There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, “Where are you going?” and the first man replies, “I don’t know! Ask the horse!” This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don’t know where we are going, and we can’t stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, and it has become a habit. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
“…the path is a very powerful thing; as soon as you move upon it, it is as if it were really living… no longer as if you were led by a guide, or guiding yourself, it is as if the path itself took command.”
— CG Jung
Once we step outside of the illusion of our own
separate self, a radically different picture emerges. Our
true nature exists in a dimension of oneness. Unlike the
ego, which always looks out for its own self-interest, the
Self reflects a vision of unity, in which each individual
part is nourished according to its real need. A glimpse of
the Self gives us a sense of an interconnected oneness in
which nothing is separate: everything is an expression of
a oneness that is dynamically alive. Every person, every
stone, is this oneness; everything is connected and interdependent.
Our individual Self is the Universal Self
and it is all a living organism of light and love.”
— Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
In navigating a lifetime we rely mostly on external guidance, but finding your real path is impossible if you can’t listen to inner voices. If we don’t trust ourselves, we are disregarding our own instincts. That irrational inner gumption can be overridden and ignored by our socially worried self that’s always trying to avoid being criticized. Staying in touch with yourself sets up a situation where you choose to be in sync with yourself or else the expectations of others. Abandoning your instincts can be dangerous, though. You may find yourself wandering a path that is not yours. If that happens, nothing can console your core self until you find the one path meant for you.
We don’t have a lot of help in this enterprise of finding our real life. You have to learn how to get quiet and listen to yourself. Layers of intelligence live right below consciousness in all of us. As microcosms of the macrocosm, we have insights and instructions living in our depths that we don’t suspect. Our culture keeps us in line with external rules, but we could use some help to stay in touch with our own inner voices, voices that speak with ancient intelligence sometimes.
Whether you use dreams, meditation, counseling or something like ayahuasca you have to find some approach to your own mind. We’re generally unaccustomed to dialoging with our own inner world. We don’t know what’s there. It can be shocking to hear voices we haven’t heard since childhood or see the unreconstructed personalities we don’t want to admit are who we also are.
We are the unknown continent, still open to exploration. We live in a state of losing and re-finding our way, in the context of a spiritually naïve culture. If we are going to be of any help to our little corner of the world, it behooves us to pay attention to what kind of human being we are. Paying attention to the energies flowing through us is indispensable.