For years I’ve had a saying—The Only Way Out Is In. And in stating this, the recognition is that the more I run to the outside world for answers or affirmation or validation, the more removed I am from what I’m really searching for—my own authentic self.
Going within offers an opportunity to commune with the very heart of who we are. Many times, that’s scary because we are afraid who we are isn’t worth knowing, or is defective. We’ve been brainwashed by messages of lack and limitation that make us wary of meeting ourselves. However, if I’m not willing to know me—why should I assume that anyone else would want to?
As Robert Browning states, we begin the journey as a beggar and after diving in, we have the opportunity to become the prince (or princess), having found the pearl of great price. Many traditions speak of this pearl. We might even liken it to the Holy Grail—something we all yearn for, and are required to take an authentic journey to find. In the Grail tradition, if a knight attempted to follow the path of another, he would meet with dire consequences. Each individual was required to find their own unique path.
We can read books to intellectually get a handle on “the journey” and study with teachers who may point the way. But, in the final analysis, it is up to us to take the plunge— to go within—and find out who and what we are. Plunging implies pressure. We don’t know how far we have to go to find what we’re looking for, and often we don’t know what is required for the trip. Going within means confronting our demons, for all great treasures are guarded by something foreboding. We see this described in fairy tales, and in depictions of demons confronting a soul in turmoil, or in the scary figures portrayed in Tibetan art.
When we begin a psychological journey, we can expect to meet our shadow first. Claiming ourselves means meeting all of us—the good, the bad, the ugly. Yet, in the meeting, we are finally freed from fear of the unknown. It is the unidentified lurking in the shadows that evokes terror. Once we see who and what the demon is, we can deal with it. And willingness to go into the dark places also brings an incredible opportunities for deepening our walk with the unifying spirit behind all appearances. We no longer skirt consciousness, we embrace it.
Confronting ourselves requires courage, yet once known, a huge weight is lifted from us. Part of the heaviness we feel, and in many cases carry physically, is as a result of avoiding the interim pain of self revelation. Yet, as we are shown through all the myths and teachings, when we are willing to undertake the journey, and to go the distance, we come into a crystal realization of our worthiness, our lovability, and a capacity to extend ourselves in ways we could not do so long as we kept ourselves separated from the incredible essence we are.
The keys to the kingdom lie within our reach. But we must be willing to “Know Thyself”. To this end, there is a path. It isn’t the seemingly easiest one—and it takes continuous effort—but it is the one that leads to ultimate victory.
The only way out is in.