Here is one of the core truths that I want you to claim for yourself as you begin The 21-Day Consciousness Cleanse: all suffering is rooted in misperception.
Maybe you believe that life should be better than it is this day. You may believe that you should be more, better, and different than the way you are, and you probably expect others to be more, better, and different than they are. This mind-set causes you to often be dissatisfied. It causes you to get on the proverbial treadmill and chase one more thing in the outer world that promises to give you inner satisfaction. But it is a cosmic joke, a twisted paradox—because if you really do find something to fill the hole for a while, you will be seduced into believing that you can fill the hole from the outside in. Then you are sucked in, for what seems like an eternity, to trying to find the next quick fix to satisfy the hole in your soul. On the other hand, if you do not find the thing to fill the hole, you are tricked into believing that you will be satisfied the moment you do find that one thing out there that will fill it for a while. You are damned if you do, and doomed if you do not, to living a life of wanting and waiting for the great fulfillment to come your way.
This is why we must all stop, take a breather, cleanse our consciousness of these misperceptions, and remind ourselves that this outer journey is really an inner calling. The call is to return home to the limitless, expansive pool of divine oneness, which is the only spiritual food that will satisfy the eternal emptiness that plagues our human existence. Until we open our eyes to what lies beneath the surface of the self that we know, we will have to continue the exhausting chase for more, better, and different than what we already have. The chase won't end until we find and reclaim our golden essence and allow ourselves to step into the gigantic expression of our soul's unique journey. Until then, we will have to try to fit into a life that is too small, too confining, and too limiting for our soul's fulfillment. We will have to continue to believe that we are small, individual beings rather than a piece of a gigantic collective heart and a molecule of the divine power. We will have to continue to follow the human ego's arduous journey to outer fulfillment, with all of the painful constrictions that this entails. This is the root of our suffering: trying to squeeze ourselves into a shoe that doesn't fit, one that is way too small for our eternal essence.
I once heard an old Sufi story that illustrates with simple clarity how the human self insists on wearing garments that are sometimes too small and tight to give us the comfort we're seeking.
A woman says to her friend, "Poor Lila really has suffered for what she believes."
Her friend asks, "What does Lila believe in?"
"Lila believes that she can continue to wear a size six pair of shoes on her size nine feet."
"How painful," her friend murmurs. "What can we do to help?"
"We cannot do a thing except pray that the ill-fitting shoes come apart at the seams and Lila is forced to finally throw them away."
Lila walks around, day after day, pinching off her power—forcing herself into limping through life as a diminished version of who she was born to be. This tendency presents one of the big challenges for us human beings—to stop tolerating mediocrity and trying to stay small when the truth is that we are capable of great things. We frequently hide our true greatness by staying in jobs, relationships, friendships, and habits that dim our light and diminish out spirit. The pressure and grief that we experience when we are trying to stay within the parameters of a self that is smaller than our soul's contribution is a suffering that most of us cannot bear.
If you are willing, just close your eyes for a moment and call forth the voice of the highest power in the universe. Take a deep breath, and ask, "Where am I suffering right now?" When you get your answer, just breathe in, thank the part of you that is willing to admit to this truth, and allow yourself to become aware of all the ways that you keep trying to squeeze your foot into a shoe that is too small—a life that falls short of your soul''s potential.
Now, why would you tolerate the pain of a constricting old identity—why would you tolerate this oppressive pinch when the truth of who you are is so much greater? The reason you squeeze yourself into shoes that are clearly too small is because you have lost your faith to one degree or another. You have lost faith either in yourself, in those whom you share the planet with, in the presence of a divine source, or the possibility of a future filled with love, passion, and endless possibilities.
If you look, you will find an aspect of yourself that is faithless —the part of you that has fallen to its knees, knocked down by heartbreak and stripped of faith after years of disappointments and difficulties of all kinds. Pummeled and bruised by the painful moments in life, this faithless part of you clings stubbornly and desperately to what it knows. Lost and alone, this part of you keeps forcing the size-six shoes onto your size-nine feet. Never mind that these shoes have holes in the bottom and their sparkling sheen is long gone. Forget about the fact that you can barely stand upright in them. Your faithless self holds on anyway, because at least that part of you knows those shoes. At least the discomfort they inflict is predictable. But with a bit of scrutiny, you can see the paradox: your faithless self actually does have its own brand of faith. It's a kind of misplaced faith—faith in your limitations, faith in your blockages, faith in your negative internal dialogue.
OK, but when that you can see beyond your past, beyond your outdated beliefs, assumptions, and habitual patterns, you can say, "Enough is enough." You can declare the Consciousness Cleanse to be a demarcation, etched in stone, of the turning of the tide. You can make a commitment that you will no longer put up with needless suffering, emotional pain, and the repetitive bad habits of your past. Your willingness to do the is evidence of that fact. The force with which your soul is calling you toward your deeper purpose will never settle for faux faith. It wants the real thing. And so the 21 days you're about to enter into are an opportunity to take your faithless self gently by the hand, letting it know that you understand its trepidation but that you also know that everything it really wants requires that it kick off the shoes of the past. Simply let it know that you''re partnering with it. You and your faithless self are taking one step at a time together into your larger shoes, the ones that your own soul has had tailor-made for you.