When I talk with people, it often appears very clear to me where they are stuck.
Of course, it is easier to see it in others than in oneself, I can’t make assumptions about other people, and what I see in others is always something I recognize from myself. I can use what I see as a mirror for myself, and know that the advice forming in my mind for them is really an advice for myself.
It seems that whatever ideas we are attached to, whatever thoughts we believe in, are exactly where we are stuck. Our cherished views are often directly linked to what we perceive as our main problems and obstacles in life.
For instance, if I have an idea that nobody should worship or be devoted to a spiritual teacher, I get into a pattern of looking for any sign of it in any spiritual group I connect with, finding it, and then leaving the group (or staying and becoming increasingly more frustrated). This leads to a sense of isolation and alienation, and prevents me from connection with a teacher and group which could be very supportive for me in my own spiritual process.
The alternative may be to recognize that the spiritual teacher holds up an image of my own inner wisdom, and use the external teacher as a reminder of this and an aid in finding it in myself. When I am devoted to the outer teacher, I am really devoted to the same wisdom in myself. Another alternative is to use inquiry – such as Byron Katie’s four questions and the turnaround – and allow the belief to release me that way. [this example is from a recent conversation]