Attaching To An Outcome

Attaching to an outcome in this work can lead to frustration, guilt, despair, and other negative states because we are working from a sense that we know what the outcome should be. This is another form of living in our imagination as far as the future is concerned, yet our goal is to live in the moment, because we don’t and can’t know what the future holds. Our work is in what is presenting in the now. The Lord sets the outcome not us: we set tasks to create opportunities to observe the behaviour of the proprium and our identification with it.  We are not working to change it or make it better; we are working to affirm what the Text teaches concerning it as a matter of life, and it’s our acceptance of this that breaks its power.

Now before we rationalise that we accept this truth (and blind ourselves to our non-acceptance of it) we need to understand that acceptance in this sense is not an intellectual knowing: it’s a matter of the will of how we actually live in relation to the states that arise within. For how we live is what reveals the beliefs that we are living from. So, when we set a work focus task and then find ourselves frustrated because we see our proprium acting up and fall into a negative state of mind as a result, this is a sign of our non-acceptance of what the Word teaches concerning the proprium. We are then living from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil where the sense of self, the “I”, becomes the judge of what the proprium should or shouldn’t be. The shock of seeing negative states active within us reveals a hidden belief that the proprium should be better than it is but we actually lived from what the Word teaches concerning it, it would be impossible to be shocked by its antics.

To live from the tree of life is to accept what the Word says the proprium is. This acceptance doesn’t mean that the proprium stops being active, far from it! But what it does mean is that we are no longer being drawn as easily into its machinations – we have truths in which the “I” (our true sense of self) can be held, while “it” (the proprium) does what it does. One of those truths is that in and of itself the proprium would rush headlong into the deepest hell, and take us with it.

No one has any good or any truth at all unless it derives from the Lord, and that all a person’s evil and falsity derive from the proprium, and that man, a spirit too, and even an angel, if left in the smallest degree to himself, of himself rushes headlong towards hell. This also is why in the Word it is said that heaven is not pure. This the angels acknowledge, and anyone who does not do so cannot be among them. It is the Lord’s mercy alone which gives them freedom, indeed it raises them up from hell, and withholds them from it and from rushing back there if left to themselves. Arcana Coelestia 868

Do we really believe this? Or are we living from proprium’s insatiable need for acceptance so that we are forever sewing fig leaves of natural good, that is, doing the right thing from the wrong motivations in order to cover ourselves, which merely keeps us from engaging in the work that is actually being presented for us to do in the given moment.

Spiritual life is not about outcomes or expectation, but is a practice founded on the acknowledgement that the Lord is continuously revealing Himself to us; that we are in a process of the continued unfolding of our understanding. So, this is a constantly changing and fluid situation. In our practice of the Word, we’re learning to trust the Lord to know what’s best for us; and how we trust Him is to work with what reaches out to us from the Text. We all have things we want dealt with, and wish we were rid of, but it’s vital that we learn to work with what the Text highlights for us and not be tempted to apply a task that seems more aligned with what we think needs sorting out in our life.

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate. She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us, to know good and evil. And now, lest he put out his hand and take also of the tree of life, and eat, and live forever” —  therefore the Lord God sent him out of the garden of Eden to till the ground from which he was taken. So He drove out the man; and He placed cherubim at the east of the garden of Eden, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to guard the way to the tree of life. (Genesis 3: 6,7,22-24)

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