into acknowledging the cruel world.
The only way to end the suffering for once and for all time is to get at that one thing and resolve it – see it, forgive it, accept it, understand it. Some people (myself included) were hurt in such a way as to make them afraid of ever asserting themselves. Their entire lives have been affected by this fear. They try to overcome their shyness by pretending it doesnâ€™t exist, and this may have everyone fooled. But inside, these people are quaking with fear and emotional turmoil because they never got to the real reason that they are afraid of asserting themselves!
The thing that needs to be done is to find whatever the reason was, and accept it. Find something good that has resulted from the bad experience – such as – because I was too shy to speak to others, I watched them and learned a great deal about the psychology of individuals and their interrelationships.
In order to reach that wound hidden deep within, you have to dig through layers and layers of mental skin. You will find that many of the problems you thought you had resolved are still there, and before you can dig any deeper, you have to resolve the immediate problem.
It is all so frightening and seemingly impossible. You ask: â€œDo I need to be torn completely, so that out of this dismemberment a new consciousness of my own uniqueness can arise?â€ The answer is yes – but wait. Before you can delve into your subconscious to find the root of all your problems, you must gain strength. The Buddha taught: â€œLove yourself. Then watch.â€ You will need to go through some serious exercises in discipline in order to gain strength for your journey. They will teach you to be happy with yourself, and develop your ability to handle difficult situations with wisdom, compassion, and acceptance. The main thing is to listen to your inner voice: it will tell you what you need to do. Follow its advice! Some of the tasks that I undertook as a youth for this purpose involved reading, fasting, learning to do without comfort by taking cold baths, trying to be selfless in my relationships with other people. I tried going without wearing my glasses. Anything that seems like a challenge, see if you can do it!
The Four-Step Journey
I have outlined the four basic tasks, which everyone must go through (in order, but possibly going back and repeating steps), before they can find what they are looking for. In order to find the natural joy inside of you, you must first truly heal the wound which continually pains you, so much that you hardly notice it anymore! You have equated this dull ache with life, but it doesnâ€™t have to be! Have faith in yourself and in God.
TASK #1: Sort through your life. Discard what is not vital to your well-being. How do you know? Instinct will tell you what is helpful and what is hurtful. Donâ€™t try to intellectually analyze anything, just feel. Keep whatever is closest to your feeling value. Break the impasse of too-muchness!
What needs to be discarded is relative to personal experience. Perhaps you need to give up smoking. Perhaps you need to stop your narcissistic dieting and learn to treat food as a means of ending hunger, not as a devil/god. Maybe you work too hard, or too little. Maybe you should spend more time with your family? You know what it is.
TASK #2: Keep the power inside you. Donâ€™t be impatient for the Truth to emerge. It will, eventually. Just keep concentrating on what you are doing to spiritually advance yourself and be patient.
When I was struggling with myself during this time, I implored a friend of mine to tell me what the Truth was. â€œThe only way I can answer that question is with another question,â€ he said, â€œBecause there are no answers.â€
This left me feeling frustrated and horrible, but it was the wisest thing anyone ever said to me. Because one day I realized what he had meant. That as long as there are questions, there are no answers! I continued my process of breaking down myself with new energy. I meditated and worked until one day – the answer came, and it was the most beautiful thing that has ever happened to me! I cried for five hours straight! And after that, more and more answers kept coming to me, for questions I hadnâ€™t even realized Iâ€™d asked! New problems presented themselves, and I dealt with them and continue to deal with them with the express purpose of spiritual advancement.
[This is one meaning of la ilaha il Allah: There is no reality except Reality. There are no answers to the questions, except by Allah.]
Let the truth come slowly, so you can cherish each drop of truth you taste! Stay centered and balanced. Explore the depths without drowning in them. Another thing Iâ€™ve learned is – donâ€™t try to tell people with closed, limited minds the things you learn. It will only distance you from others and help no one. Rather than try to explain the happiness or pain youâ€™re going through, show your newly gained wisdom by doing compassionate, selfless things for others. These acts speak far more than words. Within you, these acts of kindness will help smooth out your inner rocks and will aid your evolution.