Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Resistance, Effort and Opportunity: Part-2


In the last article we saw how resistance slows a seeker down on his path. Lack of effort and lost opportunities are other reasons that can slow one down. Are these three the only hurdles? Of course not, but one can classify most of the hurdles under these three broad terms conveniently. I’m not saying that there cannot be other strange forms of hurdles (like Karmic hurdles, or evil entities, or jealous deities), but its beyond my pay grade to write about them, I can write about things I directly know of or at least somewhat sure of. In the end, its all Mind, you see, and we can use Mind itself (its more favourable parts) to defeat Mind.

Effort

The dilemma of effort is a familiar one for most of the seekers. Do I reach there by enough effort or can I achieve it effortlessly? The answer usually given is familiar one too, which is – It is not possible to reach there by effort, but one must still make some effort.



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That’s actually true, but the one liner answer is not very helpful for those who need a clear guidance, I guess. I will present my own understanding of it anyway. As we have seen in the articles on introspection, it hardly takes any effort to clearly see the nature of Self and the man behind the curtains of this magic show we call the human experience - mind, body, and world. All that can be known is just in front of our nose. Freedom and happiness should result immediately from here on. But it rarely happens. For some strange reason, people take a 180 degree turn and start in exactly the opposite direction. In other words, most will try very hard to "get it" from outside world, some old books, techniques or from some miraculous teacher sitting high in the Himalayas.

What can be the reason? Mostly its ignorance, one can say. It appears that way. But usually a seeker, if initiated by a good teacher, is made aware of stuff in front of his nose on the day one. Clearly, he knows, if he is a seeker material that is. Most people get it very quickly, but then wander away as if nothing happened. "Is that it?", most would say. Then they spend 20 years running across the globe, turning every stone to find that miraculous experience of "enlightenment" or whatever they believe they must "get". If you have a feeling that I'm talking from my own experience, then you are absolutely right.

I got it very early but then it was surely not magical enough. Self is disappointingly ordinary. I wanted "that” extraordinary kind of knowledge great masters have access to, surely it must be very rare, why else everyone is after it? The grass seemed greener on the other side. What happens when you have it in your pocket and search for it madly all over the place? Useless effort, that’s what happens. So you will find many advanced teachers who dislike effort, and now you know the reason why they don’t recommend it.

And the very same teachers would smack you the next day for just sitting there on your bottom and not doing anything for your progress. And you are back to the dilemma. The effort is required not to get there, but to turn the seeker back 180 in his original direction. The effort is required to stop doing things that are unproductive. So the whole picture of effort is hanging upside down. I call it resistance, and as we discussed, its not ignorance, its just a trick of the Mind which forces you to look in other direction and ignore the obvious. Mind wants to do stuff, make effort, to "get" it, to achieve it. But its useless effort on its part, its like searching for glasses while you are already wearing them. For some reason Mind likes it very much - the game of seeking, it gets something to latch on.

In order to stop this madness some effort is needed and when the Mind is out of the way, you see that you already have exactly the thing you were making so much effort for. You get it effortlessly, but only when the mental kind of effort bears no fruit. To tire out the Mind, or to force it out of your way, you need effort. Thus we find that its not the effort itself, but the direction of it that matters. That is the trick.

How much effort is needed? Depends upon how further away you have turned your head from the right direction. Also on how feverishly your Mind is searching for what it thinks is missing. Effort is needed not to get it but to stop from trying to get it.

Secondly, effort is needed to implement the teachings in one’s life. Its not enough to merely know, one must also act from that knowledge. Many seekers reach there and then get distracted, thinking that the realization will bear fruit by itself. There is some truth in that, once you see it, you are forever "upgraded", it becomes impossible to act in old ways again. However, Ego is very strong in some and it is possible to fall back into suffering while fully knowing and awake. Its not really fun when you suffer while fully knowing why you suffer. Solution is - cultivation. Make some effort to break old patterns and abide as Self instead of Ego.

Moderation is the keyword. Forcing the Ego out can be counterproductive. Human experience needs human functionality, which is largely implemented in the Mind as Ego. Quickly destroying it all will simply mean a quick end of human experience (aka death).

Opportunity

An opportunity is any event or potential happening that can speed up your evolution. In the context of a seeker, it is not something that can make his life comfortable or provide stuff, money or pleasure, just to make it clear. An opportunity for a seeker is entirely different when compared to its usual counterpart for ordinary people. So if he is not carefully paying attention, a seeker can miss it and it may remain hidden and useless. If he loses most of such opportunities, it slows him down.

For example, suffering of any kind is a great opportunity for a seeker. You might say that’s some weird thinking, but I told you that an opportunity means something very different for a seeker. Surely, suffering is undesirable unless you turn it into an opportunity and take advantage of it. Suffering results from ignorance, and for a seeker it should be a piece of cake to see the ignorance that is generating his suffering. Once seen, knowledge dawns, and suffering ceases. That’s killing two birds with one stone (sorry again about the dark metaphor, I really don't recommend killing birds with stones).

If the seeker has a mind-set of an ordinary man, he will surely lose this opportunity to progress. Moreover, the suffering can always return and he may go through the same circle again. Its not fun to remain stuck at one place in your path. So a smart seeker knows how to turn even the strangest situation into an opportunity. In fact, our whole life is a really big opportunity, nothing else, what else is the use of a life?

It'd be tempting to convert a bad situation into a learning opportunity, but what about positive situations? A wise seeker converts them into knowledge too. See that the good is as impermanent as the bad, it never lasts. The trick is to come out of the cycle of good and bad situations. Good one’s are as potent as bad ones for this purpose. Secondly, if you stretch a pleasurable situation beyond its natural dimensions, it is torn to pieces and turns into suffering. This is the right opportunity to learn.

Opportunities also appear in the form of people, teachers and books. It can also be something very mundane like an opportunity to serve, donate or forgive. Do not wait for a big opportunity, its the small one’s that are most important and easy to miss. As I said, it appears to be ignorance that we miss opportunities, but it is not most of the time. Mostly, its resistance, our arch enemy. You may fully know of an event which can teleport you far ahead on your path, but you knowingly avoid it, thinking something like - "its not for me", "I'm not ready yet" or "what can go wrong". For many the excuse is - "I must do this other thing first, its more important, anyway I know everything already ". The other thing can be anything - a job, relation, children, a time killer hobby or even some old practice or an existing teacher.

For example, if you consciously choose to watch a movie when there is this important book you need to read which can transform you, (because a book can always wait), know that you are ignoring an opportunity here. It may seem like a minor matter - "what’s the hurry?", you may say. Surely, there is no hurry, but it shows that your priorities are twisted, the movie can wait, can't it? You missed a good opportunity here to recognize your resistance and force the mind to look in the right direction. It takes some effort, especially when its all so well hidden and appears harmless.

How to recognize an opportunity? That’s a silly question. You can't. All you can do is pay attention to all the events that are happening in your life. By all, I mean all. I know it sounds extreme. A smart seeker walks through his life like a hunter walks through a dense jungle. One second of laziness, an he gets hunted. Its an art to not to look like a hunter and still manage to pay attention to all your activities and surroundings. You will find that once you do this consciously, opportunities start dropping from sky like rain. Something knows your keenness and wants to support you, help you. If you walk through the life in a lazy-dazey way, opportunities hardly arrive. Its not magic, it is the way it is. Once you attend to the events in this way, try to take advantage of them as much as you can. In retrospect you will find that some of them were really great opportunities, and you could have easily missed them if you didn't try them out.

So the trick here is to not to rely on your own knowledge to judge an opportune event, because by definition you can't, all one can do is to set the priorities right and treat all situations as opportunities. What if something is obviously not an opportunity, for example, the opportunity to serve this drunk man with a loaded gun, who can barely walk and must be dropped to his home in a dark shanty alley? Well, use your discretion, prioritize survival not service, in other words – don’t be stupid. Use this opportunity to utilize your brain and get out of there.

Opportunities present themselves in many forms but are seldom this extreme, its usually something very small, like a phone call or clicking a link on a website. And that’s why they are easy to miss.  Usually as you progress, the hidden starts becoming obvious and the resistance starts coming into light. Now the obstacles can be seen from miles away, efforts yield bull's-eye outcomes and opportunities turn into conscious actions, they no more seem like random events, they take the form of amazing synchronicities.

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