Today’s blog post continues along the lines of many of my past blog posts. Two of the more notably similar spiritual blog posts are as follows:

Dissolving Issues With Awareness

Releasing Issues Intentionally

The difference in today’s post is really about the intensity that grows within us as we have learned how to shed top-level and mid-level issues. The more we understand through experience how much we benefit from releasing issues, the more we want to do it. Additionally, we grow more and more confident and trusting of ourselves as we see that facing issues continually brings peace, joy, and clarity. Above all else, we lose attachments to the issues we find because realize that despite old toxic beliefs, those attachments and issues emphatically do not give us what we want. In releasing attachments, we derive a huge amount of power in dissolving issues.

Always remember that whatever the issue–whether a top-level issue like having debt or a core issue like hating yourself–what gives it power is our attachment to it. The more attachments we have to the issue, the more ways we energize it and re-create it every day. The longer we do this in our lives, the more unconscious we are about all the issues we are creating. It’s like building a whole factory inside, and all the conveyor belts and assembly people keep chugging away even if you aren’t paying attention. That’s why paying attention is the first step to getting anywhere on the spiritual path.

However, it is not the last step. As you grow and take ownership of your own space, you become powerful. You can choose what goes on in your inner space, and that inherently leads you smack dab in the middle of your most powerful issues–your core issues. These are the ones the basically define your whole ego, and they are happy to re-grow themselves if we do not go deep enough in facing our issues. But as you continue to become more aware, you develop the capacity to shatter your core issues simply by bringing your spiritual awareness to them. You notice them. They break apart. It gets that simple.

If this sounds too fantastical, please read the blog posts I linked to above before continuing. If you’ve done enough inner work to sense how true this is, please continue.

A Short Hit-list of Core Issues

There are all kinds of core issues with many similar variations. Here are a few of the ones that you may run up against, and of course, some of them overlap.

  • The need to succeed
  • The need to be attractive
  • Never ending craving or longing
  • Fear of success
  • Feeling unwanted / abandoned
  • Fear of failure
  • Feeling like you’re not enough / lack of self-worth / self-hatred
  • Fear of being alone
  • Fear of the unknown
  • Trauma

Many of those core issues reinforce each other. For instance, the need to succeed will very likely overlap with the fear of failure, and they can feed off of each other in a vicious cycle that can keep someone constantly doing things and grasping to hold on to whatever successes s/he finds. This is a miserable way to live.

In short, there are probably hundreds of core issues that develop thousands of mid-level and top-level issues, but all core issues basically say the same thing: “I am not okay.” On some level, we are not okay with ourselves as we are, and our unconscious egos grow up out of the need to fix that sense of non-okay-ness. But when we don’t understand the real problem, we build convoluted identities that simply make things worse.

Shattering Lies and Illusions

I want to say that anyone can do this inner work. This is not beyond anyone’s power. You don’t have to have had a spiritual awakening to break apart core illusions in this way. The spiritual awakening definitely helps open that inner energy flow that can blast apart things, and so those of you with those floodgates open have a lot of power at your disposal.

How to Guide Your Awakened Energy

For everyone else, this inner work tends to require a lot of time and dedication to keep going inwards and to use the spiritual tools that work for you to strip away the top layer issues and mid-level issues. As you journey deeper, the energy that was trapped in those other issues and attachments is freed. You may feel stronger and more peaceful. With that energy, you can direct your attention more deeply at your core illusions.

Truly, core issues are illusions. They don’t exist. Your hand exists. Your lunch exists. Your dog Biscuit exists. Your core illusions don’t exist, which means they require a lot of energy to keep creating, believing in, and acting out. Without that energy, they break down. So along with how you look at these things from the depth of your spiritual presence, the shattering is also a kind of depletion of energy. It’s unplugging a spinning fan, and while that fan may have a lot of momentum and energy still in it for awhile, unplugging it forces it to eventually grind to a halt. The only way it can keep going is if you keep energizing it.

Getting Quicker at Recognizing Attachments

One of the big problems for people early in their healing is the inability to correctly recognize attachments and how things are created within their own space. Let’s take an example of someone with a lot of debt. Some people see debt and think it has to do with not making enough money. But debt is the result of spending, and in this example, this spender is a drug and alcohol addict. For the sake of this example, we’ll also assume that this person makes enough money to live, but the alcohol and drug expenditures are what are causing the debt. If someone is too addicted, they may not realize this, and so the superficial issue (superficial doesn’t mean it doesn’t cause major problems; I just mean it is surface-level) is debt. And many people will think they just need to work longer and harder or get a better paying job. But the real issue is the addiction that is causing the debt, and for as profoundly problematic as addiction can be, it is only a top-level issue.

Addiction and many issues that we easily notice are not core issues. Addiction is a response to something. It’s often a response to feeling bad. It’s a way to change how we feel, and so recognizing that there is something beneath addiction is important. Let’s say that this person finds a desire to be around certain friends is part of the addiction. The person does drugs and alcohol to hang out with their social circle who are all doing the same thing. This desire is a mid-level issue, and it can and should be investigated further. Going deeper inwards, perhaps we find a fear of being alone. Because addiction tends to be a response to a lot of pain, there’s probably also a sense of unworthiness, and that feeling is not a fun one. It’s one that many people try to numb.

Numbing Yourself to Life and Over-stimulation

So while not everyone is an addict, this little vignette is designed to show how we learn to go deeper and recognize where the attachments are and to what we’re responding. The faster we recognize an attachment and ask, “Why am I attached to that?” the more quickly we can drop into the core issue and deal with the real problem at its source.

The Pain of Separation

Sometimes spiritual teachers will say that the main core issue for humans is the pain of separation. I’m only partially on board with that. I’ve found that when people are at peace in their bodies, they don’t care about whether they are separate or not from all of life. I think the pain of separation is less about a grand connection to all of life for most people. It usually seems to be more about being united with oneself. In this way, I see the pain of separation as a little more intimate and physical.

Human beings do not like pain in their bodies. When they feel uncomfortable emotions and sensations, people try to get away from that. A lot of this cutting off happens with decisions in our minds. We think we can be this type of person, but not that. We want this type of experience, but not that other one. That’s the basis of a lot of ego traits. It decides limits us to protect us. From that simple little psychological decision, we cut ourselves off from ourselves and create a shadow-side as we attempt to escape pain.

The Ego and the Shadow: The Dysfunctional Couple Within Us

Ironically, people create a lot of ongoing pain because they feel a painful event and don’t know how to handle it. They usually tense up during the event, and that seems to get the energy stuck inside. They also tend to make a new belief that says, “I don’t want this.” So they avoid situations and people where the feelings and sensations they don’t like might be triggered. When people have more painful experiences that go unprocessed like this, these painful experiences pile up inside. This causes someone to want to separate from themselves even more and to try and numb the bad feelings. The levels of separation from oneself grow. A lot of people’s lives simply become about pain management because of how much hurt is inside. Unfortunately, unconscious responses to unconscious pain do not resolve the core issues, and that pain continues to fester and define how a person sees themselves, others, and life in general.

The result is that we end up stuck in a lot mental, emotional, and physical pain even when there is nothing going wrong or triggering us in our daily lives.

Returning to the Beginning of Our Pain

Dealing with core issues takes us back to our most intimate, biological, and earliest experiences of pain where we separated from our experiences. There may be little to no story to the deepest core pains for the stuff that happened in early childhood. It’s just raw pain, and the ending of separation is a re-uniting with our childhood and primal pains. This dissolving of core issues and pain are not the end of pain. This is an important distinction that I can’t make enough. Pain–particularly physical pain–is part of the human condition. Emotional suffering, however, is something that we create for ourselves. That can end. A lot of emotional suffering is derived from separating from ourselves and avoiding these unprocessed experiences. But we cannot escape ourselves. We our intertwined with our whole being.

Thus, coming to deeper levels of reunion with ourselves is a reunion with pain. In embracing all of ourselves, this is part of what shatters core issues.

Embracing Pain, Shattering Separation

The more you embrace your pain through peace and relaxation, the more powerful the punch you pack against these walls of inner separation. Because of the intensity that can come out of such powerful spiritual awareness, a lot of pain can come up. But because someone who has done a lot of inner work knows how to be with intensity, it flows out way faster. A lot of the initial parts of healing that are problematic have to do with the person’s responses to the pain of healing. It’s like if every time a doctor went to cut through a scab to get to a bullet, then you freaked out and fought her off. You would feel like you’re looping endlessly through the same issue, but you’re actually no where near the core issue. You’re stuck on the surface and stuck in you fear of pain response.

How to Break Out of Repeating Issues

But the mature spiritual person doesn’t do that. S/he may have little to no reaction to these initial inner cuts because they’ve had so many before. As I said, the mature person has seen how much better and freer they are for going through this process. Their need to hold onto an issue and to be a certain kind of person has been greatly diminished. Once again, we see that what makes a core issue so powerful is our own attachment. Attachment makes people fight themselves, which is exhausting and futile. Any where we find ourselves wanting to hold onto an illusion, then we’re just creating a fight.

Without that fight, these core issues are actually quite fragile. As I said, they don’t exist. Perhaps it’s kind of funny that after awhile, core issues could even be the easiest of issues to resolve.

Breaking a Core Issue and Launching Into the Unknown

The fear of the unknown is a core issue in and of itself, and I wrote a blog post about it not too long ago. It can create all kinds of other fears like the mid-level issue fear of losing your mind.

The Fear of the Unknown

The Fear of Losing Your Mind

The interconnected web of issues is another reason most of these issues aren’t easy to deal with at first. But the threat of something bad happening to you in letting go of a core issue like self-hatred becomes pretty absurd when you get to this point in your spiritual journey. Usually, a person has also learned how to make major life changes on their journey inwards as they’ve matured. So what is another set of major life changes if this next issue goes? As I’ve said repeatedly, experience in healing and feeling freedom feeds a kind of trust and confidence like nothing else.

So when a self-hating thought or feeling comes up. You look at it. If there is a lot of strong body sensations, you sit with them.

That’s it. It’s like a staring contest only you know the core issue is the one that will blink. It has to. It cannot continue unless you decide you believe it and/or need it. If you aren’t attached in that way, it too breaks like any other issue, and you step back into the void once more–which you will have done numerous times at this point. You sit in the space of not knowing how to act, how to think, or who to be. You sit in the unknown, and you are at peace with that.

Dealing With Trauma as a Core Issue

Traumas of all kinds are unique in the sense of that something actually happened to you. They are not just beliefs floating around in the mind, and they create a profound sense of “not being okay.” On the journey to core of a trauma, there are a lot of supports that are needed, and the more traumatic an experience or set of experiences, the more support you should seek out in terms of therapists, friends, helpful books, spiritual practices, and more. It’s not wise to deal with a trauma on your own. Sure, some people can manage it, but when there is so much help and support out there, why put it all on your own shoulders?

But even with trauma, after you’ve dealt with a lot of the issues that grew out of it, it cannot exist without your attachment to it. It too is built on a belief that you need to have it in some way, but if you no longer believe that, then it has no power. For physical traumas, there can be a lot of uncomfortable energy and body releases, but they come and then they go. The ability to shatter the core of your trauma is just as accessible here as any other issue. The main thing really is having faced all the other issues that grew out of it and truly understanding how to release issues with spiritual awareness. Through gradually working into deeper and deeper layers, then, as I said, this issue can also shatter in the face of you clear, loving spiritual awareness.

The Deepening of Inner Peace and Spiritual Freedom

Shattering a core issue releases a ton of energy that was otherwise locked up in thinking, behaving, sensing, and feeling life in specific ways. You may feel that surge or not. It depends where you are in your inner work and how much energy you are used to experiencing. But energetic shifts are not a big deal if this is where you are in your journey. It would not be the first time for you, and you’d simply allow it and create space for the energy to re-organize your inner space of the hundredth time.

In the spaciousness you’ve created, you find inner peace and spiritual freedom are already here inside you. These aren’t experiences per se, but we often talk about the experiential aspects of them. We talk about finding calm and relaxation when we discuss peace. We talk about feeling open and clear when we discuss freedom. Freedom and peace–we can also call them presence–are the ground we’ve been standing upon. We built core issues, mid-level issues, top-level issues, and a host of other issues on top of them, but those are not sturdy structures. As powerful as they once were, we find out that they’re actually very flimsy. They’re totally fragile. That’s why they take so much time and energy to hold it all together.

But you’ve learned how to fall apart. In falling apart, you’ve landed on the most powerful inner foundation you can find. Through this space of peace and freedom, anything can be grown–including more core issues. Usually, we don’t do that. Usually, we sit in this openness and practice listening to the divine within us and around us to learn even more about what this human existence is and just how amazing freedom and inner peace truly are.


I'm a spiritual teacher who helps people find freedom from suffering.


  1. Timely post Jim as I am being with a relationship issue. So easy to understand in my mind yet powerful emotions come up. To my surprise all the info in the post can be verified by feeling without judgement. It creates separation as though the emotion is not really me. Thank you again and again !

  2. So beautiful, and helps me understand what's going on, and has been unfolding in some way throughout most of this lifetime. Thank you.

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