PITFALLS ON THE PATHLESS PATH : Don’t just do something, sit there!
Not doing is the hardest thing I’ve ever done.
Everything I ever tried to do in the world failed, and this seemed to indicate that, for me, in this lifetime, ‘trying to do’ is not the way to go. When doors remain closed, after awhile the point seems to be to stop pushing on them.
In the light of growing awareness, I saw that pushing on the doors had been ‘my business’. But opening them or not was ‘God’s business’; reality’s business. I had done my part, repeatedly, until I tuned in to what was happening, which was that for me, doors did not open in this way.
Maybe they were not the ‘right’ doors for me.
Or this was not the ‘right’ approach for me.
I didn’t know.
At this time, when I was struggling to surrender to the truth of what I saw as ‘a lifetime of closed doors’, when I was – like the song – ‘lost again, broken and weary, unable to find my way’, when I was exhausted and reduced to complete surrender, Eckhart Tolle appeared in my life, and I found a different way to move.
I stopped all the doing, all the trying. By then I’d lost faith in it anyway.
And I began to see that those things I had tried to achieve were all in service of false drives, of ego. All had been an effort to do something, be someone, get somewhere, gain acceptance and generally justify my existence, using the thinking mind to decide what might be the way to go.
As I became more still, I realised I had long ago lost touch with my intuition, lost touch with the kind of guidance that might come from my inner voice. I had been looking to logic and reason.
I had not been looking any deeper than the surface of things.
And what looked like a good idea, on the surface of things, had simply and repeatedly not worked.
I began to perceive that there was a depth to life: a depth I had been missing.
And as I touched more depth, a current began to flow between ‘me’ and life that I had lost the knowing of. A current of joy.
I already understood that I had no true inner compass, and this this lack was what drove all my wanting and fearing in life. So when I began to touch that deeper place, and feel what I had been missing, I gave myself over to it completely. I ceased to care about outward ‘doing’. I let myself dissolve into ‘being’.
A sweetness and ease began to appear and come clear. And other things began to come clear as well. The accumulated beliefs and fears of a lifetime began to surface where I could see them. And a lifetime of unfelt feelings also let me know that they had been waiting for me. Suddenly there was a lot to do, in my not doing.
And of course, ‘not doing’ was also flying in the face of my society’s deepest held beliefs about how a person should live in the world. Up came a lifetime of tribal voices and conditioning.
And there I was, facing my self.
I met the ‘person’ I had been using to live out this lifetime. I excavated the unchanging ‘I’ that had been covered over by the other things that had been operating my person; the ego, the pain body, the tribal conditioning.
All of that was released into my consciousness by ‘not doing’. And suddenly I saw just how much I had to ‘undo’.
I have a coffee table made from a warehouse bench, which I saved from a time when I was homeless and squatting. It was covered in many thick layers of paint. For years I took it from house to house, touching up any chips in the black surface layer, thinking it was only poor quality rubbish timber underneath.
After fifteen years the paint had chipped again, and rather than touch it up, I began to scrape at the paint. Layers of black, a green layer, a pink layer, white, a veneer of masonite. Finally I uncovered a beautiful hardwood, shining a warm soft natural tone. It had chips and gouges, signatures carved into the top, marks of its history in the warehouse. I filled the deepest holes, and left the rest, under a light clear seal.
A similar process was unfolding within me. Under my guise of ‘doing nothing’, I was scraping away years of accumulated disguise, uncovering what I had thought to be worthless underneath it all. Each act of undoing took me deeper, closer to the honest reality of what had been there all along.
Slightly marked, but strong and far more beautiful than I would have dared to imagine, the core of me began to shine through: the one part of ‘me’ that never changed, even when everything else did.
I felt through all the ways in which I had seen myself as broken and faulty and wrong. The ways I had tried to fit in, that had left me feeling like a square peg in a world full of round holes.
And I let go…let go…let go.
I’d find myself holding a belief in the clenched fist of my mind, and would find a way to undo it and let it go. Back to peace. Stillness. Space. Then life would show me the next thing to undo.
Layer after layer of paint came off, first in big sheets, and peeling curls of ugliness, then in tiny flakes painstakingly teased from the corners.
I became more and more present with the reality of this ‘me’ that I’m living. More and more still. I began to feel and hear and perceive from the depth of that stillness. I called back my energy from all the ways in which I had been unknowingly throwing it away. And suddenly, after a year, after no time at all, after I had fallen into a deep acceptance that this may be the way of things for me, for this life -a frequency holder, a bit of a hermit – out of the depths of stillness, I started to receive guidance from a place I never believed existed.
Fear came: ‘Who me? Do what? I can’t…’
And doubt came: ‘This is all just laziness, a way of dropping out of life because you’re weak and don’t feel up to it. You’re hiding! Don’t just sit there, do something, you narcissistic, introspective coward!…’
And well-meaning comments came: ‘You’re not living up to your full potential. You could try…’
For some reason, I kept choosing to wait, to be still, past the pitfalls that came to push or pull me out of stillness and back into the flow of doing. But nothing felt as real and true and important to me as following that voiceless inner voice. And so for once in my life, I seemed to have the stamina to see something through.
That deep inner voice has now begun nudging me back toward ‘doing’ in the world. Things are simply suggesting themselves; things I never would have thought of.
Not logical things, or sensible things, or reasonable things. Not things I feel myself to be in any way qualified for, or ready to do.
I don’t know why, and I don’t need to know. What I know is how my energy lights up with joy at the prospect, even as my mind wants to be in fear about it. And I’m grateful for whatever I found that lets me continue past my frustration, impatience, terror and doubt. Grateful that I didn’t give in to all the parts of me that screamed, ‘You can’t just drift around ‘being’ for the rest of your life, get up and do something!’
Because I wasn’t ready, and the ‘doing’ would have come from some belief about what is ‘reasonable’. What I needed was the courage to wait for something unreasonable.
Like an unmistakable inner voice.