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Accessing Inner Wisdom

It sounds so easy… just go inside, ask for grace, wait for the answer. However, my experience of tapping inner wisdom is a bit different, especially in issues that seem to be core, life-lessons.

The first thing that happens is that I feel totally enveloped in the outcome. The “right” decision appears to be a life-or-death matter. It takes on weight, seriousness and lots of emotions. In this state, the energy is far stronger than I can compete with using any means. Mantras, focusing on breath, light create a sense of ease for moments, but the force of that energy is stronger. It is essentially a demand for intense self-examination. As my teacher Gurumayi Chidvilasananda says in her book, Smile, Smile, Smile, (Setting a New Direction) “Steady Self-examination gives you access to your own soul.”

What are the tools for self-examination? Each person has their own. I often use outer symbols, such as might be found in the I Ching, Tarot, Angel Cards, or other systems, to see what symbols have power for me, what I might be hiding from my own mind. Other helpful tools are the words of great being. For example, if I read a passage on forgiveness and tears well up, it’s a sure sign that there is a message for me.

Sometimes the outer symbols seem to give widely contradicting answers. Then I know that my mind is still wildly fluctuating. Someone once explained the difference between confusion and not knowing. When you are in confusion, you are a like a rat running around to find the best, right way out. It’s a panicky feeling, claustrophobic, frightened. No decision can come from that state. On the other hand, when you are in the “I don’t know” state, there is a sense of openness, truly waiting to see what the universe wants. All preferences are suspended. For me, the access to wisdom is to first use self-examination to move from “confusion” to “I don’t know.”

Finally, at some point, I reach the utter limits of my mind’s attempts to solve the problem. At that point, I am exhausted and ready, truly ready for prayer. Helen Luke writes about this point of prayer, in her commentary on “The Tempest.” Quoting Shakespeare, she writes, “Prayer, says Prospero, is the way to the Mercy, to Forgiveness, to Freedom. We cannot pass over this word, equating it superficially with its simply meaning of asking for something, longing for what we perceive to be the good, begging for a desired result - even when we sincerely add the easily spoken words “if it be thy will.” The necessity, in Shakespeare’s words, is the kind of prayer that pierces through to the Mercy, where the opposites unite in pardon—the kind of prayer that costs everything because it reaches beyond every demand for results.”

At that state of prayer, some communion with the inner light of awareness can now begin in earnest. Here, the point of self-examination is to reveal the motives that are hidden, the motives that are the ‘ground of our beseeching.’

I agreed to housesit for some friends. Suddenly, I realize that I don’t really want to go to their town at this moment. It is not the right time to leave my responsibilities. I am struggling. How can I let them down? What will I do? The Tarot and I Ching give me wildly odd answers. It feels like such a weighty matter. I’m all bent out of shape.

I chew and stew on my indecision. Berate myself. And then, a breakthrough. I think they will be let down. But it is really just me, letting me down. The impulsive part of me wanted to go; the realistic part of me put the brakes on. Part of me was let down by my own choices. The reality was that when I tell my friends I can’t housesit, it’s no big deal at all, they find someone else. The drama was and always is, internal.

What are you struggling with? How can you find out what the real issue is? Remember, it’s always all within.

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