The man walking with the devil inquires what that man found that was so valuable.
The devil responds, “The Truth.”
To which the man inquires, “Won’t that put you out of business?”
The devil smiles and says, “Oh, no. He’ll just turn it into a concept.”
We might chuckle at this and pass it off as a joke. But I ask you to consider how many concepts you have which are wonderful ideas, but don’t show up in your life.
The truth must be lived in every fiber of our mind and body.
We say, and claim to believe, concepts such as “God is good” or “God is love” but when things fall apart in our life, how do we respond? Do we stay on center, breathing our way calmly through the experience, understanding that it will all work out the way it needs to, the way that is best for all?
If not, that great idea is still just a concept.
Concepts are only thoughts, and thoughts don’t contain the energy to bring about change. They are ideas that don’t get out of the head, the realm of the intellect.
Our actions reveal what we believe. Or as an AA slogan says, “Turn down the sound and watch the action.”
Until a concept has been examined, struggled with, torn apart, and fully doubted, we won’t find the truth that empowers us to move gracefully through the grievous losses and disappointments of life.
We find the truth by standing in the difficult places, holding the tension between the despair of the loss and the possibility of what is to come.
We notice the very breath of spirit continues to breathe us.
As we stand here, we notice what our attitude is.
Are we worrying, feeling anxious and blaming people and circumstances for our suffering. These are old conditioned reactions, not the truth.
Blame and anxiety are simply attitudes, and each moment we can choose to shift our attention to the very breath that enlivens us. We can return moment by moment to this breath, just this one. It is sustaining us. We can give it our interest, experiencing it as it moves through the body.
We can’t live the next moment, or the next breath. They are concepts, not truth.
Take the concept of “patience is a virtue.” We may think we believe this, but how impatient do we find ourselves when things don’t go the way we want them to?
Underneath impatience we will find fear.
By meeting the fear, standing in the presence of whatever is at this moment, we find it changes. As we keep doing it, moment by moment, we develop patience which protects us from old, familiar, knee-jerk behaviors that have kept us stuck.
And new ideas emerge that guide us into wiser, more skillful action.
Old beliefs are dissolved by allowing the light of awareness to expose all the grimy and goolish roots as we patiently remain aware, not looking away, but learning from them.
Awareness is like a floodlight that shines directly into our thoughts, feelings and emotions, revealing their true nature. And it is often not a pretty sight! It takes courage to stay with them, watch and not try to change them, but let them dissolve on their own, for everything is impermanent.
Awareness shows us the deep places in our heart and mind, where core beliefs reside, below the superficial beliefs and opinions.
This may be unpleasant, for looking closely at the hurts, fears, sadness and the devastated places in our heart is not easy.
We often delay doing this because we think if we see all these tangled thoughts and emotions we will have to do something about them—fix them, or at least try. And we don’t know how.
The good news is that we don’t have to fix them. In fact trying to do will keep us tied to them.
“A problem can’t be solved at the level at which it was created,” as we have often heard. Yes, our best thinking got us here, and it won’t get us out.
When we stop trying to fix what we think is wrong, we find relief. We learn to let go, and patiently wait for a higher wisdom than our own to give us answers.
Our job is to shine the light of awareness by accepting and acknowledging what is.
It will change. Be patient.
Remember the story about the Chinese farmer? Whatever news was brought to him, either good or bad, he responded, “Ah so,” without getting upset or reacting to it. He truly understood everything was impermanent, and that things would all balance out.
His attitude of acceptance of things as they were kept him in a harmonious place where he became part of the solution, rather than the problem.
If we want to know the truth all we need do is give up our cherished opinions, our concepts, and launch into the deep places of the heart, trusting the very breath to sustain us and continued awareness of what is taking place in our mind.