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Explanation of this Guided Experience
During this experience, you should examine the direction your life has taken from childhood until the present moment; this will enable you to make a projection of this direction into the future. From this projection you will see that your life may not necessarily ever change its course unless the possibility of a new meaning in life is considered. Meditating on this last point will, in itself, allow a change in direction, even though your new objective may not yet be altogether clear. A meditation of this type is capable of producing profound and positive changes in the mechanical or automatic tendencies that have operated in our lives until now.
It is night, and I’m walking down a dark, narrow alley. I don’t see anyone, but through the fog I can make out the faint glow of a distant streetlight. My footsteps resound with an ominous echo. I quicken my pace, intent on reaching the streetlight ahead.
As I approach the light, a few steps away I see a human silhouette. It is an old hag, her face half-covered. Abruptly, in a raspy voice she asks me the time. Peering at my watch, I answer, “It’s three in the morning.”
I walk away quickly, once more entering the fog and darkness, anxious to reach the next streetlight which I see in the distance.
But there, once again, is the old hag. Looking at my watch, I see it now says two-thirty. I begin running toward the next streetlight, looking back over my shoulder and making sure I’m leaving the old woman behind as she stands motionless in the distance. But when I rush up to the next streetlight, again I see her dark shape awaiting me. I look at my watch—it says two o’clock.
I begin running frantically, passing streetlights and old women until, exhausted, I can go no farther and stop midway between two glowing lights. Looking at my watch, I see in its crystal the face of the old woman. I realize that the end has come.
In spite of everything, I try to understand my predicament. I ask myself over and over again, “What am I running away from? What am I running away from?” The raspy voice answers me, “I am behind you and I am ahead of you. What has been, will be. But you are most fortunate, for you have been able to stop yourself and think for a moment. If you find the answer to this riddle, you will be able to escape from your own trap.” (*)
I feel dazed and weary. Still I think there must be a way out. Something makes me begin to remember various failures in my life. I recall the first disappointments of my childhood. (*)
Then I remember the failures of my youth. (*)
Now I recall my more recent failures. (*)
I realize that my defeats will keep repeating in the future, failure upon failure. (*)
All of my defeats have had something similar about them—there was no agreement among the things I wanted to do. They were confused desires that wound up at odds with each other. (*)
I discover that even now many of the things I desire to achieve in the future are contradictory. (*)
I don’t know what to do with my life, yet in my confusion I still want many things.
But I fear the future and worry that my previous failures will happen again.
Here in the fog of this narrow alley, my life is paralyzed between dying glimmers of light.
Suddenly a light goes on in a window and a voice calls out to me, “Is there something you need?”
“Yes!” I answer, “I need to get out of here!”
“Oh no—by yourself you cannot get out!”
“Then tell me, how do I get out of here?”
“I can’t tell you. Besides, if we keep on shouting we’re going to wake up all the neighbors. And we can’t take chances with the neighbors’ sleep! So good night.”
The light goes out, and then I’m filled with one overwhelming desire—I must get out of this trap. I realize that my life will change only if I find a way out of here. This narrow alley appears to have direction and meaning, but is really only a repetition from birth to death, a false meaning. I will end up running from streetlight to streetlight until, at some moment, my strength becomes exhausted forever.
To my left I see a signpost with three arrows. The arrow for this alley bears the name, “Repetitions in Life.” The second arrow points toward “Denial of Life,” and the third marks the direction of “Building Life.” For a moment I reflect on this choice. (*)
I choose the direction of the third arrow, “Building Life.” As I leave the dark alley and emerge onto a broad and brightly lit avenue, I have the strong sense that I’m about to discover something of decisive importance.
Resistances you observed during this experience can be considered indicators of blocks to changing the direction of your behavior until now. When you repeat this experience, especially ponder the feeling "...I am about to discover something of decisive importance..." These repetitions can be carried out individually or with other people. The sensation that "...I am about to discover something of decisive importance..." will be the internal register that precedes the arising of a new meaning in life.