When the Self is unknown the world arises, not when it is known. But you mistake the rope for the snake. When you see the rope, the snake vanishes.
Or, in other words…
As a child I used to live in a very big and [sometimes] creepy house. I remember I used to dread those nights when I got up thirsty at 3 A.M. and had to drag myself out of bed for a glass of water. While rushing by the TV room on my way to the kitchen, I couldn’t help but catch an unfortunate glimpse at the long and narrow hall that led to my dad’s office. The bright lights on the parking lot across the street from our house shone through the half-open curtains and reflected into the hall, creating a surreal and most haunting vision. Every time I flew by the TV room late at night for my precious glass of water, I looked over towards that creepy reflection, kind of expecting to see something that would knock my soul out of my body. But I never did. And then, relieved, I would run back to my cozy bed for some Technicolor dreaming action.
One evening, however, as I hurried along in the darkness towards the kitchen, I took a gander at the spooky hall and what I saw truly froze me in my tracks. I mean, I could have been mistaken, but out in the distance, far, far away, I could have sworn I saw the bloody curtains moving in my dad’s office!
Needless to say I was terrified. My fertile kid imagination started conjecturing all kinds of nightmarish scenarios. There was something behind the curtains. For sure. There had to be. I knew it. A monster, no doubt. Perhaps the boogeyman. Perhaps two monsters. Perhaps a whole legion. All kinds of terrible thoughts came to my mind as I just stood there, terrified, paralyzed in fear. Then the curtains moved again. Bam. Utter shock. Adrenaline rush. What to do? I could scream and wake everybody up, but I was too terrified to even utter a sound.
After what seemed to be an eternity, I gathered all my little boy courage and decided to face whatever was behind the curtains. I didn’t know why I was doing that. I just knew I had to do it. I knew I could die. I knew I could be torn to pieces. But I could not live with that fear. I had to find out.
I hesitantly walked along the hall, across my dad’s office and stopped in front of the curtains. Dear Lord. Everything was still. Hey, maybe it was all a mirage. Maybe I was seeing things. After all, I was sleepy. My mind could have been playing tricks on me.
But just as I began to calm myself down…the curtains moved again! I started trembling really hard, but there was no more time to think. In a sudden and crazy move, I yanked the damned things open.
There was nothing there.
Say what? How could that be? Then I looked up and saw my nemesis-to-be-that-never-really-was: a rush of breeze that would periodically rush through the half-open window, making the curtains move. It ran through my face. It actually felt pretty good…
And my fear was instantly gone. The monster was instantly gone. I obviously couldn’t see why at the time, I just felt relieved. But the fear was gone because it was just a ghost. It was an expectation. It was gone because I was able to see the truth. I was able to understand.
And the simple, very simple truth is this: whenever we decide to face our fears—our inner monsters—they invariably turn out to be wind blowing on the curtains.
Now, how many monsters have been hiding behind YOUR curtains?