My Greatest Mistake. V1

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Explanation of this Guided Experience

The purpose of this experience is to come into contact with that special moment from one’s past which everyone normally charges in a very negative way. In this new contact, “culprits” for one’s apparent defeat will appear. In the memory of this situation lies one of the sources of one’s present frustrations, resentments, guilty conscience, and sometimes, one’s self-pity. We focus on this apparent “worst mistake,” taking a new point of view about it, which helps give coherence and unity to one’s emotional process, and to the process of one’s existence in general. This is a good example of a “dynamic meditation” on the past that also proposes a practical formula for reconciliation with oneself.

Guided Experience

I’m standing before some sort of court. Every seat in the silent courtroom is filled, and I’m surrounded by a sea of stern faces. The court clerk adjusts his glasses and picks up a long document. Breaking the tremendous tension that fills the room, he solemnly pronounces, “It is the sentence of this court that the accused shall be put to death.”

Immediately there is an uproar—some people applaud while others boo, and I see a woman faint. Finally an official manages to restore order in the courtroom.

Staring at me darkly, the clerk demands, “Does the accused have anything to say?” When I answer that I do, everyone sits down. I ask for a glass of water, and after a brief commotion they bring me one. Raising the glass, I take a sip, and finishing with a loud and prolonged gargle, I exclaim, “That’s it!”

Someone from the jury harshly demands, “What do you mean, ‘That’s it’?”

“That’s it,” I repeat. But to satisfy the juror, I say that the water here does taste excellent, much better than I expected, and continue with two or three other pleasantries of this sort.

The court clerk finishes reading the document with these words: “Accordingly, the sentence shall be carried out today: You will be abandoned in the desert without food or water—above all, without water. I have spoken!”

“What do you mean you have spoken?” I demand. Arching his eyebrows, the clerk only reaffirms, “What I have spoken, I have spoken!”

Soon I find myself riding in a fire truck through the middle of the desert, escorted by two firemen. We stop, and one of them says, “Get out!” As soon as I step down from the truck, the vehicle turns around and heads back the way it came. I watch it grow smaller and smaller as it moves off across the dunes.

The sun is setting, but its heat is still intense. I begin to feel very thirsty. Taking off my jacket and putting it over my head, I look around and discover nearby a hollow beside a sand dune. I walk over and sit down in the meager patch of shade cast by the dune.

The wind begins to blow in strong gusts, raising a sandstorm that blots out the sun. Fearing I’ll be buried if the wind grows any stronger, I leave the hollow. Staccato bursts of blowing sand sting my skin, and soon the force of the wind pushes me to the ground.

Now the storm has passed and the sun has set. In the twilight I see before me a whitish dome several stories high. Although I think it must be a mirage, I get to my feet and make my way toward it. As I draw closer, I see that the structure is made of a smooth material, a shiny plastic perhaps inflated with air.

A man dressed in Bedouin garb greets me, and we enter the dome through a carpeted passageway. A door slides open, and I feel a refreshing rush of cool air. Once inside, I notice that everything is upside down—the ceiling is like a smooth floor from which things are suspended. I see round tables above us with their legs pointing up toward the ceiling. I see water falling downward in streams that curve and return upward, and high overhead there are human forms seated upside down.

Noticing my astonishment, the Bedouin hands me a pair of glasses saying, “Try these on!” When I put on the glasses, everything is restored to its normal appearance—in front of me I see a large fountain shooting streams of water high into the air. The tables and all the other things are right side up, and everything is exquisitely coordinated in color and form.

I see the court clerk coming toward me, crawling on all fours. He says he feels terribly dizzy, so I explain to him that he’s seeing reality upside down and needs to remove his glasses. Taking them off, he stands up and says with a sigh, “Indeed, now everything is fine—except that I’m so nearsighted.” He goes on to say he has been searching for me in order to explain that there has been a most deplorable mistake, and I’m not the person who should have been put on trial at all. Immediately he leaves through a side door.

Walking a few steps, I find myself with a group of people seated on a circle of cushions. They are elders of both sexes, with varied racial features and attire. All of them have beautiful faces. Each time one of them begins to speak, I hear the sound of faraway gears, of gigantic machinery, of immense clocks. I hear intermittent thunder, the cracking of rocks, icebergs splitting off, the rhythmic roaring of volcanoes, the light impact of a gentle rain, the muffled beating of hearts—motor, muscle, life—and everything in perfect harmony, a majestic symphony of sounds.

The Bedouin hands me a pair of headphones, saying, “Try these on, they translate.” Putting them on, I clearly hear a human voice. I realize it is the same symphony of one of the elders, now translated for my clumsy ear. This time as he opens his mouth I hear, “We are the hours, we are the minutes, we are the seconds. We are the various forms of time. Because a mistake was made with you, we will give you the opportunity to begin your life anew. But from what point do you wish to start again? Perhaps from your birth, or perhaps from just before your first failure. Reflect on this.” (*)

I try to determine exactly when it was that I lost control of my life, and I tell the elder what happened. (*)

“Very well,” he says, “and what are you going to do, if you return to that moment, in order to follow a different course this time? Bear in mind that you still won’t have any way of knowing what lies in your future.

“There is another alternative,” he adds. “You can return to the moment of the greatest mistake in your life, and without changing the events themselves, you can nevertheless change their meanings. In this way you can make a new life for yourself.”

As the elder falls silent, I see everything around me reversing in light and color, as if changing into the negative of a film. Then everything returns to normal, except that now I find myself back in time at the moment of the greatest mistake of my life. (*)

Here I am, driven to commit this error. But what is compelling me to do it? (*)

Aren’t there other factors influencing this, which I do not wish to see? What things are steering me toward this fundamental mistake? What should I try to do instead? If I don’t commit this error, will this change the pattern of my life? And will the change be for better or for worse? (*)

I try to understand that the circumstances surrounding this moment cannot be changed, and I accept everything that happened as if it were a natural disaster, like an earthquake or a flood that destroys peoples’ homes and livelihoods. (*)

I strive to accept that in such accidents, no one is to blame. My weaknesses, my excesses, the intentions of others—in this case none of these can be changed. (*)

I know that if I don’t make peace now by reconciling with this mistake, my future life will only be filled with more of the same frustration. And so, with all my being, I forgive the others involved, and I forgive myself. I accept everything that happened as something beyond my control, and beyond the control of others. (*)

The scene begins to transform, light and dark again reversing as in the negative of a photograph. At the same time I hear a voice say, “If you can make peace with yourself, reconciling with your greatest mistake, your frustration will die and you will be able to change your destiny.”

Now I’m standing in the middle of the desert again, and see a car approaching. “Taxi!” I shout, and soon find myself seated comfortably in the back seat. Looking at the driver, who is dressed as a fireman, I say, “Please drive me home, and take your time, so I can think about everything that has happened.” Putting on my jacket again, I say to myself, “Who hasn’t experienced some kind of accident? Now I realize I am better than I thought I was, and best of all, I have a future in which to prove it.”


Recreate this experience every day, and particularly your return to the situation of your greatest failure. Examine all the factors that were present at that moment, understanding the accidental quality that pushed you in that direction.
In this practice, at least four different types of resistance may appear: (1) not being able to remember the moment or situation of “my greatest mistake”; (2) not being able to understand that thanks to this error I have been able to obtain other benefits that have brought me to the present moment; (3) not being able to understand that thanks to the problems detected I have been able to avoid other situations that would have had even more serious results; or (4) not being able to look at these situations as accidents that were beyond my control and beyond the control of other people to whom I attribute guilt.
One should meditate on these resistances outside of the Guided Experience, and verify whether there are positive changes of focus or point of view about one’s present situation that have been brought about due to this reconciliation with the past.

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