"Finally, it’s all about heart opening. In its truest meaning, the concept of enlightenment is simply the open heart.”
Participant: Hi Gangaji, I am so grateful to be here and to bring this question forward. I would so much like to enjoy my life and to feel good about who I am. I want to really know that I love myself. How do I do that?
Gangaji: You know the quickest way to get there? Experience how unlovable you are. Stop fighting it and directly experience the self-hatred and the worthlessness, without telling a story about it. Don’t try to fix it, change it, dramatize it, or heal it. Just simply open to it. What do you experience?
Well, when I really look at it, it seems absurd to hate myself very much.
It may be absurd, and it may also be that you’re overlaying a concept of self-love on top of the self-hatred. If you are really willing to tell the truth about being haunted by feelings of worthlessness and unlovability, then let us bring them here to be met. Not by trying to change anything but by simply opening to whatever is here.
I can feel that you’re right about this, and at the same time I’m afraid of it.
Yes, I understand, of course there is fear, and that’s a good place to start. Let’s begin by opening to the feeling of fear. Just let yourself be afraid. It’s alright. You are safe here. As you allow yourself to drop into the feeling of fear, is there anything under the fear that is even deeper than the initial feeling?
A new fear comes up that everything may fall apart. All that I know… all that I’ve ever done… everything gone…
That’s right, everything is lost. In this moment, for the purposes of our investigation, are you willing to lose everything? Really willing? Not knowing where it will take you? What are you experiencing?
It’s as if I can’t think anymore. I can only feel something falling off.
And when you let it all fall, what is left?
Well, then I’m okay.
That’s right, that’s the truth! You are okay. That is so clear. All the rest is a struggle to get okay, to feel okay, to keep feeling okay, and to get everyone else to see that you are okay. All you did just now, in a split second, was to stop and let everything fall off. In allowing everything to fall, you discovered that you are actually okay.
When I was sitting down there, and you were giving these tips, I thought it was all nonsense. But now that I’m looking into your eyes, I know that you are speaking the truth.
I know it doesn’t make sense to the mind, especially the mind that is focused on how to protect yourself, or change yourself, or make yourself more or better. To let it all fall off is to lose everything, and there is so much support in the mind to never let that happen. But because you are an adventurer, you took this one moment to discover for yourself what is here when you lose everything.
Now, tell me, what is left?
Peace! Yes, there is more and more peace, an endlessly deepening peace. Peace is your true nature, and your true nature is infinite. Now the opportunity to lose it all becomes even bigger. All you need do is to keep your eyes open and tell the truth: When you have nothing, you are everything, and when you are everything, you need nothing.
Thank you, this feels amazing! (laughing)
Most people suspect that who they really are is the worst thing imaginable. A creature of imperfection and lack and ugliness and stupidity. Even if it is covered with good thoughts or experiences of oneself, under that is the suspicion, the fear, that who you really are is a gnarled, ugly, irredeemably lost soul, floating in space, separate from God. Right? This is the deeply entrenched belief conditioned by most religions, East and West. And you have found that you can never work hard enough or be good enough to finally be reunited. The truth is that to be your truest, most fundamental self, which has never been and can never be separate from God, takes absolutely no effort.
If you will take an honest look, you will see that all the effort in your life, internally, is either about trying to escape yourself and then searching for yourself, or running away from who you think you are and toward who you think you should be. All of this activity is driven by the deeply conditioned belief that who you are is separate from God and your own essential goodness.
This is the dilemma. These are the conflicting forces. There is a deep conditioning and distrust of yourself, along with an enormous cosmic yearning to discover your true worthiness. The spiritual life often then becomes a life of self-torture, a battle between ego and super-ego, between a higher self and a lower self, All of that is simply a mistaken understanding. That is the supreme joke! In the core you already are what you have been searching for.
Finally, it’s all about heart opening. In its truest meaning the concept of enlightenment is simply the open heart, the open mind. The heart can bear it all because the heart is the living expression of consciousness, naturally imbued with the capacity to bear anything and everything that appears in consciousness, including every mistaken idea and definition that you are not that. Heart opening is wisdom and wisdom is mercy. It’s impossible to be merciful to anyone else if you are closed to yourself.
Feelings of ugliness and unlovability finally have to be met, because this is the unnecessary suffering and continuation of the horror of the human condition. Selfishness is present in all of us, and there is a hatred of that selfishness and a war with it and then a projection of that war onto whoever mirrors that.
We meet as sisters and brothers in the same boat, the Earth boat, and together we discover what is here to be met and embraced in each one of us, regardless of all else. That embrace is always deeper, always closer, always unexpected. What is revealed is an even deeper grace, I promise you that.
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Gangaji is the author of The Diamond in Your Pocket, Freedom & Resolve: Finding Your True Home in the Universe, You Are That, and Hidden Treasure: Uncovering the Truth in Your Life Story.