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Changing Beliefs cont.

LVPicker

Your challenge now is to take a good look at the way you've been living and to weed out old habits and beliefs that once fortified your ego but no longer serve you: an abusive or lifeless relationship, an addiction, a history of powerlessness, overwork, or the glare of self-hatred, for example. As you do this, you're left to face the great canyon of emptiness that lies underneath. While it can be frightening, facing this inner void clears the slate, making way for change and regeneration. The tasks of facing the Underworld and your shadow provoke the klesha called abhinivesha, which is a fear of death and the tendency to cling to life. Though painful, the death of the ego is essential so that, like the mythical phoenix, you can rise from the ashes and come to life again in a more mature form. Suffering and death break through the defensive structures that frame our personalities, so we can get closer to our souls. The contraction and suffering experienced with the death of the ego can close your heart and make you feel dry, barren, and exiled. This may seem like a spiritual wasteland, but it's one of the richest and most verdant paths of your awakening. Although you might not yet see it, the seeds of your new self are sprouting beneath the soil of your awareness. This is often when the klesha avidya (ignorance or delusion) is stimulated: You can't see what you'll grow into. You may also have trouble recognizing the last stage of your transition for what it is—a passage through the birth canal.

Finally, after all this waiting, you move through the birth canal and are reborn. This is when the klesha called raga (attachment to pleasure) gets stirred up. Now that you've moved away from suffering and death, you're loath to reexperience it. You may rush to form an attachment to your new identity. Yet if you're interested in spiritual development, you don't want to get too comfortable. If spiritual maturity is truly your priority, you must be ready to leave the comfort zone and begin again and again, as many times as it takes. Don't get distracted by the siren song of raga.

A spiritual initiation is like a carving knife—it cuts and pierces, but also refines and reshapes you. Initiations allow you to reinvent yourself completely, to give yourself over to something greater. They are windows through which you can glimpse who you really are and what's possible for you. They're not just an emotional necessity; they're a spiritual imperative.

As you learn to recognize and accept the extraordinary power of change and develop the art of surrender, you'll be rewarded with an awakening of the natural alignment between body, mind, and spirit that already exists within you.