QA129 QUESTION: Regarding the imbalance in activities that we make for ourselves, can you give any guidance about trying to weed out some of the unnecessary, time-consuming activities that we can become involved in, while not devoting enough effort to those areas that really mean something?
ANSWER: Let us first discuss the reason for such an imbalance. The inner reason is that in such a case, one is so afraid of the fulfillment of the real desire, or so negatively inclined and in such a negative belief toward the real fulfillment, that one covers this up by a lot of activity. It is almost as though one wants to prohibit oneself from making any effort in the area that is so important, so that there is not enough time.
You can even observe this in a very subtle way in your meditation. I venture to say that a number of my friends may make the following observation when they meditate: that they concentrate first on many things that are not dearest to their heart. They know they have a specific problem they are frustrated with and they suffer most in life because of – let us say a problem in partnership or a problem in career.
In their meditation they may first devote all their efforts and all their concentration on other issues that have their value and importance too, but it is almost as though they shy away from that big issue. They may perhaps feel they leave this big issue as the last because it is so important. But when they then come to it, they are too tired and the concentration is no longer strong enough, so they shortchange themselves. This is the same principle as the over-activity in areas of least importance or lesser importance.
Now, my suggestion in such a case of a practical level is this: take stock of your day in your daily review and look at your efforts, your days, the devotion of your energy in light of: is this what is most important for you? If it is not, why do you spend a large or major part of time and effort on something you do not wish most, and neglect that which you need most and which you wish most?
The answer to that will invariably be a No-current, the same No-current that can be discovered when one meditates for this unfulfillment where one feels, “It is impossible; I cannot have success in this,” or “Something stands in my way,” or “I cannot possibly or have no right to wish this.” The same No-current may produce an activity in other areas that take the strength away and the time away.
When this is clearly seen, it is always a major step toward fuller understanding and therefore resolution of it. You can then see how you sabotage yourself, and then can come to the area where you do everything but prohibit the fulfillment you want, be it in action or in the mental and emotional concentration in meditation and prayer.
QUESTION: I need clarification in regard to how much effort to use and how much submitting to do. I’m naturally willful and apt to go ahead on my own steam so that this balance between effort and submitting is something I’m concerned about.
ANSWER: Do you mean submitting to temptation not to use effort? Do you use now “submission” in this connection? Submission to people?
QUESTION: What you accept.
ANSWER: What you accept of other people?
QUESTION: No. This last lecture [Lecture #128 Limitations Created Through Illusory Alternatives] talked about the balance between accepting and making an effort, and using an effort to get what you want, for instance.
ANSWER: Now, submitting is not accepting. These are two different things. Submission is a very negative act, almost like resignation, giving up, following, obeying a force stronger than your own. The balance between acceptance and using effort is very subtle. It is difficult to find within your own psyche. You have to see exactly the point in layer upon layer that has to be worked through in your personal work.
As much as this can be discussed in general terms, I can perhaps state the following. When one accepts a negative condition because at the moment one is unable to change oneself – one is still too deeply involved with the chain reaction – in a healthy sense, such acceptance would have to be expressed in the following terms. “Perhaps I’m not ready yet; I’m not far enough in understanding about myself that I can completely eliminate the effect of wrong conclusions I may perhaps not even yet recognize.
“Now, if I do not recognize all of the negative aspects in me or the wrong conclusions in me, I cannot possibly eliminate their effect. So temporarily I do accept this as an inevitable effect of a chain reaction, but I do not accept this as a steady condition. I do desire to come out of it. And I know that in the moment I am willing and ready to face myself in totality, I no longer have to accept a negative condition. To the degree I am afraid of facing myself, I have to accept a negative condition – but only to that extent.”
Therefore, you can treat yourself in saying, “I must become aware of where I am unwilling to face myself. When I know that, I can make a willing conscious choice and determine if I want to maintain not knowing myself. Then I must accept the consequences. Or when, if I wish to come out of it, then I really want to shed all pretense and all cover.”
Now, if it is clearly understood that acceptance of a negative condition must only exist to the degree one shies away from self-knowledge, you will have gained a very healthy foundation. But usually man works it just the opposite. He does not accept; he rebels. To the degree he is unwilling to even see that he does not want to face himself, he objects to facing himself.
He even covers up the fact that he does not wish to do so and then blames the negative condition on the world, on circumstances outside himself, which he then cannot accept. This is the fine borderline that when you can establish it specifically within yourself, you will instantly gain peace, even before you have made the decision.
If every day your meditation is cultivated, “How much am I really willing to face myself? Am I still running from myself? To what degree might this be so? In spite of the fact that I’m on such a path, isn’t it possible that there are still areas in me I do not wish to look at in their full significance?”
There may be facts you look at and know, but you may not look at these facts and factors. I’m not only speaking to you but I am speaking to everyone. You do not look at the significance of these facts and factors – at the overall picture.
If this desire is cultivated daily, with all your heart, fully understanding of all the significant factors and facts, fully looking at yourself, then you can come to terms with what has to be accepted and what does not have to be accepted, because changing your attitude is not concomitant with looking at these attitudes.
First you have to look at them and you have the right not to change. Then you can determine, “Do I want to change or do I want to remain as I am?” If you wish to remain as you are, then you have to accept the conditions that accrue from such an attitude. But the choice can only be made when you know all the facts.
Otherwise, it is a blind choice, a compulsive choice, and in this blindness, acceptance is hardly possible. Instead of acceptance, one often resigns in hopelessness and negativity, while one rebels against a fate as though this fate imposes things upon you that only you yourself have chosen.
So much of this, my dearest friends, is due to the tremendous power of punishing yourself. You do not look at the real guilt, and produce a wrong guilt, and the whole thing is hazy. Because the real guilt is not looked at – it is distorted, it is dramatized, it is not seen in its very blunt matter-of-fact way – you suffer because you go unrelentlessly punishing yourself.
If you would see the real guilt, it would not be half as bad. You could then enter into the human race and say, “Now here I am. In my ignorance I felt this and this, which led me to react thus and thus, which amounts to cheating on life. I did not do so deliberately. I was afraid; I was blind; I was ignorant; I was compelled and governed by wrong concepts. But this is the way it was, and this is the way, therefore, it still is in attitudes I still perpetuate. It is not a thing where the guilt of the past, must still be the guilt of the present.”
If you can take it without dramatizing yourself into a criminal – which you unconsciously do and which you prove by relentlessly punishing yourself, by not allowing yourself the fulfillment that could be yours if you could matter-of-factly state your shortcomings, your ignorance, your blind, irrational desire to have your cake and eat it too – if this is bluntly faced without drama, without feeling worse than you need or without justifying and coloring and making it better and projecting it onto others – being angry at the world – if you can just look at yourself from that point of view, then everything will fall into place.
Let us take the simple issue of love, which is such an important one in man’s life. How many, many people – practically everyone – feel shortchanged, do not feel they have sufficient love in their lives? And you go on even while you are on this Path, examining so many factors why and where it comes from. When you finally come, my dearest friends, to the simple fact of how much love you request, you demand, you expect, you resent when you do not get it, while you are not willing to really love.
When you withhold yourself from feelings – from allowing your spontaneous feelings to swing out into the universe and toward the other person – in a misplaced sense, and distorting just that into a false virtue, you give too much of deeds when you give too little of feelings. You claim that this is virtuous, and then complain when love does not come to you the way you really yearn for it.
These factors have to be looked at, and they are the hardest things to look at, because they’re not dramatic. They’re little attitudes, little cheatings, little childishnesses, little subterfuges – easily rationalized. This is where you have to learn to take stock.
Then the issue of acceptance versus working for your fulfillment will no longer present a problem, because you will be able to go out and do what is necessary for your fulfillment when you no longer block it. And you will no longer block it, you will open your whole soul current and soul forces toward the universal forces when you know where you have withheld yourself from life.
141 QUESTION: Would you say that over-emotionalism is destructive?
ANSWER: Of course, everything that is “over” – exaggerated – implies an imbalance, a disturbance.
QUESTION: How can we fight it?
ANSWER: Fighting implies a forcing away by suppression, and this is not real development. Real development produces a personality that does not need to be on guard, that can afford to be relaxed and confident in its own inner processes. This state can be attained by investigating the particulars of this over-emotionalism.
When the personality does not dare to invest natural, spontaneous feelings in certain areas – out of fear, alienation, deliberate and false defense mechanisms – then, as always, an over-emotionalism occurs in other areas. Nature tries to reestablish balance when the natural order is disturbed. This balance must be reestablished for the personality to be in harmony and peace.
When the under-emotionalism has been corrected and the individual is allowed to fill this void, the over-emotionalism will cease. Both manifestations are painful – the emptiness as well as the “too much.” Both these pains will turn into pleasure, when harmony has been attained.
QA190 QUESTION: I’ve been going through a change lately, where before I said Yes to everything, now I say No to everything. I justify it to myself by saying, “Well, I don’t want to, so I should follow my feelings, because I don’t want to.” Yet I know that there’s something not right in the No. I’d like to be able to understand this.
ANSWER: The coming lecture [Lecture #190 Inner and Outer Experience] will deal precisely and at length with this topic. But in the meantime, I will say this to you – when man, due to his own inner reasons, is embarked inwardly on an attitude of placating and appeasement, he will then – in his first important steps on the Path – come into the opposite aspect of the seesaw, and that is rebellion and defiance.
The pendulum has to swing in this direction. But this has to be recognized for what it is. If you go into the opposite extreme – the rebellion and the saying No – it is an equally destructive and blind manifestation as the blind appeasement in saying the Yes you do not mean.
My advice at this stage is the following. In the first place, ask yourself the following specific questions. Number one, why did you really want to appease? You already know this already. I know you know this. The answer is obviously because you have to be the good girl in order to get the love you wanted so much and the approval and so on.
This is familiar, and this you have explored and are beginning to come out of. The next question would be, why the blind No? In order to get the answer to this, the following considerations have to be made room for in you: the hate and the anger and the hostility and the resentment and the spite for not getting what you want. The moment you see this, you can see that you’re still engaged in exactly the same battle. It is only the other side of the coin.
And the moment you see this, you can ask the third set of questions, which is: Are you ready to give up this demand and this insistence? And then raise any number of questions which you have to produce yourself. What can you expect if you do not give up this insistence? Is there any realistic hope for you to obtain it? What can you expect if you give up this insistence? Is there any realistic hope for that?
These are the questions you have to explore very honestly and in detail, and not in a slipshod, generalizing way. You have to really confront this issue within yourself, so that you know where you want to go. Also, it would be important to take each individual issue – where you have said, in the past, blindly Yes, and you are driven now to say equally blindly No – and ask yourself, what is the truth of the issue? What is your real interest? Are you acting on your own behalf or merely on behalf of either giving an impression to others or defying others?
In other words, is the weight on the other person or is the weight on yourself? As long as the weight is on the other person – either positively or negatively, either to please or to defy – you do not act for yourself and you must therefore increasingly feel weak and dependent and therefore make more demands and therefore be more resentful when the demands are not being fulfilled, and on and on and on like that.
But the moment you shift the weight and begin to act on your own behalf – what is in your own best interest and that it is in your power to choose to act in your own best interest – you not only cease to be a blind reacting child, but you also have made the tremendously significant transition from other-directedness to self-directedness. Self-directedness, in this sense, is very desirable and not at all to be confused with selfishness or with a negative form of selfishness. This approach will help you.
228 QUESTION: I have a personal question that is very much related to the lecture tonight [Lecture #228 Balance]. I realize now the pain of the imbalance in my life. I realize that there is a lot of vanity and pride related to my outer will that forces me from the one extreme of over-indulgence to the other extreme of deprivation. This applies to a lot of simple parts of my life – sleeping, eating, loving, all kinds of things. I’d like some help in understanding why this is so. It almost seems as if I’m using it as an identifying characteristic of specialness, to go from one extreme to the other and deny myself a sense of harmony.
ANSWER: There are several levels to this answer. For example, on one level – the lower self – the imbalance is deliberately sought in order to prove, as it were, “it does not work, nothing works.” You get confirmation that nothing works, whatever you do is wrong, life is no good, you may just as well capitulate. That is the case the lower self makes.
It is very important that you be aware of this, that you confront it and do not allow it to take control. As you make yourself aware of it, you can identify this voice. Then you can open your heart and mind to your higher self and request guidance for the balance. As I said in the lecture, this cannot come through an intellectual determination alone; the intellect must be directed toward meaningful inner guidance.
On another level, the imbalance is due to ignorance of the reality and importance of balance. Perhaps we can combine these two levels. The lower self can create imbalance out of ignorance that both rest and work, for example, have their place in life. The same principle applies to everything else. Without some measure of abstinence, fulfillment becomes shallow and is therefore no longer fulfilling. This is what I meant by saying that imbalance defeats itself.
You need to conceive of yourself as being able to give to yourself so much and then stop. You need to take in the possibility that a force exists in you that knows when and how much to give, and you need to call upon this force.
You need to cultivate in your awareness, in your thought processes, the concept of balance, of manifesting both sides of what now appear as opposites. As your understanding of this concept ripens, your lower self will no longer get away with its game, because you will meet it with truth.