It’s common to hear “that’s not fair!” or “This shouldn’t be happening!” In fact, is it possible that we miss the most important lessons of our lives by doing so? Lessons that were somehow curated just for us…to lead us up to the next level? Surely, if an event IS happening, it is useless to be saying it shouldn’t be. Eckhart Tolle once said, and this is perhaps a paraphrase, “We are not unhappy because of what is happening now…we are unhappy because we thought it should be something else”. One thing is certain: only adversity builds strength of any kind. So if we expect that we should never be victimized, it would seem that we condemn ourselves to a life of weakness, a life of victimhood. So what do we do? Practice accepting every event, however distasteful, as a spiritual workout to increase your personal power. All you must do is say “OK” to everything that happens. Does that mean you will always win? That depends on your definition of winning. Winning isn’t a goal or an achievement…winning is a process…always being willing to accept what the NOW looks like. You must fall on your ass a thousand times to find your balance, and you won’t know what winning even looks like if you are constantly wailing “this should not be happening to me”. Winning is not what the world gives you, it’s what you earn by always being willing to accept the lessons.
Our world, the world of Humans, is an artificial one, a skewed reality. Many feel that all outside forces need to accommodate us, so that we are not offended. We have to remember that this is far removed from the natural order of life on planet earth, where survival is only possible through adaptation. We need to adapt, or perish. Now, our societies go to extreme measure to ensure that no one is offended. Of course, that seems like a compassionate, moral undertaking…but what are the long term effects? If you need for the world to bend to your needs at every turn, you have defined yourself as possibly the weakest person on earth. As Canadian Psychologist Jordan Peterson has brought to light, as he lectures on responsibilities, and the dangers of weak people.
Martial Artists have long known the dangers of weak people; it’s weak people that commit the atrocities highlighted throughout human history. Why? Because weakness breeds fear, and fear leads to all of the horrors of modern society from gang violence to mass shootings.
Martial Arts is a study of “The Contrary” approach, and it works like this: If you want an ordered society, it begins with empowering the individual. How do we do this? By willingly engaging in conflict and ultimately it’s resolution. we engage in conflict when we push the limits of our capabilities, and there is no bigger conflict than the risk of mortal danger. When a person enters Martial training, it is often because of fear. As they train, they willingly take on more and more conflict until at a certain point, their fear has diminished or becomes even negligible. This happens not because the individual was shielded from hardship, but because they willingly embraced hardship…and when they have ventured on the path long enough…the danger they sought to prepare for seldom comes! Why? Because they are not thinking like a prey animal any more, desperately seeking safety in numbers, but like a predator. It’s only at this stage that true compassion and empathy awaken, and the warrior seeks to empower others that remind them of themselves…not so long ago.
Facing the conflict at hand is the path of liberation, and no growth happens in the absence of conflict. Martial Artists have known and practiced this principle for thousands of years.
What may have started as a beneficial tool wielded by the conscious mind has not only grown to a screaming fever pitch to which many of us can’t escape, but even more troubling is the idea that many of us identify that noise as themselves, rather than the one listening…
It’s easy to embrace the light, the sunshine, the warmth on our face. But we must also strive to embrace the darkness, our fears, and uncertainty. Facing the darkness is the only possible way of seeing the stars that can only be seen there.
Mark Twain had some great quotes like “Never argue with a fool…onlookers may not be able to tell the difference” and “Forgiveness is the fragrance the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it”.
These may be paraphrases, but Mark Twain was keenly aware that the biggest threat to our well being is our own rabid thoughts, and unchecked emotions.
I see the danger every day…looking back at me when I brush my teeth.
Albert Einstein was quoted as saying “As the circle of our knowledge grows, so does the circumference of the Darkness”. Darkness is often equated with ignorance (“until I saw the light”), So its no stretch to say that the more we know, the greater our ignorance. In fact, he was also know for the saying that “a person’s intelligence can be directly related to his/her ability to entertain a contrary viewpoint from their own, without needing to believe it”. Maybe it would be wise to adopt a neutral stance as we age, toward new, perhaps strange ideas. Maybe it can best be summed up by a little plaque my daughter gave me when she was very young; perhaps an indication of the thoughtful woman she was to become. The Plaque said, simply, “I’m not young enough to know everything”.
This little gal and her brother showed up at my doorstep about 12 years ago. Don’t know where they came from. Morris, Peanut’s brother, disappeared about 6 years ago and I, like others in the neighborhood, were devastated. Still, Peanut has remained constant, and she continues to teach me so much. She never cries. She never destroys anything. She largely leaves the birds alone (though every once in a while, keeps them in check by demonstrating her abilities)…in fact, she was relaxing on the porch under a birdhouse brimming with a new House Wren family, who paid her no mind. She is always ready to meet the occasional neighbor on their walk, and she is definitely the queen.
She puts “Alone” contestants to shame, as she has effortlessly survived her entire life outside, and never once showed an interest in coming inside. She expects nothing, appreciates everything, and adapts to anything. We could learn so much from her.
Oh, and I’ve never seen her white fur dirty. EVER…
We all have limitations. We all have fears. We all have doubts, at one time or another. We must be willing to see them, in order to overcome them. But the hardest perhaps, is to objectively observe our own mindset, our own beliefs. Rather, we will defend them, and often with vigor. It has been said that intelligence can be measured by one’s ability to entertain another thought or believe, without having to believe it. It may be true that the more we learn, the less we know; the more our certainty, the greater the uncertainty. I hope one day I learn enough to not believe anything.
We humans are curious animals. We can build crafts that can take us to distant planets, and explore the curiosities of the quantum world. For us to grow into our full potential, however, we need to stop prostituting our time in the NOW moment, paying with lethal doses of misery, for the promise of a concept of a happier tomorrow. TOMORROW NEVER COMES… it’s just NOW wearing a different suit…but you’re still languishing in misery, because, well, that’s what we’re suppose to do, right?
Probably the most courageous thing we can do is to entertain another belief. Another perspective. We feel an existential “loss of balance”, fearing that by examining another belief, we have to believe it first, or we will be lost in free fall. That’s probably why most of us can’t entertain another perspective; we hold on tight, and continue to try to see it from this nice safe place. You won’t see anything new, without the courage to leave, even if only temporarily, our comfortable, familiar and safe place. We don’t have to believe something to examine it…but we do have to let go of our firm grasp on our current perspective. Try it. You won’t fall.