Take a second and recall the last time you really wanted something or wanted to make something happen. If you're anything like most people, you probably tried hard to get it or set it into motion (or push it away, if it was something you didn't want).
Now imagine if someone you really trust had came along and told you that if you'd just stop trying, you'd instantly get what you wanted.
Would you have stopped trying, at that point?
Even if it was the person you trust most in the world, you probably wouldn't have. Not because you don't trust this person -- but because trying and effort have such a strong momentum. Probably the best you would have been able to do would have been to try to stop trying. And that's just more trying.
Our entire lives, we've been taught and conditioned that we need to actively make life give us what we want.
But what if we could completely let go of trying to get what we want? (And let me clarify that by this I don't mean to imply that we stop doing anything towards goals and desires... but rather that we go about life doing what needs doing and responding to things as they arise, less all the usual trying and grasping).
If you did this, would all your plans and everything you want and have been working towards in life completely and instantly (or eventually) fall apart?
The point of this blog post isn't to claim that it wouldn't. Chances are, you might find yourself very surprised to see that nothing falls apart in the least. But you also might find that everything does completely fall apart.
But if it was the latter -- wouldn't that just be a telltale sign that what you really wanted wasn't what you really needed? Because you can always trust life to give you what you need -- right?
Maybe that's why we try so hard in life. Because deep down we know life will give us what we need, and we don't want what we need. We want what we want.
But the thing about it is, no matter how hard we try, life isn't going to give us what we want unless it's also what we need. Put another way, life is only going to give us what we truly want at the deepest level, beyond what we think we want at the mind/sensory level.
When we really see this, it becomes clear that trying and effort are just wasted energy. And that we can choose to live life without them. When we do that, we see that without them, life is actually a much more enjoyable experience -- even when it doesn't go like we would have deemed best.
If something is what life has in store for you, it doesn't need you to try so hard to make it happen. You can take the steps towards it without a big hullabaloo of stress, struggle and grasping. It's just in the cards. And if it's not what life has in store for you, all the effort in the world will just be in vein.
Whichever it is, this much is true: you'll enjoy life a lot better if you can take a leap of trust. If you can just trust that life knows what it's doing, already, without any help from you. (Unless, that is, you enjoy all the trying and effort?)
As my teacher, Vinn, has told me before, "Life is simple. Just put one foot in front of the next."
Having ideals is generally looked upon not only as noble but also important. We're encouraged to cultivate and maintain hopes, dreams and ideals by which to guide our life and shape our future. If we're lacking in these, something is often thought to be lacking in us.
The ideals we pick up are many, from the small to the gigantic, and most of us carry a mixed bag of ideals with us throughout our lives, adding new ones along the way. These can vary from something as simple as doing our best in our daily life to something as major as actively working for world peace.
Worthy ideals, right? Well, actually... what makes you so sure? Have you ever examined your own ideals? If so, have you asked yourself if they truly serve you (and the world) -- more than merely serving a mental image you've attached to?
When we start to look within and pick apart the things that aren't really true or authentic about ourselves (i.e., the egoic self), it's actually a lot easier to spot and recognize the things we consider negative (anger, greed, jealousy, etc.) and let those go, than it is to spot and recognize the things we consider worthy and positive and let even those go.
We like to imagine that those "positive" things, like our spiritual beliefs, morals and ideals, for example, surely must be reflections of our authentic, non-egoic, self. But how can we be sure about this? Especially if we've never really looked at these or loosened our grip on them to see what would happen if we did?
Just like "negative" thoughts and outlooks eventually start to be seen and released as we go deeper into our authentic self, so also must "positive" thoughts and outlooks be willingly surrendered if we are truly sincere in our search for mental freedom.
This doesn't necessarily mean we will no longer be moved to promote world peace, if that's what we've been doing. It only means there must be a willingness to sacrifice even what we believe about world peace and our role in it, if we really want to know what is authentic and true for us beyond the beliefs and ideals we adopted from others and from society at large and took on as our own without even questioning.
The fact is that our ideals, no matter how loving, spiritual or world-saving, ultimately become our greatest limitations if we cling to them. They keep us trapped in our notions of what is true and important in life, instead of allowing us to open to what actually is true.
They keep us, even if very subtly, hoping, expecting and wanting things to be the way we envision they should be. And then we're no longer allowing in the true freedom that is free from any demands and expectations, no matter how subtle.
What if life doesn't match up with our ideals and never will?
What if all our ideals are just as false as our negative thought patterns? Can we accept this possibility?
How badly do we want truth? Enough to let go of not only our negative notions and beliefs, but also the positive ones that we hold so dear?
Are we willing to let go of everything?
Only when we are will we really, truly have eyes that are able to see what lies underneath all our notions, eyes that see things as they are without any filters blocking true seeing.
Just a gal experimenting with what it means to live outside of mind.
Read more about Notes to Self, the "manual" on living beyond mind.