sunrise Mayor's Journal, 10th March, 2011:
Flowing with Resistance

I was awake at 4 am and the following thoughts were running around my mind. So in order to feel like there was actually some usefulness in this sleepless state, I’m writing down these ideas that occurred to me.

This recent work we’ve been doing at the Village has really been on my mind (even in my dreams!). There’s something about this whole idea of learning that Love embraces our most difficult thoughts and feelings that seems to be changing my perspective on things pretty radically. I’ve been looking at the connection to Forgiveness, and I think the idea is quite the same. And we can even bring in aspects of Byron Katie’s The Work as well as the Sedona Method that has Nina introduced us to. For me it all comes back to the Meaning of Judgment (MOJ) workshop we were going through. Something that really stuck with me in those notes is the emphasis Ken puts on the importance of not judging our ego thoughts when they occur to us: not judging our judging.

We’re all pretty good at identifying our ego aspects; that’s not too much of a challenge. In fact, I heard Ken say the other day that the ego pretty quickly learns to co-opt us once we’ve decided to make a firm commitment to A Course In Miracles. As he said, it has no problem with your decision to uncover the ego. It replies, “You’re right, let’s go out and get that wily ego fellow, we’ll show him. We’ll really go in the there, uncover him and get rid of him.” That is language the ego just loves; it’s all about doing something about the ego, which, of course, makes it even more real and substantial. In particular, this attitude just leads us into more opposition, more fighting, into hammering ourselves over the head every time we discover another hateful, judgmental thought within our minds.

What MOJ was showing me is the great difficulty we have in doing the last forgiveness step, which is turning toward Jesus and seeing what he has to say about our bad old ego. We are promised that doing so will release our hold on the egoic thought/experience. We just need to accept his acceptance of our ego. And yet a number of us (okay, me) have often had the experience of the negative feeling remaining, despite doing what we believe is opening our minds to Jesus and his love. Are you maybe one of these people? (please, say yes!) We think we’re practicing forgiveness, and yet the pain, fear and anger remain. It is in this last step that the entire transformational experience of forgiveness occurs. This is where all the action is, no matter which non-dual discipline we study. Without this last crucial step, of accepting kindness in place of our judgments, there is no real change and the problem remains.

Resistance.

Resistance is the only problem; that sums it all up. Our experience of life seems to be our untamable anger, our persistent fear, our deep sadness, or mortifying guilt and depression; yet the essential motivation behind all of these experiences is resistance – not accepting ‘what is’. We fight with reality. We insist that reality be different from the way it actually is. And I don’t just mean the reality of our life situations. A number of current non-dual disciplines focus on accepting ‘what is’, which means letting go the objections we might have to the way our lives look. This is definitely right on the mark and very useful. But I think the notion goes much deeper. The fight with and the resistance to what is is actually about Love, the deeper reality of ‘what is’.

Our existence and experience as individual minds has at its foundation a statement that in one word says, ‘No!’ That’s the sum of everything our minds are constantly saying: No! Our minds said no to Oneness/God in the beginning (read: now), they said ‘I don’t want this, I want something else.’ Whatever Oneness/God/Abstraction offered, our minds constantly responded with, No. Over and over: no, no, and no. And that’s what they are still doing today. That’s why the Course says our problem is our judgments and grievances, the vehicles by which our minds are constantly excluding and refusing to accept with kindness and understanding the world and people around us. A judgment against another says, No, I don’t find you acceptable or included within my understanding, within Love. A memory of a difficult time says, No, Love was not available, no, I was hurt and you can’t tell me otherwise. Fear of a future problem says, No, I am vulnerable and in danger, and Love will not be there to nourish and support me in that problem.

Casting our vision a little further a field, we easily see that everyone we meet in the streets as well, in the supermarket, in our offices, is going around saying No: No, I am not what God says I am; no, I have no access to Love; no, I am an individual locked in this prison-body; no, I am vulnerable and weak; no, you will not include me in love and so I shall attack; no, you will not give me what I need and so I must take it. We share precisely the same experience with everyone around us in this respect, this foundational suffering of fighting with reality. Not just the reality of our lives as they are presented to us, but the larger, deeper Reality of our source within the abstract Love that gives us our Life.

It is a very useful step to begin to sense the resistance that our entire psychological lives are based upon. This resistance is not one of a calm, perfect knowledge that says I know I’m alone and abandoned. That might actually be peaceful, this kind of knowledge. Rather, it is the rabid resistance of one who knows he is wrong, who is fighting an un-winnable battle against an immense enemy – Truth. And so it is very fatiguing and very disheartening. Even when we have decided unequivocally that we are hopelessly unworthy and forever separated from Love, we cannot win. We cannot feel the peace of having found the truth about ourselves. We are wrong. And worst of all, we know it. We desperately try to pretend that we are right, that we have finally found out the dreadful truth about ourselves, and we insist time and time again, increasing our pain exponentially to prove our point. But it is destined to fail. This is resistance.

The solution? We need to learn what it means to simply say yes.

We cannot fight against our resistance, although the ego would love to think it could. The only way to begin to work with this resistance is to learn to say yes. Not a huge resounding, earth-shattering YES! Just a quiet little whisper, gentle as a cool breeze that says, “I can learn to say yes even to all my statements of no”. That’s where these other non-dual techniques have been making a particular contribution. They help us find a way of being kinder with our resistance. Whichever technique we use, the idea is simply to learn to become aware of all our statements of ‘no’ such as our painful memories, criticisms, hates, and exclusions, and learn that we can begin to be gentler with our insistence and resistance. We learn to say as softly as we can, “This is all okay. Love is here no matter what I am thinking and feeling. Love does not oppose.

Is it really that easy? Well, no.

Since our entire psychological existence is based on opposition, our tendency will be systematically to oppose our egoic thoughts of hate, criticism, and anger. Opposition is the blood running through our individuality’s veins. It requires us always to fight, to battle and strive. Opposing is as natural and automatic as taking our next breath. Hence, our initial thought will always be, “I shouldn’t think or feel this. This is bad. I’m such a failure. I must stop right now. Let me replace this thought with a nice, loving, accepting thought. Let me get Jesus in here to fix this – where is he?” What we have to stop is this kind of thinking – right now! We cannot unthink something we are thinking, because we are thinking it for what we believe is a valid reason – the survival of our sense of individuality.

So what do we do? We can only try to shift our motivation, our intention, not the direction of our thoughts. And this is where we come back to the need to embrace Love in even the smallest way. We do so not by opposing the direction of our thoughts, but by going with them, bending with them, flowing with them, saying, “This is okay, there is nothing wrong with this thought. Of course it comes from confusion and separation, but there is nothing wrong with that. Love embraces even this anger, hatred, terror and depression. I do not need to oppose or be afraid of these feelings.” Can you do that?

There are going to be times when even this level of acceptance of Love is just not going to come easily. When we sense resistance to the idea of flowing with an ego thought without judging it, then we flow again, asking ourselves, “Would I be willing to allow just a little of this thought/feeling to be there without opposing it?” Or, “Could I determine that I would like to allow just a bit of this thought/feeling to be there without judging it? Can I be with this thought/feeling/conviction in a loving way, even just a little? I see Jesus peeping through a crack in the door, do I want to open it just an inch more? Do I really have to continue to fight and push against this feeling, to judge it, to not want it? Is that really an obligation, or can I be willing to admit that I might have a small choice in the matter?”

Some of these non-dual techniques encourage us to work on our motivation for allowing the acceptance of Love to join us in our minds, pointing out the cost to not doing so, and the gains to finally letting go: “How am I going to feel if I continue pushing? What would it be like if suddenly I stopped pushing and just allowed this all to flow through me freely without opposing it? What if none of this was wrong anymore, how would I possibly feel? What if I could eventually let go my hold on all these thoughts, how would that feel?”

All these thoughts get us going back in the right direction by putting us in a place of non-opposition. Opposing always feels stressful because we have set up an obstacle, a challenge, an enemy to overcome, a wall to knock down. Yet there is no real obstacle there. In his workshop, No Man Is An Island, Ken uses the wonderful metaphor of a fist to describe resistance and opposition. Our ego’s mindset is like a fist made from our tightly clenched fingers. We clench so hard to protect what is in our hand that our muscles ache and our knuckles turn white, yet still we do not question the fundamental premise, asking ourselves what is really being held there. Jesus has told us that our hand is empty (there is no sin or separation), but we don’t believe him and clench all the harder. Eventually the pain of our cramped fingers is so painful that we become willing to lift our little finger just enough to see that in fact there is nothing there. We were protecting nothing – the pain was purely the defense against letting go the thought that there was something there. We are battling with a mistaken thought, and nothing else.

It is only our resistance that makes the wall appear before us. The wall is our resistance, and not the hate, anger or judgmentalness we might find in ourselves. It is simply our fear of saying yes to our existence as Love, to our non-existence as separated beings. Any imaginary obstacle will do as a wall, anything we can turn into a problem – as long as it serves our purpose of resisting the acceptance of Love. And our minds will be extremely imaginative in finding many, many different things that can appear to us as a problem. There in the background of our minds’ activity runs a litany of potential candidates, whispering: Something is wrong here, can’t you feel it? There’s something here that is just not adequate, that must be improved upon. All is not well and sufficient, I can feel it. In fact, when we practice these methods we quickly find that there is a river of obstacles that flow across the screen of our minds, occupying our attention with what we believe are real reasons to believe that Love, freedom and happiness do not exist. It quickly becomes obvious that the mind’s real objective in any situation is simply to prove that Love is not present, or even existent. “No” is the only word being spoken in our minds, no matter what we are looking at. No, Love is not here.

Over time this way of looking can help us become aware of the true activity of the mind. The mind is not really engaged with the outside world at all, despite our years of ‘experience’ to the contrary. We always thought we were having a problem with politicians, business leaders, family members, the economy, local legislation, our bodies, our finances, household insects, the lawn, the lawnmower, the traffic, other drivers, the red light, the deadline, the poor coffee, the cold food, the poor service, or the rain. In fact, the mind has been engaged totally and completely within itself all this time, busily imagining problems and obstacles one after the other to occupy our attention and prove its point. Its point is always that there is a valid reason for saying, No. An endless series of scenes and images that we attach the label of ‘problem’ to, purely to feed our need to say, “No, love is not here!”

But ours is a path of non-resistance. It is the path of allowing, of embracing, of accepting. We allow our minds to say Love is not here. We just allow the awareness to come to us that this is what we are thinking; we allow the words to role slowly around in our mind... "I am thinking, 'Love is not here'." This is the current delusion that fills our minds, this is its life statement - and that is quite okay. We do not fight it, contradict it, or oppose it in any way. We step back, allow kindness to enter our minds in the form of acceptance. We look to the ultimate goal that our hearts are set on, and we allow Love to enter our lives, as Jesus or in any other form in which Love appears to us. We allow Love to embrace all our aspects, to enter in and make itself at home in the space of our most intimate thoughts, reassuring ourselves that there is nothing we really want to withhold from this gentle kindness now. We make Love a home in our minds by saying there is nothing that Love would take away from me, there is nothing Love does not include and embrace. “Even this…” Even this does Love embrace.

When we practice this way we find that over time the obsession of our minds to find problems begins to weaken. Its agitation, constantly finding fault, danger and unworthiness, starts to slow; the difficulties and reasons for hate become less pointed and sharp. Love’s gentle non-resistance appeals to us more and more, taking the place of our earnest need for reality to show us danger and hate. Where we thought there was only opposition within us, we find there is also a willingness to flow gently with the movement of our minds, a coming into awareness of opposition, a sensing of the fear, pain or anger this brings, then a swinging with the feeling, allowing it to be there as a feeling (not as a ‘truth’), determining to want to be able to accept it kindly, even just a little. Even just the tiniest amount, and this re-opens the door.

Thus we are taught the true nature of acceptance. Within this acceptance we learn that our reality has already been perfectly accepted by Love, by God. We learn to accept Acceptance. We no longer deny what is, our perfect acceptance unto our holy Father.

Photo credit: http://aksinya.wordpress.com/