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Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional. We cannot avoid pain in life, it’s a major aspect of being a human on a material planet. However suffering is different. Suffering happens when we seek to avoid what is actual, real and true. Suffering is in the mind. The ‘Path of Non-Resistance’ is the best way to go.
Suffering comes from resistance and the ‘Path of Non-Resistance’ is a way of living which not only eliminates or greatly reduces suffering, but which allows us to lead an effortless life - one where we set our intentions and reach them through a steady flow, weaving and tacking our way through the coincidences of our life, master of our sailing ship and enjoying the great adventure of living.
This series of 10 steps portray the path of non-resistance, as we learn to progress in steps from a ME consciousness of fighting for what we want, to a ONENESS consciousness, where what we need comes to us through a state of presence easily, through changing ourselves, and without any perceived effort on our part.
As you read through, or dip in and out of this series of posts, you will see and recognize aspects of yourself. None of us exist in any of the following states of consciousness permanently, we all move up and down the scale. However as we learn the lessons of life from the suffering we experience through resisting what is, over time we come to dwell more or less permanently in that state of presence known and beloved of the world’s mystics. This is an enviable state, where nothing seems real, where magic abounds and where we have become magicians able to conjure moments of magic in what appears to most to be a profoundly material and scientific world.
Would you like to make this transition, from fighting at one end of the non-resistance spectrum, to Presence at the other?
This is the Path of Non-Resistance...
Oh dear! The biggest contribution fighting makes to the path of non-resistance is that it teaches, through the infliction of suffering, powerful lessons of how not to behave. Of course if our capacity to love and take care of ourself is not yet developed, we may not even register this suffering. We may simply consider such suffering an inevitable part of life.
This insensitivity and lack of self love, can keep us from making the vital transition to reflecting on and learning from a suffering borne of fighting. Through fighting we develop a profound insensitivity, our finer feelings and higher thoughts which emanate from our heart, become unavailable to consciousness. Our heart has formed a thick wall as a defense mechanism, shutting other people out and our own suffering in.
And because we have become insensitive to our own suffering, we have also become unaware of the suffering of others - as within so without. That is why soldiers involved in open warfare or married couples locked into repeated patterns of quarreling, develop a hard shell and often have profound psychological problems. Quarreling and warfare is about the ME, the ME that wants to be right, the Me that wants to win at all cost and the ME that wants to dominate others. This ME is the egotistic ego, which the late, great, Wayne Dyer used to joke stood for Edging God Out.
Fighting is the result of an over identification and attachment to one’s own needs alone and a complete failure to see, understand and empathize with another. For such a person, stuck temporarily in this narrow perception, fighting is inevitable.
To pass from this stage of fighting, either temporarily or permanently, we need to open up to our feelings and to our vulnerability. This leads to a growth in awareness and changes in behavior as we begin to empathize, even if only slightly, with the suffering we are, by our misguided actions, inflicting on both ourselves and others.
When we fail to determine and follow the “right action” in any circumstance we meet with resistance and this resistance creates struggle. We are struggling because we are not learning how to take the optimum and most effortless path - the path of least resistance.
When I was young one of my favorite jobs was going out to the old stables in my grandfathers house and chop the rings of trees that were stored there into logs small enough to fit in the grate of the fireplace in the living room. I loved that job. The dank earthen smell of the old stables. The richly textured cobblestone floor. And the sheer physicality of the job itself. When chopping the rings I could vent my pent up teenage frustration to drive the axe head deep into the wood.
However through trial and error I soon came to realize that if I struck the tree ring a certain way, the axe stood a good chance of becoming stuck, and when the ring was addressed from a different angle the small, fire-ready log split with ease from the main block. In time I became fascinated with choosing the best possible angle with which to address my strike. Through observation I soon discovered that the key was to see how the tree had grown and how the rings were laid out. Knots in the wood were always to be avoided. And twisting wood fibers usually caused difficulty. In time I became a master observer of how the rings in the tree had grown together and was usually able to so direct my strike that the axehead, in most instances, cleaved a log from the ring with a single well aimed blow.
This can be used as a simile for life. If we fail to observe how life around us has grown and evolved, then our actions will often lead to us becoming stuck, wedged in as it were, by the twisted fibers of life. However if we, in contrast, reflect and observe before we act, we can with minimum power gain a successful result by going with the grain of any situation. Such reflection and observation teaches us how to avoid struggle and act in a way that brings minimum resistance. One could call it “going with the grain.”
This is an interesting one, not least because this level of consciousness is lauded in most western societies as highly desirable, sought after and praised. So much of what passes for life involves competition. We compete for jobs, degrees, awards, and we even compete in our hobbies for relaxation! It’s existence is credited and sought as the best way to raise standards and drive up efficiency. Competition is so endemic as a state of consciousness that its wisdom is rarely if ever questioned.
But is a competitive consciousness the peak in human potential?
Don’t get me wrong. I am not against competition. We use it ourselves when selecting students for our courses. It’s just that competition panders to the ego. It succeeds by inflating a false sense of pride in a result that has victory at the expense of the defeat of another. In essence competitsion is about learning to dominate through a superior skill or determination. It thrives on challenge and the ego loves a challenge because it gives us something to focus on and do!
Competing is a step closer to the path of non-resistance but it is not non-resistance itself. We actually get closer to the true path of non-resistance through losing and through failure!
When competing, for every winner there needs to be at least one loser, even if that loser is simply oneself. I am going to share something priceless here - It is good to lose. No, it’s even great to lose. Why? Because when we lose we become disillusioned. Being disillusioned literally means letting go of, or seeing through, our illusions. And who wants to live with illusion. It’s much better to live with Truth. Losing and disillusionment are the beginning of wisdom. Losing leads to a different means to achieve and a different understanding of success.
Of course losing is unpleasant. We can discover that we were not good enough. That our skill was inferior. Our determination faltering. When we are caught in losing, it is because we are focused single-mindedly on an external goal. And when that goal is not reached, we feel it inside. That’s because our self esteem is wrapped up in its achievement. However the wonderful gift of losing is to learn to focus in a different direction. To still have our external goal, but to focus inwardly, and learn from our inner wisdom how we can best reach the goal.
As we begin to focus inwardly, we make important discoveries. We discover we are good enough and always have been. We discover that our “good” has nothing to do with our achievements. It’s actually an inherent state we possess simply by being alive.
WOW, what a discovery. Through losing we can always be good enough, whether we win or lose. How freeing is that?
And paradoxically this new orientation is beginning to set us up to be one of life’s true winners. We are being set up to discover who we are. Losing starts us on the path of self discovery and greater non-resistance. This is the true path that leads to victory.
When we have lost and lost big, this sets us up for one of life’s milestone moments. The moment of true surrender! What is surrendered? We surrender our willingness, need and desire to work it all out. To intellectualize. To plan.
These things are replaced by an apparently much more nebulous concept - TRUST!
We learn to trust. What do we trust? We trust in ourselves - but not in our egotistic, calculating and scheming self, we learn to trust in the quiet inner murmuring of our heart. This is the still small voice of God and it is present in everyone, but we need to have surrendered, to have given up the fighting, struggle and competition, in order to be able to hear it.
And the surrender when it happens is absolute and irrevocable. When we reach the actual point of surrender we let go of the need to control our life completely and hand it over to God (or if you prefer, higher power or higher self - our spiritual Source) to conduct our affairs.
I remember when this happened to me over 20 years ago. I was lying in bed and a realization came upon me that I could elect to surrender my need to make decisions and to control my life to a power that I knew was present within me, or I could carry on trying to control my life. In what was for me at the time, a huge leap of faith and a courageous act, I surrendered inwardly to this higher power. Since that date my life has been governed by higher forces and my own willfulness has taken a back seat. Coincidentally this voluntary act of surrender, has ushered in the most intensely creative period of my life, far outshining all the previous decades.
So true power is also the power of Truth, which can only be perceived by surrendering to and relying on the still small voice in your heart. It is through learning to perceive and follow this still small voice, my inner guidance, that innocence and play entered into my life once again!
Happy days are here again. After surrender we learn a new way of living, carefree, innocent and fun. We have discovered our creativity. We have realized that we do not have to paint or write music to be creative. Now our whole life has become one big playing field.
What before was a goal that we would have focused on with single minded and driven purpose, now becomes an intention we progress towards in a winding path of gay abandon. No, we have not become irresponsible. We have simply discovered why it’s important to focus on what the next step is and to not be upset if we have to change direction.
Although we are adults and may be taking on some onerous responsibilities, we are able to live with a lightness of Spirit that is the envy of many. Remember when you were a little child? How you were able to build sandcastles and skip and run as the tide came in to wash them away. A child possesses the mode of the essential creative Spirit but not the meaning. As a playful adult we embody both mode and meaning as we discover how to connect with our more childlike nature to build castles on the ground as well as in the air.
Before surrender Life was a very serious matter indeed - our self esteem attached and dependent on success, but now we rejoice in the freedom our inner victory has given. Our inner guidance comes through more and more strongly. And in listening to and learning to follow it we discover that our whole life is a work of art, that every moment is filled with creative potential and that gay abandon and success can and do go together!
Another power, quite distinct from our own willfulness, is entering our life - a power we must learn to see and work with.
There is a type of seeing that is not done with the naked eye. This seeing allows us to “perceive” the optimum path, the non-resistant path, at every moment. Through surrender our consciousness has become integrated, with left and right brain working together as never before. This means we are capable of seeing holistically.
As we observe the flow of events through our life we now discover that everything is connected. And that opportunities to reach our goal are everywhere. These are the coincidences that come together, through our creative actions, to expand the circle of our concern. We begin to discover a new skill - seeing.
What do we see that we could not before? We see what needs to be done, when and how. And we discover that by working with these increasingly common coincidences that we are beginning to draw on a power new to us that is remarkably helpful in reaching our goals. Now we are really beginning to “tune in,” discover and work with the path of non-resistance in a more powerful way. This is the power that allowed Mother Teresa to spread her organization to over 100 countries in her lifetime. This is the power that Michelangelo used to paint the Sistine chapel. This is the power of Inspiration - the power of God!
At first this power may enter your life in only a trickle but as your “seeing” becomes more clear, as does your ability to perceive the coincidences of your life, this assists you to know, without a shadow of doubt, that you are being “helped.” By surrendering even further into a kind of blind trust in this power, it grows, and as it grows so does the meaning and scale of your self expression. This is an exciting time and one in which you develop a new feeling and sensitivity for life.
My old friend Sai Baba used to say that the educated often find it more difficult to have inner peace. Why is this? You would think the opposite. But no. Inner peace is not something you discover. It’s not even something you learn about. Inner peace is something you grow into!
Inner peace comes about as you deepen your sense of surrender.
As our surrender deepens our feeling life begins to blossom. Where before we may have “thought things through” or “figured things out,” now we rely upon a totally different modus operandum. We sense what needs to happen.
This is the beginning of the mystic in us! The mystic does not rely on mental constructs and argument, internal or external, to know the path forward. The mystic is able to sense it with his feelings.
I am not referring here to our emotional feelings, although they may play a part. I am referring to what is often referred to as our “sixth sense.” This is by its very nature, challenging to describe since it exists beyond words, in the realm of the spirit world. However, through our feelings we are able to discern with increasing certainty, our inner guidance. And it is our inner guidance which directs us on the path of non-resistance.
Whenever we stray away from the non-resistant path, our inner guidance speaks, sometimes in a whisper and on rare occasions with the power of thunder, to keep us on the path. And as our sensitivity to our inner guidance grows so does the pace and power of the unfolding of our life.
God cannot be described. God cannot be understood. God can only be known through the depth of our surrender.
Our life is given to us that we may know and love God. God is everywhere. In the stars at night, in the earth beneath our feet. In the wind, in the trees and in our own very essence. And it is in knowing through our everyday challenges the non-resistant course of action, that with practice, that we also come to know God.
What is it we know? Knowing does not have an object. Knowing is awareness. Knowing comes into our life gradually and as it does we no longer ponder on the meaning of life, try and figure out the best path forward. That’s because it’s already known - in our heart. Perhaps for the first time, we discover what it means to live in the present moment. We have discovered a way of living that involves a kind of total trusting, born of knowing what to do in any moment.
This knowing is it’s own moral code. It’s own truth. It’s own justification. It’s as if you live in the world, but no longer really belong to it. You relate to those around you as others do but inhabit a different awareness. It’s as if you had been taken from the depths of the Amazon jungle, where you had lived as a native all your life, and were jetted off to live among the people of London or New York. You would be in that world but not of it.
Then, as knowing becomes a mainstay of your life, you gradually, and then suddenly, flip into Presence.
Presence is the key to an abundant and fullfiling life. Presence has power, grace and love all built into it. Presence is the state of non-resistance itself. Presence means you have arrived - that’s all. You still work, live and play in the world. You mix with people everywhere. You have no problem fitting in with any company. You are both extraordinary and very ordinary at the same time.
If this seems like a paradox it is because it is. Presence exists through paradox. For you the impossible has become possible. The high brought low and the low high. For in Presence everything has its rightful place. And Presence is power. But not the power of the ego. In its highest state, through the exercise of presence, everything gets done and nothing is left undone. And one need not even act externally in the world. Meditation is Presence. Prayer is Presence. Enveloping a meeting with your love is Presence. Healing yourself, so that others may heal is Presence. And this Self Love is the most potent creative force. This state of total responsibility and acceptance is complete non-resistance.
To portray the path of non-resistance below I share the story of how the Ho’oponopono prayer came into existence and how a whole ward of the criminally insane were cured through it. This story is taken from the book "Zero Limits" by Joe Vitale and Dr. Hew Len...
Two years ago, I heard about a therapist in Hawaii who cured a complete ward of criminally insane patients--without ever seeing any of them. The psychologist would study an inmate's chart and then look within himself to see how he created that person's illness. As he improved himself, the patient improved.
When I first heard this story, I thought it was an urban legend. How could anyone heal anyone else by healing himself? How could even the best self-improvement master cure the criminally insane? It didn't make any sense. It wasn't logical, so I dismissed the story. However, I heard it again a year later.
I heard that the therapist had used a Hawaiian healing process called Ho'oponopono. I had never heard of it, yet I couldn't let it leave my mind. If the story was at all true, I had to know more. I had always understood "total responsibility" to mean that I am responsible for what I think and do. Beyond that, it's out of my hands. I think that most people think of total responsibility that way. We're responsible for what we do, not what anyone else does.
The Hawaiian therapist who healed those mentally ill people would teach me an advanced new perspective about total responsibility. His name is Dr. Ihaleakala Hew Len. We probably spent an hour talking on our first phone call. I asked him to tell me the complete story of his work as a therapist.
He explained that he worked at Hawaii State Hospital for four years. That ward where they kept the criminally insane was dangerous. Psychologists quit on a monthly basis. The staff called in sick a lot or simply quit. People would walk through that ward with their backs against the wall, afraid of being attacked by patients. It was not a pleasant place to live, work, or visit.
Dr. Len told me that he never saw patients. He agreed to have an office and to review their files. While he looked at those files, he would work on himself. As he worked on himself, patients began to heal. "After a few months, patients that had to be shackled were being allowed to walk freely," he told me. "Others who had to be heavily medicated were getting off their medications. And those who had no chance of ever being released were being freed." I was in awe. "Not only that," he went on, "but the staff began to enjoy coming to work. Absenteeism and turnover disappeared. We ended up with more staff than we needed because patients were being released, and all the staff was showing up to work. Today, that ward is closed."
This is where I had to ask the million dollar question: "What were you doing within yourself that caused those people to change?" "I was simply healing the part of me that created them," he said. I didn't understand. Dr. Len explained that total responsibility for your life means that everything in your life - simply because it is in your life - is your responsibility. In a literal sense the entire world is your creation.
Whew. This is tough to swallow. Being responsible for what I say or do is one thing. Being responsible for what everyone in my life says or does is quite another. Yet, the truth is this: if you take complete responsibility for your life, then everything you see, hear, taste, touch, or in any way experience is your responsibility because it is in your life. This means that terrorist activity, the president, the economy--anything you experience and don't like--is up for you to heal. They don't exist, in a manner of speaking, except as projections from inside you. The problem isn't with them, it's with you, and to change them, you have to change you.
I know this is tough to grasp, let alone accept or actually live. Blame is far easier than total responsibility, but as I spoke with Dr. Len, I began to realize that healing for him and in Ho'oponopono means loving yourself. If you want to improve your life, you have to heal your life. If you want to cure anyone--even a mentally ill criminal--you do it by healing you.
I asked Dr. Len how he went about healing himself. What was he doing, exactly, when he looked at those patients' files? "I just kept saying, 'I'm sorry' and 'I love you' over and over again," he explained. That's it? That's it. Turns out that loving yourself is the greatest way to improve yourself, and as you improve yourself, your improve your world.
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