One of the first things we decide in this life is whether we are good or bad: are we worthy or unworthy, loveable or wretched, whole or broken, a blessing or a curse?
We all get mixed messages about this, so we all wind up more or less confused about what's actually true about us. We all have parts of ourselves that hold beliefs about our goodness, worthiness, lovability, and wholeness. Some part of you does believe you are a blessing to this world. But we all also have parts of ourselves that hold beliefs about our badness, unworthiness, wretchedness, and brokenness. It may be deeply buried or it may be right on the surface, but some part of you is afraid it's true that you may be a curse to this world.
It is deeply painful to believe these negative things about ourselves, so we also have countless strategies to protect ourselves and cope. One strategy is to cover up the badness and endeavor constantly to keep up a good front. Another is to work really, really hard to redeem oneself through achievement, hoping that worthiness can be proven and that goodness can be earned. Or perhaps the strategy is to latch onto another person who will provide the love and kindness we can't give to ourselves, and sacrifice ourselves tremendously so as not to lose that person. Or perhaps it's more about making everyone else so bad and so wrong that we look a lot better by comparison.
These are just a few examples of how much of our energy goes into clinging to the positive beliefs and trying to get rid of the negative. But no matter how hard you try, you won't get very far for very long because what's actually true about you has nothing to do with your beliefs. What's actually true about you was present and alive and real before you were even born. You can't do anything to create or improve it, nor could you do anything to break it or lose it. It is as basic and near to you as your skin and your breath.
So here's the scoop: what is most fundamentally true about you is that you possess awareness, intelligence, and warmth. Your consciousness is inherently alert, aware, awake - you don't have to do anything at all for this to be the case. One thing this wakefulness can do is directly perceive the Truth of What Is Right Now, and so it has the inbuilt capacity to be profoundly intelligent and wise. Another thing it does all by itself is to feel moved by the suffering of others and to respond to that suffering with care. This empathy and warmth came pre-installed in your system hardware, just like the reflex in your knee, and require no input whatsoever from your thinking mind.
Just like how water doesn't have to try to be wet, your awareness doesn't have to try to be intelligent. And just like the candle flame isn't trying to be brilliant, your heart doesn't have to try to be kind. It is only through our challenging life experiences, especially in our first tender years of life, that we get disconnected from our most basic nature and become lost in our strategies of protection and coping. Then we spend our lives struggling endlessly to win the war inside.
The only way to win this war is to call the whole thing off, wave the white flag, and surrender. Paradoxically, admitting defeat winds up becoming your ultimate victory. Admitting that you're trapped is what unlocks the prison gates. Releasing the whole battle comes from realizing that no belief about goodness will ever be able to stand in for your actual goodness. When you give up wrestling with your beliefs, you can begin the work of re-learning to sense, feel, access, and rely upon your natural, inherent wakefulness, intelligence, and warmth in all moments of your life.
When you're facing a new and challenging situation, you can choose to have faith that your basic intelligence will be able to illuminate the way, step-by-step, even if you don't know how it will all turn out in the end. When you're walking into a conflict with someone, you can choose to trust in your basic warmth, knowing that your heart already knows how to guide you towards resolution and healing. It's when the fretful mind turns around and bows to something deeper than thought that we regain access to our extraordinary, built-in capacities.
So let me say this one more time: your wakefulness, intelligence, and warmth will continue to be there no matter how far you stray, no matter how confused you get, and no matter how long you're separated from them. They cannot be created or broken, and they are just standing by, waiting for you to let them guide you.
When people say that "God lives within you, as you," this is what they're talking about. This is the spark of Divine consciousness, brilliance, and love that exists within each one of us. You have so much more inside than just your mind, and you can learn to rely on that.