“[It is a] myth that [when I’m truly enlightened] I can rest in some assuredness that I will never again feel insecure, or feel fear, or feel doubt, or feel those emotions that we don’t want to feel. Forget it. That’s not it. That’s the pipe dream. That’s the opium that’s sold to the masses. And they eat it up and they never get there, and they end up disillusioned. That’s not how it works. Freedom is never freedom “from.” If it’s freedom “from” anything, it’s not freedom at all. It’s freedom “to.” Are you free enough to be afraid? Are you free enough to feel insecure? Are you free enough not to know? Are you free enough to know that you can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally comfortable, to know that you can’t know what’s around the next corner? How you will feel about it? How you will respond to it? That you literally can’t know? Are you free enough to be totally at ease and comfortable with the way things actually are? That’s freedom. The other thing is the ego’s idea of freedom.” ~ Adyashanti
I love this quote. Its one of the best depictions of waking up that I’ve read. We have fooled ourselves into believing that becoming enlightened is something that will make us perfect. Make our lives perfect. Make all of our problems go away. If this is why you’ve become a seeker than you might be really, really disappointed.
As an enlightened being, you still have the same thoughts of fear and insecurity and anxiety. The difference is that you get comfortable with the presence of these thoughts. Notice I didn’t say that you necessarily become comfortable with the situation. You become comfortable with the disconcerting thoughts.
Life itself is never a problem. Our thoughts about our lives are always the only problem. Our thoughts tell us, this shouldn’t be happening; this should look different; I’m better than this; he’s an idiot for doing that; my life would be better if that happened. For just a moment, remove all thought. Clear it out. And just sit. Sit in your current situation, no matter what it is. There’s actually nothing “wrong.” It is what it is. It is our interpretation of a given situation that makes us squirm. Makes us uncomfortable. Drives us crazy.
Think about it this way. There are millions of people around this globe who are experiencing the exact same things right now with vastly different interpretations of them. There are people right now who are dying of cancer. Some of these people are screaming, “No! This can’t be!” While other people are saying, “Okay. I’m dying. This is what is happening. There’s nothing that is going to change it. It is what it is.” So, the exact same situation is unfolding and yet there are two completely different experiences happening. This tells us that it is never what is happening that affects us so deeply, it is what we think about what is happening that affects us so deeply.
This is not to say that we will never experience sadness or loss. This does not mean that we become these robotic-like human beings devoid of feeling. Quite the opposite. Letting go of our thoughts about something creates a lot more room for feeling. But again, thought will try to sneak in the back door and tell you that what you’re feeling is wrong, bad, too much to handle, overwhelming. Strong feelings have never killed anyone. I’ll give you an example of this.
A few years ago, my husband and I moved back to Ottawa. We had moved away from Ottawa because I had decided that I wanted to live in the town that I grew up in. I wanted to be closer to my family. I fought really hard for this move. Two years after we moved, it became evident that it just wasn’t working out for us. My husband was still working in Ottawa, which was 4 hours away, and if we wanted to keep our marriage in tact, we needed to move back. I was not a happy camper. I began telling myself all kinds of things about what this would mean for us…okay, what this would mean for me.
We returned to Ottawa and I got depressed. I had never experienced depression before and it started to get quite intense. Because I had worked and studied for years in belief systems and energy healing and had a huge toolkit from which to draw from, I began to try to work with myself to heal this depression. I was tapping my meridians off and on all day (I’m surprised I wasn’t bruised from all of the enthusiastic tapping), I was doing EMT on myself…you name it, I was doing it. NOTHING was happening.
It got to the point where I would feel the familiar rise of despair start to bubble up in my body. One afternoon, I was sitting at home and started to feel the uprising. My thoughts immediately jumped to, what can I do to heal this…make this go away! Then, a quieter, more subtle voice came up inside of me. Allow this, it seemed to say. Stop fighting this Ann. So I did.
I sat on my couch and stopped fighting. I stopped reaching for a solution and I allowed that bubble of sadness to come up. Completely. I felt it rise up and I began sobbing. I let myself sob with no sense to stop or thwart it. I literally dove into the deep end of the despair. What happened next still, to this day, mystifies me. As I completely surrendered to this feeling, I became overwhelmed with bliss. Yes, that’s what I said. Bliss.
Because I completely surrendered any thought or interpretation to what was happening in that moment, which happened to be an overwhelming experience of despair, I only had one place to go. I went full throttle with FEELING SOMETHING. But my mind had relinquished any labels of what that feeling was. My mind wasn’t saying “Oh look, I’m swimming in an ocean of feeling and I’m going to label that feeling despair.” In fact, I had taken my mind, in that moment, out of the equation. So my only experience was swimming in an ocean of feeling. Because there was no labeling of ‘good feeling vs bad feeling’ what occurred for me in that moment was utter bliss. It was bliss because I was simply feeling so deeply.
This is how powerful our thoughts are. An enlightened person still has these same thoughts. They still appear on the landscape of their experience. The difference is, they no longer believe them.
Be willing to consider that what you think about a situation or another person or yourself is simply an interpretation. It’s not actually real. Only the situation itself, devoid of ALL interpretation or thoughts about it, is real. It’s storming outside. THAT’S what’s real. Not, it’s storming outside and that’s a real bummer. Some people love storms. Again, it doesn’t mean that you won’t have any feeling associated with what is going on. But labeling something concretely and putting it into a definitive box and saying, “This is what this means!” is going to thwart your awakening, every single time.
Someone once said, there is no such thing as a true belief. That’s why they’re called beliefs. It is your belief about something that shapes your experience of life. So rather than trying to shift your beliefs, try to let them go completely. Try to meet life at eye level. Accept things for what they really are, without creating a story around them. Our stories keep us locked in thought, which keeps us OUT of the present moment. And the minute we step out of the moment, we’re gone. We’re lost. We’re anywhere but here. There’s no joy in that.
Allow some joy to flow back into your life by meeting everything in your life full throttle. Just meet it. Rumi once said, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I’ll meet you there. When the soul lies down in that grass the world is too full to talk about.” I like the sound of that.
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