My world view is not correct. This may seem patently obvious to you, but from where I’m sitting it’s not always so easy to remember that the way I perceive reality to be-at least when I’m thinking about it-is far from how reality actually is. However, the fact that I’m remembering this is not only beneficial to all those poor souls who might otherwise have to sit and listen to my opinions and subjective thoughts presented as absolute truths, but it is a huge relief for me. ‘Ah I don’t actually know anything!’ What a relief! Now I get to create instead of repeat!
The thing is that most people say they want change and transformation. They want to grow and come closer to truth or to become more loving to others. But there is no other way for this to happen, other than letting go of the old patterns that keep us stuck in repetitive behaviours and reactions. The known may be dissatisfactory and mundane, but at least it’s comfortable…kind of! Excepting that we know nothing means going into the unknown and the unknown can be frightening. As we get older it can get even harder to challenge the way we see things and react to the world around us, but if we don’t want to end up bitter and self righteous it is imperative that we find ways to remind ourselves of the limitations of our world-view. This means getting used to discomfort for discomfort is the friction that keeps us in a state of openness and transformation.If we don’t want to get stale then we should consider comfort the enemy. As Vivekanda said : ‘Anything that makes you weak physically, intellectually and spiritually, reject as poison.’
But where does that lead us? What will become of me if I let go of all my presumptions and habituated ways of dealing with things? What will happen is I’ll step right into the present moment and find that when I let go of everything I was afraid to let of that fear ceases to obstruct and confuse me! Fear like limit is an illusion and the only way to find that out is to step into the unknown. As Arthur C.Clarke writes,‘The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible’.
Now I’m not suggesting for one minute that I’m in some kind of constant surrender to the universe, bathing in the bliss of the present moment–though I do have my moments–, but I do recognise the importance of my daily practices in reminding me of the limiting thoughts that keep me trapped, and anyone that knows me well will know where I’ve come from and where I am now look and feel very different. When I practice asana (yoga postures) mindfully, I have the opportunity to observe the attachments and aversions to my own internal landscape. Opening the body and holding posture directly reveals my samskaras (patterns of conditioning), thereby making the unconscious conscious. In holding posture when all my conditioning is screaming for me to get out of it strengthens my will and ability to choose how I respond to challenging situations that life may present to me.
This ability to choose outside of the social influences that have formed our views up till now can be called as freedom. Thus practicing asana slowly and consciously may be temporarily uncomfortable but it has a positive effect on every aspect of our lives. Even our ability to listen will be improved, because when we are aware of the false foundations for most of our thinking we no longer feel it necessary to impose our knowledge systems on those around us. We become more interested in the feelings and thoughts of others and thus empathy is more readily available. Instead of being afraid of the instability of the mind/world and holding on to out-dated belief systems, we find immense pleasure in the rising and falling away of thought/emotion/universe. For now we have found stability in the Self/non-self that observes it all. Another way of saying this ‘Don’t worry be happy!’. Or as Wim Hof constantly reminds us: ‘If it ain’t happy, healthy, strong, it’s bullshit!’
It may appear contradictory to write about knowing nothing and then writing about its benefits, but this is the paradox of deconstruction: one has to use words to let go of them.
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