Isn’t insecurity something we do really well? Who among is isn’t insecure anytime there is some perceived threat to his sense of self? We can imagine a universe of threats that keep us worried, uptight, and wakeful at night.
But what are we insecure about? What is it that we believe is threatened?
Let’s say I believe in a heaven and a hell. Then I will be insecure that the way I’m living my life might result in an eternity in hell. The same beliefs that created heaven and hell in the first place, we’ll tell us how to live a life where we can avoid hell and gain, instead, an eternity in heaven. As a result we become Christians or Muslims or Hindus. We follow the rules as they were set down centuries ago. We abandon our Authentic Self and become an imitator. Because I really am a sinner and I really crave sex, booze, sloth, and all the rest, I learn to distrust my Authentic Being and become a good little Muslim or good little Christian or good little Hindu.
But we can never be sure we’re good enough. We are haunted by the fear that we’re not getting it exactly right. We know, down deep, that our inner devil just needs to be expressed. Or, maybe we are so secure in being right, that we lord our superiority over all the sinners and ne’er do wells that fill our world. We become superior beings, smug in our self-righteousness.
But then we risk the sin of pride and we’re back where we started, just another miserable sinner, full with our self-contempt and misery.
Or if I am a pious jew, then I must obey a mere 613 commandments. Of course, from the very start it’s hopeless. I am condemned to be the failure that I know in my heart I am. And if I dutifully manage to stay kosher, well then I can feel superior to all those other jews that eat bacon with their eggs in the morning. We can learn to really resent each other with our competing beliefs.
If I believe that abortion is wrong, then I am enabled to feel different than those people who support it. I can feel superior or I can feel sorry for those horrible people who believe that women have a right to abortion. But then I hear about someone who gets knocked up by her father and suddenly I don’t know what I believe – but I gotta believe in something!
Actually you don’t.
Or, if I believe that life is sacred then I will be racked by guilt anytime I eat a hamburger or a tuna sandwich. If I choose to be a vegetarian out of the conviction of my superior beliefs, then I can feel good when I eat my plate of brown rice. But then I attend a talk given by an eminent Buddhist lama from Tibet (as I did) who asks his audience if they feel good about eating their plates of brown rice and when they wag their heads in confident agreement, he bitterly informs them of the tens of thousands of sentient beings who die in each and every rice harvest.
So we’re back where we started. Stricken by the knowledge of our inherent inadequacy.
Let’s go back to our original question. What is it, exactly, that experiences insecurity? Is this “thing” real? Or are we just defending phantoms – fantasies? If we can understand this question, really understand it, then insecurity become a problem that no longer haunts our existence.
Notice that everything we’ve talked about in this post is a belief. I believe in heaven and hell. I believe I am a jew. I believe in the sacredness of life. Each of these is a belief. But these beliefs, in themselves, are really quite harmless.
They are an overlay to a much bigger belief; the belief that this self that I label with the pronoun me is real. This me is not a belief. And because we believe it is real, then the beliefs it holds to be true are also real.
Okay – now let’s step back for a moment and take a deep breath.
We know that the earth revolves around the sun, even though our senses would seem to indicate that it’s really the sun that revolves around the earth as it rises in the morning and sets in the evening. But we know that that isn’t true. It’s an apparition of the senses. And because we know it isn’t true, then the belief no longer has the power to hold us in its trance.
The same applies to the precious self (“me lovely precious”). This self is a belief. But this is something that needs to be seen directly. That is why the question, who am I, is so key.
Yes we ARE, but we are not the belief in this body and mind based me. This body/mind, this cluster of beliefs with beliefs about its past and beliefs about its future, and its judgments and identities – all of it is just a belief.
The believer of the beliefs keeps the illusion alive.
But the only belief who’s seeing through assures our liberation in this very moment is the core belief. And this core belief will always relate to the concept and sensation of lack. And lack is always inadequacy and because it’s linked to inadequacy it needs a whole mass of other beliefs to make it real, to give it substance. We lack. We are empty. In our emptiness we are agonizingly vulnerable. So Lack creates a Bible and a Koran and a Bhagavad Gita – these books are full of rules designed to cover over the underlying Lack. These books have just enough connection with authentic being to give them staying power, but they are founded on a fiction and it’s a toxic fiction because it sustains a belief in what isn’t real. It sustains the belief in what keeps us mired in insecurity and misery.
Religious zealots are simply those people so wrapped up in their holy books that they are entirely disembodied phantasms. Their misery is so gut wrenchingly great that they MUST have these books to keep them safe from the terrifying torment that hides just under the surface.
And because inadequacy feels shitty, we engineer a whole plethora of beliefs that are designed to make us feel superior or just give us some sense of substance. So we spout nonsense about the sacredness of life as a belief without looking further. We are married to a belief rather than to the far more variegated textures happening in this very moment. Because we are identified with lack, we will consistently substitute our unexamined thought (beliefs) for reality.
You are not any belief, but as long as you’re identified with beliefs you won’t understand that statement – as long as you need beliefs to make you feel real, you won’t understand this statement.
Waking up means waking up to the only truth in the universe – the only thing that isn’t a belief. Every single thought is a belief. The thought of the sun isn’t the sun. The thought of hunger is not hunger. They are closer to the truth of beingness than far more far-fetched beliefs like heaven and hell, but they are still unreal.
This is why these posts are so important. You are not a belief.
So let’s return to our primary theme; insecurity. Everything we are insecure about is an illusion. They are just beliefs about beliefs. And the core belief is the false-self – that enduring cluster of thoughts linked so closely with lack and inadequacy. They are ways of avoiding the misery of lack and identification with inadequacy.
Beliefs are strategies designed to deal with lack. Lack creates its own immensely powerful slumber. It is hidden under a hundred self-protecting beliefs. So why waste another day supporting beliefs that are no different from a wall designed to keep you safe from illusions? No matter how high and strong your wall is, it can never protect you from illusions. Those fears – those beliefs, will overcome any defense. Misery and hopelessness can’t be kept away forever.
Those walls we construct around ourselves, around our group identities, around our perceived gender, around our countries, they are all prisons and we are both the prisoners and their wardens. The higher and stronger our psyche builds these walls the harder it will be to escape our own self-made prison.
How vast are the constructs of belief? They are vast indeed. We will do anything to protect us from the descent into lack.
That is the path we must take if we ever want to be really free. Lack is the primal echo of an ancient Wound and it created the false-self. It is a story drawn from experience, retained by the hardened and fearful heart – but it’s just not true. It’s a belief – a belief system and you are not that.
There is a way out*, but it takes commitment to the truth. It takes the courage of a warrior. It takes the insight of a philosopher.
It takes only you.
*There are many good books out there and many wonderful teachers and friends out there, but I can only speak from my own direct experience.