Until we realize that continually identifying with our own conflicting desires about how to win peace of mind is like using a cannon blast to light a candle, we will only remain at war within ourselves — all the while blaming the world around us for its insensitive inability to grant us that imagined peace we so desperately seek!
Let’s illuminate, by example, a few of these conflicting desires and end their power to wreck the soul identified with them. Our peace will follow as sunlight after the passing storm.
One desire we all share is that we want to be loved and approved of by everyone everywhere. To accomplish this, we believe we must be worthy, which requires our becoming a bigger “success” than whomever it is that is seen as competing with us for this craved attention. What other choice have we — given the importance of our task — but to step on a few people on our way to the top?
Can we see how our initial desire causes conflict and actually creates an effect the very opposite of the one it intended at the outset? Living in fear that we won’t win the approval we seek, we have no choice but to do whatever is necessary to accomplish our end. So we hurt others by running over them to reach our goal. We destroy the very love and respect we wanted on our way to winning it!
Another example of secretly conflicting desires is how we all long to think of ourselves as being free and independent of others. But unseen in this want of ours hides another (and contrary) desire to which we are also attached: We only feel like we have reached this elevated state of independence as long as others recognize what we have done! We require others to confirm our freedom!
There are many other examples of such inner contradictions worth witnessing. There is our intermittent desire to be left alone — even as we feel left out or ignored if our friends don’t call us because they miss our company. The point should be as obvious. We suffer from our own cross-purposes and find ourselves unable (at present) to see our way out from under their conflict.
These kinds of worldly desires deliver us into the hands of unseen opposing forces — a condition where the peace of mind we had planned for not only fails to appear, but whose remnants create still new forms of conflict along with their would-be rescuing desires. The truth is self-evident:
One request after another, we ask for what we believe will bring us some measure of peace, only to find ourselves either in pain over what did not materialize, or in fear of losing what we fought to gain. And surely we have seen that certain of our longings please only one small part of us while punishing the rest, like overeating or indulging ourselves with destructive addictions.
It is of little doubt that most of us have tried, in any number of ways, to let go of these deceptive and disturbing desires only to find ourselves overpowered by their overwhelming gravity. And who hasn’t thought they have let go of one problem only to find they have picked up another by mistake! Which brings us to this next important spiritual truth:
We do not have to choose which, or any, of these conflicting desires to let go of; it makes no difference. What we must now see is that whether it is wanting to be approved, acknowledged, or to feel oneself secure in another’s love — all such desires are false in that they have no power to grant us the peace they promise.
We must see that these desires are liars, even though their fires feel real enough. They do not belong to us, even though they are with us everywhere we go. I can almost hear you asking, “How can this be true?” Here is the startling answer. They are not our desires. They do not originate with us, and the will they impose upon us (to fulfill their longings) is not our own.
“Then whose desires are they, if not my own?” They belong to a world that has lost the means to know peace as was always intended, as it is given (to us) to live within. They are the contorted fragments of answers to heartaches that didn’t work in their time, and that were passed along from one generation to the next until they have become so inculcated in us we see them as our own.
All such desires are false answers to equally false aches born out of ignorance of our authentic nature. They belong to a self that has been programmed to search for a sense of success carefully outlined and defined by the values of a world lost to the influences of the Higher Life.
And whoever wins this world loses his way because he unknowingly answers the call of a socially contrived will: a nature that needs its “tomorrows” in order to feel alive today. This sense of self has no existence apart from the future it imagines in which it will be whole at last. Now to these thoughts we must add one more all-important truth:
This unconscious “will of the world” that is at work within us, that always seeks its peace in a time to come, lives in opposition to a will greater than its own. Our careful study of this last insight is pivotal in our search for true peace.
If this will of the world within us — with all of its conflicting desires — is the one true governing power that we have come to accept it as being, and it alone is responsible for one’s providence in life, then there could never arise any conflict between what one wishes for and the arrival of that sought-after state of self-peace. To the contrary, this is not how reality works.
The fact that a greater will exists is revealed to us every day, only we are unable to see it. The evidence of it rests in the very conflict we experience as we yield ourselves to the longings of this lesser will through the pull of the world within us. We could not know the lesser without the unseen presence of the greater that serves to reveal it, just as a shadow proves that a light is nearby.
And our pain in this life because of our misunderstanding of this order of reality is not a “punishment” by the greater of these wills, far from it; we are being invited to give ourselves, to surrender our self, to this greater will so that we may realize that within it already dwells the peace we seek.
Which brings us to this question: Given our present situation, saturated as we are with these worldly desires and blinded to them by their promises of better days to come, where do we find the will, the spiritual strength, to let go of them and give ourselves over to something Higher? Here is the surprising answer:
Learning to let go of the worldly will now active within us is not an act of power, but comes naturally on the heels of seeing where it is that we have been deceived into giving away our divine right to be at peace. It is this Higher Self-Wisdom that empowers us to leave our former self behind, that grants us peace, much as spring clouds bring gentle rains to wash everything clean.
About the Author: OneJourney founder Guy Finley is the bestselling author of more than 45 books and audio albums on self-realization, including “The Secret of Letting Go,” “The Essential Laws of Fearless Living,” and his newest book “Relationship Magic: Waking Up Together.” He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit Center for Spiritual Discovery located in southern Oregon. Guy is a faculty member at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, New York and at 1440 Multiversity. Tune in every Sunday morning and Wednesday evening for Guy’s free online classes, visit www.GuyFinley.org/freeclass