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Catching a Glimpse of the Truth

| Nirmala | Self-Inquiry

Catching a Glimpse of the Truth

Published on
24 January 2010

Please feel free to contact me with email questions or comments that I will address in this blog.

I received an email as follows:

Thank you for sharing your knowledge with us. Makes immense sense. I practicing self inquiry by delving into that emptiness. When there is a strong aversion to an object (a person) repeatedly, sometimes feelings dissolve into that space and at other times, this doesn't happen and leads to outbursts. Assuming one has a choice, is it better to physically withdraw from the 'object' or should one continue taking up the challenge to look from within every time that feeling of aversion comes up even if it leads to expression of the feeling? Is there such a thing as a congenial environment for self inquiry?

And here is my response:

Thanks for writing and for your very good questions. As with most things in life, there is no formula for how to act when someone or something is triggering your reactions. Each situation is unique. And so it can be helpful to develop a capacity for a wide range of responses. Sometimes you can leave and sometimes you can stay and continue to look within. Occasionally expressing a feeling can open up the interaction to what really matters, and yet other times expressing a feeling can just cause hurt or confusion, so again there is no formula. And if there is a very strong reaction in you that may lead to an outburst, then there is also the possibility of leaving the situation and then continuing the inquiry while you are alone.

And since you asked about a congenial environment for inquiry, I will add that there is no wrong time for inquiry. If you can do it in the heat of the moment when your reaction is getting triggered, that is great. If you can't do it in the moment, but you can inquire later when you are alone, that is great also. Often at first it is easier to set aside time to explore deeply when you are alone and all is quiet, just as you might tend to practice alone when learning any new skill. Then as you become familiar with the process you can also inquire in a wide range of situations.

While life is so rich and varied that there is no formula for our actions, we can learn to listen more fully to our own inner guidance to sort things out. As I often say the Truth is whatever opens your heart and quiets your mind. It has a solidity and depth to it that is undeniable when it is experienced. And something that is less true has the opposite effect: it contracts your heart and makes your mind very busy, and there is a feeling of unreality or superficiality to the experience. So in the day to day living of your life you can sense these reactions to gain some perspective on how true your own reactions to things are, and also how true it felt or would feel to act a certain way in response to a trigger.

It is important in this inquiry to also be gentle and compassionate with ourselves. Because our experience in life is always dynamically changing in so many ways, trying to tell how true something is can be like trying to catch a glimpse of a flying bird in a pair of binoculars while standing on the pitching deck of a boat out at sea. Everything is moving and changing all of the time, including us! Yet even as we could catch a glimpse of the bird now and then, we also can catch a glimpse of various relevant truths as life unfolds around us. You can learn to trust these glimpses, and of course trust the blessed moments when everything does seem to slow down and settle on a deeper truth, sort of like when the waves die down and the bird lands on the bow of the boat for a while.

It is also possible to trust the moments when you do feel contracted and do not even have a glimpse of the truth. Your inner guidance is still working perfectly to show you that whatever you are experiencing at that moment is not very true.

Beyond the questions you might have about what is true or important in a relative sense are the bigger truths about who and what you really are. The true value of tracking your Heart's response to the ups and downs of daily life is not that you somehow manage to navigate your life without any problems or challenges, or without at times having no idea what is true or what to do. Again, life is too dynamic and complicated for that. The value of listening to your inner guidance is that way when you do experience a deeper truth, you recognize it as a bigger truth, possibly even the biggest truth of who you really are.

My teacher, Neelam, once said, "You never know when the beloved is going to come for a visit." And then she paused and said, "But it is a good idea to be home when she does!" Listening to your Heart may help a little in guiding your actions and responses to your daily life, but it will also mean that you are "home" when the biggest truths of your Being come for a visit.