From the book Wisdom of the Self, 2nd ed. by Paul Ferrini, 1997. ISBN 1-879159-14-7.

In and Out of Boxes

We're always defining and predicting, looking toward the future or back to the past. There are very few moments when we stop resisting what's happening in our lives. Yet those are the moments when we begin to see with real insight.

When I let go of my expectations of the future, I stop carrying my past forward. I diffuse the intensity of the karmic flow in my life. I develop an attitude of reverence, of receptiveness, of waiting to see. I realize that I really don't know what anything is for.

I have a sense of what is happening. But I don't really know the width and breadth of it. In fact, often I am totally fooled. Forms that I believe to be substantial float away as my hands reach out to touch them. Feelings I thought were vanquished rise from their unsavory resting place and stand awkwardly in my path.

Everything I have buried is eventually unearthed. And everything I have sought outside me comes to nought. But this is not a punishment.

This is just a reckoning.

I stand in front of a mirror. Nothing more or less. The eyes I see look back at me. The people I condemn or bless recognize me.

If there's anything I'm afraid to look at, my life will show it to me. But that's not to wound me. That's just to show me the full play of consciousness. That's to show me how I limit my reality, and how I expand beyond those limits.

You know, my greatest fear is to look at myself. I'm convinced that when I do that, I'm going to see dreadful things. I don't want to look at me. I'd rather look at you.

And that's what I try to do. That's the illusion. I try to look at you. I try to relate to myself, positively and negatively, through you. But my journey has nothing at all to do with you until I have learned to look at myself.

As long as the warp and woof of my life is played out around your needs or my needs in relation to you, I'm refusing to look in the mirror. Your only purpose in my life is to be a mirror for me, whether you understand that or not.

Everything begins with me. Everything begins in my own consciousness. Everything begins with the choices I make moment to moment. All that seems to involve you, but it does so only tangentially. You are not a cause or a result of the choices I make. You are not responsible for what I choose. You are not a victim of what I choose. All that belongs to illusion. All that is a refusal to look in the mirror.

I cannot begin to see who you are until I face myself. I must face what I don't like about myself and forgive it. I must face what I like too much about myself and forgive it. I must face all the assumptions, all the beliefs that live in my mind. That's what my journey is.

As I face these beliefs, I see how each one limits my reality. It doesn't matter what those beliefs are. Any belief limits my reality, because any belief is a prejudice. Any belief imposes an artificial structure on the free flow of experience.

Every belief is just a box I jump into. When I'm in the box, I see only what's inside the box. "Meaning" exists only inside the box. Outside the box, there is no meaning, or if there is a meaning I don't know what it is. Inside the box, I think I know. Outside the box, I know I don't know.

My journey here is a journey in and out of boxes. The more boxes I leave behind, the more free I become, the more open I become, the more accepting I become. Every time I leave a box behind, I leave biases and attachments behind.

All of us find our boxes comforting. They are predictable. But, when you think of it, the only thing that is predictable is pain. Joy is not predictable! Have you ever tried to predict joy? You can't do it. Joy just happens. It is an experience. You can't anticipate it. You can't repeat it. You can't control joy in any way.

Only pain is predictable, yet strangely we are attached to our pain. That is how deep our guilt runs. We choose our pain over and over again, because we think that if we don't we will experience a greater pain. We choose a chronic pain to escape what we fear will be a sudden, excruciating pain. We choose slow death, slow crucifixion, over sudden death. Because sudden death is a complete unknown.

We choose what we know. We choose the past. We keep the illusion going.

The only thing we have to do to leave the illusion behind is to stop referencing the past. It is that simple.

When we allow everything that ever happened to us to be completely embraced and accepted, it ceases to have consequence. It only has consequence (karma) as long as we refuse to accept it.

Accepting everything of duality (our entire experience here) helps us move to the unity experience. Without acceptance, unity cannot be experienced.

The mind that judges and condemns cannot apprehend unity. Unity is experienced only as we accept our judgments and forgive them. This brings us to the gateway of transcendence.

That is all we can do. This is a far as we can go. Like Moses, we look out over the promised land. We cannot travel there.

All we can do is move out of the box.

All we can do is look in the mirror.

All we can do is see our limitations and step beyond them.