Journey to the Self


SL: I want to understand the fear I experience. I seem to need to control and suppress my emotions. I don’t want to continue to feel the need for other people’s approval. I want to feel the power within myself.

Stephen: Be easy with yourself for a moment. I want to take you on a journey. I want you to see something in a way that you have not seen it before. Are you ready?

Now you are on this road and there is a kind of song you sing that speaks of how you feel. The song is, “I am alone. I feel so all alone. I am afraid.” You sing this song as you walk along the road. Sometimes as you come into a village where you find others, you restrain yourself. You hold back. You find yourself feeling that you do not want to involve anyone else in what you think is your own pain and yours alone. You think that if you were able to appear easy‑going about your lonely travels, despite your uncertainty about the goal, that you would get a more honest answer from those with whom you speak. You sometimes feel that if you could but please the people you ask, they would tell you something they are not revealing to you now. You feel also that if someone needs you, then you will not feel so lonely. You believe the way to please them is to bring them everything they seem to need so that you, in effect, become a messenger for their happiness. It also seems to you that this approach never works. Are you still with me on this road?

SL: Yes.

Stephen: Such a predicament is painful and confusing. There is a part of you that feels a need to restrain yourself, to put some kind of brace on what you need, what you believe and what you perceive yourself to be. Perhaps such a brace would stop them from pushing you away. Maybe then they wouldn’t get angry. Maybe then they would see it your way and help you along. This is part of the way in which we end up dealing with those we need as we travel down this road.

You are with someone now on the road and you are also in the fog. You’ve come to a valley and the fog has settled there. You don’t know when the fog will lift or how to get out. But you do know somehow that you would feel better if you knew that the person traveling with you would not leave and would continue to need you as much as you need her. Are you with me still?

SL: Yes.

Stephen: You feel that if you cling to her, she will push you away and yet you feel the need to cling. You feel that if you let her know how much you think you need her, she will betray you. You continue to feel a need for her anyway.

Another thought arises which appears like this: “If I restrain myself enough and pretend to be the one who has no needs, she will love me. Not that I don’t feel those needs, not that I don’t want to cling, not that I am not afraid. If I pretend that I feel none of these things, then perhaps she will be willing to bring me the answer to those needs. This is the way I think I can undo the fear I feel while walking through the fog, in the valley, on a road which is unclear.” Can you feel that?

SL: Yes.

Stephen: So we continue to walk. We continue to travel. “If I can only prove that I am something else, then I will be loved. If I prepare a face to meet the faces that I meet, then I will find love. If I could only be the person I should be and not the person I feel I am, then others will like me. I feel this especially about she who travels with me now.”

None of this really seems to work. You find yourself committed to the idea that your restraint is the way to find love. You are building a facade around something which doesn’t exist. Your neediness is what you feel. Yet you are afraid to express that neediness because you know on some level that the neediness will be betrayed. You think that in being something else for her, she will love you and in some circuitous way the need will be fulfilled. You get your need fulfilled by pretending you don’t have the need.

Such an inner approach creates a sense of vagueness about your feeling life. You feel distant from it, because you feel forced to present a picture to those who come your way of a person who is clear and clean. You are dealing with a belief which suggests that if you pretend you don’t have the needs you do, the needs that are hidden will be fulfilled in some backward sense. They will give you the love you want because you aren’t the way you are. You need to know that in this process you will not find what it is you want so deeply. You want to know that she is there for you despite your need for her. You want to put down this burden, this facade that you have created, in the hopes of fulfilling the need. It hurts to live inside a photograph of yourself because it presses against something raw.

I feel in you that great need. I feel you needing so much and so deeply. I feel the way in which you need to pretend. I feel the way in which this pretense takes you away from what is real on the inside.

Here is a picture of the way in which lonely men operate. Here is a way in which sensitive men are forced to betray themselves in this most difficult world. “I am a sensitive man. I am a man with needs. I am a man who feels pain. I am a man who longs for love and yet I feel I can’t bring those needs forward because they will be rejected by those around me. In order to have those needs met, I place a photograph on top of what’s real and live through it. It hurts to do this.

“Sometimes I even believe that I’ve become the photograph, until one day, at some raw moment, the whole way in which the photograph is being used to suppress the real man becomes so clear and hurts so much that all I want to do is run away.”

You want to cling to her and hold on to her. You want her to say, “I will never leave you.” You are afraid to ask her. You’re afraid there’s something unworthy and undignified about such a stance. You walk along the road, sometimes wondering if you are going anywhere.

You are so open to this now. You are ready now to be for yourself what you are, and not what you think you should be. You are ready to be there for yourself. Try to think about how something small and thin can suppress something great and deep. The way in which you want to run should be respected and understood. Be with this emptiness for a moment or two.

You are going to continue on our journey. You are going up a hill. It is dark. Only now you are completely alone. There is no one with you. Nothing on which to cling. It is cold. It is night. You are tired.

You are carrying something on your back as you proceed up the hill. You begin to recognize that you have been carrying it for a long time. You are walking up this hill, carrying a sack on your back in the dark. You are cold, lonely, weary and afraid. It seems at this moment that you have left everything behind that you once had clung to and you don’t know which way to turn.

Just as you come to the crest of the hill, you can see a ray of light. You can feel in your heart a stirring of hope. You stop for a moment at the crest, just before the top, and you feel within yourself a great longing not to have these needs, not to be afraid, not to feel isolated and alone.

You have walked almost all the way up the hill. On the other side is light. You are so tired that you have decided to sit and rest. Inside is a deep yearning to know that you are safe.

There is a man alone sitting on a hill just before it crests. There is a rising sun. There is still the dark. There is a hint of warmth. There is the cold. Here is a man who waits.

You rise and walk a little further to the top. You know that on the other side is something you want. Just before you, however, is a gate. I want you to stand in front of this gate and experience the yearning which exists to pass to the other side. Allow yourself to feel this yearning. Let go of the self‑hate. Let go of the labels. Let go of the facade and allow yourself to wait at the gate.

You discover, as you wait here, as you wait here for the God of Love, that there is a guard. Someone stands at the gate. There is a guard at the gate and I want you now to describe to me who guards this gate.

SL: It looks like me.

Stephen: How do you look?

SL: I look lovely.

Stephen: Can you feel that deeply?

SL: Yes.

Stephen: Does it make you afraid to want to love you so much?

SL: It makes me want to hug me.

Stephen: Now go to this guard and embrace him. “Why are you holding me back?” you ask. “Because I am so afraid,” you answer. “I want Love so badly it makes me afraid.”

Be easy with your breathing. Breathe deeply. I want you to listen now in a way you have never listened to any voice before. I want you to recognize that the voice you are about to hear is coming through you. “My dear, kind friend. My dear, kind and sensitive friend. My dear, kind, gentle, sensitive friend. My dear, kind, soft, gentle, sensitive friend who sometimes feels so lost that he needs to defend. My dear, sweet heart, I love you. Accept this please. It is the only gift I will ever give. It is the only gift you will ever want. My dear friend who dwells in Light, listen to the way you rattle in the dark. I love you. All this softness, all this sensitivity is still a man. All this need and all this greed is still a man. All this gentleness, all this sensitivity, all this willingness to be open, is still a man. It is beautiful to be who you are now, because I love you, my gentle, gentle friend. My angry, gentle friend. My lonely, gentle friend.”

The journey was impossible without your traveling. We are all here ready to experience the Second Coming and to understand the Second Coming as an internal experience in which we find the Presence of Love and turn away from despair. In this new advent we hear, “In your honesty, I’ll be there.”

Our work is to keep the prayer honest and to learn what it means to be resurrected. We certainly know what it means to be crucified. Now let us know what it means to be resurrected and to ascend.

“God is the Light indwelling in my heart. His messenger is my Friend.”

Copyright 1993: Estate of Stephen Robbins Schwartz

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