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Nonduality Highlights: Issue #3183, Saturday, May 31, 2008, Editor: Mark

Hi, John. I would like to ask you a question. I feel quite imprisoned in this life. I am doing the investigation, and I see the truth sometimes, but I don't feel the bliss that I had before, in my meditations. And I always have these expectations that I'll be happy, that I'll get something from this investigation, and I just feel more and more depressed and desperate, as long as I continue this investigation. I feel trapped in this body. What do you suggest i do with all these bad feelings?

First of all, the bliss obviously came and went. Now it has been replaced with desperation, misery and suffering. These also have appeared, and you must know they will disappear. The fact that it will disappear, of course, is a thin compensation for the experience itself, which is intense and seems to be ever-present. While the pain and the misery are happening, while the bliss was happening, in all these cases, right now, as I speak to you, and as whatever internal emotional movements are present in your body and in your mind, the sense of feeling trapped in the life, you know that the experience itself is not what you call it, right?

We learn that, in certain circumstances, this energetic quality is desperation and helplessness, and fearfulness and so forth. But, in fact, that is just our narrative interpretation of the ebb and flow of energetic activity within the life. It is quite possible to philosophically understand that what I said is true, and it will in no way make the desire to be rid of this horrible misery less intense. But there is nothing you can do about it. If there was something you could do about it, you would have done it by now. If there was something that any of us in these lives of travail could do about the travails of our lives, we would have done so. God knows, we have been trying, with all our hearts, to fix ourselves, to do something about the feeling of being trapped, to do something about the desperation and the helplessness of life, the futility of it, and so forth. So, if there was anything we could do to make those experiences go away, or even to make those stories about the experiences go away, by now we would have figured out how to do that. But we haven't.

The clue here is the intensity of the sense of being trapped in this life. The sense of being trapped in this life is not caused by anything. It is its own cause. And the sense of being trapped in this life is precisely the gross expression of the invisible belief that I am trapped in this life. It is not the belief itself, it is one of the consequences of that belief. So, as always, the only thing that can be done is to rid yourself of that belief. It is not to rid yourself of that expression of the belief, but to rid yourself of the belief itself.

When the expression of the belief is intense and strong, it is absolutely possible for you, despite the nastiness of it, to see whether it is not the case that this presence, this space, this spaciousness remains untouched. It is possible for you to see for yourself whether it is true that this presence, this underlying reality is always the same. The point of that is not in order to convince you that it is the same, because in some way knowing that it is the same will heal the wounds of your psyche and your body. It is because looking at it brings the light in. You cannot see the belief, but the light destroys it and, gradually, what you are now referring to as "the sense of being trapped in the life" will reveal itself to be something different, or will change, or will go away, or will not be a problem.

What you can do is one of two things. Either look for the unmoving, ever-present reality in which the sense of being trapped and at stake in this life appears and disappears, and in which bliss appears and disappears, or look and see if you cannot find the one who is trapped in this life. Trying to find the one who is trapped in this life will reveal nothing, except this reality in which the idea appears and disappears. In all cases, what you can do, whenever psychological pain and suffering appear in your mind and in your life, look and see if you are not still here, and that being here is not still the same. Just look at it, just look at that underlying, eternal reality. Just look at it, just for a second. It is not going to instantaneously destroy the experience of misery and confusion, but this looking will, over time, eradicate that belief that is the wellspring of that whole energetic business. I don't know what else to say. Is that helpful at all?

- John Sherman

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