When my Partner and I first arrived in Lincoln, Engalnd, at Lincoln Cathedral, we quickly became aware that the clergy and congregation had made arrangements among themselves to have us over to dinner in rotation or pay us a welcoming visit at least every week. In line with that, a wonderful elderly Canon and his wife, named Parker came for a visit, with tea and biscuits, of course.
John and I were the talk of the Cathedral Yard, having just arrived from San Francisco, and rumored to be Gay! Everyone was dying to hear whatever gossip they could, and the Parkers were no exception. But to this day, I will never forget Canon Parker's first remark, after we had all been seated with our tea and plates of biscuits; "Now boys, tell us what you dare!"
"Tell us what you dare " becomes the key word, for me, when it comes to "self inquiry ". We can look at the "I am " or the "who am I? " as closely as we can or want, but the "seeker "; that beginning adult in search of childhood, needs to come to terms with that "dream child " only half remembered. This can be scary stuff.
I was fortunate in a way, as I saw my first psychiatrist when I was only 9 or 10. I saw him at San Francisco's sprawling (for then!) UC Med Center. Dr. Shade. What a questionable name for a child psychiatrist; Dr. Shade. But I started on a run that would be an ongoing theme in my life. I was a "bit " nuts. But I was "bright ", what ever that meant. I did not want to be bright, I wanted to be happy.
But I have to admit that exposure to Rorschach Tests, personality inventories, and the simple idea of "inner" exploration was a foundation in personal study, behavioral scrutiny, and "mask removal " that has become a part of my daily life. I learned as a child to see this "Bill " as a mask. Exploring the "I am " can lead you to the conclusion that you can "experience " your "existence ", and little more. The mind all the while, remains a storeroom of masks. The mind tells you that "you are ". But to get to "where you are ", you need to ask your "self " to "tell us all you dare ".
Secrets, not little, stupid secrets, or big, horrible secrets, but the secrets we all tell ourselves, like "I'm better than he is." or "I'm more advanced spiritually than they are." or the reverse; "I'm worthless" or "I have committed great sins." are the reason we look inside. Not just for the sake of "spirituality", but for the simplification of our lives. Our lives are spirituality itself, alive and unfolding before us. Integration brings spirit and the "mundane" together, losing the whole concept of "mundane" in the process.
When we have explored as much as we can, and we find we are running into resistance, it is then we must ask ourselves the Parker's inquiry; tell us all you dare. Look deeply, dangerously close. The only way to discover the angel in the castle may be to discover and deal with the a..hole trying to block the door.
Many so called "spiritual practices" today involve psychological and therapeutic practices that may or may not "work". Spiritual "teachers" should offer pointings that open the mind in new directions, or bypass the mind altogether, and strike at the heart.
Psychologists and Psychiatrists should offer guidance in the "inner search " of the mind. It is wonderful when both disciplines and studies are found in the same person. A psychologist well versed in Advaita, or non-dualism can be a great benefit to a client or "student ", but this can be rather "dodgy " ground; this combination "therapist/guru ".
Likewise, the "suddenly aware" guru or teacher who believes he can now offer psychological practices, no matter how rudimentary or basic, without the years of training necessary to deal with unexpected complications, would be best to stick to "pointing".
Until you are ready to "tell what you dare " in a way that hurts, a way that makes you scream "no, no, that's not me," until you drop all the masks and stand there in the strength and openness that nakedness offers, there is still an "I" hiding in the works. This "I" has to go. This is sacrifice. No, it's not some trip to the Lions in the arena. It's not some idealized "sacred " sacrifice, or even dying for your children or friends. It's living each day, good or bad, with the most love you can express into life. You can only do this when you are open, when you are free, when you tell us all you dare!