This is an update of an older post. As my understanding changes it becomes time to re express what seemed true to me but no longer does.
Here is what I wrote before:
Relax! We are not in control… Nor is a yacht in control of the ocean, but like the yacht we can navigate pretty well if we take account of winds and currents
From one point of view I still think this is true. There are skill sets we can develop that will help us manage our way through the ‘winds and currents’. I also think it presupposes a separation that is not true at a deeper level.
The life force that powers the wind and currents powers us too. There is no separation other than in our perception of ourselves as separate beings. Life is running through us and if we can learn to hear that more, to live from that more we experience being the flow of Life more of the time.
It’s difficult to express, but there is a difference which we can become more sensitive to, between the individual identity, likes and dislikes of our socially constructed personality (who we genuinely believe we are) and the flow of life through our individuality (who we really are).
There is often a tension between Life trying to emerge through us and the way society forces us to learn the same skills and fit into particular shapes. These skills and shapes may be no more appropriate for us than a donkey having to wear a lion’s mask. There is nothing necessary about being a lion unless you are one; nothing wrong with being a donkey unless you are not one. The ‘one size fits all’ that moulds our natural psychological processes into identities full of conditioned thinking, feelings, habits and preferences does not respect, or (for the most part) even know about the deeper well of Life that is always trying to live through us. As a teacher I see this process in action every time my students have to take exams that force them to conform to a standard that may well have nothing to do with the deeper expression of life that is being blocked and frustrated by the straitjacket of an unaware society.
I work with people who think they are stressed and anxious – and they are! The thoughts and feelings that they are having can be very debilitating. I also know that the feelings and thoughts of stress and anxiety are an opportunity to wake up to the deeper life that is always present. It seems to be that the more we are able to wake up to our own deeper life, that is the way Life is trying to express and emerge through our unique selves, the less stressed and anxious we are and the more peaceful, joyful and calm. None of these come from doing anything, they just seem to be part of what we are when we are not caught in what we made up. And it is not that being stressed and anxious is bad and we will never feel stressed or anxious is we magically ‘get’ some Truth…
It can be a bit frustrating when we are feeling anxious and want a technique to take the feelings away. In fact we can still do this very usefully at times in my opinion. There are very effective cognitive skills that we can learn and practice and like any other skill, get better at. Personally, I am a fan of skills development. I also think there is a limit to skill. If we are living in the illusion of being a real person, then we are always having to fix what is wrong and are always in conflict when our likes and dislikes get buffeted about by the world.
We can begin to trust Life and begin to disbelieve that our thoughts and feelings are accurate reflections of life happening to us rather than simply conditioned thoughts and feelings passing through (unless we ruminate our way to even greater distress).
The longer we look in this direction the deeper we seem to embed ourselves in this global understanding. It is an understanding that can be explained away in purely cognitive terms but personally, I don’t think that is enough. This understanding points to a level of wisdom that is unacceptable to conceive of as a non brain generated possibility in our dominant scientific paradigm. I cannot prove its truth and have given myself considerable distress trying to, in the past. Now, I don’t believe there is any way to prove a spiritual reality in scientific terms and no need to. Each has it’s own reality and usefulness. I value the cognitive skills I have learned and still teach. There is much value in having effective habits of mind, especially in this dumbed down age, and there is even greater value in beginning to trust Life and relax into it unfolding in the way that is exactly right for us. So for example if we are experiencing challenges around work and finances, opening up to Life living through us will tend to result in our noticing of opportunities that would be both enjoyable and financially rewarding. Then it is time to put the hours in!
My current understanding is this way. Creating a lifestyle is a combination of letting your unique expression of Life emerge through you and putting in the work required to be able to do it and do it well. Skill acquired through work is part of the unfolding and emerging process of the Formless coming into form – at least when we want to be good at something!
Do comment or contact me with your thoughts and let’s be part of each other’s conversation.