In Zen, the carp swimming up the waterfall is the emblem of the one who hopes to awaken. The carp, a bottom feeder, would never, by following its nature alone, rise to fight the current. And yet this is exactly what the spiritual aspirant does. Looking into the secrets hidden in what you want to avoid is a way of leaping up the waterfall of your own habits and mind forms.
As you think about what I am saying does something come to mind? If so, let the thought, complete with its bodily aspects arise and come into view. Sometimes what appears is so frightening that you flinch and turn away. We all have some sort of psychic circuit that trips the breaker at the point of danger. Your reflections are shut down involuntarily when the fuse is blown. The natural wisdom of the psyche resembles the wisdom of the body. Just as a physical cramp might warn you that to continue your movements as you have been may injure your body, psychic defense mechanisms also arise to protect you from seeing something you are not ready to see. The phenomena associated with this process vary from sudden memory loss, to the benign distraction of needing to eat or physically leave, or even a stress induced tunnel vision and a migraine. In an extreme case, a person might even faint. The body/mind has great wisdom and you must think carefully before attempting to override its warnings.
If you don't flinch, if you don't turn away, you may make a discovery. Even if you do turn away, inevitably the body/mind brings you back to that which you are avoiding. You might misread a road sign and your misreading gives you clues as to the process going on within you. In the split second during which you misread the road sign you can catch the message from within you that is forcing itself into your consciousness. ‘Danger ahead!’ becomes ‘Anger ahead!’ Or a dream ushers in the unwanted themes that you are forced to review upon awaking. If you don’t attend to these clues your anxiety may attack you as if to force you to turn and face the disregarded matter that rises again and again to the periphery of your consciousness.
Lets say you decide to willingly explore what you have been avoiding. Your curiosity-no it deeper than curiosity-gets the better of you and you turn to face the matter head on. You feel compelled to understand what it is that you are avoiding and why. The demons of your fears surround you trying to make you back down. If you don’t, the pressure builds. If you sustain your effort you can force your fear to show itself. You stand in the light of awareness and summon forth the demons one by one, refusing to stop until the monster is before you in all its terrible glory.
What monsters might these be that lie hidden? In the dark night of the soul the aspirant is driven to confess to him or herself. The monster, in its essence, is Lack. Lack can bear many faces but it is, in essence, your own inadequacy to meet the terms of being. Now you begin to examine this lack. In your review you discover your own self-criticism. You consider failures that you had pushed from your mind. The times you turned away from the truth return again having resided somewhere in your body/mind released now by your willingness to face them.
In what you wish to avoid you find jewels. These jewels appear dark at first. What transforms them is your intent and honesty. Looking ever more closely you can start to discern the grave mistake you have made. Your mistake has to do with what you have taken yourself to be. Let go. Surrender. In doing so you will discover who you really are.