A Window is Where the Wall is Absent

The life impulse to express and to connect arises in me and in all of us. This blog is a celebration of these life impulses. Please feel free to join in the conversation or to just visit. There is a Family Photo Album beneath the posts so you can "meet" my family and I. Welcome!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Seeking completion versus being complete

Here are some words that gave me pause:

"At the root of a lifetime of seeking was always the assumption that life wasn't complete...And out of this assumption, in a million different ways the individual tried to reach completion, and turned to drink or drugs or meditation..."
Jeff Foster, foreward to Everyday Enlightenment by Sally Bongers

The hamster wheel of futile seeking is highly addictive and I've often felt enslaved to this compulsion to strive toward one mirage of future fulfillment after the next. Secretly I know that the seeking itself is digging the hamster wheel deeper into the mud rut of suffering.

When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging, says Will Rogers. Yet just stopping, just resting, is strangely terrifying. It means I'm lazy or missing the boat or wasting time or sinking into the jaws of stagnation. There is an imagined need to plunge into activity and seek completion through grabbing as much knowledge or satisfaction or recognition or enlightenment as I can before death overtakes me, as it could at any moment.

The mind puts forth many arguments against allowing the nondoing and silence into which it disappears. There is an enormous taboo against "nonproductive" use of time, and this taboo keeps us sprinting after endless wild goose chases. And the mind also thinks, "Even if activity isn't really getting me anywhere, at least it's staving off the dreadful feelings of boredom and uselessness." Meaningless activity is a universal anesthesia for the angst of being alive as a small, separate ego self. It makes the world go round.

There's no recipe or formula for getting off the hamster wheel or for recognizing the presence of wholeness, and that is good. It's not a mechanical process but something unique and spontaneous and creative and it happens by itself when we're not occupied with seeking it or avoiding it.

I had a rough weekend butting heads with my teenage daughter. Now we've worked things out and life goes on, and every day fresh-minted love for her arises in me out of nowhere. There is a strange comfort in not knowing. I can't pretend to know who my daughter is or what life is or what love is. When I thought I knew I was living in a small, cramped room. Not knowing feels so much more honest and unbounded.

Resting doesn't mean literally laying in bed all day. What rests is the anxious voice in the head that says "I have to get somewhere." Resting means moving through activities without attention being completely absorbed by the inner narration of a protagonist-me hacking its way through the neverending obstacle-course of daily life. It means gazing silently into present reality and sensing deeply the awareness in which everything appears.

There is plenty we can do to express the good will that is at our core, but that doing does not spring from a sense of incompletion. It is an outpouring from the completion we all experience on the level of being. There may still be times of feeling like a hamster on a wheel, an ego in samsara, but the dimension of silence is also here, and it is always possible to fall backwards into its arms.


Cindy said...

Nice, Colleen. Thank you.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Cyn, Thanks for your comment, it is good to see you here in blogland.

No Happy Pill said...

"Meaningless activity is a universal anesthesia for the angst of being alive as a small, separate ego self." I love this, Colleen! We are afraid to be alone with our own thoughts, and the computer, TV and video games are right there to keep us company... Thanks for your beautiful post!

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi No Happy Pill! Thanks for your comment. I love your blog and I'm going to visit there now. Best, Colleen

Susannah said...

Hi Colleen, this post bought up a lot of memories for me, centered around this Paragraph I suppose -

"There is an enormous taboo against "nonproductive" use of time, and this taboo keeps us sprinting after endless wild goose chases. And the mind also thinks, "Even if activity isn't really getting me anywhere, at least it's staving off the dreadful feelings of boredom and uselessness." Meaningless activity is a universal anesthesia for the angst of being alive as a small, separate ego self."

I never felt like that, as instinctively my so called non productive times were the ones that were most productive in the case of my inner self - unfortunately I grew up in a family, (particularly my mother) that subscribed to the taboo of non productive time and if I were sitting daydreaming or even reading it made her uncomfortable and she would frantically scrabble to find something 'useful' for me to do! If met with resistance I would be labelled lazy.

I managed to tuck myself away so my 'inactivity and unproductivity' was not noticed and ultimately was able to indulge MY way of being.

I see the effect of the programming now upon my sister, who will not allow herself to rest even when she needs it.

... I love where you talk of recognising the wholeness and really like the line you wrote "It is an outpouring from the completion we all experience on the level of being." - yes!

One piece of good advice that I found really helps with stress is this quote -

"To let go of stress - let go of preconceived notions of how things should be." - Michael Singer

Good post Colleen. :-)

Colleen Loehr said...

I love Michael Singer's book "The Untethered Soul" too- thanks for a potent quote! It's ironic but true that often our most productive use of time is the time spent in stillness. Doing that is not connected to being cannot bear much fruit. Thanks so much for your comments Susannah. Maybe we can be emboldened to heed the "still, small voice" that calls us to quiet time, and listen less to the inner and outer criticisms which say that time for being is "laziness."

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