Living from our present life-level, we are almost always nervous about what’s going on around us. Why? Because we still live with the mistaken notion that who we are is somehow affected or determined by what happens to us. Events may happen to you, but you are not the event. Just as clouds are not the sky, you are not what moves through you. You are not who you think you are.
Thinking that you are the event, being identified with it, gives rise to a certain wrong identity—an anxious and uncertain one. This mistaken identity is called the false self, a character created in our consciousness from the sum of our experiences in life… and that’s quite natural. Where things go “wrong” for us is that this level of “self” only knows how to compare what “is” to what was; it can’t meet any moment with the same newness that moment brings because this self is, literally, a construct of one’s past. And as long as we see life through its eyes, the freedom that comes with living in the present moment remains impossible.
This false self does feel real. There’s no mistake about that! It is animated and driven along by the flood of reactions we have as we run around seeking fulfillment. But the fact that this lower nature is driven doesn’t mean it is alive. A bulldozer rolls along too, but it cannot see or understand why it smashes into things. It is a machine. So, in many ways, is the false self.
The false self is fueled by negative emotional reactions, which, in turn, are maintained by habitual incorrect thinking. Because these punishing thoughts and emotions are merely the mechanical movements of our lower nature, they are “in time.” This means they have no choice but to fade with the events that gave them birth.
As the master of making mountains out of molehills, the false self loves nothing better than dark and bumpy downhill roads. Our unhappy part in this recurring nightmare is that we willingly go along on this dark drive that leads us to repetitious events and unhappy endings. Why? Because we have mistakenly assumed this false identity that lives for troubles, and we fear that the end of its existence means the end of ours. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Real rescue from our problems can only come to us from above the level of our problem. And yet, in order for any solution to be real, it must be found somewhere within us, since that is the real location of our problems. The question then becomes how can we reconcile these two seemingly separate and distant notions, rescue from above and solution from within? The answer may surprise you. Above and within mean the exact same thing when it comes to attracting higher help.
We can call this new and higher location of real rescue the True Self or our own undiscovered higher nature. But it isn’t what we call this compassionate intelligence that gives it authority over our painful conditions. Its power is its elevated position, which is above and outside of the false self’s sphere of influence. This beneficent and loving wisdom becomes your intelligence whenever you refrain from attempting to rescue yourself long enough for it to show you that what you need is more understanding, not more battle plans. Temporarily abandoning yourself in this special way, where you consciously watch and so suspend the influences and activities of the false self by refusing to go along with its directives, allows authentic understanding to flow into the vacancy and give you real direction.
Everyone knows that a good general carefully chooses where he will engage the enemy. In this way, he always has the advantage of the upper ground. The same principle holds true in our work when it comes to learning to let go of who we are not. In our battle with the false self, we defeat it not by running away or through struggle with it, but by standing still long enough to see that we have mistakenly attributed power to it.
One day it will be your greatest pleasure to realize that this false nature has no real power to pain you outside of what you give to it through your wrong reactions.