The path to the inwardly enriched life is not hidden from the man or woman who longs to walk upon it. The path itself is not so much a series of steps, but rather a growing set of discoveries within those individuals who, as Christ said, "have eyes to see." These discoveries make evident that which has always been right before them, just waiting to be perceived.
Many of these self-evident truths concern the Great Laws that are always at work. For example, everything in life operates according to a set of laws that reflect the principle of Order. We can see this in the fact that everything moves from what we will call the invisible into the visible. All forms of growth develop from the inner to the outer. It may appear that plants add to themselves from the outside; or that a wound closes from the outside in. But in fact, everything grows, everything heals, from the inside out. That is the order of things.
Christ expressed another aspect of order when he said, "I am the vine, ye are the branches," meaning that everything moves from above to below.
Similarly, everything moves from what is concealed to what is revealed. When we learn a lesson, the lesson comes out to us from a condition that we did not understand (which we call the unknown or the darkness), and it flows from that condition into what we call revelation or the Light. Everything flows from the unknown into the known. Everything flows from what is more complete (the Truth itself) into what is less complete (our own level of understanding).
This is the same as saying that within every human being dwells both the needed and the needful, and energy and knowledge flow from the needed to the needful. It's important for us to become aware of the fact that we are needful, for with that awareness also comes the sensing that we couldn't be needful if there weren't something to fulfill the need. We wouldn't feel thirst if there were no such thing as water to slake it. In the same way, we wouldn't feel the need to be filled by higher understanding if that higher understanding did not already exist.
Now, here's the great trick. Within the human being there exists both the needful and the needed. You know that the needful exists in you. Your own dissatisfaction tells you so. But you believe the needed is somewhere outside of you. You believe you will find the needed in time -- that something will come your way and eventually fulfill all your needs. Then you will no longer be needful for you will have the needed. A large part of your spiritual work is to begin to understand that there is no place outside of you where the needed exists.
You are inwardly divided between the needful and what the needful calls the needed. These are the opposites within the human mind. The needful, incomplete self says, "This is what I need to complete myself." Then the ideas, the nature, the thought life of this self that looks to complete itself through what it says it needs looks into its own content for what it needs. But if it had what it needed in its own content, it wouldn't be looking for it!
The nature that drives itself mad in this circle of wants -- this circle of self -- eventually reaches the point where it says, "Well, the needed doesn't exist. There are just my needs, but nothing to fulfill them because in spite of everything I've done I've never found the needed."
Within a few rare men and women, however, the understanding begins to grow that this level of opposites can only proceed on one plane going around and around in a circle. But the fact that this circle exists begins to prove to them that above these opposites of mind -- the needful and the needed -- there exists that which gave birth to those opposites.
Opposites can't exist unless there was first a single state. One always precedes two. You can't have two without first having one. The mistake we have made in our lives is that over and over again we've run into the needful moment and then failed to learn its higher lesson. We don't like needful moments and therefore we resist them. They are moments of "unknowing" that we call dark and fearful. The needful becomes anxious about the needed and worries, "What if the thing I need doesn't exist or I can't get it?" Then, when it sees that it can't even determine what it really wants, it re-configures what it says it needs so that it can at least get something. And if that doesn't work, it finds some satisfaction in hating the fact that it can't get what it wants. It doesn't matter what the outcome is, because in any case the opposites continue working in that self, keeping that self alive as it is.
But occasionally a fortunate individual finds true principles -- a new order of Laws, just as you are discovering right now. It happens when you come to that all-too-familiar moment when you look at your life, and all you see is a vast plain of darkness, emptiness -- a terrible need pent-up inside of you. It looks as though life isn't going to give you what you need. And in that moment of defeat that you've met so many times before, you do something different. In the past, each time you've come to this moment you've fallen into despair, saying "My life is terrible, and nothing works out for me. I don't have anything. Nobody cares... " (And on and on goes the litany of lies, based on the perception of that incomplete, one-sided self). But now, instead of repeating the familiar routine, you simply understand that the needful -- which is how you know yourself now -- must pass.
How does it pass? Try to follow this explanation which contains a profound truth that can bring you to a higher level of understanding: At your current level of thought, the needful and the needed are really one thing. What you believe is the thing you need is no more than an extension of the needful self. It is an imagined solution that the needful self creates out of itself as an answer to the problem it created. This "solution" can never bring real satisfaction because this needful self has nothing in common with the needed, the genuinely needed -- they're two different natures. And just as new wine can't be poured into old skins, neither can the truly needed flow into the falsely needful. The falsely needful disappears when it is seen as a self-creating system of conflict -- a self-creating system that forever finds its sense of self in some punishment or excitement in the circle of self. When the falsely needful goes, the truly needful appears, and in response the truly needed comes to fulfill it.
The next time you see what you think is darkness or emptiness or loneliness, become aware of whose eyes you are seeing through. Instead, see through the eyes of Truth. This moment that you experience as negative can actually bring into your life that which is genuinely needed by giving you the understanding that leads to the collapse of the needful. Work at it.