I Don't Care What Happens Next
on the spiritual state of the world, the implications and utility of love, the definition and methodology of enlightenment
The mind is a dangerous thing. Of course it is. But why? Is it because it is so powerful? In a way, that is true. Our minds are robust tools for quite a breadth of purposes. We can comprehend such intricate concepts as the nuances of language, the complexities of the psyche, or even the complicated world of theoretical math. Indeed, many of us tend to find deep delight in uncovering the little truths of these systems, along with numerous others. However, the mind is not an infinitely applicable tool. Not every problem can be solved, let alone understood, by way of thought. Herein lies the true peril. When we attempt to utilize thought to comprehend that which is beyond our understanding, we miss out on the meaningful depths of the thing. Eckhart Tolle is pointing to this truth when he speaks of the seeming chaos of unadulterated nature in A New Earth:
The true power to comprehend life itself, thus, lies not in the mind, but above it, outside of it, beyond and without thought. Our deepest self, the self that is unattached to matter and unburdened by expectation, resonates perfectly with that sacredness. We live as one with this higher order that we may call "God" or "consciousness" or even "heaven". To let go of our ideas about what nature is leaves us free of judgement, free from the distance we place between it and ourselves when we think we know what it should be. To completely accept life as it is does not necessitate knowing what it is. To blindly surrender to the perfection of nature is to enlighten ourselves of the need to understand and explain what we see, and therefore also to eliminate the weight that we shoulder in so doing.
And I’ve weighed the respective benefits of my superego’s and ego’s choices. In these moments, I often find that, while I may not know what I want, I do know what the person I wish that I were would want . . . and I think that answers my question. I think that, for me, what I want to want is equivalent to—or maybe even better than—what I simply want.
You would be hard-pressed to find a spiritual teacher with nothing to say on the subject of desire. Don Miguel Ruiz writes in The Four Agreements that we really want to be ourselves, and in order to do so we have to stop trying to appease others by wanting what they want for us. We have collected all this wanting into the mitote in our minds, a bustling marketplace of conflicting agreements we have made with other people. This mitote obscures for us our true desires.
Osho argues that "the ego always desires more", and that our attempts to combat these desires—say, by resolving to do less of something when we truly crave doing more of it—inevitably results in inner conflict (From Sex to Superconsciousness). Opposition to wanting only strengthens it, and thus is not a true escape. Fighting your desires leaves you even less equipped to change them, and certainly more confused than before.
Eckhart Tolle teaches that fearing and wanting are the two "primary motivating forces of the ego" (A New Earth). That is to say, when we find ourselves wrapped up in suffering or superficiality, identification with our desires and fears is the most likely culprit. In this view, worrying about getting what you want is simply a stall tactic to avoid facing the real issue: the wanting itself. When we want for anything, we are implying that the current moment, just as it is, does not suit us perfectly. We resign ourselves to feeling unsatisfied, lacking, or unfulfilled.
We could, of course, choose otherwise. We could choose to see the moment as perfect, always, by definition. We could choose to want for nothing, to be completely content with where we are. This, of course, is a battle of trust. To accept our lives as they are, we just trust that life is going to give us exactly what we need. We must let go of thinking we know best and surrender to the wisdom of whatever higher power we acknowledge (God, the universe, the collective consciousness, et ceteræ). Then, when we do notice in ourselves a desire for something, a push toward performing an action or making a choice, we can be sure that it comes from a greater intelligence than our own.
What is it? Well, I think I have a pretty good explanation for you. Let’s just take a second and look at the word.
Well, why don’t we start by trying to lighten ourselves? Maybe we could take ourselves less seriously. Maybe we could stress less about things by not placing so much weight on them, letting them be lighter. Maybe we could release, let go, stop carrying so much, stop holding on, let it be.
Enlightenment is about backing away from our lives, living less in a close-up of what’s ours and who we are and living more in the context of the whole of life. Enlightenment is about relinquishing our focus on ourselves. It’s about giving way to the grand forces of life. It’s about surrendering to nature, fate, God, or whatever else you may choose to call it. The incredible peace of enlightenment comes to us only when we let go of everything else, or at least loosen our hold significantly. It’s a simple process, really, once you’ve stumbled across that necessary perspective, the one where you’re barely significant but totally empowered. Otherwise, you think all those things you’re holding on to are all you’ve got, and so important, and it’s damn near impossible to find the courage to let go.
So, let me do you a favor. Let me reassure you that there is nothing so important about your possessions, your reputation, your self-image, your body, your intellect, your career, or even your relationships that conflicts with your innate ability to relax. No matter how afraid you are of losing those things, holding tight will never ensure their permanence. You have absolutely nothing to lose, and a whole world of peace to gain, by letting go of your fear and your wanting.
Try it, and let me know how it turns out. Take a second right now to just feel yourself pull back and truly, deeply relax into it. You know you want to ;)