Welcome to my blog---an eyes-open, no-holds-barred exploration of Western and Eastern spirituality, mindfulness, philosophy and literature. A member of the Australian and New Zealand Mental Health Association, I lectured at the NSW Institute of Psychiatry to mental health workers for 14 years and also lectured for 16 years at the University of Technology, Sydney. My interests include the psychology of religion, transformative ritual, mythology and addiction recovery.
Friday, February 28, 2014
IT’S DAMN HARD TO LET THINGS COME AND GO
The Master's power is like this. He lets all things
come and go effortlessly,
without desire. He never expects
results; thus he is never
disappointed. He is never
disappointed; thus his spirit
never grows old.
Those lines of wisdom come from chapter 55 of the TaoTe Ching. I have often
read those lines at various services I have conducted, and lectures I have
given, over the years. It is such good advice, who could gainsay it? Yet it’s
so damn hard to let things come and go!
I find it hard to let go of so many
things. Take books, for example. I have literally thousands of them, on a variety
of subjects including religion, philosophy, psychology, science, cosmology, history,
the performing arts, etc, etc. I am trying, ever so hard, to get rid of a lot
of them at the moment, for I desperately need to de-clutter with a view to
downsizing my home in a few years’ time or perhaps sooner. Then there are about
as many CDs, DVDs, and the like---even vinyl records and a few 78 RPMs as well.
No, I am not a hoarder in a strict clinical sense. I am too orderly for that,
but I am a hoarder nevertheless.
I am also a hoarder of negative
emotions, including anger and resentment. Those things are even harder to get rid of---and much more dangerous to one's wellbeing as well.
I spend much of my life trying to help others with their problems of mind and
soul, yet I often have so much trouble with my own such problems. (This is a rare confession from
me.) Now, recently a spiritual fellowship with which I have had a fairly close
association for about 14 years---I was a foundation member of this group, I
drafted their constitution and rules, and I have spoken there on a regular
basis in both recent years as well as in the group’s early years---treated me
quite shabbily, indeed in a most mean-spirited and unfair manner (and this from a fellowship and a denomination---the one of which I am an ordained minister---that purports to be dedicated to the
notion of acting compassionately and fairly, not to mention rationally). I won’t
mention the name of the group, but if you have nothing better to do with your time you may
wish to do this quick word search puzzle. Sorry, no prizes, etc, and please don't bother sending me, whether by way of comment or email, what you thing is the 'correct' answer to the not-so-damn-hard puzzle---a puzzle so simple, dear readers, I'm not even going to give you the search words. Ha!
Part of the problem (not the word puzzle, but with the group I mentioned above) is that I felt personally rejected by those in control of the group—and in a very real sense I was. And denied procedural fairness by not being properly heard, or heard at all. And I wasn't given adequate or meaningful reasons, or the real reasons, for the decision, which is tantamount to my not being given any reasons at all. Additionally, I expected a positive outcome, and it did not happen. My response (or rather reaction) was, well, less than gracious, and I felt more than just disappointment.
Instead of accepting that even the best of people will act unreasonably, uncharitably and otherwise unfairly from time to time, that life itself is rarely fair---no, I do not believe
in the idea that ‘perfect justice rules the world,’ cosmically or
otherwise---and that I should ‘let all things come and go effortlessly, without
desire,’ I erupted in anger, indignation and self-righteous outrage. I 'excelled' myself, so to speak, as respects my display of those emotions. (Even though in a sense 'they [the people in question] had it coming,' because they were so stupid really, and unfit to govern a religious organization, it is always the case that when we react badly, the problem is always with us, not with the other person or persons, no matter how badly they may have behaved.)
The spiritual teacher Vernon Howard (pictured right) often
wrote and spoke of the need to let people think and behave toward us exactly as they
wish (while, of course, taking all sensible precautions to prevent then from doing actual harm or injury to
us). He would say, ‘Expect nothing from no one, plead for nothing, accept
whatever comes, for no one---absolutely no one---has anything of any real, lasting value to give you.’ Such
sound advice! You know, all of the world’s great teachers and masters have said
more-or-less the same thing over the centuries.
And what about that group of people
who, I still feel, acted wrongly and unfairly toward me, and in whom my disappointment is total and complete? Well, I intend to
follow this pearl of wisdom from Jesus:
‘Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart.
And whoever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the
very dust from your feet as a testimony against them.’ (Lk 9:4-5)
I will also do my darndest to release all the persons concerned to
their 'highest good,' whatever that may be for them, even though I plan to have nothing more to do with them. (Well, why set yourself up for more hurt?) But releasing
them all to their highest good---that’s the really hard part, but it must be done … if
only for my own best interests.