In a recent post, I spoke of how our gifts come, not from our suffering, but from the movement of life through us. This arose from the underlying idea that suffering is necessary and will lead to benefit. We notice that we suffer and then improvement comes along, so the suffering must have been the cause of the improvement.
Some people who have woken see an experience of suffering peak and end in awakening. Ergo, suffering was necessary to awaken.
There is the idea that we carry our load until the load is so great we can no longer or are unwilling to carry it further. Or that great austerities are necessary to awaken spiritually.
Similarly, one can suggest that we exhaust the “me” in a passionate desire for awakening and in that exhaustion, the me ends.
In some meditation, we concentrate the mind, focus it until it collapses in exhaustion.
The issue with all of these observations is that they miss the actual mechanism of awakening. Rather, they illustrate the way of the ego. The ego lives in a world of right and wrong, good and bad. It becomes attuned to what’s bad and wrong. Seeing it wrong, it resists what is happening and thus suffers, not realizing it is the author of its own misfortune. This resistance is the very burden we carry, what we call stress. The “pain body” of Eckhart Tolle.
While it is sometimes true that suffering was experienced, then ends in awakening, it misses the actual causal point in the shift. We miss this for one simple reason. We’re so used to noticing what is happening, we miss the moment of space, the gap, the point of undoing, the surrender. We miss what is not happening. (laughs)
What actually happens at that point of exhaustion? There is an allowing, a surrender, a letting go. Why not just go straight to allowing and skip all the trying?
This process becomes very clear as we travel further up the path. We find that every step is a process of ever deeper letting go until we reach a perpetual surrender. That everything is born of love and continues only with love makes this ever more clear.
It is not the effort that awakens, it is grace. It is not you that awakens, it is Self waking to Itself. God opening through us. Grace shows up when it does. It may be at the apparent end of effort, with no effort, or by complete surprise. It shows in miracle and failure, in glorious light and deep darkness.
We may think these moments of grace mean grace is only in the moment. A rare exception. But grace is always in the moment, eternally. Grace does not begin and end. It is moving through our lives at all times. Some call it the flow. Life. Bliss. Love. This is grace. It is always with us, ever patient.
Understanding this is the difference between “it happened” and “this is how to support it”. Make it easy. Between suffering and clarity, sadness and bliss.
People sometimes speak of being out of the flow but this is not possible. You are That. What it really speaks of is resisting or fighting the flow. Being out of sync.
We can apply this understanding to spiritual practices. We see many spiritual practices available, widely and dedicatedly practiced. Yet one does not wake from a practice. Nothing a me does can awaken. But grace does organize the process and will call forth what is needed – practices, teachers, knowledge – when it is needed. A practice may lead to waking but not because the me did it but because grace used it. And grace used it to help us let go, not to do something. See the difference?
If we’re finding our practice is one of difficulty, challenge, and effort then we may want to look at the approach we bring to it. For example, I recommend an effortless meditation. This not only brings us the direct experience of silent being but teaches as the way of letting go. Of allowing it to be as it is. It shows us the way of grace.
Often we find that we only understand our journey in retrospect. Then we might see the pieces that contributed. But if we look for what we did, we may not find answers. It was those moments of undoing and not doing that brought us forward. Not the doing. And definitely not the suffering. Unless of course we were holding on too hard. We may then feel the push of grace against our resistance.
Just observe your day. You will notice that the value of awareness you are experiencing or expressing is constantly shifting. It may seem to be food, circumstances, or other people causing these changes. But these are just effects. What’s actually happening is that consciousness is constantly adjusting itself to have a specific experience. There is no mistake. Everything is intended.
If that seems a strange concept it is a simple matter to point out that everything arises in consciousness. If this is true, then all must be intended as consciousness only expresses with attention and intention.
The only mistake made is in how one may interpret what arises. How we see what we are experiencing. If we misunderstand what is taking place, we resist the experience and thus suffer. Grace is love, it is never suffering.
One day, all the pieces come together, the paths intersect and everything conspires for that magical moment. Grace consumes sufficient illusion for a space to open and the box of a me to crumble. Pop!
We step through the door into our true Self and begin a new journey of light, letting go of the ropes that have bound us for so long.