Play Dumb and Hold Your Ground

Play Dumb and Hold Your Ground — Life is best lived in the here and now, as we develop strong roots, and a ‘heavenly’ mind. Too often, we are so distracted by being right or getting others to ‘prove their love,’ that we are blown hither and yon. In this article, we look at staying put, while being lodged in Beginner’s Mind.

play dumb and hold your ground
So, as I wrote a few weeks back, our exit from Costa Rica was a bit different than expected. I tend to be almost excessively detail oriented, and it’s a mystery to me how I went more than 60 days without checking the visa stamp in our passports.

I write about paying attention all the time, so, “OOPS!”

I had a belief that I had a 90 day Visa, and based upon that belief, I never looked. The ever-kind cosmos had actually provided us with 30 day visas — to remind me that, just because I think something, this doesn’t make it so.

Un-authenticated beliefs are deadly, you see.

There are 2 flavours of belief. In my case, my belief that I had a 90 day visa was simple to (dis)prove. Wayne, look at the Visa stamp! Such beliefs are “day-to-day” beliefs. By that, I mean that the truth or falsity of the belief is “right here, in front of your nose.”

Please, let my theory pan out.

The other flavour of belief is “theoretical belief.” I call this the “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin” exercise. The Buddha, for example, was often questioned about his belief in god. He never discussed it. He said (I’m paraphrasing), “You can’t prove god, and you can’t disprove god, so why bother, when there’s so much you can understand, right in front of you.”

Most of what I do is to persuade people to get out of their heads (away from their theoretical beliefs — dramas) to their day-to-day experience.

Most get something in their heads, and then go scurrying around, trying to find evidence to back it up. The Internet is deadly, as you can find evidence for anything there.

The other line that kills me is, “Research Shows…”

I laugh, inside, because research, 150 years ago, clearly demonstrated that people of colour were inferior to “whites,” women were incapable of anything and would never have the vote, etc. Just today I read a blog post, where the author used “studies on attachment theory” (note the last word…) which “prove” that children need one consistent care-giver for the first 2 years — without it, she proclaims breathlessly, “They won’t attach!”

Right. Like one care-giver has ever been the norm. For most of history, the “community” has raised kids… but that’s not my point. She found a study to defend her wish to stay home and raise her kids. She flaunts the study, when the day-to-day evidence of well-developed kids and a non stressed mom, for me, would be much more persuasive “evidence.”

At the end of the day, all we can do is what we do, and the wise soul isn’t looking for a study to back up a personal decision.

Balanced living is all about asking, learning, and enacting

When the Visa drama happening in Costa Rica, I do admit to “losing it” a bit. I got the whole, “They (the infamous ‘they’) are going to throw me in jail!” thing going. To my credit, while obsessing, I re-scheduled our flights, rearranged hotels, and got us out of Dodge. I, however, had some mini-meltdowns.

What I did do, also, was ask for advice — from people who know — expats in Costa Rica.

My chiropractor in Tilaran, Ed Yurica, is a very cool guy. He’s 12 Costa Rican, and left the US — he is an official Costa Rica resident. He laughed at me for getting so worked up, for leaving early, etc. (as did my other Costa Rican friends — thanks again to my buddy Carlos, who solved our rental car issues with a phone call!)

Ed gave us hints about exit fees, and I thought it wise to listen.

Rather than quote studies, it’s best to find and listen to people who actually know something.

Ed is also the author of, “Play Dumb and Hold Your Ground.” He said it, we wrote it down, and I told him I was going to write about it.

Ed was describing his approach to bumping against Costa Rican authorities (like the Traffic Police…) — he described just shaking his head, and saying “No!” In other words, no defending, no persuading, no games. Plant your feet and stop talking!

This is the grounded approach to living. Darbella is doing some new Qi Gong training, and she came home with this analogy:

  • Vertical alignment is — roots in the ground, head anchored in “sky energy.” This is stability.
  • Horizontal alignment, on the other hand, is rooted nowhere, and therefore you are subject to the moods and winds of those around you.

Qi Gung is all about establishing Vertical Alignment.

Play Dumb and Hold Your Ground

hold your ground
Wow! Are you ever silly!

As I watch clients teach me how they fight, it’s always about falling into horizontal alignment — about being blown off track. One person raises an issue, the other person sees things differently (so far, no problem.) Then, either or both get into some version of “If you love me, you’ll see it my way, and change.” (Here comes a problem.)

The problem is that this leads to a shifting away from the issue, into “If you love me…” And from there, evidence mounts, stories are told, and pretty soon, the couple is fighting about stuff that happened years ago.

Play Dumb and Hold Your Ground, on the other hand, looks like, “Hmm. I notice you’re shifting to “If you love me,” and I’m not going. Let’s stay on the topic at hand.”

It takes precisely one person to stay grounded, to stay on topic, to leave the emotional games for another time. “Let’s resolve this one, then see if the other stuff needs talking about.”

The mark of wisdom, then, is to develop roots into the bedrock of balance.

From a place of rootedness, I can ask for help ‘adjusting my posture.’ I know what I know, but have no desire to convert the masses. I seldom ask, “Why is this happening to me?”, and therefore can resolve whatever happens. I have no expectation that others are invested in either “getting me,” or “saving me.”

The Buddha put it this way:

Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.

Beginner’s mind is a mind grounded in balance, harmony, and “not knowing.” It’s about living well, not about “being right.” It’s about “my life,” not about “studies show.” It’s real, not imagined. It’s now, not past or future. It’s authentic, not contrived. It’s “neutral empathy,” (thanks for bringing this home, Dar!) not “If you love me…”

Over the next while, let’s unpack this a bit more!

Make Contact!

So, how does this week’s article sit with you? What questions do you have? Leave a comment or question!

About the Author: Wayne C. Allen is the web\‘s Simple Zen Guy. Wayne was a Private Practice Counsellor in Ontario until June of 2013. Wayne is the author of five books, the latest being The. Best. Relationship. Ever. See: –The Phoenix Centre Press

2 thoughts on “Play Dumb and Hold Your Ground”

  1. Wherever you are I’m glad you’re writing out of your experience so I can stay better grounded in my experience instead of in my head which is all over the map. I’m moving churches and will be much closer to where my wife and family live, but saying goodbye is raising lots of old energies and stories and the urge to just get the hell out of Dodge asap, which is my emergency defense. So thanks to your writing I live this day in presence. Peace and thanks!

    • Hey William,
      Well, that’s good news! Trusting you’ll “get out of Dodge” at precisely the right moment, and take this time to appreciate the goodbyes. They’re precious!



Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.