Each of the 14 stages confronts us with a particular set of challenges we need to face and neutralize.

Challenges are nothing other


unresolved themes of our life.

    The number of challenges in each stage is limited. Their number varies in every stage. Generally we meet more challenges on lower stages than in higher ones.

    The lower the level we focus on, the more we tend to feel like victims of the themes that manifest in our life.

    The more we shift our focus to higher levels, the better we can steer how challenges manifest, with what intensely they influence us and how long they last.

What kind of challenges we face is highly individual. We only confront those challenges (themes of life) we attach positive or negative emotions to, all others do not affect us.



Positive and Negative Challenges

The theme of a challenge may appear positively or negatively charged, or both.

    Yet there is no compulsion to perceive a certain challenge as negative or positive only. This evaluation depends entirely on our current attitude towards it. While interacting with a particular challenge our perception may easily change from negative to positive and vice versa.

  • Positively charged challenges are easy to identify. We desire specific situations that trigger joy, satisfaction, acceptance etc.

  • When we dislike, detest, hate etc. a situation, person or object, we confront negatively charged challenges.

    NOT WANTING  something to occur
    does  NOT  remove the challenge.

        On the contrary - this kind of rejecting emotion is a sure way to attract the exact situation we want to avoid.

  • And further there exists a strange mixture of negative and positive emotions we only experience in stages 1 to 5.

        This is a state of thrill in which we balance precariously between excitement and apprehension, mild worry and sometimes even physical pain, - a condition slightly out of the ordinary that heightens awareness of surroundings and feelings. While in Stage 1 to 5 we consider these kind of situations 'interesting' or 'thrilling'.

        Example: We are about to leave someone we dearly love. Though we still are together with the beloved, we often feel a kind of melancholy that mixes ache with joy.

  • Concluded challenges are perceived as neutral. They do not trigger emotional reactions within us and thus hardly affect our life.


What Makes Challenges Enter Our Life?

Challenges activate automatically once supportive conditions arise in our life. - Yet we can also trigger them intentionally.

Supportive Conditions
Supportive conditions enter our life
  • when we confront situations, persons or emotions that disrupt our habitual routines, - and/or
  • when we feel a sudden motivation or drive for new activities or for finishing unresolved projects.
    Supportive conditions may occur at any given time. They often activate challenges unexpectedly and in times of trouble, when the additional load seems just one burden too many.

    Supportive conditions may set off more than one challenge at a time.

    We can prevent these accumulative, often chaotic bottlenecks by intentionally triggering challenges in 'convenient' times to neutralize them - before they may upset our life.

Intentionally Triggered Challenges
To fundamentally get rid of a specific theme of life, we can trigger the respective challenge intentionally.

    Challenges become active when we
  • physically enter a situation or
    actively engage in a particular theme of life
  • prepare for action or corresponding events
  • provoke events or situations relating to a challenge or
  • silently assent to an action or situation relating to the theme of a challenge
Each one of these mechanisms sets off sequences of events that provide opportunities for neutralizing the corresponding theme.

    Intentionally triggered challenges often provoke a flood of powerful and passionate events that may thoroughly upset our current social consensus and propel us into a completely different frame of life. Yet it gives us a fair chance to free ourselves from burdensome influences that otherwise might overshadow our life for unforeseeable more time. More often than not it takes considerable courage to enter this route. Yet in the long run this is a sure and rapid way to become the strong, sovereign being we deeply feel within us.

    How deeply a challenge affects our life depends entirely on the intensity of our EMOTIONAL engagement in it, never on how directly (or remotely) we participate in the respective activities.

    Indirect involvement or silent assent born out of fierce passionate agreement subjects our life to the respective challenge with the exact same intensity we feel.

    The mere fact that an emotional response gets triggered within us, indicates that we have not neutralized the respective theme yet.

    Challenges we could not fully experience or neutralize, perceive as failed, or ran out of time while engaging in it, do not automatically expire at the end of our life. We get all the chances to learn what we want to learn. In our next life (lives) we will automatically find ourselves in a body and environment well suited for experiencing the particular themes of life we were unable to complete before.


How to React to Challenges

Challenges occur whether we like it or not. Yet with skilful action we can neutralize negative challenges and prevent them from ever marring our joy of life again.

    However - merely 'thinking' about emotionally loaded situations, or 'wishing them to cease' does not make them go away.

    To neutralize our attachment to a challenge we often need to re-experience a certain 'trying' situation or re-enter an 'irritating' action. If during this (last) manifestation we consciously monitor our inner emotional reaction, objectively judge it as irrelevant or petty as it really is, and discard any likes or dislikes that would renew our attachment, we become free of this theme.

    Even if the theme re-occurs again, - as it often happens - it will dissolve without much of an effect, if we don't engage in it emotionally. After some time, we do not even perceive it any more, and then it is neutralized.

    Example: We easily observe this process in someone who just quit smoking. Though he decided to be abstinent, his longing for a drag gets triggered each time someone in his vicinity lights up. He has a latent readiness to react to this stimulus, which often manifests in form of intense aggression towards the one who dares to smoke. The emotional attachment still present in the new 'non-smoker' breaks out as soon as supportive conditions arise.

    In contrast to this a 'real' non-smoker may feel annoyed at the infringement on his quality of breathing, but the smell of a lit cigarette would never prompt him to light up as well. He has no latent attachment to this kind of theme and thus the stimulus passes without initiating any kind of action or emotion.

Positive Challenges

In a similar way we deal with challenges we feel positive towards. We keep on attracting the respective situations as long as we react emotionally to the corresponding themes of life.
Our attachment to positive challenges dissolves,
  • once we experienced them so often that we get bored by them
  • once other themes begin to interest us more or
  • when we shift to a higher stage.
Here it often happens that the theme of life (e.g. a longing for ever deeper insight) does not fall away, but reveals itself in a new, more fascinating form or dimension.


What Challenges Are Active in Us NOW ?

That's easy to find out: Whenever we notice appreciation or rejection within us, love or hatred, longing, or disappointment towards a certain situation or person, that corresponding theme of life is active within us.

    Yet don't expect this to always manifest in form of clear-cut, intense, prolonged feelings. More often than not challenges surface in the disguise of trivial matter in the daily hustle-bustle - which makes out the major part of our life.

  • It is the minor, insignificant situations, where we e.g. prefer to speak with the one person that confirms our opinions, - rather than with another who may confront us with unfamiliar, uncomfortable views.

  • They are the small opportunities to do something positive, like at the supermarket checkout allowing a person with only one item to go ahead of us, before we start putting our many purchases on the belt.

  • It is the impulse to do something precise, to execute an action as thorough as possible - instead of choosing carelessness and doing only some casual window-dressing.

    It is these small, barely noticed situations in which we are challenged to grow or to stagnate, to help or to be petty, to open or to close our heart, to learn something new or to deem this far beneath us, to be as good as the magnificent person we feel we really are inside, or to remain our current limited self.

    It is the sum-total of these minute decision that makes our life grow or stagnate, fascinating or boring, inspiring or a burden.

    The magnificent we feel within us, here is its very beginning, here is the starting point from where to turn our life to wholly different horizons. These deceptively 'trivial' matters are a major key, - it pays to watch them far more closely.


How to Neutralize Challenges

Neutralizing is different for each single challenge. The next chapter deals with their specific mechanisms.

    Yet three basic strategies apply to all challenges:

1 - Knowing the Game
To dissolve a challenge we often only need to know that this particular theme is active in our life. Once we become aware how unwittingly we engage in ever the same (annoying) events, we can easily end our automatic response.

    This can be compared to a magic trick that fascinates us each time for as long as we are unaware how it is done. Yet once we know the trick, our automatic fascinated reaction dispels completely.

    Example: When we stumble over a brick in our path and get hurt, we impulsively tend to blame the brick, the person or the circumstances that put the obstacle there. Yet it is basically our own inattention that made us experience pain. As long as we continue to blame outside factors, we lay the ground for innumerable further negative experiences of this kind. Yet once we realize that it is us that needs to be more careful, we fundamentally free ourselves from this blind mechanism.

2 - Direct Confrontation
Other challenges are not as easily dissolved and require courage in a confrontation. Here it pays to plan well and define clearly what we aim for.

If building up courage is a theme of life for us, this does not mean that after neutralizing the challenge we are entirely fearless. Certain situations may still make us quite anxious, but this will not intimidate or distract us from what we intend to do. Dealing with the challenge gave us sufficient confidence and knowledge how to effectively counter our fear with courage and decisiveness. Instead of waiting for some fearlessness that never might arise, we now can turn to other themes of life.

3 - Shifting to a Higher Stage
Entire groups of challenges fall off when we permanently shift focus to a higher stage. The broader and more comprehensive understanding of the new level automatically dissolves all emotional attachment to lower themes of life, which then dissipate without manifesting much of an effect.

    This sounds like magic, yet is nothing other than what we experience while growing up.

    Example: Tasks that needed all our energy and attention when we were in the playing pen - like putting three wooden blocks on top of each other - cease to occupy our attention once we grow out of them. Though we could build far better towers now, we'd never invest all our energy in doing so.

    This same mechanism we can intentionally use to accelerate inner expansion. If - instead of 'battling' annoying and limiting themes of life on the stage where they occur - we concentrate on shifting our attention to higher levels, these themes will dissipate in the same automatic way as did the themes of our playing pen.


The Usefulness of Spiritual Techniques

Spiritual techniques - no matter how 'holy' or effective they claim to be - are unable to neutralize challenges.

    This does not mean that these techniques serve no purpose. They usually are first probing attempts to explore the world beyond material limits and are often capable of easing strains the confrontation of challenges may produce.

    Yet no formal repetition of mantras, routinely performing religious rituals, the handling of mystic symbols etc. - i.e. the use of activities whose mechanism we do not fully understand - can free us from obstructive themes of life that only dissolve when we confront them in an intelligent way.

    The sole accumulation of metal parts, rubber, plastic and gasoline or the arranging of all these components without real technical understanding will never produce a functioning engine. Similarly the mere presence of spiritual or religious components without real comprehension how they work and how effective they are, will never bring freedom from limiting influences.

    Even the meticulous but perfunctory observance of instructions received from spiritual or religious leaders can not replace the confrontation of our very own individual challenges - irrespective of the sincerity and devotion with which the leader's teachings are given or followed.

A Deep Belief in Repetition

The widespread belief in the effectiveness of spiritual techniques is misleading.

    The heart of all such techniques is QUANTITATIVE repetition. Mantras, prayers, yoga postures, rituals, cleansings etc., all are to be repeated a specific number of times, for a fixed period, or at recurring intervals. Many enthusiasts believe the more regular they perform their technique, the faster their progress.

    Sure, many of the techniques make us 'feel good', more relaxed and calmer, but 'feeling good, relaxed and calm' all by itself does not yet constitute inner growth.

Real Growth is an Increase in QUALITY
Real inner expansion is always an increase in  QUALITY.  It is a sudden boost of our capacities, a sweeping breakthrough to higher stages, to more insight, superior understanding, more focused activities and greater command of life.

    Of course it is everyone's own decision how much time and energy he or she wants to devote to spiritual techniques. Yet it is recommended to evaluate impartially if the experienced results tally with promises and expectations; - and whether entirely different strategies might not do better and faster justice to our vast potential.

Next: - CHALLENGE 1 - To Understand Life

Hermann Kuhn
'Unlimited Horizons'

Copyright 2008 Crosswind Publishing, Wunstorf, Germany

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