By the strange pull

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Of what you really love.

It will not lead you astray.

RUMI

Ordinarily, we like to think that the ambitions we hold – and the goals we set – represent ourselves at our best. We assume that, once accomplished, our external achievements will signify an internal ascendancy towards liberation, joy and acceptance.

However, once we surrender to being “silently drawn,” as Rumi puts it, the first thing our true love (a.ka.our essential self ) may often do is yank us away from our pre-existing strategies for success. And when that happens – when we take those first definitive steps away from life as we’ve previously strategized it – our egos may violently resist.

To begin a life that exalts and follows the guidance of one’s essential self is experienced as a direct insult to all the work our egos have done on our behalf until now. And, in the face of such betrayal, they will fight to prove that if only we stick with their plan will we achieve all that we ultimately desire.

What does such resistance feel like? Fear. Anxiety. Panic. Controlling and addictive behaviors. Obsessions. Indecision. Confusion. Certainty that we are doomed to failure, poverty and isolation. If it’s compulsively mental, compulsively unhappy, and compulsively determined to be right about something – you can be sure it’s the ego at work trying to undermine love.

The greatest irony, of course, is that everything the ego seeks for us in the future is available in the moment we embrace our essential selves. All the love, esteem, respect and acceptance I once thought would come with an Academy Award, for instance, becomes available whenever I sit quietly and surrender to the warmth of my essence. And when I stand up again and go on with my day, my life is no longer run by a desperation to achieve those things. 

But such a shift in attention – from what the Buddhists call “monkey mind” to a place of inner peace – is not instantaneous. There is no switch to flip. There are no “10 easy steps” to liberation and oneness. As I wrote a few weeks ago, there is only practice – and while your practice may be simple, that does not guarantee it will be easy.

Knowing how much work and pain is required with such a practice – in addition to courage, commitment, patience, integrity and tolerance for failure – I often fear I have to convince people that it’s worthwhile.

But if you are reading this now, you know what it feels like to be pulled by something you love. And you already know, deep inside, that if you don’t let yourself be drawn towards it, you will be missing out on something important. Your Life. Or your Self. You just want to know the struggle will be worth it.

So I won’t try to convince you. Instead, I will assure you. The road may be uncharted and the results uncertain, but it will not lead you astray.