One common spiritual principle across many traditions is the principle of non-attachment (vairagya in yoga), which is also pointed to by the guidance not to have any expectations of the outcomes of your actions.
The reason for not being attached to any idea or outcome is that attachment sticks the life-force to that idea and takes us out of the life-stream and into a rabbit hole of thinking, worrying, anticipating and so on. In other words, suffering.
Life force is thus compensated for by mind force.
The point here is that we have to be careful of the subtle ways we can inhabit a simple equation, very subtle ways. You see subconscious programming kicks in, even when our motives are conscious and pure, the subconscious programming tags along – until it is seen.
It takes great sensitivity and curiosity to notice when you have gotten yourself inadvertently living in some equation or other, and by equation I mean for example, by doing this, this outcome will occur.
If you can deeply contemplate an equation you appear to be inhabiting, the seeing of the equation will burn it off leaving you back in the life-stream, or ‘back in the room’ as mentalist Keith Barry says. It’s really as if you have awakened from an
What happens is that Awareness, or Consciousness, gets to see what it has been “stuck” to or identified with, and in the seeing is freed. Put another way, Awareness becomes conscious of that unconscious equation and returns it to consciousness. I experience this as a very visceral dissolving or merging back into the life-stream, a bit like how auto-focus works on a projector—pressing it the image blurs out for a moment before then returning with more focus than before.
You see life wants to be embodied in form, not abstracted. Try describing a wonderful playground to a child and then telling them, ‘there you go, that will be your experience of a playground for today’. You’ll have one disgruntled child on your hands, they will be hopping to go visit that playground, ride the merry go-round and swings. No amount of describing it will compensate for the lived experience, and yet how many of us fall into that trap?
What I’m saying here may seem perfectly obvious to you – but it’s not in the obvious places that we need to look. We need to look in those deeply rooted habituated places where life has gone off track and is spewing precious energy into the mental or emotional realms. The process kicks in as soon as you wake up in the morning with subconscious worry, stress, anxiety etc.
These places are deeply programmed in us. Many of our routine actions are deeply habituated and programmed. They are routine because they are hard-wired in. Many of those routines are benign and make life easier in many ways, eg driving a car or playing an instrument. It’s those other routines that keep us stagnated or spinning our wheels for years that need more careful contemplation, like the simple habit of worrying, or beating yourself up, e.g., if only I hadn’t done that…
Only you can see where you are inhabiting an equation and the place to begin looking is right in this moment and the question to ask yourself is this:
It’s as simple as that. What is the quality of your aliveness? Is it the same as it always is, something that’s just taken for granted, a background hum of existence, a mental ‘yeah, of course, I feel alive.’ OR is your aliveness not so much something you can describe but something that is just felt like an abundance of joy in your heart, a full to over-flowing feeling, bursting to have the next adventure?
Is there an irrepressible feeling of curiosity and wonder? Is there an enduring feeling of invitation, an uncaused invitation – not from something to something else – but just a causeless invitation that is felt by being life itself.
It’s not a specific invitation, it’s a very general invitation to itself to be lived. Kind of like a child calling to a friend to come out and play.
Kahil Gibrain has the most wonderful line in his book “The Prophet” which goes:
“Children are life’s longing for itself.”
This is the invitation, the longing, to which I refer. If you can’t sense that invitation within you, then perhaps see if you can sense what’s covering it. It will be the very first thing you meet, the first sense upon connecting with the heart. What is present now and ready to be met?
If you like a good riddle or puzzle, riddle yourself this and ask yourself: where am I inhabiting an equation? Where am I harbouring the grief or resentment of where equations of the past haven’t worked out? e.g., the belief that I should be awake by now, happy by now, wealthy by now because I’ve done ‘everything right’…. fill in the blanks.
There are so many societal equations that we have all inherited too like ‘time is money’, ‘if you work hard it will all pay off,’ and so on. Because we have inherited so many equations subconsciously by virtue of how we were raised and with whom we were raised, we really will not know what equations we’re living in until we get curious about them or when we start seeing patterns emerging in our lives.
One by one, not as a process, but by living, we can burn off those out-dated and out-moded equations and replace them with life itself. Living a spontaneous life, that responds in each and every moment relative to what is arising – not pre-meditated by a cookie-cutter, in-built response. That’s why there can never be a formula. Formulas are of the mind. Life is living intelligence.
The only guidance is to be authentically yourself; to live in integrity and notice, yeah, notice when you may have gone off the boil and get curious if you haven’t just gone and inhabited an old inherited equation. Ever hear yourself saying “I’ve become my mother”?… Think about it, if we hear equations often enough we live them and become them…
So play your part for yourself and for those that will come after you by burning through your inherited, abstracted equations and quickly get back to life.
Some of the hallmarks of burning through more and more equations are:
and most of all, you get to live the song that is wishing to be played through you, as you.
Your natural self.
People do some crazy stuff to pop out of their equations, even if just for a moment. Addictions are predilected on this feeling of escape, this feeling of freedom. What is it we are getting freedom from only a contracted mind-set, an equation.
I’ll leave you with a lovely story (as I remember it) that demonstrates the power of non-attachment and the difference between living in an equation and living as life:
There were two monks out walking one day, an old wise monk and a young novice. They came to a river that they had to cross and there standing at the river’s edge was a beautiful young woman who was having great difficulty getting across the fast flowing river. Without hesitation the older monk offered to lift her across, an offer she happily accepted, much to the shock of the novice monk. And so the older monk lifted the lady over his shoulder and all three got safely to the other side of the river. They bade farewell to the woman and continued their journey. Now the young monk was deeply troubled by this act because as monks they had taken a vow to never touch a woman. Hours into their long journey the mental torment became too much for him. He finally shared with the older monk that he couldn’t believe he had lifted the woman across the river, didn’t he know it was against their vows, how could he do such a thing? The older monk simply replied: “I put that woman down hours ago, you’re still carrying her.”