We have all been enchanted with getting high, having a free awareness, and so we have tried to repress or deny lows when our awareness once again gets caught in this or that. We love the illusion of being high but are afraid of coming down. As your journey proceeds, you realize that you can’t hold on to your highs and deny your lows. Your lows are created by the remaining attachments that blind your awareness. Facing your lows – your anger, loneliness, greed, fears, depressions, and conflicts – is the most productive fire of purification you can find.
As your connection with the spirit deepens, you might even choose to seek out those things that bring your attachments to the surface, so that you might confront them and free your awareness from them. It’s a tricky business – playing with fire. You must feel your own way, unless you have a guide to say when to go and when to stop. If you don’t have a guide, trust your own judgment. For example, if anger still traps your awareness, you might put yourself in a situation which usually elicit anger and then attempt to maintain clear awareness.
If you confront your attachments out of guilt, out of “oughts” or “shoulds,” or through some externally imposed discipline, it won’t work. For these confrontations are difficult and your motives to confront them must come from deep within. It takes the innermost resolve to resist your powerful temptations, or separate your awareness from your strong desires, be they lust, anger, or whatever. Your gains through meditation give you the enthusiasm that can bring a breakthrough into another plane, or the heartfelt desire to go in deeper, or the hunger to change your life. But it still takes much courage and fortitude to face the deepest attachments head on.
When you feel that your life is committed to the spirit you can no longer avoid confronting these weaknesses. Your strategy changes, you seek to move faster, wishing to confront head-on the things that bring down your awareness. You can no longer let them have their way. So you ask for a hotter fire, a fiercer confrontation. Even though this is often painful rather than pleasurable, it’s all right, for you are reaching toward that freedom which lies beyond pleasure and pain. When you want to burn away the grip of your ego on your awareness you’ll endure whatever is needed to clean up your life.
– Ram Dass, Journey of Awakening: A Meditator’s Guidebook