The opposite of trying to control the world is praying for it.
When we try to manage the world and other people so that none of our sore spots are triggered we create suffering. Most of us have proved this to ourselves over decades of trying.
The opposite of controlling is not doing nothing, however, it is about connecting as deeply as possible with the desire for Love to break through into the world. Into our relationships, into the suffering of the innocent, into the darkness of injustice, and into the tenderness of life.
The desire for love to incarnate is the essence of prayer and if we can find a way to connect with that desire and hold it in our hearts and bellies WE are transformed as we pray.
As we run this desire for love through our own bodies and minds we are literally bringing healing to ourselves because this desire for love IS love. We are welcoming love into our present moment experience.
And the world changes. As we pray and amplify the desire for love we are conditioned by this love to act with the intelligence of love in the world.
We will become agents of love without striving to be so simply because we are consciously choosing to express the desire for love to break through into the world.
So let’s ground our feet deep in the Earth, find the ocean of Desire that is in our bellies, and bring it into our Heart that wants nothing as much as it wants this love to break through into the hurt of the world.
Try it today. Try it right now. What’s your experience…?
I am a “spiritual” teacher and I have a secret….
I don’t like spirituality.
And I don’t think I’m alone.
I have lost count of the number of times I have been part of a retreat or workshop or class or spiritual gathering filled with apparently earnest and bustling devotees and I look around and wonder, “What the heck is this for? What’s the point? Does this really matter?”
Full disclosure: Sometimes even when I’ve been the one leading them.
Have you ever looked at someone who is deeply involved in “spirituality” and wondered why after years of practice they have a great spiritual wardrobe but seem so judgmental and unhappy? I have.
Or have you looked at the Dalai Lama or Eckhart Tolle, who actually do seem pretty peaceful, and wondered if the only way to really feel close to God is if you leave your family and meditate all day? Yup. Me too.
Where does violence come from?
Violence is what happens when we take life too seriously; when we allow the external circumstances to determine how we feel about ourselves.
Who would drop bombs or hurtful comments if they did not feel threatened and diminished by something out there?
Who would expend the energy to be violent if they knew they were intrinsically okay and whatever was going on out there wasn’t actually about them?
A peaceful world is possible because it begins with peaceful hearts. And peaceful hearts have one single thing in common: they don’t take the world too seriously.
Peaceful hearts do not believe that the madness of the day out there in newsland really means anything of significance about who they are or how they are.
Peaceful hearts know that the serpent of unconsciousness, the ego, tries to get them to forget that their hope is not in the world out there being a certain way. Suffering happens when we forget this and then we transmit that suffering all around us.
So experiment with not taking the world out there so seriously. It’s all okay even if things are falling apart.The drama of life does not have any say in your goodness and how lovable you are.
And, for goodness sake, don’t think that your spiritual evolution has anything to do with crazy things happening to you and around you. (Ask Jesus about that one…)
Let’s start a revolution of not-taking-it-all-so-damn-seriously and see if that makes a difference. Put a flower in your gun. I bet it will change things for the better.
What if real spiritual growth is organic?
What if it is not in a hurry but has its own seasonal rhythm?
What if it is less like Tony Robbins and more like a tomato plant?
So much of what we call “spirituality” is actually about trying to get you somewhere you’re not. It’s what I call steroid-spirituality. As if we need to perform to become something else.
And it’s the same thing at the yoga studio as it is in the cathedral
Steroid-spirituality is all about selling us an image of a destination. There is always some level of attainment, some enlightenment, some holiness, some evolved version of ourselves that is put on the screen and we are sold the path towards it.
It looks like a yoga sequence or a meditative state or a moral purity or a transmission or an altered state of consciousness. But underneath it all is a quality of striving to become something we’re not already.
Consider, if you will, the tomato plant…
“You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!”
Memorable lines from Jack Nicholson…and I think about them often.
Can I handle the truth?
What if the truth makes our lives far less important than we think? Not that we are unimportant but that what we think is important isn’t really.
Can we handle that?
What if this game of birth and death had no real significance beyond teaching us to get tired of playing the game?
Could we handle that?
It certainly seems as though every major spiritual teacher from Buddha to Christ to Eckhart Tolle to Adyashanti to the Dalai Lama to Marianne Williamson to Thomas Merton is telling us there is something more to live for and toward.
If that were true what would you do today instead? What would I do?
Would I spend energy on that grudge or grievance? Would I work that extra hour? Would I make that offensive remark?
What if the only thing that makes any sense is to be kind and honest?
Can we handle the truth?
Gambling with Truth
Sometimes we believe the lie that if we only were enlightened then we would always know what to do next. That is not true. Ask the most enlightened person you know.
Often the best we can do is gamble on what seems like the most true thing and proceed with this sincerity and willingness to respond to whatever information comes next.
Enlightenment is not the ability to always get it right. Rather, it is the knowing that it is enough to make the best bet we can and letting the rest go.
That’s all we are responsible for! And we can be at rest and at peace with not knowing all we don’t know.
Ahhhh. It’s okay not to know for sure.
I learned this the hard way. I have been trying to be right for most of my life as a strategy to earn love and feel good about myself. I always thought that spiritual awakening meant I would finally be able to know the right answers.
Nope. Turns out that awakening just allowed me to be okay with not knowing what I don’t know and trusting that my sincere and honest attempts to follow the truth are enough.
So I invite you to gamble with the truth today. Be honest with yourself about what you know and then bet your life on it. Sometimes that means choosing the most true of two not very appealing options. That’s ok. Relax. It’s all any of us are doing.
A Tear On My Cheek
Do you have a memory that you turn over and over and over in your mind wondering what might have happened if you could go back and do it differently?
Do you ponder what might have happened if you could have listened to the tug of your heart rather than the pride or the hurt?
And you know what? I have come to appreciate these little cuts that just won’t stop bleeding. Because they are the biggest things that keep me from going to sleep again.
Psychologists studying behavioral change discovered that nobody transforms their lives before they wake up to the cost of what they’re doing right now. It just doesn’t happen.
That is my experience too.
So I bleed … and I let myself bleed.
I let myself feel the sweet pain of remorse and regret and allow it to sing to me about the fact that I have woken up from that sleep and have the opportunity to be free now. Maybe one day those wounds will heal but, for now, I hold them with great gratitude and love.
And because I know this pain I find that deep prayers for other’s suffering come so quickly and naturally. My heart is filled with compassion. It is an easier way to live.
Here’s a question: What if the way to have great sex and the way to have a good life followed the same principle?
While I am no Tantric Sex guru I have read and studied and trained enough to know that basically the kama-sutra-all-night-long-bliss-fest all boils down to this: learning how to feel more and more subtle tremors of pleasure.
As our bodies become more and more sensitive the sensations that barely registered before become veritable earthquakes of good feeling; the ecstasy that we used to associate only with the briefest moment of climax becomes abundantly available throughout our lovemaking.
One dervish to another, What was your vision
of God’s presence? I haven’t seen anything,
but for the sake of conversation, I will tell you a story.
The presence is there in front of me.
A fire on the left, a lovely stream on the right.
One group walks toward the fire, into the fire.
Another toward the sweet flowing water.
No one knows which are blessed and which not.
Whoever walks into the fire appears suddenly
in the stream. A head goes underwater
and that head pokes out of the fire.
Most people guard against going into the fire
and so end up in it. Those who love the water
of pleasure and make it their devotion
are cheated with this reversal. The trickery goes further.
The voice of the fire tells the truth, saying
I am not fire. I am fountainhead.
Come into me and don’t mind the sparks.
If you are a friend of the presence,
fire is your water.
~ Rumi (trans. Coleman Barks)