He said, "Neville, you must first start with self. Find self, don't be ashamed ever of the being you are. Discover it and start the changing of that self"
~ Neville Goddard, Changing the Feeling of "I"
Becoming "awake" involves seeing our confusion more clearly
~Cogyam Trungpa, The Myth of Freedom
Maturity entails regression. By this I mean that, beyond a certain point in our development, we begin to go backwards. We spend our youth and early adulthood building ourselves up, physically and mentally, acquiring language, knowledge and other skills, to forge ourselves an identity. We invest all of our energy into becoming somebody. Then, at some point, when we experience love and loss, suffering and impotence, we enter a crisis and everything that we've built turns out to be mere scaffolding for the real inner work that we must do.
It is truly like a seed falling to the ground.
First, in love, the outer shell drops away, uncovering the naked and vulnerable baby that has never grown up. If anything, it has only grown into a monster that bellows and moans, whines and rages jealously against just the threat of separation from its lover, our parental imago. To comfort ourselves we sleep in the same bed, like children alongside our mothers.
Then, in loss-- of a job or loved one we depended on, or because we experience personal failure or the inevitable loss of virility, beauty or power that accompanies aging--, we are stripped down another layer to the bare and fragile bones of “I am”, the universal human condition, revealing beyond pride that uniqueness is what we all have in common.
Finally, old age, illness and death, the ultimate humiliation.
Something must die for the something else to live. This is a law of nature and its truth is echoed by all wisdom traditions, whether Christian, Jewish, Sufi or Buddhist. It is the essence of spiritual transformation. Thich Nhat Hahn calls the transformation “composting” (Peace is Every Step) and Pema Chodron all but calls it a pile of shit (“it's a kind of interesting, smelly, rich, fertile mess of stuff”; The Wisdom of No Escape). Poets allude to it more discreetly as a kind of ripening or fermenting, as in Shakespeare's “Ripeness is all” (King Lear). I personally prefer Chogyam Trungpa's “It's one insult after another”.
Through spiritual practice and prayer or meditation, or just by being eroded by life, the mature self is constantly regressing. Back to child, to the baby, back to the fetus asleep in the womb and into the darkness before life, this is the direction of becoming genuine and authentic, awake to the dream "unclothed in full and final self-forgetting" (The Book of Privy Counseling).