"Not-knowing is the first tenet of the Zen Peacemakers. Not-Knowing is entering a situation without being attached to any opinion, idea or concept. This means total openness to the situation,
deep listening to the situation."
---from the Zen Peacemakers website
Although there are often quick answers that can seemingly take us off the hook, a really good question, if you take it to heart, can peel back layers and layers of "stuff". It can shine a light on the unexamined assumptions and beliefs, subterranean feelings, and inner conflicts that so often keep us sleepwalking through our days.
Last week, one of the CircleMates emailed me a question to discuss at the next session of MMM. She wrote: "My question this week, Lance, is how do you let go without giving up?"
Although I did come up with a quick answer -- and hit the snooze button -- this question started to churn again as I sat down to write this morning.
I love it when that happens.
My initial "take" on the question was to point out that letting go in the moment didn't mean that we would have to surrender our heartfelt aspirations, the fundamental principles and commitments that inform our life. It is our attachment, in this very moment, to wanting the world to conform to our model of the way it should be that's the problem. If we just let go of that attachment--which is primarily locked in place by our thoughts about it--we didn't really have to "give up".
That's simple enough, right?
Yet, that question could have just as easily been answered, "You can't!"
As I sit here now, it occurs to me that at a certain level the question may have been asked, and quickly answered, from a shared discomfort with the entire notion of giving up itself. Most of us have been conditioned to believe that giving up was always a bad thing. My answer, although not inaccurate, may have been a bit too facile. It was "oh, you don't have to really give up!" You've always got your deepest principles and aspirations to guide your journey."
I just kicked the can down the road.
Yet, as the quotes above indicate, even those ideas about how it "ought to be," no matter how heartfelt, can problematic! At a certain level even "knowing" itself can stem from deep models of how we want it be, not from an accurate perception of the way it is. Thankfully, the discussion during Monday's Circle added much more depth and subtlety to Jane's exploration. Four heads are better than one. Hopefully, it was helpful.
Yet, when push comes to shove, all the words that we use to describe the way it is, all the ideas that we kick around about what we should "do about it" still aren't quite IT. In fact, Even IT ain't IT. It's more like IS. Life is a verb not a noun.
Mahayana Buddhism teaches that we come to the planet fully equipped to experience the Ongoing Miracle of Life directly. Buddhanature, pure compassionate awareness, is Universally Present. There ain't anyplace where it ain't. (Jesus also states that pretty clearly in the Gospel According to Thomas and elsewhere.)
What is called for isn't so much a matter of doing something about anything, it's simply being intimately aware of one's own experience this very moment. Mindfulness Practice involves coming to see what the deal is for ourselves, from the core of our being, moment to moment. It's simply a matter of taking the time to really pay attention.
Watching closely, I really can't tell if I'm breathing or Life is breathing me. Perhaps, it's both. Or neither!
I give up!