Monday, September 13, 2010

Quit working! I can show you how, call before midnight tonight!

(A note to readers: please make sure you have a relatively quiet space, and a good 15 uninterrupted minutes to read this. There is some homework baked into this post, so it's best to read this when you can give it your full attention. Thanks.)

~~~

You make the world. You make life, entirely, constantly. You can make this whole adventure called life into a constant struggle, a never-ending work project of unlimited scope, or you can live a life of ease. Which one sounds like what you want?

This is a serious question. Lots of people claim they would enjoy nothing better than to relax, smile, and enjoy life. These people would dearly love to stop arguing, railing, feeling annoyed, depressed, just to stop whatever version of overriding discomfort they're suffering from. And these same people are working very hard to maintain their own steady diet of work:  drama, conflict, self-righteousness, self-defeatism, self-improvement and/or just plain busy-ness to exhaustion.

What do you really want? Shakespeare tells us, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women merely players; they have their exits and their entrances, and one man in his time plays many parts."If you love the drama, the whole show, and you don't want to walk out from the great comic-tragedy role you are playing your life out as, then don't read on. However, if you know that you really want ease and joy, more than anything else, read on. Read on with an open, curious mind. If you read on, do so with the mind that senses potential for something radical, new and even miraculous.

Stop for a moment, right now, and consider the real possibility of something vastly transformative. Please take the time, lower your eyes, and call this forth for yourself, the possibility of not working one second longer than you already have...

And now notice the quality of this moment. How does your body feel, and your breath? What's present in your mind? When there's mystery and promise and pure potential present, what do you feel? Consider, never working again... Take another moment, really answer this for yourself ...

Now see if you can stay with that felt sense of possibility, and the quality of being that accompanies it, and keep reading...

So continuing... how is it that you are making all this work for yourself in the first place? You make the world, so you must make the work, every bit of it. This feels absolutely backwards to most people. The common perception is that the world is a big place someone or something else made, and that it's throwing all kinds of stuff (people, conditions, events) at you. Some of the stuff you like a lot, and lots of it you really can't stand. So with that as a foundation, the deal must be to work hard to get what you like, to work hard to avoid what you dislike, and maybe to find a few moments between the bouts of work where you can experience some peace and enjoyment. This is a system that most of us believe in and follow. We believe it so much that we don't even see it AS a belief system. It is THE WORLD. With this foundation, this widely accepted belief system, the world is made to be so, just like this, by all who accept and follow it. It's stronger than a religion, because we don't even see that we are subscribing to a belief system. There are so many people making this belief-world of constant work, in fact, that it seems ridiculous to question it. It seems deeply counter-intuitive, the idea that there could be another world, another dimension if you will, that doesn't ask you to live out your life as Sisyphus. You remember, that poor king in Greek mythology whose lot was to roll a heavy rock interminably up the same hill. He would get a little break every now and then to watch the rock roll down, then he'd have to trudge down and start pushing it up again. Does life feel like this to you? Do you notice that this heavy load is a constant, and that you're pushing it up hill with every major and minor annoyance and argument and egoic injury you sustain?

If you've read this far and you find yourself already scoffing or rejecting these ideas, you're done, and you could stop reading because you're back to work now. One of those Shakespearean dramas is now playing out, and you are working the role. It's probably a role you've played before, so you're very good at it, and it's difficult to step out of the role once you've identified with this strong character. You might be taking the role of the Undeserving One, or the Superior One, the Long-Suffering One or the Sick One, the Over-burdened One or the Skeptical One. For whatever character, there is a degree of work required. It's hard work to keep maintaining the character. For some of the characters, it may be enjoyable to play their scene out for a while. But their useful time never lasts very long, and then it's a pile of work because you want to keep them going when their scene and lines have truly run their course. For other roles, they're just outright unpleasant, but you have no idea how to climb out of the costume and exit the theater.  Or there are just the ones where you're lost entirely, don't have a clue what the script is, and what the other players are at or about. In any case, with any of this, the accustomed character keeps working the scene, on and on, until a new character takes over.

It's not a problem that this happens, by the way, getting lost in the role. It happens to everyone from time to time, myself included, and getting lost will last as long as it lasts. Whether over the short or long term, the role has to play itself out. In fact, paradoxically, the role itself is the means to seeing through all of the work. The role provides you with the means to become thoroughly tired by or simply to question the necessity of all the work the role demands.

To repeat, getting lost in the role is not a problem. It's an opportunity. You get lost in the demands of the role to find your way out of the demands of the role.

As you are considering that as a possibility,  if you are, just in the moment as you read this, is it possible to feel yourself directed back to that open, curious attitude? And pause?... Pause and notice what is present...  What's different, if anything?... In that movement away from scoffing or rejecting and toward openness and wondering, is there a noticeable shift?  And with the shift, is there a release of the constant work project?  Check this; lower your eyes again and investigate this. Notice your breath and the muscles in your body, and your attitude. Take your time...

If the answer is "yes, I sensed the shift and felt the change," you are now in the "other" world, the world where there is curiosity, openness, no struggling. As this shift occurred, you released the work of that moment. Here's how this happens. For instance, if you were reading and your reaction was to scoff, one of your characters, the Superior One, entered the stage. This role is hard work, demanding that you hold yourself better than others. There's even a sense of enjoying being the one who knows more than everybody else, even with the stiff back and gut, tense jaw, and the holier-than-though attitude that believes something like "I know how the world is, it is certainly not the way it's described here, and this writer is way off base." When your attitude moved away from identifying as better than, and back to curiosity, you released the work required to protect or defend the firm belief. With the release of that attitude and character, there is the release of the associated work, and then there is ease, an openness to all possibilities. In this openness, you open to the infinite universe of moments that are available to you. Can you sense, is this other place full of wonder and potential? Is there any work to being here? (and if your answer above was no, please notice what is still present in this customary world... are the body and mind tense, contracted, is the jaw tight, the face set? Do you discover somewhere the unnecessary work that is happening in the body and attitude? Now ask yourself if it needs to be this way. Repeat as necessary.)

Now please notice: with this shift, you didn't go anywhere physically different. You didn't undertake a project to fix yourself or to change any condition around you. You just asked the question, is it possible that the world is other than the way I have always thought it to be? And when you asked the question, without pushing anything away, the work of maintaining the Superior One naturally released, and you found yourself naturally in the world of curiosity, ease and openness. Simple, right now, right here.

This shift is a waking up, to the fact that you had been lost for a time, and to the sense that you no longer want to live that old life of hard work. (Bonus Tip #1: the waking up habit is helped along significantly by cultivating the human capacity for consciously attending to what's happening in each moment. In other words, meditate. Consciously set aside time daily to hone this skill. This invites more attending to what's happening, more curiosity, more awakening, more frequently, and therefore less life-as-work. You see? You can hone this skill in many ways, not just by sitting on a cushion, by the way. In whatever activity you choose, notice the moment-to-moment coming and going of the sense of difficulty, of "work," and notice the effect of asking if it needs to be hard work. Do this as a sincere training. Repeat as necessary, and notice the cumulative results over time.)


Okay, admittedly, maybe when you started reading this, you thought I was going to tell you that you don't have to get up in the morning any more and slog to the office, or the airport or garbage truck, or wherever your place of employment is. So if you feel cheated, by all means ask for your money back. But if it's been worth your time to read this, take this away with you: 

There is a different world, a new world with an entirely different foundation. It's right here on earth. It's right in front of your face. It is peopled with the very people you know, covered with the same roads and businesses and meadows and forests you know. In this world, ease is always available. It's available at your home and at your place of employment. It's available as you move into the repetitive, daily, necessary work of living, and it's available when you decide to toss off an old job that just doesn't fit anymore. This world's defining characteristic is ease. It accompanies all the joy, the tears, the expansive brightness and the peaceful smallness that naturally comes to everyone over the course of a human life. To live in this world, it's only necessary that you begin to experience it a little, and see that it is possible to live your life in ease, every moment. 

As you become familiar with this new world, you will also notice that there are ten thousand ways you leave this world each day to go back to the old work. However, it's not actually necessary for you to inventory and dismantle all ten thousand ways. You only need to experience the truth of this: if your life feels like work, right now, you only need to ask yourself if it has to be that way. Once you ask the question, if you've spent any time at all in the world of ease and joy, the answer will always be obvious. (Bonus Tip #2: once the answer is obvious, it will also be obvious if it's time to change something. Maybe slow down? Maybe stop doing what you're doing? Maybe do more of it, and dump the plan for doing another thing that you actually don't need to do but were worried about? Maybe take a break? Maybe spend more time with people who support your new sense of the world, and less time with those who only like the drama? Maybe ask for help if you sense assistance would usher you more efficiently into this world? Many options, no rules. Just try dancing with it!)

Remember, just ask, do you prefer to do all that work, or would you rather spend your days in the world of openness, curiosity, ease, and joy? 

With true curiosity and a willingness for any answer to be true, just ask: Does this need to be so hard?

What do you discover when you ask? What world do you gravitate toward? Does the play "play on," or are you willing to step off the old, accustomed stage and explore the spontaneous, the unknown?

There are literally infinite places to take this exploration from here. I'll say one more thing for now, which is that there are so many questions people have about how it's possible for life to continue responsibly in this new world. They are good questions, really important questions, and I'd be happy to look into them with you. And they are all questions coming from those inner characters who want to keep you pinned in the work world. Just so you know. Therefore, it's critical to look into them, otherwise they will keep you solidly planted in your 24 X 7 work detail.

Please enjoy exploring the truth of what's offered here, for yourself. And if you'd like to look into these things, together, please bring your questions to satsang. It's a place that always locates itself in the new world, so it's the right place to explore the questions. The schedule for White Mountain Sangha satsang meetings can be located at: http://whitemountainsangha.org/calendar.html

3 comments:

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  2. It's strange to read this during a time of transition where I'm living this...choosing to follow my passion, it took a whole village to help me see that I didn't have to slog away at work...ah that pervasive belief system....Had a most joyful day 'working' with my mentor a craniosacral therapist yesterday and realised...well...how fortunate I am to find work that is play...
    Thanks Margaret...much love and blessings

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  3. Julie, thanks for reading, and for sharing!

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