14. Holding Things Lightly
In the Word it says, "Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven," and it also talks about not setting your heart on the things of this world..."for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also."
If we start to notice the things that we look forward to, nourish, hope for, visualize in pictures, and start to plan for, we will see how we set our heart on them. When you buy the tickets for a game you may have a picture of being entertained. Probably even before you bought the tickets you had a vision. So that love starts to get nourished way before you get to that game or show or whatever. You may notice that a lot of that pertains to love of the world and love of self. When you nourish those loves and then when they don't get their way, don't be surprised if they are pretty healthy and tough.
Let's say you decide, "I'm going to go to the basketball game," and you just have the decision, but you hold it lightly, rather than intensely. Just "I think I will go." Then when you start to visualize how wonderful it will be, you just let that thought go by, you don't put your heart into it, you don't put your affection into it. You just hold it as a possibility, instead of putting your heart into it. It either will happen or it won't happen. There will be a lot of temptation to grab hold of that, but if you can continue to hold it lightly as something that may happen, then if you suddenly find yourself in a traffic jam, and the game is starting, it won't grab you so hard. It is very difficult if you let that love get very healthy and then find out three blocks before you get to the stadium that the game is starting and you hear the opening shots over the radio. At that time it is a little late to start to work on it. The point is to start the Work earlier and earlier.
A lot of times people think, "There is no problem in my life until there is a problem." However, if things all went well you wouldn't have noticed that you had been feeding negative states, because they wouldn't have appeared negative. You would have gotten to the ball game, it would have been great, you would have had a wonderful time. It is only when something stops us, or steps in the way that we see our nature. Start to observe the beginning of a negative state, love of the world or the love of self and then watch what happens.
The Writings say very clearly we are allowed to enjoy the things of this world. But they also say very clearly don't set your heart on them, because that's not the way they are meant to be held. We have to reverse the order of the way we hold things. The whole Work is to change that order.
What we are noticing now is that the order in which we hold things is in disorder. There is no reason to be upset about it or depressed or guilty. It is just important to notice when they say we are upside down men or inverted, that we are here to wake up and know that means us, rather than "them" or somebody else. We notice that the Writings are talking about the truth about us. We also notice the Writings are telling us about stages that we are going through which will change if we co-operate. So there's nothing to worry about.
Perhaps you have a love of controlling others. Many people do. Love of controlling others always gets outraged if it doesn't get its way. Love of dominating is the head of the beast. So perhaps you have a love of controlling others that gets outraged and then it creates something that looks true and feels good. It feels right. So, what is it? You buy it to a degree, don't you? What is it that you buy? Ask yourself what is the falsity about it?
I am talking about the nature of evils we make our own. It says we have propriums, and we have evils we make our own. My picture used to be: if I go out and steal, and become a really good thief and love it, that will be an evil that I have made my own. But it's not like that. The Writings make it very clear that the evils you have made your own are those things that you have come to think are true and believe are good. Those are the ones that you have made your own.
You have to come through a long process until you start to observe that they (the things you have come to think are true and feel are good) are not good and everything that justifies them is false. But as long as we hold them as good and true, then they not only are made our own, but we cannot be separated from them. So when you catch yourself, when something sounds true and seems good, you will notice that you cannot give up the manifestation of that particular behavior. As long as you think there is something true about it and it feels right, you have to express it because good and truth married have an offspring. They strive to manifest an act. The offspring is the act. So, as long as you think it is true and good, there's going to be that striving to manifest, because that is what good and truth do. The evil and falsity of a negative state do the same thing, so you have to find the falsity there. If you find the falsity, the alliance dissipates, or if you find the evil, it dissipates. So you have to consciously try and find what is false about it. And when you find the falsity then you will feel this feeling in your chest that wants to do the evil, suddenly die. Just poom - like popping a balloon - it will suddenly die. It will dissipate. So, try and find the falsity.
The other thing you'll find is, you don't want to find the falsity! You really don't want to find the falsity because of the state you're in. Remember, it is not you. 'IT' is the hells that are operating through you or the society that you are in. They depend for their life on manifesting through you. They don't want you to discover who they are. It is like Rumpelstilzkin, if you name him, he's furious, because all of a sudden his power is gone. The hells continually strive to take your attention away, to divert your attention, to make you think about something else to support the arguments, "yes, but,..." and so forth. It takes a tremendous amount of energy and concentration to keep looking for the falsity involved. Of course the heavens are with you, and they'll try to help you do that, but unlike the hells, they aren't actively encouraging by yelling at you. Angels try to lead you very gently, so it's a very different relationship. Don't feel bad, just see 'IT' for what it is.
If you see an evil in yourself and you say, "This is a love of controlling others," that is a tremendous statement. Now if you say, "This is love of controlling others and I shouldn't feel the love of controlling people because the Lord said it is bad," that is a misunderstanding. The Lord never said you were capable of feeling anything else yet. But you are capable of seeing that it is a love of dominating rather than justifying it. For example: You may say, "That car should be mine. I was the first to bid on it!" That is entirely different than saying, "I bid on that car first," and observing in yourself the love of dominion going on. Now somewhere down the line you might be able to say, "It's okay, let the other man have it." But maybe now you can't say that yet. But maybe the man next to you thinks it is good to dominate. He just went through assertiveness training. He may say to his wife, "Dear, I just did the most wonderful thing. I went and got the car. I didn't deserve it, but I yelled louder and made myself known and I got my way. This assertiveness training really works! This is wonderful stuff." You on the other hand, may come back having gotten the car, and you pray and say to yourself, "I wonder how long it is going to take for that love of controlling others in me to be made passive by the Lord." That is an entirely different attitude. Both of you did exactly the same thing externally and if someone was watching he wouldn't have seen a bit of difference in the behavior. The difference is on the inside. You are co-operating with the Lord who is working on you internally. Your externals may be the same for a long, long time.
The first time someone starts to notice a negative trait in himself, it is there all the time, and it is right in front of his face, and it is intolerable. But there is a change eventually in that relationship. In regard to Non-identification or becoming passive to it, there is a distance that starts to be created that makes it a little more bearable. When you learn to not identify, and you realize firmly that it is doing the damage, the state becomes more bearable. It is like all the kids here in the living room yelling and screaming versus them up in their room yelling and screaming. You still hear them and you still notice it but you are getting some distance. Like raising kids. You aren't going to have two-year olds in diapers all the time. You think they'll be in this stage forever, but they won't. There is going to be a relationship change.
Observe and you may come to see something that I know nothing about, but if you can learn that this negative is something you want to get away from in the future, it wasn't a mistake for it to have been present. It is like skiing and falling. The falling wasn't a mistake. That was where you learned how to stay up the next time. Had you not fallen there you may have fallen when a tree was in front of you. It may be very good that this was the time that you fell. So, you hold the Work differently than a child holds religion. A child may think, "I'm bad and religion says I should be good. I'm guilty" etc. Don't hold regeneration that way. Don't hold the Work that way. That is not the way the Lord is operating. He is teaching you something but he is not Dying to make you feel bad.
In all the negative states that you are stressed about, and in observing all the evil in yourself, I just want to encourage you. Don't feel overwhelmed or worried. At this point it's observation that is needed and you may observe that you feel overwhelmed or worried. You may have a negative reaction. What are you going to do about that? You observe the negative reaction. Just observe, "That is a negative emotion." Then you may have a negative emotion about having a negative emotion and you observe that! And it is endless. It goes from the tip all the way down to the lowest hell. And with anything you observe -'IT' is not you, so don't identify with it.
But there is a responsibility in regard to all of it, and any of it. You are responsible to start participating in the process of having Self become passive and the essence, or the Lord's new will which the Lord is building up in you, become active. You are responsible to co-operate in that process. And the first step is to learn to observe what you are doing, by self observation. The Word says, "Watch. Awake!" The Lord is always working. He will help you.
We must be patient. Spiritual growth is a gradual process. The Lord is building a new will in us, taking us to the promised land, not all at once but gradually, and only with our co-operation.
There are temptations of thought and there are temptations of will. If you are waiting for the thought and it is a temptation of the will - you are in bad shape! The train has run over you and you are wondering if the train is coming. It is too late! Then there are temptations where you can predict it coming. You can sense and do things and so forth, and it won't take you over. There are others, which take you over for years and years before you are able to separate from it with the Lord's help. Either way, the Writings indicate emotions or affections actually start the process:
Affections produce thoughts, but thoughts do not produce affections;they appear to produce them, but it is a fallacy. Since affections produce thoughts, they also produce all things of man, because they are his life.(Apocalypse Explained 1175)
It seems that thoughts produce emotions because we can have an effect on our emotions by right thinking (if we do it early enough before the emotion is too strong for us.) But our inward affection receives and arranges all incoming impressions (including thoughts) according to the society of the spiritual world that we are associated with at the time. That is why we can take as an insult, in one state of mind, what we might interpret quite differently in another state of mind.
So we face different temptations along the way. And when you see that mountain of love of self and love of the world that we have talked about, you pray to the Lord, you beg the Lord for help, you ask Him to remove it and so forth. And He may remove it, and He may not, depending on what's best for you at that time. It is not like once you identify it and say, "Okay, Lord, take it away," that it will go at once. There is a time when if you ask, He will do that. Let's say in the whole process that point in time is like a dot somewhere on a continuous line. The process earlier, from the beginning of the line to that point, during which He isn't taking it away, that too is an orderly process. It doesn't look like it, because it looks like you are giving in to it all the time, but you haven't gotten to the state where the Lord is going to take it away from you yet. But that does not mean you aren't making progress!
Children learning to ride a unicycle never feel as if they are making any progress. You just continue to fall. There appears to be absolutely no progress. You jump on it and you fall. And you jump on it and you fall. And you jump on it and you fall, until one day you jump on it and you don't fall! It is just that way. A lot of evils are that way. You don't feel you are making any progress until you suddenly have a discrete degree change. From hindsight you look back and see that some progress was being made all along the way. The hells try to discourage you; "this is useless, there is no point in doing this, you might as well just give in," etc. It is just a bunch of lies they tell you! If you stop getting on the unicycle then the falling and the learning stop. Defining is good. And the Lord is always working. He is always making progress. But you can't always see the effect immediately.
The changes taking place that are beyond man's awareness are compared to impregnation, gestation, birth, and growth. That is regeneration. But there are years that go by and you don't see anything happening. The main thing is to observe your states, where they are coming from, and do not be disappointed. Do not let the hells frustrate you. Remember, the Lord is always working. He has your eternal welfare in mind every moment of your life and He is in control of the smallest detail of it, as well as the universe at large.
Hold things lightly. Give up trying to control a situation or people. Instead of setting your heart on the way you want something to go, just hold it lightly and accept what is. See what happens.