"Yet" is about coming home to oneself- to the peace and wisdom that lies within us. Some people refer to this as "god" or the divine, or a higher self, or the soul. Others think there is nothing at all good to be found within us. I used to be the latter.
What is at issue is whether it is wise or safe to "trust one's self." We all know that sometimes we cannot trust our feelings or thoughts regarding what may be truly going on- but this is not the sort of trust that I am speaking of. For a long time, I identified "myself" as exactly those things: my feelings, my thoughts, and more than anything else, my beliefs. It is through different practices of awareness and self-examination that I have been able to create some distance between those experiences and my identity. Today, I would say that I HAVE feelings and thoughts and beliefs, but those things are not me, or at least not the whole nor core of me.
Perhaps one of the things that made me open to the idea of trusting what was inside of me was the mysterious experience of writing songs, starting around age 16. This experience does not happen with my direct thinking, but comes from somewhere deeper. It might be better to say the process is some dance between my conscious mind and something deeper- the unconscious or soul or whatever it actually may be. What is clear to me is that the less I try to control it consciously and the more I let go and trust, the more likely a song will simply arrive. The best songs seem to just pop into existence out of this place within. Now, some believers will probably warn that this could be the work of satan or demons, but let me point out that I began songwriting for the explicit purpose of singing about god and jesus christ, so the first several years of having this experience resulted in songs preaching the gospel- so, was this coming from the devil?! I was having a direct experience of trusting what was within me- and yes, this always seemed to go against the direction the christians around me were pointing me and themselves to.
After all, our prime example, the man who most got to speak for god and the godly life, Paul of Tarsus, certainly did not encourage us to look within. Couched in the language of "the sinful nature of the flesh," Paul seemed convinced that nothing good dwelled in him. He clearly had not had any experience that would indicate it was safe to trust what was within him. Nor, did there seem to be anyone around to show him how loving awareness toward himself could provide the path to transformation. Instead, he encouraged everyone and himself to run away as far as possible from him "self" and even more, to regard the self as something to feel ashamed of and to condemn.
One very important quality that I have found in practicing inner awareness has been that moving beyond the habits in myself that I find destructive or harmful requires unconditional acceptance first, gentleness if you will. There is no way that I can see that I could have held on to the idea of my "sinful nature" and seen any real change. In other words, my belief in my nature just being "sinful" and that it would "always be sinful" just kept those aspects of me in place, it gave me no opportunity for transformation. On some level, this was okay with me as a believer, because all that "really" mattered was that I was saved and going to heaven when I died- transformation here and now didn't really matter in light of that.
So why use the term transformation? Can something we call "evil" in ourselves actually be transformed? Yes, in my experience it can. I agree with what George MacDonald says at the end of Phantastes, "What we call evil, is the only and best shape, which for the person and his condition at the time, could be assumed by the best good." In CS Lewis' The Great Divorce, we see a man on the outskirts of heaven, who is being encouraged to let go of his lust- a dismal lizard sitting on his shoulder- so that he can go further into heaven. An angel is hovering with his fingers ready to kill the lizard if the man only gives permission. Once the man says yes, go ahead and kill him, what happens is astonishing: the lizard isn't in fact killed. Rather, it reveals itself- it is transformed- into a great stallion called passion that the man climbs up on and rides into the mountains of paradise. What is illustrated to me here are a couple very important things: anything "evil" or harmful is truly a distortion of something good- in other words, at its heart is something good, something that it can be restored to. Also, therefore, the approach to it is not actually to kill it, but to let it go and be transformed, restored to its right state. This describes very well the sort of thing I have experienced within myself.
Of course, letting go of things so precious to us can feel like dying, like we are going to die without it. I can tell you that as a believer, one thing I never expected to be invited or called to let go of was my christian beliefs, and I certainly believed there would only be misery on the other side. Nevertheless, there came a point in my life where it became more and more clear to me that the truth my beliefs were telling me was in conflict with the truth my experience was telling me. I was at a decision, a crossroads, where I had to decide which direction to go- away from within, toward the truth of my beliefs, or inward, toward the truth of my being.
In essence, this was a choice between a position of condemnation toward myself, or a position of grace, gentleness, acceptance and trust. I am making a distinction here between the idea of grace and the idea of being forgiven. Being forgiven means being let off the hook for the sin of "my wretchedness," it keeps "my wretchedness" in place and makes sure that I don't forget the favor being done to me. Grace to me is something completely different- "Grace finds goodness in everything," says the U2 song.
One thing for certain is that being pulled in these two opposite directions was putting an amazing amount of strain on my sanity. I truly believed this battle I had created in myself was a noble one- it was how human life was supposed to be. I had no clue that healing, that inner joy and peace, a place clear of that inner war, was even available. What was even more suprising was to find that this experience is actually available independent of any theological test-it is like a well out in the open to which anyone can walk up and draw water from. The question of theology matters only because it either points us away or toward that well.
Precisely - and only -because I am no longer attached to my former theological beliefs, some of my christian friends have indicated or hinted that they believe I am sacrificing my eternal salvation in the process of finding this inner peace and joy. I have a hard time believing that any loving deity would be against the healing I have found and witnessed in others. On the other hand, it is clear that many BELIEVERS are hostile to and even against such healing, just as I once was- so much so that I would venture to suggest that if there is indeed an afterlife, when these believers arrive at the outskirts of heaven, they will be perfectly content staying right there, on the outskirts, still holding on tightly to their beliefs, having no idea or care that heaven is offering them more if they only could summon the courage- and grace - to let go.
YetHappy birthday to youYou made it this farAfter so long, it's throughBelieving nothingSo pleased to meet youYea, come on inBeen waiting for youI'll give you love like a new born feelingI'll give you love like you've never seen it yetYetHappy birthday to youYou made it this highAfter so long, it's throughBelieving a lieSo nice to have youYeah, sit right thereBeen looking forwardI'll serve you love like a new born feelingI'll serve you love like you've never tasted yetYetSo pleased to meet youYeah, it's well knownYou've been looking for meI've been right at homeSo nice to have youYeah, come on inBeen waiting for youI'll give you love like a new born feelingI'll give you love like you've never seen it yetYetYet
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