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, April 15, 2010

"Mastery of life is the opposite of control."

(Vermeer, c. 1664)

  "Mastery of life is the opposite of control."  Eckhart Tolle, Stillness Speaks, p. 23.

   These words made me do a double take, and then I instantly felt their truth.  My efforts at controlling myself and others, my efforts at controlling life have amounted to a fight against life.  Control tends to be a fear-based activity, and fear does not lead to freedom or joy.

   Maybe abandon is the opposite of control.  Sweet abandon to the movement of life in this moment, in every moment.  Maybe it's not a sin to relax and be happy.  Maybe that's more genuinely productive than all the grim attempts to arrange everything perfectly.

    Jack, my 9 yo, and I hiked a mile on a nature trail at twilight this evening.  Harmony, alignment, connection, oneness- with my deeper self, with my son, with nature, with the Totality- is not a future goal.  Harmony is being in alignment with life in this very moment.  From this harmony right action unfolds of itself.  Right action is mastery.

   For me the key is noticing where there is a sense of being out of harmony.  Not to judge myself, but to bring attention to that little (or large) sense of hurry or impatience or dissatisfaction that is pulling me out of sync with the life flow in this moment.  The simple noticing of resistance tends to trigger a spontaneous release of that resistance, like noticing a hot potato in your hand would trigger the release of that potato.  But there have been plenty of times that I have been so busy running around or so caught up in my head that I haven't noticed the hot potato in my hand, and therefore I've carried that hot potato unwittingly for a long time.  Silent, benevolent noticing of what's going on inside the mind is an unspectacular but surprisingly powerful action.

    When I slow down and get quiet I start to feel all the feelings I've been avoiding.  Boredom, self-doubt, insecurity, like a flock of little birds they all come out, and they are allowed to breathe.  I'm allowed to be out of sorts.  I'm allowed to be out of harmony. After all, what other option is there...forbidding myself to be out of harmony has never produced harmony.  Harmony can't be forced.  But in noticing all the little frictions and mental complaints against what is, there is a softening.  The lungs relax and can take in more air.

   In the honesty of seeing and feeling the contractions in the mind and body, something happens.  Surrender is the opposite of control, and there is a sense of giving up the fight against what is, giving up the war against myself.   There is a sense of noticing and releasing that hot potato so long clutched unnoticed in the hand.

   For me this is a very slow, gradual, gentle process.  The contractions are many and deep and they don't become unknotted overnight.  Peace is not a quick fix.  But harmony is possible, and I have the inbuilt wisdom to feel my way into harmony with the life flow.  There are moments of waking up out of the story in the head and recognizing alignment with life.  Everyone has that inbuilt compass pointing  toward harmony with the life force.  Mastery is the flow of harmony.



roseduncan said...

I really loved this post Colleen. And I think it's so true. Forgetting is remembering? Really I suppose it's the ability to live in the moment that we so treasure and yet that's so hard to manage.

Alton said...

It is always so uplifting to
read your blog Colleen.

Have a very pleasant weekend embracing the Mystery.


Susannah said...

I really enjoyed this post Colleen and I liked you story of you and Jack hiking and your words "Harmony is being in alignment with life in this very moment. - From this harmony right action unfolds of itself. "

I also love this passage -
"When I slow down and get quiet I start to feel all the feelings I've been avoiding. Boredom, self-doubt, insecurity, like a flock of little birds they all come out, and they are allowed to breathe. I'm allowed to be out of sorts. I'm allowed to be out of harmony. After all, what other option is there...forbidding myself to be out of harmony has never produced harmony. Harmony can't be forced. But in noticing all the little frictions and mental complaints against what is, there is a softening. The lungs relax and can take in more air."

So much truth in that - "forbidding myself to be out of harmony has never produced harmony. Harmony can't be forced."

I think so many people give them selves a hard times for things, not realising that by doing so they are pushing them selves further and further away from peace and harmony .

Surrender - relaxing into 'the now' - trusting the flow of life - accepting 'what is' - not judging and 'allowing' rather than pushing are such powerful keys to being in harmony with all that is.

A beautiful song my partner once wrote had these lines illustrating a simiar point -

"perfect just the way it is - feel your resistance melting like an ice cream in the sun. . ."

It is such a powerful thought and one that at a very deep level I recognise as truth - "perfect just the way it is".

Colleen Loehr said...

It's so heartening to receive your warm and generous comments! You three have made my day. Will respond more later, but just wanted to say thank you! Colleen

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Naomi,
I like your observation that "forgetting is remembering." In any moment when the past and future are forgotten, the present is remembered. The present is always here, but it can be re-membered...like a lost limb that can be rejoined.
When I read your words, "forgetting is remembering" it brings to mind one of my favorite sentences, "To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things." (Dogen, c. 1231) Just now when I Googled this quote to make sure I remembered it correctly, I found two other sentences by the Japanese sage Dogen that struck me.

"When we discover that the truth is already in us, we are all at once our original selves."

"If you cannot find the truth right where you are, where else do you expect to find it?"

Thank you so much for visiting my blog Naomi and for your valuable comments.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Alton,
"Embracing the mystery"...I knew I had something to do this weekend, and now that you mention it, I believe embracing the mystery is exactly it. The mystery this weekend is showing up as Mary being in a school play that we are going to see soon. Thanks for visiting Alton and thank you for your comment.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Susannah,
Those are great lyrics your partner wrote, "perfect just the way it is...feel your resistance melting like ice-cream in the sun." Coming into harmony with present goodness is a very different approach to life than seeing supposed deficiencies and working arduously to correct them.

It seems when we are propelled by a sense of lack or imperfection or "wrongness" with what is, then despite our best efforts, in the end the sense of lack is somehow magnified by our very efforts to overcome it.

On the other hand, if there is a felt sense or intuition of wholeness, then our action is an expression of fullness and even greater fullness is the result.

To bring it down to earth, I can wash the dishes with a complaining mind- "Let me get rid of the filth on these dishes." Or I can wash the dishes with a mind of "This is simply the task that presents itself to be done. There is fullness in the water flowing from the faucet, in the whole transformation of food into life energy." Dirty dishes aren't imperfection, they aren't anything "wrong" with life, they are part of the fullness.

I really enjoyed the comments from all three of you, and the ongoing communication in our conversations via our blogs. Thank you!

Val said...

Hey Colleen! I have been so self-absorbed in my life drama I haven't visited your awesome blog in a long time - I love you photos and family pics. The title mastery of life is the opposite of control is quite eye opening. I'm becoming aware of the ways I try to control the people in my story and keep coming back to focusing on being responsible for my own feelings. Lately too I remind myself often that my feelings are neither good nor bad - it loosens things up just a bit.

Anyway, just wanted to say hi! And much love to you.

Colleen Loehr said...

Hi Val! Great to see you here, and I love your comment. You talk about just noticing the tendency to try to control others, and I find that I also am just noticing this tendency. Trying to control my tendency to be controlling is a bit like fighting for peace...it just tightens the knot of fear from which the desire to control emerges. But just noticing when I'm being controlling is sometimes all it takes for a spontaneous sense of loosening up to occur. And then other times I just continue to be controlling and generate misery for myself or others...oh, well, every moment is new opportunity to begin again. Thanks for visiting Val! Love, Colleen

Cindy said...

Thank God for Val cause she is the one to get me out of my habitual ruts half the time. Spontaneous light-hiking is her method. I'm always so resistant, but it always a good idea.

Colleen Loehr said...

Spontaneous light hiking sounds like a great way to get out of a rut...I think I'll try that.

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