The value of dropping it, all of it!


 

 

A favourite zen story

It goes something like this:

One day an elderly monk and a young monk left the monastery and headed for the village.  After buying supplies, they headed back.  As it had been raining hard a stream had become swollen.  On the edge of it stood a young women in her fine clothes; she was reluctant to cross the stream.  The elderly monk set his load on the ground and offered to carry the women across the stream.  She hopped on his back and he carried over and then came back, picked up his load and headed for the monastery. 

An hour or so later the young monk could no longer contain his his disappointment, his upset, his anger.  He told off the monk for breaking the rules by touching the young woman and carrying her across the stream.  The elderly monk listened calmly and said “I left her by the stream over an hour ago.  Are you still carrying her?”

Ordinary living: you and I are still carrying her!

It occurs to me that you and I are rather like the young monk: we are still carrying her.

What are you and I carrying from the past?  Hurt.  Grudges. Resentment. Anger.  Myths. Beliefs. Injunctions. Must. Should . Should’nt……  These make a heavy load and this load is constantly strapped to our backs.  Worse, as we get older this load gets heavier and heavier.  And we can never really be present in the present: we are worn out from carrying this load around even if we have got so used to this that we no longer notice it.

‘Extraordinary living’: drop it, leave the past in the past!

Want ease, grace, joy present in your living?  Then stop carrying her! Drop it, leave the past in the past.

Feeling like a failure as a mother/father?  Then drop the myth that there is a way to be a perfect mother/father.  Drop the myth that you should be a perfect mother/father.  Drop the baggage!  Just be a mother/father.

Carrying hurt?  Did someone hurt you?  Drop it!  You are hurting yourself today by carrying/clinging to the hurt of yesterday.  Have you never hurt anyone?  Really?  Take a good look: can you be sure, absolutely sure, that you have never intentionally or unintentionally hurt someone?  Go further and question the myth of hurt.  Who promised you that you would not be hurt or that you would not hurt?  Does life, real life, come with that guarantee?

Didn’t live up to expectations?  Drop the expectations!  Notice that expectations are not an inherent feature of the world.  You can drop the expectation that you will live up to expectations!  Yes, you can drop it!  Just live.

Carrying guilt?  What good is that?  Who benefits?  What difference does it make?  Drop the guilt. Act!  Pick up the phone and apologise.  Write a letter and apologise.  Meet up face to face and apologise.    Are you experience existential guilt in the sense of not living an authentic life?  Then act: live that authentic life!

If I / you choose to stop carrying her, to put the past in the past, then I say that our experience of our lives, our living, will be transformed.  Life will show up as being light, lighter.  And you and I will show up light, lighter.  Lightness comes with being at peace with ourselves and the world.  When we stop carrying her we can be present: just walk back to the monastery!

 

On significance and how it robs us of lightness, freedom and self-expression


We all want to be signficant – to be someone rather than anyone, to be looked up to rather than looked down on.  And most of us spend our lives striving for significance and in the process we carry a heavy burden – all the time.  The cost of this is huge.  Significance robs us of a lightness in being and the freedom to simply be and do as we wish without worry about how we will be viewed by others.  significance also robs us of the natural way that we learn – by doing, by messing up, by doing again differently, by messing up until we final achieve competence and mastery.

I noticed this in myself recently;  significance is a huge thing for me underneath the surface.  How did I get present to it?  Recently, I have been helping my son to post the local newspaper and this has meant me walking house to house and pushing this newspaper through letter boxes.  First, time I did this I felt uneasy.  Second time I did this I felt uneasy.  And today I did it for the third time and noticed that I was secretly pleased that most of the houses were empty.  Why?  Because I did not want people to see me doing what I was doing: shoving newspapers through doors.  And why did that matter?  Because I had made a story about it: it is a low status activity done by low status people and so forth.

Interestingly, when I saw this I was able to give it up.  When I gave it up I was able to take my time rather than rush and by taking my time I enjoyed the experience.  I actually enjoyed being outside in the sunshine.  I enjoyed looking at the plant and especially the flowers in the different gardens.

I wonder in how many other ways I am being signficant or driven to be significant and so have a loss of freedom, of lightness, of playfulness and simply being fully expressed?  How about you?  Where does this show up for you?  And is the bargain that we have made and continue to make worth it?

Personally, I am up for trading in significance for freedom of being and self-expression.  And there is a long road ahead: addiction, especially when it is so subtle, can be difficult to give up.