Just Give Up.

“There is nothing that you can do about life, nothing that you cannot do.” ~Alan Watts

These days, I find it incredibly challenging to stay away from the words of Alan Watts. I’ll find myself drifting from his wisdom only to be drawn right back. Most recently, I heard a clip of him talking about giving up, surrendering. It hit me in such a way that, despite a previous blog post on this same topic, I’ve decided to write another.

Our society is based strongly in polarities. Everything is separated into black and white, positive and negative, good and bad. These distinctions create a moral rubric for which we measure our successes and our failures. In these judgements we react emotionally. Often times this cycle is self-perpetuated in the sense that once it begins it continues to unfold. This emotional economy (if you will) is a system based on the fallacious concept of control.

We humans like the idea of control. It brings us security, comfort and degrees of happiness. It allows our lives a tolerability that would otherwise not exist. Control gives us a metric to measure the value of our lives. As mentioned previously, it is the leverage for which the system of the emotional economy is based upon. Without a sense of control, we would have nothing to claim as our own, stripping away our self-proclaimed ideas of value, leaving our emotions quite detached. Yet, this is not how life is.

Instead, control is key. Those who have it are set and those that do not are left out to dry. Being out of control is the height of societal stigmata. Those who are unable to control themselves, their finances or their future are cast out as psychotic, criminal or irresponsible. It would therefore stand that to willingly relinquish control would seem to be of the highest social treason.

However, this is the exact point Alan Watts is arguing against. In the song above, he talks about the moments in one’s life when control must be given up, when the pain of holding on is far too unbearable. These moments are usually extreme ones of life and death, inordinate amounts of stress or those spent in complete agony. He argues that in relinquishing the desire to control, the person is freed from the circumstance and experiences absolute effortlessness; a moment of enlightenment attained through surrender.

And dance we will.

These experiences do not have to be once in a life time moments. They are in fact a part of my daily life. Whenever I am under stress I realize it is because I am holding on to something that is not actually occurring. My expectation is not being fulfilled. I stub my toe on the bed and get angry because I did not want this to happen. I have lost control over my toe. This scenario can be played out in a million ways: traffic, school, work, yoga, meditation, cooking, eating, sports, singing, art.

Whenever we feel stress, it is because we are holding on to our personal idea of how the world should be.

To overcome this stress I simply give up. I let go of my expectations and let the reality of what’s happening occur without the friction I impose on it. Once I let the river flow in the direction it wants to go, I find that my life has become much easier. We are not in the business of building dams, we are in the pastime of sailing downstream. Riding the current is much more lucrative. It is pleasant. And although we feel that we have relinquished control, we have actually aligned with the highest form of control: that of the divine Self.

"Stop weaving and watch how the pattern improves." ~Rumi

Security, true happiness and bliss are all consequences of giving up our personal ideas of how things should be. Once we attune to the pattern that has existed for all eternity, we become enlightened.

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An Amazing Display of Love

I read this story yesterday and it really moved me. It is the quintessential exemplar of the dawning of a new age, an age filled with love.

I’ve reposted the article below. Here is the link to the original post. It was written by Kirsten Wolfe, a 20 year-old student and retail manager.

Dear Customer who stuck up for his little brother, you thought I didn’t really notice. But I did. I wanted to high-five you.

Yesterday I had a pair of brothers in my store. One was maybe between 15-17. He was a wrestler at the local high school. Kind of tall, stocky and handsome. He had a younger brother, who was maybe about 10-12 years old. The only way to describe him was scrawny, neat, and very clean for a boy his age. They were talking about finding a game for the younger one, and he was absolutely insisting it be one with a female character. I don’t know how many of y’all play games, but that isn’t exactly easy. Eventually, I helped the brothers pick a game called Mirror’s Edge. The youngest was pretty excited about the game, and then he specifically asked me.. “Do you have any girl color controllers?” I directed him to the only colored controllers we have which includes pink and purple ones. He grabbed the purple one, and informed me purple was his FAVORITE.

The boys had been taking awhile, so their father eventually comes in. He see’s the game, and the controller, and starts in on the youngest about how he needs to pick something different. Something more manly. Something with guns and fighting, and certainly not a purple controller. He tries to convince him to get the new Zombie game “Dead Island.” and the little boy just stands there repeating “Dad, this is what I want, ok?” Eventually it turns into a full blown argument complete with Dad threatening to whoop his son if he doesn’t choose different items.

That’s when big brother stepped in. He said to his Dad “It’s my money, it’s my gift to him, if it’s what he wants I’m getting it for him, and if your going to hit anyone for it, it’s going to be me.” Dad just gives his oldest son a strong stern stare down, and then leaves the store. Little brother is crying quietly, I walk over and ruffle his hair (yes this happened all in front of me.) I say “I’m a girl, and I like the color blue, and I like shooting games. There’s nothing wrong with what you like. Even if it’s different than what people think you should.” I smile, he smiles back (my heart melts!) Big brother then leans down, kisses little brother on the head, and says “Don’t worry dude.” They check out and leave, and all I can think is how awesome big brother is, how sweet little brother is, and how Dad ought to be ashamed for trying to make his son any other way.

The Beauty of Pain

Photo: soulbounce

With Valentine’s Day around the corner, instead of buying flowers and making dinner reservations, I find myself feeling the pangs of a broken relationship. But even with this heartbreak, I’ve found more love than I could imagine. And it is all because of pain.

Sometimes, pain is the most important teacher in life.

It takes on many forms: physical, emotional, existential, spiritual, the list goes on. Yet regardless of the different shapes it takes, pain is always the same. It eats at the core and it sinks down low. It is blue and hollow, victimized and regretful. Pain is a horrible feeling that is relaying a message to the inflicted. At the most basic level it yells “STOP!” Take your hand off the kettle, take pressure off your ankle, release your grip of the thumbtack. It alerts us to safety when we are in danger. In physical form, the tangibility clearly denotes the necessity of pain. But what about the less palpable pains?

What about heartbreak? What about depression? What about fear and failure? These are all forms of pain and they all hurt—sometimes more than physical pain. What are the messages of these non-material sufferings? What is pain telling me when my heart is broken?

It is telling me the same message: “Stop!” Something in my life is causing me harm and I need to pay attention to it. This stress is taxing my energy and causing friction, so much friction that pain must speak up.

In all honesty, I am going through a lot of pain. Break ups are never easy, nor the ones you wish did not happen. As easy as some make it seem, separation is always tough. However, it is nothing new and the outcome will always be positive because, as they say, life goes on. What I would rather discuss is not the details of my situation, but the process of pain.  I find that too often I speed through the painful moments in order to reach happiness. This neglect of hurt has denied me valuable lessons. Lessons that one can only receive in true moments of despair.

Click here to see the full article on elephantjournal.com