The problem with having beliefs that cause us to distrust life is that fearful beliefs keep us stuck in the ego and oriented toward the ego’s guidance instead of Essence’s. Then we end up trusting life even less because following the ego’s guidance doesn’t lead to a very satisfying life. Living solely according to our beliefs and other conditioning results in a life the ego or other people’s egos think we should live, not the life we were meant to live. Fortunately, it’s a rare individual who isn’t guided at least some of the time by the Heart.
The ego bases its advice and guidance on conditioning. The ego makes up advice based on our knowledge, what’s happened before, and conclusions we’ve come to from our experience and other people’s. There’s some value in this information, but information alone has no inherent wisdom. Information when misapplied or applied at the wrong time turns out to be bad advice. Moreover, much of the information the ego draws from for its advice is inaccurate, contradictory, and outdated, and many of the conclusions are erroneous and therefore can’t be counted on to be helpful.
Why do so many people make choices they later regret? Because they’re listening to the counsel of their ego—they’re listening to their thoughts or other people’s thoughts, beliefs, and opinions. But how useful are those beliefs and opinions for knowing how to live your life in this moment? What’s the guidance or advice that’s right for you right now? This moment is absolutely unique, and it requires advice that fits you now, not advice that fit some other time or that might fit in the future or that fit someone else at some point.
Where does good advice come from? It can only come out of the moment if it is to be right for the moment. But the egoic mind is usually in the past or future. So that’s the problem. The egoic mind isn’t tuned into now but some other point in time. To know what’s right for us right now, we have to pay attention to the Heart, which continually opens and closes in response to what’s happening and delivers intuitions, wisdom, drives, inspiration, and insights that are perfectly fitted to us right now.
Simultaneously, as the Heart is delivering its guidance, the ego also produces guidance about what to do and say in the form of thoughts, desires, and feelings, and these are what end up guiding most people’s lives. This is all well and good, as it produces the lessons and growth each of us is meant to experience. Our conditioning is our programming, and this programming isn’t a mistake. We are meant to grow and evolve by responding to it. However, this growth can be quite painful, and at a certain point in our evolution, we discover we can move beyond this programming and live more in tune with our true nature, where we still grow and evolve but not so painfully.
There comes a point in everyone’s spiritual evolution—in their evolution as a human being—to begin to live more from the Heart and less from the ego. You are undoubtedly at this point or you wouldn’t be reading this and other similar teachings. So life is providing you with the understanding you need to move beyond the ego and its suffering toward greater happiness, peace, love, and fulfillment.
Thoughts are so much a part of us that it seems odd to consider that we don’t actually need them and that they are, in fact, the problem, not the solution we thought they were. We’re programmed to believe the wrong thing! We’re programmed to believe our thoughts instead of our Heart. That creates the suffering and challenges that lead to the growth our soul intends—until it doesn’t intend that particular kind of growth anymore.
Once we become more aware of our thoughts and take time to examine and question them, we discover just how untrue and untrustworthy they actually are. We’re programmed to believe our thoughts are trustworthy! How funny. Just to be clear, our rational mind is trustworthy: We can trust it to analyze, deduce, evaluate, and understand. What we can’t trust is the egoic mind, the very personal voice in our head that rattles on about anything and everything. It’s the rational mind that’s able to see the uselessness and falseness of the voice in our head. So we use the rational mind to see through the aspect of mind that seems to be our own very special thoughts. The rational mind, unlike the egoic mind, doesn’t have a voice but is simply a tool we use to evaluate ideas, including our own thoughts.
Once we stop seeing this voice in our head as being our own voice and being a voice of wisdom and truth, the illusion is busted! Once we realize that it’s a lie that this voice is wise and trustworthy, we can’t ever view this voice the same way again. This is a huge step in our evolution, a great step toward freedom from the ego and the suffering it causes.
It’s easy to be convinced by the voice in our head because it’s meant to be convincing. But just because this voice seems true doesn’t mean it is true! Con men can also be very convincing, and it’s wise to not believe them. It’s wise to not identify with the voice in our head, to realize it doesn’t reflect who we are but only our programming.
If you’re able to see this voice as belonging to something outside yourself, it becomes less compelling and convincing. What if you thought of it as a bad radio station? Somehow, because this voice is inside our head, it seems like ours and what it says seems true. If those words were coming out of someone else’s mouth, what would you think of them? We’re much more discriminating about what other people say to us than what we say to ourselves! So that is our spiritual work—to realize that the voice in our head has very little to do with who we are and with what will make our life work.
That voice pretends to have the answer to everything, but this is a scam. That voice has no wisdom and no good advice to offer about the things that are most meaningful to us: how to live our life, how to behave in our relationships, what choices to make and when to make them. The voice in our head has very pat answers to things. You can get nearly the same advice or answers from any ego identified person out there. The ego’s advice tends to be quite predictable: Go for the money! Go for the safety! Go for the power! Take care of yourself! Watch out!
One of the biggest problems with listening to the voice in our head is that it changes its mind a lot. If you find yourself confused or changing your mind a lot, you’re probably listening to this voice and not your Heart. This happens because the advice offered by the egoic mind is often based on conflicting desires. For instance, if you’re thinking of traveling somewhere, one moment your mind says, “You should go. Traveling is fun,” and the next moment it advises, “Don’t go. It’s dangerous and too expensive.”
Notice that in this advice, the ego reveals some of its conflicting values: fun, safety, and money. The ego wants fun and safety and money and everything else it wants all at the same time, which is impossible. The ego can’t give clear advice because many of the things the ego wants are mutually exclusive.
The ego can always come up with a reason to not follow its own advice—and it generally does! Hence, all the confusion and dissatisfaction we feel when we’re living from the egoic state of consciousness. One moment the ego wants one thing, the next moment it wants something else. When we listen to the egoic mind, we are tossed to and fro by the ego’s various desires.
When we let the ego’s desires determine our choices and structure our lives, we often end up going in one direction and then another. At some point, we’re bound to be dissatisfied with whatever we chose to do because the ego changes its mind about what it wants: We want security, so we take a job that gives us that. Then we want freedom and adventure, so we quit that job and go traveling. Then we want recognition and power, so we go back to school to get a degree. Then we discover we didn’t want that degree after all. Then we want something else…
The ego’s values are superficial, so following them keeps us skimming across the surface of life, never finding real meaning or fulfillment. The ego chooses to do what it does for the wrong reasons—because it wants power, respect, security, an attractive mate, a beautiful house, a perfect body, fame, popularity, and success. It wants these things because it wants to feel a certain way: It wants to feel good—it wants to be happy.
In the ego’s search to feel good and to finally be at peace, it’s focused on achieving future goals—it’s chasing after a dream—rather than being focused on the moment-to-moment journey of life. Living a meaningful, love-filled life becomes secondary to these far-off goals. The irony is that being in the moment is where peace and happiness are actually found.
Going after such superficial goals is a recipe for not only emptiness but also corruption, as the means are often felt to justify the idealized goal. When the goal is something as superficial as the kinds of things the ego wants, the journey isn’t going to be fulfilling. Even achieving those goals is bound to be a letdown because the ego can never get enough power, money, recognition, attention, or anything else. As soon as the ego gets something it wants, it wants more or something else because those things will never satisfy the longing for peace and happiness that is driving the ego. It’s looking in the wrong place for peace and happiness, so how can it find them?
For our goals to be satisfying, they have to be deeper than the things the ego wants. They have to be things our Heart wants. And what one person’s Heart wants is different from what another person’s Heart wants, unlike all egos, which pretty much want the same things. Everyone has to find out what their own sweet Heart wants and go after that.
When we follow our Heart, the results are less important, as taking steps in alignment with our Heart is intrinsically rewarding. We are rewarded by the happiness, contentment, excitement, and joy of doing what we came here to do. And these feelings are satisfying and enough. Then if we achieve some of the results the ego wants, that’s nice too—that’s frosting on the cake. But the things the ego wants aren’t worthwhile goals in and of themselves. They are empty and devoid of true fulfillment.
We are programmed to follow our desires. We have a desire, and we often don’t question where it comes from, if it’s true, or if it’s worth pursuing. As with every other thought, we’re programmed to believe the thought “I want” and the feelings that go with that. And when most people are pursuing these same desires, it’s hard to not believe that those desires are important to our happiness and survival. Most people believe that getting what they want is the route to happiness and to surviving well, so it really seems true that if we don’t get what we want we won’t be happy and we might not even survive.
People are driven by fear to follow their desires. We’re afraid that if we don’t get what we want that will mean something terrible. The ego drives us by scaring us into thinking that getting what we want is very important—that the results are what is important, not the journey. It also drives us by using fantasies to make us believe that getting what the ego wants will be so ideal, so wonderful.
But the truth is different. Getting our ego’s desires met isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. Getting what the ego wants isn’t necessary to our happiness and it isn’t particularly meaningful. For true happiness and fulfillment, we have to look somewhere other than our egoic mind because the voice in our head is clueless about what brings true happiness and meaning to life.
From Trusting Life: Overcoming the Fear and Beliefs That Block Peace and Happiness by Gina Lake