November/December 2007 Spirituality
The scorching heat in the Southwestern desert regions can be phenomenal. It has been known to explode rocks, carve the earth and create thermal lifts that reach thousands of feet into the air. These giant thermal currents can throw a jumbo passenger jet around like a leaf in the wind. This is definite power. All creatures that inhabit this mostly waterless domain either live by its laws or perish.
But just slightly west and north of the great deserts - in fact, overlooking these barren lands - are majestic green and snow-capped mountains. No waves of heat lash these lofty regions and disturb their ages-long quiet sovereignty. Here you will always find an abundance of mouth-chilling fresh water.
What point am I painting? The uncontested punishing power of the desert is not even a whisper on these high slopes. The desert's power has no power in the mountains. Why? Because the desert's nature doesn't exist for the mountain.
While it's geographically true that the desert and the mountain are often found next to each other, they really have nothing in common. They have completely different natures.
We understand that the valley heat can't reach the peaks. The mountain dwellers stay cool. But, from time to time, the cold and sparkling waters from the snow melt do reach the desert floor. The life there is enriched by this seasonal abundance. In fact, in many cases, life in the desert depends greatly upon this sweet downward flow. The mountain's higher nature can reach down into the desert and bring it life, but the desert's lower nature has no effect on the mountains.
We will always want to remember this natural relationship, for it reveals to us much more than just the play of forces that move the world around us. This important illustration also tells about the worlds within us and how nothing can stand in the way of our eventually attaining the higher, happier life. Here's why.
Like the mountain and the desert, we have two separate natures that live in two totally different worlds. We can call these aspects of ourselves by the names true self and false self. There are many parallels between the nature of the false self and the nature of the desert. The false self is nothing but a strange series of temporary shapes built up out of the ceaselessly shifting sands of our own doubt-filled thoughts and feelings. This windswept and self-stinging lower nature knows nothing outside of itself. It doesn't know anything about the majesty of the mountain -- of true self. It can't. Just as a summer insect can't know anything about ice, the false self is bound to remain in its realm. The only power it possesses is over those things that are by their nature resigned to remain in its domain.
The more fully we can see truth's dynamics at play in either the outer or inner worlds, the more we are encouraged and strengthened in our resolve to walk away from this desert-like nature and to begin the climb toward our sovereign true self. Our new courage isn't really a force that we can call our own - it comes to us out of our steadily growing realization that the "powers" of the false self are strictly limited to the world it inhabits. Of what concern is the desert sandstorm to the high mountain pine? Absolutely none. There is nothing real to stop us from rising.
Use these insights to start quietly rising above yourself:
Excerpted from The Secret of Letting Go. Guy Finley is the best-selling author of more than 30 books and audio albums on self-realization. He is the founder and director of Life of Learning Foundation, a nonprofit center for self-study located in Southern Oregon where he gives weekly talks. Visit www.guyfinley.org, and sign up for a free weekly enewsletter.