The Waterloo Update
Lots of focus this week on finishing up the “moving in, tidying up” process. Paint’s on the wall, plumber showing up tomorrow to fix a leak. Seems very “home-like.”
We all get to certain points in our lives where we either stop and look, or plod on. If we choose the former, mostly we discover that the “time stamp” (or the visa stamp 😉 ) on our present way of being has run out.
If you accept this, then you can begin to Deconstruct the no-longer-useful stuff, replacing it with new ways of being.
The Lure of Plodding On
The stuff we do, we do for a reason — and the reason is either that it worked, or we think it “ought to work.”
If it worked, then the “out of warranty” description holds. Pretty much everything we do or think has a shelf life, and ultimately, if we are making headway with our lives, the worn out beliefs must be let go of.
In the “ought to work” category are beliefs and behaviours we created out of vapour, and which we implement, repeatedly, despite the fact that we simply end up with “more of the same.” It becomes a game of demands and whining, as we attempt to change our world using outmoded, dysfunctional tools.
The example I used in the above mentioned Deconstruction articles was my first trip to The Haven. I chose to go there because everything I was doing was getting me lousy results, and my body simply gave out on me. I didn’t know it at the time, but this trip West would lead to me being unceremoniously booted out of the Ministry.
That little drama lasted 2 days
Then Darbella and I decided to get on with our lives. This would be the “The old is no longer working (or available) so that leaves Reconstruction” project — the building of what I call the Noble Experiment.
My life since the “Drama of 1996” bears little resemblance to the decades before it. My life focus is Zen, as I understand it, and that focus is all about planting one’s feet firmly in the here and now. As I endlessly write, it’s about letting go of the stories, the blame, the drama, and noticing that, as the internal voices become less important, all that’s left is “This.”
The leap in understanding required here is actually a letting go. Most of all, it’s a letting go of excuses. I can’t tell you how many excuses I’ve heard in 30 years of this work. No time. Too confused. Mommy won’t let me. I’m way, way too smart.
That last one interest you? It’s a big part of last week’s article on Learning to Trust. In order to get all of this, you have to let go of thinking that you know anything about anything. And for many people, giving up pretending to be smart, being seen as having answers, is too much to bear.
They choose being smart over having wisdom.
Some day my ship will come in
One woman I know had some great experiences 11 years ago. For 11 years, she’s been waiting for the experiences to return, to take her by the hand, and to lead her to where she wants to go. She spends hours each day reflecting on why nothing is happening — why she’s not where she thinks she wants to be.
I say to her, “Just do what you want to do, and then you’ll be doing it!”
She says, “I can’t. Not until I know why I’m not doing, why I think so much.”
And so, in all her “smartness,” she sits, and waits.
The Deconstruction Project (which, I sense, most people resist even knowing about, let along doing) is all about growing up by letting go of the need to be governed, without thought, by the rules that are no longer serving us. It’s sort of like arguing, “Them new-fangled auto-mo-biles will never replace my horse.” Or, “If only I complain enough, things (other people) will become exactly who I want them to be.”
Good luck with that.
Reconstruction is all about establishing a short list of operating principles based upon compassion, presence, and self-mastery.
In last week’s article, the lead-off quote used the word, “Bodhicitta.” The works is a combination of bodhi = enlightenment and citta = consciousness. The word therefore can mean = mind, or consciousness of enlightenment. It is also used this way: “the union of compassion and wisdom.”
The compassion is dual - compassion for self and compassion for others. We tend to have a “compassion proclivity” — it’s easier to be compassionate for some else’s loss, for example. Balance requires that we treat ourselves with compassion in order to have the strength and focus to be compassionate with others.
Compassion is not giving in. It’s a gentle “being with” another, encouraging their walk without carrying them — or at least not carrying them for long!
Self-compassion means learning the voice of your inner critic — and then hearing the voice without judgement, dealing with the emotions that arise, and then acting in keeping with your new path. My booklet, The Watcher, describes this process.
The first step on the road to presence is understanding that thinking about something is not the same thing as experiencing it. No matter how much your mind argues, spending your life talking with yourself is both stupid and boring.
Have a look at your life, right now. You are where you are precisely and only because of what you have thought — precisely and only because of the choice you have made. You can’t think your way out of where you are, any more than you can think yourself out of a locked room. You get out by exploring the room, experimenting, and discovering the exit.
Zen Tale: a student progressed with the Zen bow and arrow. He was being tested for mastery. He drew the bow, aimed, and just before he shot, his Master asked him a question. The arrow flew just off of the mark.
The Master said, “I know that you have mastered the bow. Now, you must master yourself.”
How we wander around the locked room is actually more important than how we get out. Freaking out, getting depressed, running from one thing to another, getting angry — all are marks of low self-mastery.
Seeing clearly, walking deliberately, and being at one with your emotions is the mark of Self-Mastery.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll look at each of thise “Reconstruction Skills.”
In the mean time, just watch yourself. See how much time you spend in your head, explaining what you see, as opposed to living your life with compassion, presence, and self-mastery. Breathe, and bring yourself into purposeful action.