As received by
Marshall Vian Summers
on August 5, 2008
in Seattle, Washington

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Everyone experiences anger and frustration. There are many things that create frustration and that generate anger. Certainly, failed expectations is one cause. Having your desires be thwarted or held back is another cause. And being unwilling or unable to express your deeper feelings is another cause of anger and frustration. Each of these three causes, you see, can be mitigated and worked out over time, often with assistance from others, sometimes with professional assistance.

Certainly, to have your desires disappointed is something that can be moderated, depending upon how you relate to your own desires and how authentic those desires really are. Where do they come from within yourself? Are they mere wishes? Are they emotional needs or attachments? Or do they represent a deeper need within you?

To have your expectations disappointed is simply part of life. There are so many things that are not as wonderful as you expect them to be. The thrill of ownership, for example, is very short lived, soon to be replaced by the burden of ownership. Love and romance can be quickly replaced by the difficulty of establishing an honest and meaningful relationship with another, based upon a greater purpose in life and personal compatibility. Certainly your expectations of yourself will be disappointing as you find yourself unable or unwilling to fulfill these expectations.

Therefore, having disappointed expectations is simply part of life and can be very maturing if one understands this correctly, if one can re-evaluate their own expectations to see what is really realistic and what is not, what can really be fulfilled and what cannot. And do these expectations represent simply the fascinations or the fantasies of the mind, or do they represent deeper psychological or emotional needs or, even beyond this, do they represent a deeper need of the soul?

The difficulty in expressing one’s feelings is generated by many forces: inhibition within oneself, social conditioning, social responsibility. It takes a lifetime to learn how to recognize, experience and express constructively one’s own deeper experiences. While your culture may require you to behave in a civil and pleasant manner, that does not reflect your deeper experience. Therefore, one must find ways of learning to recognize one’s deeper experience and finding ways to express this constructively.

But in Our discourse today We are going to speak of a deeper cause for anger and frustration, a deeper cause that cannot simply be resolved through working with one’s own psychology and one’s own personal dynamics. For while you may moderate your expectations, while you may moderate your desires, while you may learn constructive ways of expressing deeper feelings with other people or with certain people, there remains a deeper cause for anger and frustration. If this deeper cause is not recognized and addressed, well, one will have to live continuously with a lack of fulfillment and recognition at a deeper level. And this will produce a kind of very irrational anger and frustration.

Even if you have learned to be in life with very few expectations, even if you were very open and accommodating, you would still have this deeper need, this deeper issue to address. Even if you had learned through time and through difficult learning situations how to recognize and express your deeper emotions with certain people in a constructive way, you will still have this deeper need, this deeper frustration within yourself. Even if you have moderated your attitudes and your beliefs, even if you have become very flexible and compassionate, very tolerant—all important aspects, of course—even if you had developed these over time and through much effort, you would still have this deeper need, this deeper frustration and a deeper cause for anger.

So while it is important to address the problem of anger and frustration at the level of your personal dynamics and psychology, at the level of your desires and expectations and need to express yourself effectively with other people, there is a deeper calling here.

If you are not living the life you are really meant to live, you will be dissatisfied. Even if you have created idyllic circumstances, even if you have positioned yourself for a life of great comfort and aesthetic pleasure, you will be very dissatisfied. If you are not living and doing what you came here to live and to do, well, the enhancement of your environment or the manipulation of your psychology will not be enough to counteract the deep dissatisfaction and frustration you will feel about your life.

Here there must be a greater honesty. You can claim that you are living a greater purpose, that you are really doing what you came here to do. You can tell yourself this. You can assure other people of this. You can talk yourself into a belief about this. But if you are constantly frustrated, easily irritated, easily upset, then you can be sure that there is a deeper need within you that is going unmet.

The first step here is to recognize that you came into the world for a greater purpose. You did not simply wash up on the shore one day, a kind of biological accident, or some kind of mishap in the cosmos, or this just happened to be the place you happen to be. There is a greater purpose for you being here. But this purpose is kept deeply within you in a deeper consciousness.

You cannot figure it out with your intellect. It is not a belief or a set of beliefs. If you are really honest with yourself, you must really acknowledge that you do not know what this is. Perhaps you have made strides in the right direction. Perhaps certain things have come into place within your life. Perhaps you have made real progress. But you cannot say definitively what this is because it is not a definition. It is not an idea. It is not a belief. It is not a declaration.

If you are moving in the right direction, you will feel a deeper resonance within yourself. If you are not, you will feel a disassociation with yourself, a kind of great wall between your conscious mind and your deeper reality.

And while you may try to remain stimulated on the outside—preoccupied with a busy life, with overinvolvement with other people, with a full schedule—you are still facing this wall within yourself. It is as if you were living on the surface of the mind and had no idea what was down beneath the surface.

This is the tragedy for so many people. They are working so hard to have a good life. They are exerting so much effort to try to acquire the relationships and the possessions and the opportunities for themselves, and yet they have not passed through this great barrier within themselves that keeps them from feeling and knowing and experiencing a deeper movement and direction in their lives.

So even if they are successful in worldly terms and have achieved many of their goals, have been successful while others have failed, have achieved a financial stability or even affluence, they are unknown to themselves. They think they are their minds and their thoughts and their beliefs and their attitudes and their psychological aspects. They identify with the surface, but they have no real sense of themselves.

So no matter what they acquire for themselves, their pleasures are small, and their frustration is great, and they work like slaves to have these things. And, as is often the case, they are dishonest with themselves and with other people to try to gain advantage, to try to look good, to try to win approval and favor.

As a result, their life is a kind of sham. It is inauthentic. It is all for show. They identify with their possessions, with their house, with their job, with their social standing. They have no real sense of themselves, and sadly this greatly limits their ability to experience any kind of affinity with anyone or anything in life.

So they are living in a kind of bubble, a bubble that is so easily threatened by a changing world and by the great changes that are coming to the world in the future. Their happiness is intermittent and short lived and easily threatened by life around them.

Even if they have adopted a happy face, a happy behavior, within themselves there is roiling frustration. They are fighting depression. They are fighting inner conflict to put on a happy face to the world because they have not really connected with who they are, and why they are here in the world, and the deeper direction that their life is meant to go and was always meant to go.

If people choose another way, eventually they become so lost that to find their way back seems almost impossible. But God has placed a deeper Intelligence within each person, an Intelligence called Knowledge. And it does know the way back, for it has never left you, and it still possesses your greater purpose in life. Even if you were ninety-years-old and had lived a whole life, it still holds a greater purpose for you.

But as you get older, you would have to be willing to backtrack. You would have to be willing to undo what you have created. You would have to be willing to challenge and question and even set aside longheld beliefs and attitudes. You would have to change your position with your friends and your family, who may not at all understand, recognize or support your attempt to regain a real connection with your deeper life. It is very difficult then. Not impossible, but difficult.

It is like the hot and cold game. If you are honest with yourself, your life becomes warmer and more resonant. If you continue to maintain false ideas about yourself and give yourself to things that will not lead your life in the direction in which it is meant to go, your life will become colder and colder. You will be more slavish to your desires. You will be more upset with the world, and you will be more upset with other people, and you will be more upset with yourself.

Knowledge within you can bring you back, but it will take time. And it will not be easy because you have to undo so much, both in your outer life and within your own mind. This takes courage and strength and determination. You must face adversity and disappointment from other people. You must face uncertainty within yourself. You will doubt yourself, wondering if you are going crazy.

“What am I doing to my life that I don’t want to do the things I have been doing? I don’t want to do them anymore. I am tired of shallow, meaningless relationships. I’m tired of being a slave, trying to acquire things of little value. My soul is hungry. It is needy. It needs real connection with people. It needs a meaningful life and I am not living that life. My life is a pretense. It is an accommodation to other people. It is a sacrifice for wealth or beauty or advantage.”

There is a really difficult reckoning here when you realize that your life is really not what it must be. You are not living the life you were meant to live. You are not being true to yourself. You have gone far afield and must now find your way back.

You have become lost in the world. It has captured you. It has conditioned you. It has persuaded you to be a certain way, to act a certain way, to behave a certain way, to meet certain social requirements, to meet the expectation of your family or your culture or religion or all of the above. And you feel lost.

Somehow you cannot shake this feeling anymore. You cannot lose yourself in constant stimulation. You cannot lose yourself in your job. You cannot lose yourself in pursuing romance. You cannot lose yourself in your hobbies or your fascinations because fundamentally you are not right with yourself. And if you are not right with yourself, you are not right with the people you are with. You are not right with your circumstances. Everything is out of sync because you are out of sync.

And you are frustrated. And you have a kind of anger that does not seem to be related to anything in particular. It can be stimulated by disappointment. It can be stimulated by your inability to express yourself. It can be stimulated by disappointment in the world. But it really is something else. It is more fundamental and it is more protracted within you.

You can tell yourself, “Well, I am living such a wonderful life. I have so many advantages, or at least I am better off than those people over there. So many worse things could be happening to me, so I should be thankful. I should be grateful,” but inside, something is really missing. And you cannot talk yourself out of it because you are not right with yourself. You are not living the life you are meant to live.

While other people seem to be content or perhaps, more correctly, resigned to their circumstances, you cannot seem to do this anymore. You cannot simply resign yourself and say, “Well, it is really okay. It is life. It is what I must do,” because it is not honest. It does not matter that everyone seems to be fairly satisfied. It is your own recognition within yourself.

It is like God has hooked you, and you are a fish, and it takes a long time to reel you in because you are so far out there. You are so resistant. And you are fighting, and you are struggling, and God is reeling you in. But you are fighting, and you are struggling, and you are trying to go somewhere else. You are overcommitted to a life that is not really your real life.

It is so important here to come to face this because life on the outside will continue to be frustrating and disappointing. And you will continue to have difficulty expressing yourself with other people. But you must come to terms with this and face this question: “Am I really living the life I’m meant to live? Not that I want to live, but that I am meant to live, that I must live.”

If you are not sure, then you need to keep asking. Ask yourself: “Will I be content living the rest of my life under these circumstances and with my current understanding and current values?” It is really asking the same question but using different words. “Am I really fulfilling my greater abilities and potential here? Am I really doing what God sent me into the world to do? Am I really engaged with the right people? Am I really in the right place, engaged in the right activities?”

These questions are all very similar because they are attempting to penetrate a deeper reality within yourself and ask very fundamental questions about your life. You may not have an answer to these questions right away, but the fact that you are asking them and continuing to ask them, that is what is important.

These are not questions that are intellectual games. They are not questions you can simply answer with a statement or a sentence or a definition. They are inquiries. They are explorations.

It is like you are mining for gold. The nuggets are not sitting out on the surface, and you just pick them up. You will have to dig for them. Here you have to dig within yourself. Take time out from your busy, overwrought schedule and begin to concern yourself with these kinds of questions.

So the first thing to understand is you were born with a greater purpose. The second thing to understand is that Knowledge, this deeper Intelligence that God has placed within you, knows this purpose and is keeping it for you—awaiting the time when you desire it, and helping you to prepare for it, guiding you and protecting you for this greater purpose.

It is not an intellectual understanding. You will not walk around every day having a firm conviction and belief that you know why you are here and what you are doing because it is not like that. You have to live this. It reveals itself as you live it. People want the answer before they will do the investigation. They want to know what the outcome is going to be before they involve themselves. It is not like this.

It is like taking a journey, a journey you did not create for yourself, a journey that has been waiting for you for so very long. You take it because you must know the truth about your life.

Perhaps you have tasted enough sorrow and pleasure in this world to realize that they are only tastes and they do not represent who and what you really are; that you cannot be satisfied with what other people are trying to be satisfied with; that you are not in the world to simply be a consumer, a locust upon the world, consuming everything in sight; that there is really a greater purpose for your coming and for your being here.

You will not discover this all at once. You will discover it in stages. And each stage will require you to adjust your life, your expectations, your desires and your attempt to communicate with other people.

Until you really have a deeper experience of yourself and your greater purpose here, even your emotions will not make any sense to you. You will not even know what you want to communicate to people. You cannot just communicate frustration. That is kind of destructive; that is unpleasant. You cannot go around screaming at people because you have given yourself the freedom to express anger and frustration. That will not work.

So you have to do this inner work, you see, because if you do not, you are just going to be an angry, frustrated person whether you are rich or whether you are poor. And your anger will be projected out onto the world, onto other people, onto governments, onto politics, onto religion—lashing out here, lashing out there, when inside, you are basically not right with yourself, living a life that is not real, living a life that is an accommodation to others, a compromise.

Of course, you will be frustrated. Of course, you will be angry. How could you be otherwise? You cannot simply meditate all day and be at peace if you are not right with yourself.

Being right with yourself is having a continual experience, an ongoing experience of being connected to a deeper movement in your life. It is not simply a psychological exercise where you manipulate your thinking or you manipulate your emotions and all of a sudden you are in a nice peaceful place. And it does not matter if you attain a peaceful state in some other reality but still are unable to function here successfully. What difference will that make?

You meditate for hours every day and you get into a wonderfully quiet and quiescent state, and you are very open, but as soon as you come back, well, you are still the same frustrated personality—facing disappointment, having difficulty communicating to other people, failed expectations, failed desires, failed communication. You have all these problems, you see.

So if you are doing fine at some other level of consciousness, well, if it is not really translating into a greater ability here, then what difference does it make? You are just going to retreat into the monastery for the rest of your life? Trying to live in bliss? That is not why you have come here.

What is being presented here is so fundamental to your sense of well-being, to your sense of integrity, to having a real experience of yourself and a sense that your life is being moved in a greater direction. People have not had this experience sufficiently to really see it in contrast to everything else that they do.

If you have never experienced your life really being moved in a deeper or greater direction, then you will just try to live your life based upon your wishes and your desires and the wishes and desires of other people. You will be happy to be part of the herd, and you will live your life eating grass.

The cause of suffering at a deeper level, at a more fundamental level, and not merely at the surface, has to do with one’s inability or unwillingness to explore and face the reality and the greater purpose of their life.

You could say suffering is the result of attachment. Well, attachment to outer things does create suffering, but the answer is not complete. To become more unattached may make you a little freer, but it does not answer the fundamental question of who you are and why you are here, what you are doing and what you are giving yourself to.

You cannot simply withdraw from the outside, searching for peace, because at the level of your soul, the need of your soul will still be unmet. You will still be discontented. You will still be frustrated. And your desire for peace is like a kind of escape.

All the work that was done to bring you into the world is considerable. To have you be here and simply want to leave does not fulfill your purpose, nor the purpose of those who have brought you here. You have been sent into the world to give specific gifts within specific situations, involving certain people. If you just want to escape, to be happy, to be at peace, to avoid the challenges and the difficulties of life, well, you are not fulfilling your purpose.

You can be at peace when you leave this world. But you have come here to contribute, to serve, not just to invest in your own happiness. And how dishonest you will become with yourself in your pursuit of happiness. You will only want to see certain things. You will only want to hear certain things that support your pursuit for happiness. You will not want to see suffering. You will not want to see conflict. You will not want to see most of the realities of life here. You will not want to face the really difficult questions about your life. You will not want to have to do any real work within yourself or work within the world, seeking now only reprieve.

That is not why you are here. Do not waste your life trying to secure happiness at the expense of the greater purpose that has brought you here, for you will not find this happiness. And failure will follow you like a shadow. And anger and frustration will be your mates.

To take the Steps to Knowledge is to begin the journey of return, to begin to come back, to find your way back to what is essential, to what is real. And you will have to make this journey back because having answers or explanations alone will not do.

You will have to undo what you have created to a certain extent because it has taken you away from yourself, and from this greater purpose that runs like a thread through your life. You cannot change this purpose. How it will be expressed in the world is dependent upon many things, not the least of which are what you recognize to be important and what you pursue in life.

So you have a destiny here. It does not mean that everything that happens to you represents fate or that it happens for a purpose. You are the one who has the purpose, not events. You enliven events by the purpose you bring to them, not by what you think is their purpose for you.

Many people are confused about this. People will say everything that happens in life happens for a purpose. That sounds so edifying. It sounds so spiritual to say that, but it really is not true at all. Everything happens. What is your purpose?

Your purpose determines what you value. It determines what you look for within yourself and other people. It determines what you search for and seek for in life. It determines how you evaluate yourself, other people, your circumstances, and the world as a whole.

In essence, you only have two choices regarding your purpose. You have the real purpose, which remains to be discovered, experienced and expressed in your life, and then you have all the other substitutes for this. And there is great variety within these substitutes, but essentially they are all attempts to do something else, to be something else, to have something else. So while they look very different from one another, they are really all the same, and they lead to the same kind of suffering and disassociation within yourself.

People can say, “Oh, well, I’m a soldier” or “I’m an artist” or “I’m a musician” or “I’m a politician” or “I’m a farmer” or “I am a businessperson”, “I am a doctor”, whatever it is. There is a long list. The question yet: “Is this really what you came here to do?” If it is, you are on the right track. If it is not, you are deceiving yourself and giving your life away.

There is no bargaining here with reality. You cannot strike up a deal with Knowledge. “Well, I’ll give a little to you if you’ll give me these things I want.” It does not happen like that. You cannot make a deal. You can either connect with your inner life and learn to follow its directions and take the Steps to Knowledge, or you will attempt to continue your desperate pursuit at personal fulfillment, at trying to make Separation work, at trying to create yourself, all the while missing what has been created within you and for you.

This is the big prescription. It is not like taking a pill and feeling better for a few hours. It is not simply adapting yourself to the world in such a way that it upsets you less. That may be necessary, of course, to do those things, but they are temporary. They are only partially successful. You still have the big questions to deal with, the questions you have to live with that you cannot answer.

For the answer to these questions is choosing a direction in life and living that life and taking that life, step by step. That is the answer. Not proclaiming that you are living your higher purpose or “This is who I really am. This is what I am meant to be.” People do that all the time, and it is just another form of deflection and self-avoidance.

When you really connect with the deeper current of your life, it will be very mysterious. You cannot define it. You say, “Well, I know I must do some things” or “I feel I must go to this place” or “I really feel I need to be here doing what I am doing” and you cannot explain it to people. You cannot give it a lofty goal, a lofty definition. You are simply doing what is the next steps for you to do. And you are doing it to the best of your ability.

That is it because this is a mystery. The intellect will have to go along and learn to trust this. It is not in control now. You will have to control your outer life and your emotions to a great degree, but you are living a greater life, a life beyond the reach of the intellect.

Some people cannot do this. Everything has to be understood. Everything has to be controlled. Everything has to fit into definitions. They are slaves to their minds, to their beliefs, driven fundamentally by insecurity, unable or unwilling to face the mystery and uncertainty of life, unwilling to take risks, unwilling to do anything daring. They live like a colony of gophers. They are just going to dig a hole and live there, pop their head out once in a while, look around, and go back in.

You have the freedom to live a greater life, and you have the freedom to live a lesser life. But if you choose to live a lesser life, do not expect satisfaction. Do not expect harmony within yourself. Do not expect to be in really meaningful relationships with other people. Do not expect your pleasures and your enjoyments to be long lasting, or even more than momentary. Do not think that the acquisition of possessions, wealth, people, power will really satisfy anything within yourself.

Life will be a desperate, frustrating attempt with moments of pleasure and reprieve here and there. That is what you can expect. If that is fine with you, then you can choose the lesser life, and it will not be quite so disappointing to you.

But if you seek real relationships with others, if you seek to find your own strength and ability, if you seek to fulfill your greater destiny here, then you are choosing a very different pathway. And it is this different pathway that holds all the promise of your life.