Belief simply means you are hiding your ignorance. Rather than destroying it, you are hiding it, decorating it, making it a little comfortable, convenient, acceptable.
He discovered all the things he would not allow himself to do for fear of what the internal voices would say to him if he failed.
When he got to Day 16 in the retreat, to the “Laugh! exercise,” that’s when the lights came on for him BIG TIME.
He was by himself, looking around to see if anyone was there to hear him and judge him if he were to break out into laughter for no reason. That’s when he realized that the REAL judgment was coming from within himself! He wasn’t even allowed to laugh out loud for fear of looking foolish.
After a bit of resistance from the voices in his head, he did the exercise anyway and proved to himself that it was possible to do it.
He began to note all the other ways his life was made small by avoiding the beating — avoiding THE IMAGINARY BEATING that could not hurt him at all!
He noted the relationships he missed, the wonderful skills he could have learned, the excitement he could have experienced and the fun he could have had.
How many of us cut parts of our lives away because of the voices that interfere?
“You’ll look stupid.”
“You’ll waste your money.”
“That looks too hard.”
“They’re going to take advantage of you.”
“You don’t feel like it.”
What we don’t see is that this shrinking to avoid the beatings is the real damage done to us.
As a result, we choose living “safely” in tiny, secure prisons in our minds with the only things posing real harm to us: The voices.
Rather ironic, right?
Because you will never do anything good enough to appease them. Their only goal is to set you up so that they can later knock you down.
For example, if you listen to them and not say anything at the meeting, they will beat you with, “Why didn’t you say anything? You’re such a coward!”
If you do say something at the meeting, they will beat you with, “Well, that was a stupid thing to say. Now everyone knows you’re an idiot!”
Living and abiding by the voices is a lose-lose proposition.
I spent an extensive amount of time training in a Zen monastery so I can be clear about who’s who and what’s what when it comes to the contents of our minds. I now help people out in the world sort this nonsense out so that they too can drop the voices and become their authentic selves x 10.
And I can tell you that it’s an exciting, scary, joy-filled process!
Not everyone is cut out for it, though. We are addicted to the status quo. I think Pink Floyd has a song called “Comfortably Numb.” Thoreau described it as, “leading lives of quiet desperation.” Both point to what the Buddha called “suffering,” or better termed “dissatisfaction” — living a life under the direction of the voices.
Tolerating that feeling of things not being quite right. Stuck in the familiar same-ol’ same-ol’ because getting up and making change is presented as a life threatening proposition.
I’m here to tell you that the only life being threatened is the ego’s. The voices are terrified that you will take charge of your life and, as a result, they will be left behind and die. So they will do anything to stop you.
Which is good.
That’s the challenge!
Now the question is, are you willing to start?
p.s. You can read more about my 30-day online retreat and how to leave the voices behind here: Heart-to-Heart: Compassionate Self-Mentoring.