That probably isn’t what you want to hear. But I’m not here to write some “Pollyanna-feel-good-spiel” that leaves you starving in the long run, like so many empty calories. I’ll leave that to the ad agencies and other spin doctors of the world. I’m interested in the truth of being human. You know, the truth we all experience, but rarely actually admit or talk about? Oh, I know, everything’s just fine, right? Well, let’s give ourselves permission to go a little deeper, in fact, a lot deeper. Down to where the Major Good Mojo is.
If we look around at the Universe we live in, what we see is cycles. Cycles of living and dying, coming and going, expansion and contraction. EVERYTHING is subject to this law, even the entire Universe itself. The only difference is the frequency of the cycles: the Sun has a relatively long cycle, while a flower has a relatively short cycle. However, we (as human beings) are not subject to this law, right? Well, it would seem by the way we live our lives that we “think” we aren’t, but the truth is, we are.
Here’s the thing: I think most of us would say “Yes, I can see that humans are born and die and therefore are subject to this law.” But what we don’t see and embrace are the times of death that occur while we are living! Between birth and death there are many “small deaths.” Like the tree that lets it leaves go every year, there are times, many times in fact, that we are called to let go, surrender, and die to what’s next.
This past weekend I experienced this truth. I got sick, and I felt crappy – a part of me was dying. “Hey,” I thought, “I have plans this week end, this is no time to get sick!” But there I was, with life telling me to make other plans – to stop, go inside, stop doing-doing-doing, and let go for a little while. So I closed all the blinds and crawled into bed….only to find my mind racing, terrified, with all the things I needed to do (and wasn’t doing). So I created a mantra “I surrender, there is nothing I have to do, I am doing nothing.” I repeated this over and over, especially whenever the “doing devil” popped into my head. And eventually I WAS able to surrender, I DID let go, I DID embrace the contraction, and I DID rest and heal. And now here I am, on the other side, writing to you – more clear, more present, and more free – having let go and died a little death.
Yes, everlasting joy is our core nature. However, it’s a mistake to think that means every moment of your life is supposed to be “happy-happy-joy-joy.” I think the Buddhists said it best when they said, “To joyfully participate in the sorrows of the world.” And to “the world” I would add “your world.” To joyfully participate in the sorrows of YOUR world. It’s through our core of joy that we can most powerfully weather the storms of our life – the expansions AND contractions, the happiness AND sadness, the living AND dying.
In this issue of Major Good Mojo we explore what it takes to truly surrender. And learn “To joyfully participate in the sorrows of (y)our world.”
The Key to Living is….Dying
Let’s look at one of our biggest fears: the fear of death. Over the years in all the reading and research I’ve done, I’ve been surprised at how many successful and influential people have become that way largely through facing their fear of death. Once they became free of their fear of death, they were free to live their life. Buckminster Fuller (famous inventor, thinker, and architect) almost committed suicide in his 30’s after failing miserably as a businessman. Robert Kiyosaki (best-selling author of “Rich Dad, Poor Dad”) faced his fear of death as a helicopter gunship pilot in Vietnam and tells a great story of “making peace with his maker,” allowing him to fly free rather than flying to avoid death. Michael Caine (world class actor) faced his fear of death in the Korean War. In his subsequent pursuit to be an actor he said, “If I died doing it, I didn’t care. I only go forward. After Korea, nothing could dissuade me.” He was free. There are many, many examples of people facing their fears with the result being freedom, freedom to live.
While each of us may not actually face death in our day-to-day lives, we all experience times in our lives, more frequently than you might at first imagine, where it feels like we’re dying. EVERYONE experiences challenges in their life, EVERYONE has weaknesses, EVERYONE has deep seated fears and insecurities, and EVERYONE in some way, shape, or form, feels alone or like an outsider somewhere in their life. THIS is life, THIS is the reality of the human experience, and if you’re truly living, you’re going to run into these things.
Now, because sharing and discussing our problems, fears, personal challenges, and true feelings is discouraged in society, and because we’re all pretending they don’t exist, it’s a rare teacher that trains us how to BE WITH and ALLOW the “downs” in life. There is very little tolerance for these downs in life. Which, by the way, does not make them go away, it just forces them out in other ways. Typical solutions offered are “Don’t have them” or “Get out of them asap.” The first is unrealistic. Yes or no? Just look in your own life. Have you experienced any downs? I bet the answer is yes. And I’ll bet that you’ll continue to experience more as you go along in this life. So, let’s stop pretending. And the second is simply violence – imposing your will on another (yourself) using force – this just pits you against you, and as we know, what we resist, persists.
There is a third way. That third way is ALLOWING, or BEING WITH. No one ever says it is OK to have the downs, allow the downs, and succeed. Everyone is afraid of the downs and is trying to avoid them, trying to escape them. To the contrary, I will propose it is in fact, THE path. I think we are grown up enough to hear this – mature enough to hear this now – rather than wanting some fairy tale and avoiding it as if avoiding it will make it not true. This is like pretending gravity doesn’t exist and jumping off a building expecting you will fly because you don’t believe in gravity. It’s fun to fantasize about, but when it comes to actually jumping off the building, I’d suggest you embrace a pretty well-tested and validated reality.
If you are up to creating anything in your life that is truly challenging, for example your true life’s purpose and mission, you will face ups AND downs, expansion AND contraction, living AND (it will feel like) dying. And the bigger the game of life you are up to playing, the bigger the ups and downs you will likely experience. Your ability to ALLOW and BE WITH yourself in the midst of the downs just may be THE most important and powerful skill you can develop.
In a paradoxical kind of way this is being weak in a powerful way. We are afraid of being weak. We are afraid of being “out of control.” The fact we are afraid is a RED FLAG indicating an opportunity for transformation. The extent you can ALLOW and BE WITH this fear in the down times of your life is the extent to which you will be powerful, and will powerfully move through, these times in your life.
It will still be scary, it will still be challenging, and you will still want to escape from and change it. However, there will be a part of you that lives on a higher plane of awareness that knows “this too shall pass.” You know that the river of life is always flowing, the scenery constantly changing, whether you’re paddling or not! It’s a practice that gets easier each time as you become aware of those moments of challenge and fear. When life gets scary and it feels like you’re dying, you learn to recognize them and allow them. It’s a sign of significant spiritual growth when you have these experiences without them having you.
Die while still alive, and be free to live your life.
Your Major Good Mojo Assignment:
Make a list of all your fears – an exhaustive list. Put them all on there. Making this list alone will be transformational (Note: the first fear you may have to embrace is your fear of embracing your fears! If so, make that number one on your list, then get on with the exercise!)
Now, take one, whichever one feels intuitively appropriate to you at this time, and feel it, experience it. Take one which, if its grip were loosened, would give you more freedom, and embrace it! Ask that fear what it has to teach you. Ask that fear what it is protecting you from. Thank that fear for protecting you. Now, ask that fear what it needs from you so it can relax, so it can let go, and you can live your life more freely. Give it what it needs.
CONGRATULATIONS! You are one step closer to having your fears rather than them having you!