We all know that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. What is less widely known is that the healing journey is paved with pithy axioms. Some of them even turn out to have a measure of truth. One of these is, “What you most desire lies beyond what you most fear.”
Philosopher Joseph Campbell describes this phenomenon in terms of a heroic journey: “The cave you fear to enter holds the treasure you seek.”
Now I know that your immediate response will be one of abject disappointment. We all want the road to our greatest desire to be a downhill straight, like the ski-jumping ramps at the Winter Olympics.
Let’s think about that for a moment. How much would we actually value our greatest desires if we could easily achieve them? We wouldn’t. We would pass onto the next desire only to feel flat when that is effortlessly ticked off.
Instead of the instant bliss of easy gratification we get this annoying little mantra about the inextricability of fear and desire. It’s like some reverse deal-with-the-devil-down-at-the-crossroads. Instead of exchanging our mortal soul for our greatest want—as legendary delta blues guitarist Robert Johnson is reputed to have done in the 1930s—we must instead confront our worst fear. In 1984-speak, we must enter Room 101.
There is indeed some kind of nefarious deal going on, but we are dealing with a foe much more fearsome than the devil. In personal healing terms the devil is small fry and merits only a lowercase ‘d’. We are dealing with Evolution. It says, “You want it? You can have it. But you must evolve.”
I am being frivolous here. Yes, I know. “It’s only life after all,” as the Indigo Girls sing in ‘Closer to Fine’. But the point stands. Personal development is a process of raising consciousness. If you’ve experienced this you will know that it’s a screamingly painful process. Swapping your eternal soul for Robert Johnson’s finger picking skills is a far more attractive proposition.
Personal development is a process of raising consciousness. If you’ve experienced this you will know that it’s a screamingly painful process. Swapping your eternal soul for Robert Johnson’s finger picking skills is a far more attractive proposition.
The part of us that guides us through healing—known in spiritual circles as our higher self, higher consciousness, oversoul and other more esoteric names—also knows this. So it sets up this Faustian deal where we get what we want—our greatest desire—but only when it gets what it wants—conscious evolution.
This conscious evolution often manifests as a sense of mission. Many people on the healing path report a burning sense of mission that gradually emerges as they expand their comfort zone. This mission always involves two things: service to others and a long stay in Room 101.
So buckle up, gird your loins and all those sorts of things. Now you know where you’re headed, in concept if not in detail. Healing will cost you many things. One of them is your worst fear. What’s not to like?