Befriend The Darkness

     Feelings don’t have to stop us…

     We addicts need to learn to sit down beside our dark feelings and befriend them. We cannot let our feelings control, overwhelm, or have power over us. We must stay in the middle lane, do what we would normally do, and let our feelings fluctuate around us. Our feelings will always change, up and down, but they do not have to stop us and they do not have to have power over us. Whether good or bad, painful or joyful, the trick is to walk right through our feelings and push forward.

     Winston Churchill said astutely, “If you’re going through hell, keep going… Never, never, never give up.” Precisely. What are we going to do, stop in the middle of hell or turn back only to start all over again? I’m all set with that. If you fight your thoughts and feelings, they will only persist, and perhaps grow stronger. But if you let them just be, they will gradually dissipate and move on. And by letting them be as they are, by accepting them and gracefully moving through them or moving next to them, we grow stronger. We gain character.

     We don’t become strong men and women by wimping out, turning back, refusing do things that make us uncomfortable, popping a bunch of pills, pouring booze down our throats or shooting a spoonful of heroin. Nope. We grow strong and become free inside by walking right into our fear, our darkness, and our despair. Addicts must confront themselves to unlock the chains they are bound in.

God, teach me to accept and embrace ALL of my thoughts and feelings. Teach me to take the middle road, not too high or too low… 

Nature Knows Best

     “Nature knows best

       because it doesn’t expect
       anything to come
       except what comes next.”
      – C. Peabody, line from poem Nature Knows Best, 1997
     Truly does the wisdom of nature contain within it the secret to life. Observe nature and you will see pure and absolute freedom. Observe nature and you will see problem-free life. And if we can somehow live by the rules of nature, that is the closest we might come to infinite peace, freedom and contentment. What is the secret?
     Self-help gurus call it non-resistance. Nature is perfectly happy to let whatever comes come, and to let whatever goes go. It does not stand up stubbornly and fight against the forces acting against it. If the wind blows against the trees, they do not refuse to budge, but rather move in the direction the wind blows them. Even if the wind comes strong and breaks a branch, the tree doesn’t run after the lost branch nor does it cry or whine or retaliate in anger.
     When the waves break upon the rocks along the shore, they do not turn around and run the other way. The water simply moves around the rocks, flowing in any direction it can. Some flows right, some flows left, but it’s no big deal. The water doesn’t complain about the rocks being in its path. Neither does the rock complain about getting all wet. They accept each other. They accept the forces acting upon them. They accept whatever happens, whether good or bad, warm or cold, wet or dry.
     And this is the secret. Sure we all have problems. And no, we are not doormats. If we’re being oppressed, we stand up and fight. But most of our problems are the kind we make up in our heads. Sure there are certain real problems such as food, clothing, shelter and money. But what about all the rest? 
     Couldn’t we eliminate a mountain of pain from our lives simply by changing our perception, or changing our response to, say, a non-response? Next time something outside of our control happens, why suffer more than we have to? Why not just accept it? If we gain, we gain. If we lose, we lose. But either way, we’re okay with the outcome because we accept everything and expect nothing. We don’t fight against what is, what was, or what may be. We don’t budge. We don’t resist. We rise to the nobility, the grace, the beauty and the wisdom of nature.
God, help me see that everything is a miracle… 

Tao Wisdom

Therefore the Master
acts without doing anything
and teaches without saying anything.
Things arise and she lets them come;
things disappear and she lets them go.
She has but doesn’t possess,
acts but doesn’t expect.
When her work is done, she forgets about it.
That is why it lasts forever.
-Tao Te Ching, passage 2

     Acting without doing anything means that we act with nothing attached to it. We act and do what’s right just for the sake of doing it. We don’t have ambition or selfish intention. We don’t try too hard or push and force. We just act without carrying all sorts of baggage. We act unemotionally and unconditionally. And we don’t act if we are affected.

     Teaching without saying anything means that we teach by example. All of that stuff we believe in and desperately want to preach to everybody, we don’t. Instead, we live it. And quietly.

     Letting things come and letting things go is the practice of non-resistance and non-attachment. We don’t fight against whatever arises in our lives, and we don’t hold on to whatever leaves us. And we do this because we don’t need to control everything. We have faith that things are the way they are supposed to be. We let whatever happens, happen. We have faith.

     Having but not possessing means that we don’t care about what we have. Sure we have things but it doesn’t matter to us. We can take them or leave them because we are okay inside. We are at peace. Possessing the things we have occurs when we are clenched, afraid, empty, and without purpose. We need to possess because we feel powerless. Without real power, we look for false power. Possessing is a false sense of power. It isn’t real.

     Acting without expecting is what altruism is. We do things such as helping others without expecting anything in return. We don’t act in order to feel a certain way, in order to appease ourselves or to clear our conscience. We act for the sake of acting.

     Forgetting about our work means that we don’t need, want or ask for a pat on the back afterwards. We don’t need to be seen. We don’t need recognition and praise for the things we do. We are perfectly willing to do our work quietly even if no one ever sees what we did. Needing an award for our work negates our work. Helping someone and then showing off afterwards erases the deed. Forgetting about our work ensures that its essence lasts forever because it hasn’t been tainted by our selfishness. Showing off is like pouring a slow-burning acid over our work. Over time, the work disintegrates and then disappears altogether. Nobody cares what we do when we show off about it.

     Achieve this and we are well on our way to enlightenment. I’ve been sober and taking Steps for more than 7 years now and I’m still miles and miles and miles away from this…

God, teach me to let go, not to attach, resist or expect, to let what comes come and what goes go…

What You Resist Will Persist

     “What you resist will persist.” – Native American Proverb.

     Beautiful statement, though I fully understand its difficulty with respect to implementation.

     The same goes for, “Just let go, man…”

     That one used to piss me off quite a bit. First of all, what exactly does that mean? Second, it’s great that I now know the secret to life and all, but how the F do I let go?

     Okay Charlie, go ahead, let go… let go of all your fear and depression… let go of that annoying asshole.

     Huh?

     Have you tried to just instantly let go of something? Yup, exactly. Miserable failure. That is why all self-help books say the exact same thing, so you only need to buy one of them, and you don’t even need to buy that one. Why? Because, sure they eloquently describe all the shit that’s wrong with us, but not one of them has ever changed me or made me feel better for any length of time.

    Self-help books are short on solutions. ‘Let go, brother…’ is not gonna cut it. Can someone please tell me exactly how to do that? What is the process of letting go? How do I get there? Sure, there may be a few remedies sprinkled throughout the self-help industry, but if never applied, they’re absolutely useless. Simply reading the book won’t change me. I used to lie in bed and read some sage’s insight about how I just need to stop resisting and all my problems will instantly vanish.

     Then I woke up the next morning.

     I woke up in the same state of hopeless dread as the day before, not to mention the renewed lack of motivation. Just knowing the answer is completely useless. The book won’t save us. Just like a religious belief won’t save us. Belief or knowledge alone without action is useless. Without consistent practice of said remedy day after day, week after week, month after month and year after year, there is no recovering or changing or getting better. So letting go is most certainly a process.

     But first, what is it?

     Letting go is when I no longer care what others think of me. I no longer need the approval of my family. I no longer need approval for what I do for work, what I’m thinking, what I believe, who I’m with, etc. I no longer need to prove who I am or what I believe. I no longer need to preach because I’m okay with myself.

     When someone needs to prove or preach something to others, the sad and rather unattractive truth is that they don’t entirely believe it themselves. But if we are okay, inside and out, we don’t need to prove anything to anyone. I don’t need approval, validation, credit or recognition. The day I let go was the day I stopped caring about what other people thought about what I was doing with my life. It was the day I stopped needing for my friends in recovery to see all the stuff I was doing to help others. I didn’t need to show off, or need a pat on the back, or need smoke to be blown up my ass.

     And this is true peace – when you no longer need something outside of yourself to be okay. Except for God, of course…

     But back to non-resistance. In Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, Suzuki Roshi asserts that if you stop resisting everything, there are no problems. Why? Because other than the physical predicament of needing to feed, clothe and house oneself, just about all other wordly problems are self-created and are therefore an illusion of the mind. So Roshi suggests that we just let whatever comes, come and let whatever goes, go.

     You can see this in nature. Nature gets it! I used to observe the reeds below my parents’ house when I was high on weed (yes, potheads are addicts). When the wind blew against them, they didn’t stand up stubbornly and refuse to be blown over. They just moved in any way the wind chose to blow them. Same with the ocean when a wave meets a rock. The water simply moves around the rock to any space it can find. But it doesn’t complain or whine about having to move. It doesn’t fight against what is.

     In not trying to fight or control or change things, we find tremendous peace. We can relax. We’re okay.

 God, teach me how to let go… to let what comes, come and what goes, go…