The Heart of Unknowing by Madisyn Taylor via Daily Om

The Heart of Unknowing
Who Am I

by Madisyn Taylor

The question of who we are is a seed that can bear much fruit if given the chance to unfold.

At some point in our lives, or perhaps at many points in our lives, we ask the question, “Who am I?” At times like these, we are looking beyond the obvious, beyond our names and the names of the cities and states we came from, into the layers beneath our surface identities. We may feel the need for a deeper sense of purpose in our lives, or we may be ready to accommodate a more complex understanding of the situation in which we find ourselves. Whatever the case, the question of who we are is a seed that can bear much fruit.

It can send us on an exploration of our ancestry, or the past lives of our soul. It can call us to take up journaling in order to discover that voice deep within us that seems to know the answers to a multitude of questions. It can draw our attention so deeply inward that we find the spark of spirit that connects us to every living thing in the universe. One Hindu tradition counsels its practitioners to ask the question over and over, using it as a mantra to lead them inevitably into the heart of the divine.

While there are people who seem to come into the world knowing who they are and why they are here, for the most part the human journey appears to be very much about asking this question and allowing its answers to guide us on our paths. So when we find ourselves in the heart of unknowing, we can have faith that we are in a very human place, as well as a very divine one. “Who am I?” is a timeless mantra, a Zen koan ultimately designed to lead us home, into the part of our minds that finally lets go of questions and answers and finds instead the ability to simply be.

 

Taking Your Hands Off the Controls ……by Tara Brach

As living organisms anxious about our existence, we’re all naturally rigged to want to manage our lives with the goal of creating more pleasure and less pain for ourselves. Yet so many things are completely out of our control—aging, sickness, dying, other people dying, other people acting in ways we don’t like, our own moods and emotions…it’s all out of our hands.

Even so, when this automatic habit of controlling takes over, when our whole identity is in the persona of The Controller, we become removed from the qualities of presence, freshness, and spontaneity; we lose the ability to respond from a wiser, more compassionate place.

You might begin to notice this in your own life. For instance when you’re with another person and are feeling anxious, notice The Controller in you who’s trying to be experienced in a certain way. You might notice that the more insecure you feel, the more The Controller will hop into action.

We all have our different ways of becoming The Controller. Sometimes we try to control by framing or presenting things in a certain way to elicit a certain response. Some of us control by withdrawing. For instance, we might find ourselves thinking, “Okay, if you’re going to treat me this way, then I’m going to pull back.”

Another way we control is by withdrawing from ourselves, by shutting down. One football coach talks about an exchange with a former player: “I told him, ‘What is it with you? Is it ignorance or apathy?’ The player said, ‘Coach, I don’t know, and I don’t care.’”

We also try to control by worrying. It’s completely ineffective, but it’s what we do. We worry and obsess; we think and we plan.

Yet even though wanting to control things is a natural part of our biology, the question is: are we doing it in a way that causes our identity to be completely wrapped up in it? Often, when we’re trying to manage everything, we tend to get locked into an experience of ourselves as a tight, egoist self, and lose sight of who we really are.

In his book The Right Stuff, Tom Wolfe describes how, in the 1950s, a few highly trained pilots were attempting to fly at altitudes higher than had ever been achieved. The first pilots to face this challenge responded by frantically trying to stabilize their planes when they went out of control. They would apply correction after correction, yet, because they were way out of the earth’s atmosphere, the rules of thermodynamics no longer applied, so the planes just went crazy. The more furiously they manipulated the controls, the wilder the rides became. Screaming helplessly to ground control, “What do I do next?!” the pilots would plunge to their deaths.

This tragic drama occurred several times until one of the pilots, Chuck Yeager, inadvertently struck upon a solution. When his plane began to tumble, Yeager was thrown violently around in the cockpit and knocked out. Unconsciously, he plummeted toward Earth. Seven miles later, the plane re-entered the planet’s denser atmosphere, where standard navigation strategies could be implemented. He steadied the craft and landed. In doing so, he had discovered the only life-saving response that was possible in this desperate situation: don’t do anything. Take your hands off the controls.

It’s the exact same way with us. As Wolfe wrote, “It’s the only solution that you had. You take your hands off the controls.”

Hopefully, you can bypass being knocked unconscious to discover this truth! What you can do is begin to notice whenever you have somehow become The Controller, and just pause, notice what’s happening, and ask yourself, “what is this like?” What does my body feel like? My heart? What is my mind like? Is there any space at all? Do I like myself when I’m identified as The Controller?

This pause gives the possibility of a new choice. You might ask yourself, “What would happen if I just took my hands off the controls a little? What would happen if I simply attended to the present moment, to the experience of being here and now?”

As you slowly begin to take your hands off the controls, it’s important to bring compassion to whatever arises, since, behind the controlling is often anxiety, fear, and sometimes even panic. It can even help to bring a hand to your heart, breathe with it, and feel that your touch is offering kindness to that insecurity.

The next time you find yourself in some way trying desperately to land safely, your compassion might be what finally gives you the courage you need to let go of the controls. In doing so, you might discover that each time you let go, it becomes easier and easier to re-enter the atmosphere of your own aliveness. Gradually you’ll come home to the flow of your own living presence, the warmth and space of your awakening heart.

© Tara Brach

Naming by David Whyte

NAMING

love too early is a beautiful but harrowing human difficulty. Most of our heartbreak comes from attempting to name who or what we love and the way we love, too early in the vulnerable journey of discovery.

We can never know in the beginning, in giving ourselves to a person, to a work, to a marriage or to a cause, exactly what kind of love we are involved with. When we demand a certain specific kind of reciprocation before the revelation has flowered completely we find our selves disappointed and bereaved and in that grief may miss the particular form of love that is actually possible but that did not meet our initial and too specific expectations. Feeling bereft we take our identity as one who is disappointed in love, our almost proud disappointment preventing us from seeing the lack of reciprocation from the person or the situation as simply a difficult invitation into a deeper and as yet unrecognizable form of affection.

The act of loving itself, always becomes a path of humble apprenticeship, not only in following its difficult way and discovering its different forms of humility and beautiful abasement but strangely, through its fierce introduction to all its many astonishing and different forms, where we are asked continually and against our will, to give in so many different ways, without knowing exactly, or in what way, when or how, the mysterious gift will be returned.

We name mostly in order to control, but what is worth loving does not want to be held within the bounds of too narrow a calling. In many ways love has already named us and called us before we can even begin to speak back to it, before we can utter the right words or understand what has happened or is continuing to happen to us: an invitation to the most difficult art of all, to love without naming at all.

© David Whyte 2015
Excerpted from ‘NAMING’ From ‘CONSOLATIONS’: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.
© David Whyte & Many Rivers Press. 2015
Available
http://davidwhyte.stores.yahoo.net/cop.html

 

Clearing…….by Martha Postlewaite

Clearing ~ Martha Postlewaite
Do not try to save the whole world or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create a clearing in the dense forest of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song that is your life
falls into your own cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know how to give yourself
to this world
so worthy of rescue.

Beyond Enlightenment by Adyashanti

Do not think that enlightenment is going to make you special, it’s not. If you feel special in any way, then enlightenment has not occurred. I meet a lot of people who think they are enlightened and awake simply because they have had a very moving spiritual experience. They wear their enlightenment on their sleeve like a badge of honor. They sit among friends and talk about how awake they are while sipping coffee at a cafe. The funny thing about enlightenment is that when it is authentic, there is no one to claim it. Enlightenment is very ordinary; it is nothing special. Rather than making you more special, it is going to make you less special. It plants you right in the center of a wonderful humility and innocence. Everyone else may or may not call you enlightened, but when you are enlightened the whole notion of enlightenment and someone who is enlightened is a big joke. I use the word enlightenment all the time; not to point you toward it but to point you beyond it.
Do not get stuck in enlightenment.

~ Adyashanti

Not Seeking Approval by Byron Katie

  • Byron KatieFounder of The Work, Author of Loving What Is and A Thousand Names for Joy

2016-01-26-1453834415-3919708-Stocksy_txp337da80f8Dn000_Small_843100.jpg

The Master can’t seek fulfillment. She’s already filled to the brim; there isn’t room for a drop more. When you have what you want — when you are what you want — there’s no impulse to seek anything outside yourself. Seeking is the movement away from the awareness that your life is already complete, just as it is. Even at moments of apparent pain, there’s never anything wrong or lacking. Reality is always kind; what happens is the best thing that could happen. It can’t be anything else, and you’ll realize that very clearly if you inquire.

I have a friend whose wife fell in love with another man. He had been doing The Work for a while, and instead of going into sadness and panic, he questioned his thinking. “‘She should stay with me’ — is it true? I can’t know that. How do I react when I believe the thought? Extremely upset. Who would I be without the thought? I would love her and just wish the best for her.”

This man really wanted to know the truth. When he questioned his thinking, he found something extremely precious. “Eventually,” he said, “I was able to see it as something that should be happening, because it was. When my wife told me about it, she didn’t have to censor anything to protect me. It was amazing to hear what it was like for her, without taking any of it personally. It was the most liberating experience I ever had.”

His wife moved in with the other man, and he was fine with that, because he didn’t want her to stay if she didn’t want to. A few months later she hit a crisis point with her lover and needed someone to talk to. She went to her best friend — her husband. They calmly discussed her options. She decided to get a place of her own where she could work things out, and eventually, after many ups and downs, she went back to her husband. Through all this drama, whenever my friend found himself mentally at war with reality and experiencing pain or fear, he inquired into the thought he was believing at that moment, and returned to a calm and cheerful state of mind. He came to know for himself that the only possible problem he could have was his unquestioned thinking. His wife gave him everything he needed for his own freedom.

I often say that if I had a prayer, it would be this: God, spare me from the desire for love, approval, or appreciation. Amen. I don’t have a prayer, of course, because I don’t want anything but what I have. I know the benevolence of life. Why would I pray for something different, which would always be less than what’s coming? God is another name for reality. It’s complete, it’s perfect, it fills me with the utmost joy. The thought of asking for what isn’t never even arises.

But if I still believed my thoughts, I would pray for one thing first: to be spared from the desire for love. This desire causes nothing but confusion and misery. It shuts down the awareness of what you already have in reality. It’s painful to seek what you can never have outside yourself. I say “can never have” because obviously you don’t understand what you’re seeking. If you understood it, the seeking would be over. Because you think you know what love looks like, what it should or shouldn’t be, it becomes invisible to you. It’s the blind seeking what doesn’t exist. You beg, you plead, you bend over backward and do all sorts of other emotional acrobatics in this unending search for happy endings. Only by seeking the truth within will you find the love you can never lose. And when you find it, your natural response is appreciation.

This would be my one prayer, because the answer to it brings the end of time and space. It brings the energy of pure unlimited mind, set free in all its power and goodness. When you stop seeking love, it leaves you with nothing to do; it leaves you with the experience of being “done,” in a doing that is beyond you. It’s absolutely effortless. And a whole lot gets done in it, beyond what you think could ever have been accomplished.

When I don’t look for approval outside me, I remain as approval. And through inquiry I have come to see that I want you to approve of what you approve of, because I love you. What you approve of is what I want. That’s love — it wouldn’t change anything. It already has everything it wants. It already is everything it wants, just the way it wants it.

%d bloggers like this: