I love doing self inquiry. Its also a useful tool on the spiritual path. One of the dilemmas of self inquiry can be self blame, or trying to find what’s wrong with you. Tantra starts from the assumption that there is no right or wrong, and that what we are experiencing is perfect. That can be hard to reconcile with many self help approaches or the self development industry that characterizes alot of spirituality.
Recently I read some of Byron Katie’s work. It is appropriately called The Work.
“In its most basic form, The Work consists of four questions and turnarounds. For example, your statement might be “[Name] doesn’t listen to me.” Find someone in your life about whom you have had that thought. Then take that statement and put it up against the four questions and turnarounds of The Work.
Step 1 Is it true? (Yes or no. If no, move to 3.)
Step 2 Can you absolutely know that it’s true? (Yes or no.)
Step 3 How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought?
Who would you be without the thought?
Turn the thought around. Then find at least three specific, genuine examples of how each turnaround is true for you in this situation.”
I often got trapped in how what I was experiencing was a reflection of me. It began to feel like a version of how I was to blame, how I had failed the universe. If thought creates, if I am a powerful creator, then why did I create painful endings with men I loved? Why didn’t either of them work it out with me? What was so wrong with me?
But, with the tantric view, I realize I’ve missed a few core elements. There is a difference between creating from the egoic mind and creating from essence. The egoic mind looks over the menu of life and says, “yes, I will take wealth, travel and marriage, with a side order of art and music.” The awakening soul considers what it values, what it is grateful for, what the whole of experience is. The awakening soul knows suffering is from story, and that’s where The Work is helpful.
My deepest suffering has come from ordering off of life’s menu. When I sit in silence and surrender, very little of what has been part of my life is really true of me. I have preferences, like what music I enjoy, or types of movies I see. I have a desire for travel. But, my truest nature is very quiet, very still. It does not Do or Strive, or even create. It loves, but does so indiscriminately, without requiring an object to love. My relationship is with the whole of reality. I don’t know if I will ever have a relationship with a partner again – I don’t know why or how I would embody that. But even that, I surrender.
And that is no longer Work.