“Enlightenment is not a prize at the end of the race or search but finally being present in the world as it is. As long as we are looking for something from the world, we never really see it as it is, as the pick pocket never sees the wizard, but only his pockets! We reclaim the world and the moment as ours whenever we drop the desire to make things come out our way and simply let things happen, trusting that every way is our way. We remind ourselves of what Govinda said, ‘The certainty that nothing can happen to us that does not in our innermost being belong to us is the foundation of fearlessness’” (p. 203).
This week, all I am going to write about is this small excerpt. It says so much.
First of all, it is important to realize that our work toward higher consciousness and higher level functioning is never done. We are human! There is no end of the road or “there” to get to. We are in constant evolution. It would help us all to get super cozy with the concept of being in process. I fully know and accept this and was kindly reminded of it today. Yes, that’s also part of the human deal: you get it, then you lose it, you get it, then you lose it. The game is: how fast can you get your awareness back on track? One merciful part of the process is that usually the more times you “get” something, the deeper you integrate it.
The issue of trying to get our way by controlling outcomes is what I want to talk about. Let’s just put it out there right away: when we are strategizing mentally, coercing, convincing, pressuring, nagging or getting angry to make things come out the way we want, that is called controlling. Don’t worry, we need to be in action and control things to some extent. Where we want to look is where we are over doing it. When we are over doing it, it is likely that we are not accepting some part of reality and wasting our energy fighting against the flow or we are getting in our own way. Most of the time, over controlling comes from fear.
Here are a couple of ways to address this:
Realize the importance of equanimity. My general understanding is “I do my work and allow others to do theirs”. We need to let things around us do their work. Cooking a steak in pan? Leave it alone and let it char for a while. Baking cookies? You don’t want to keep opening the oven every two minutes. You let the oven do the work. Realize what is beyond your control or not yours to do. It is that way for a reason!
- You can ask yourself: is there anything I am not willing to see and accept right now? Usually what you are not seeing is quite simple, it fits into a 10 second truth. It’s important to look for this because trying to over control comes from not wanting something to be true that actually is true. There is a lot of pain and wasted energy in not being able to be with the world as it is and our circumstances as they are. There is actually beauty and perfection, right now, all around you. It’s a question of whether we are present to it or not.
- Consider the possibility that everything is EXACTLY as it should be in this very moment. Even if it is difficult or painful. Human beings have an intrinsic drive toward growth (growth doesn’t always happen when things are easy) and we are imperfect, so pain is inevitable. When we are trying to control, we are often trying to avoid pain. Resetting back to the consideration that everything is exactly as it is means you don’t have to control any outcomes.
- Allow yourself to be vulnerable to whatever the feeling is in response to the reality that is in front of you that you are not liking. Yes, it is OK to be sad or worried about your child being held back a grade in school. And, it might be the very best thing for them. Yes, it is OK to not want to have surgery AND it might be what your body needs to get better. Just because it is for the best in the long run, doesn’t mean your feelings about it shouldn’t get their day in the sun.
- Being connected to yourself and present to the world is really the safest way to operate. Why? Because all the resources and wisdom you need are inside you and everything in the world around you is exactly as it needs to be for your life’s mission. We get ourselves into trouble when we are disconnected and avoidant of the truth around us, when we try to control the truth of what is around us. If you can be connected, the feelings you have about a situation will do their job of giving you the message of what needs to come next. The idea is to learn how to let those feelings be and learn what they mean. How can you be connected? Start tuning in to your interior world. Write, talk, notice the sensations occurring in your body in response to what is happening. How do you be present to the world? Slow down, be mindful, meditate, try to see things with new eyes.
*This post is written in response to a section in David Richo's book "When Love Meets Fear: Becoming Defense-Less and Resource-Full".