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Friday, May 25, 2012

Living Like a Window

There are several ways of describing and prescribing escaping the pull of Ego and the self that have been popular over the years. One that we use to epitomize gracefully letting life take its course is “going with the flow.” To go with the flow means not fighting the inevitable and always attempting to be at peace with the way things happen to be.

      Thus, when you encounter someone who seems to be just living life without overly planning it or trying to control the outcome of a lot of it, you might describe him or her as “going with the flow.”

     A somewhat more religious version of this attitude is “let go and let God.” This phrase suggests eliminating any attempts at controlling circumstances by allowing a more powerful being to take over. Since you cannot literally hand your cares to anyone, this phrase mainly requires just what the previous one does, which is to relax your conscious grip on things that seem beyond you and trust that you will be cared for.

     A comparable popular Asian expression of the letting-go sentiment that is fairly unfamiliar to westerners is “wei wu wei,” which translates as “doing not-doing.” This phrase refers to the practice of being so elegantly at-one with whatever it is you are involved with that it seems as effortless as just laying back and being still. As with going with the flow or turning things over to a higher power, the serenity implied in such a way of being is compelling.

     One more way of describing mentally stepping away from trying to be in control that may sum up what the effect of all such efforts might look like is the reflection “deeds are done, yet no doer can be found.” With this, the actor disappears in the action so that the outcome appears to have achieved itself. Such an experience is one that a participant may be aware of afterward as if coming out of a trance to discover that a certain feat has been accomplished and asking, “Was that me doing that?”

     In a sense, even if none of them actually recognize it, each of these phrases represents a prescription for disconnecting with Ego and suspending the self so that the evolutionary progression of awareness is unhindered. As all of them have great appeal to anyone who seeks a more peaceful way to go, any of them would make a great bumper sticker or would rate a place on the refrigerator door as a daily reminder of changing one’s approach to life.

     But, in truth, even with the best of intentions, for most of us a concept such as really letting go or doing not-doing represents an elusive ideal. There are two important reasons for this. One is that, like sound bites, they all contain an important truth in a compressed and manageable form which makes it seem familiar and eminently accessible.

     However, regardless of being able to handily bounce them around in our minds or in conversations about becoming mellower, they are not so readily transferred into action. As with most popular prescriptions, there are no instructions included. While it may seem as natural as falling asleep, if you really stop to consider it, there is nothing easy about visualizing the merger of deed and doer much less really turning our lives over to another being to sort out.

     The second reason is that an instruction such as “just let go” is basically at odds with Ego, and is therefore the target of all manner of resistance. Ego’s job is affirming and perpetuating the existence of the self. Therefore, it is only comfortable when it is running the whole show. If it had a slogan it would certainly be “let go and let Ego,” which means that, until we are really conscious of its workings, we are more likely to be in its control while thinking that we have control.

     There is something called the “wing-walkers’ axiom” that cautions: do not let go of what you are holding onto until you are holding onto something else. This is how Ego normally works. It just seems naturally unwise for us to not try to have control. So, when we do try to just give things over our minds fill with distracting thoughts and fears and what-ifs, and we find that as soon as we try to back away from one concern, we seem to latch onto another.

     Therefore, we find it hard not to watch the news, or check the weather. We keep praying that we receive help and release. We light candles and say incantations. We feel eerily superstitious about maintaining rituals and routines. We check and recheck, plan and go over the plans again. We resist delegating even when it would be more efficient.

     In the end, the basic functioning of the self makes truly letting go the most demanding of tasks. And there is a hidden irony, which is that the act of letting go keeps control where it has always been: we are the ones who control giving up control.

     We are in charge of the “letting” in the letting go. Even doing not-doing suggests the action of engaging in a process. And as we have seen, any supernatural being that we imagine who might take charge is also a function of Ego. We are trying to make something happen that really needs to just happen all on its own.

     The instruction to “live like a window” is a step up from all of these approaches. A window is simply an opening through which things flow. With glass in place, light, color, and all other visual phenomena pass. With glass removed, potentially anything can pass. Whatever might be present will just go by on its own.

    Living like a window is perfectly attuned to the evolution of consciousness. It allows the practitioner to separate from the grip of Ego in a manner that does not set off its alarms or cause it to automatically institute countermeasures. This is because there is no direct assault on Ego; in fact, there is no potentially disturbing activity of any kind at all.

     Being window-like allows the self to continue completely unchanged. It uses the self and Ego as contextual elements to play off of as a means to further growth.

     Window-ness suggests continuous, unimpeded movement; what happens to come our way is free to transit through. To live like a window means allowing the “flow” to pass through you. No having to let go; no turning things over to anyone; no doing anything. You are just an opening through which all things stream.

     The practitioner is free to participate fully in life while his or her conscious awareness remains independent of all activity.

(Adapted from “Live Like a Window, Work Like a MIrror: Enlightenment and the Practice of Eternity Consciousness”)

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