How We Are with Life

How We Are with Life

Much of our life experience is not about what is here, it’s about how we’re responding to it. Our relationship with ourselves and our life determines how we react. Are we accepting life as it is? If not, how are we fighting it?

Do we resist some of what arises, leaving unresolved impressions or samskaras? Or do we react and try to control events and others? Are we driven by unresolved desires or experiences (vasanas)? Does our life have a little too much drama?

We all have life experiences that becomes memories. And the play of action unfolds in our life: doing and consequence. But do we see our past memories as present reality? Do those memories carry a “charge” or emotional reactivity? Does that determine our reactions now?

Our brain compares new events to past experiences and responds before we’re even conscious. This allows us to react quickly and avoid danger but if we carry a lot of strong charges, they can be triggered by the slightest memory association. We react before we can think about it.

Our reactivity is quite distinct from past actions bringing us their fruit. But the two can quickly become entwined. We can amplify what is arising, reinforcing it rather than resolving it. We can fight and resist what is arising which also impedes resolution. And we can create new consequences with that reactivity.

Say our car breaks down. Do we express frustration, then call the shop? Or do we create a big drama and tell our friends what a victim we are? Then tell the mechanic off for it happening and curse our car. Do we expect any of that to lead to a more reliable car or happier life?

And yet the tendency to vent will remain as long as we carry a related backlog.

Understanding the nature of action and the dynamics of our emotions can really help soothe this beast. How we respond can mean the difference between paying off our debts and racking them up. Even if we resolve what arose, if we made a drama out of it, then we have new consequences to come. On and on it goes.

The key is in resolving the charges we carry and disentangling from our past. This is why I talk of meditation, energy healing, and the recognition of our higher nature.

As we become more familiar with our higher nature, we become disentangled from our more base nature and can let things go more easily. Our past can stay in the past.

You can tell when there’s entanglements by the charge. If a memory is pleasant or neutral, there is no entanglement. But if there is strong associated emotions, there is a charge that needs resolving.

Of course, if we’re repressing how we feel, we won’t be aware of charges. We’ll just notice effects like reactivity, anxiety and other chronic yuk. Noticing our feeling states may be the first order of business. This is just practice. When we notice resistance or reactivity, stop and give a name to what we’re feeling. Don’t resist or control it, just notice and allow it to be there. That simple attention will let it complete. Giving it a name helps make it conscious. (but be careful of the mind then trying to control what it has labeled)

The backlog we’re not feeling right now sits waiting to be triggered. It is stored as crud in various parts of our body, energy, and mind. It has the effect of clouding our experience and happiness. When a memory charge is triggered, or an opportunity comes up for it to be resolved, it will pop into experience. We may notice reactivity, emotions, excess desire, or addictive behavior.

They show up as life events and drama, chasing us out of equanimity. At the end of our lives, this also drives us into further incarnations.

This dynamic became clear when memories of past lives began to return. I was deeply puzzled over the circumstances of my life then. The situation didn’t seem related to who I was, what I was good at, my goals, or the kind of people I was well-suited to be around.

This puzzling lead me through the resistance to those old memories and they began showing up. I found that I had successfully met several major challenges in a prior life.

However, I had not resolved my reaction to them. I had continued to question the choices and felt badly about not meeting others expectations. In that lifetime, this agitated me and caused some acting out. This did nothing to resolve it and created a cascading series of consequences.

In this life, somewhat equivalent circumstances arose so I could make the other choices and resolve the inner quandary. That exercise was prominent for 10 years of this life. One related consequence hung around 40 years. It could easily have been longer.

It is much easier to recognize our internal baggage and let it go energetically so we don’t have to live it out. But that requires enough clarity to be able to see it.

In other words, we need to do some unpacking before we can become more effective at our decluttering.

Some of the bigger stuff comes with a shadow that reduces our seeing. In such a case, it will still be prone to arise as events. But if we come to it with less reactivity, we can resolve it cleanly and completely. That cycle of the wheel of karma will end.

This process doesn’t magically end with awakening but the new clarity and peace smooths and speeds up the process. A little detachment from our stuff really eases the disentangling too.

We will continue to live out our “sprouted” seeds, the consequences already in motion. But awakening roasts much of the backlog. As we step more into the flow, we create less new baggage and we clear the old trash. Over time, life gets simpler and easier.

At some point, we end the dynamics that would drive us back again for another lifetime. That doesn’t mean life ends at death. We just graduate to a new level of being. With our history resolved, we gain new choices for living.

We have a choice. We can continue to live a life dedicated to being right, justifying our drama, or outright struggling. Or we can choose to unload all that and discover what’s behind it. Through a gradual process of energetic purification and healing, disentangling from  memories, and opening to our deeper nature, we gain a life upgrade. Our life may continue to look more or less the same as anyone else’s. But we embody a fullness and richness most people would not believe is possible.

Last Updated on November 11, 2017 by Davidya

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  1. Sandesh

    Hi David – Please help clarify my dilemma. The ability to have a choice in dealing with a situation implies free will. This is a paradox when we talk about karma and past lives. Can we assume “What happens to us is karma” and “How we react is our free will?”.
    That leads to another paradox “Is my karma where I had no choice in controlling what was happening to me, another person’s free will?”.
    If I know my past or past life (say I hurt another person in my past life), it would be easier for me avoid a reaction if that person in this life takes revenge. Where and how do we draw a line when things happen to us that we could not control?
    Do I fight against injustice even if it does not affect me directly or consider it as karma for those affected?
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge.

    1. Hi Sandesh
      Your dilemma is basically the mind trying to figure it out so it can control things. The solution is in allowing things to be as the are.

      For example, we obviously make choices and those choices have consequences. The choices of today are the determinism of tomorrow. The choices of the past are today’s determinism.

      In that sense, we can see that free will and determinism are just different perspectives of the same thing.

      Our reactivity also evolves. I’ve spoken before how at first we recognize after the fact – Oh, I’ve done it again. This is not choice – it was an automatic reaction. As we become more conscious, we begin to notice in the middle of it – Oh, I’m reacting again. Then choice arises and we can steer the reactivity a bit. Finally, we notice the impulse to react arising. Only then do we have choice – do I allow the reactivity to arise or do I let it go?

      In that sense, only our conscious decisions are choice aka free will. What confuses things is the ego claiming everything as its own. We say “I did this” because it happened here. But was there choice?

      This is not abdication of responsibility. Consequences still arise from action, whatever the driver. But if we can work to become more conscious of what’s going on, we gain more choice.

      At some point, we resolve the source and the reactivity doesn’t even arise. Also, we step into the flow of nature and become disentangled. Then we have a new question about what is choosing and what is determining. Eventually, the 2 aspects merge as they are just 2 sides of one coin.

    2. For further remarks – karma means action. It is not just consequences, it is the initial action also. It is the entire field of doing.

      We can say what happens is karma. “To us” is ego taking it personally. The mechanics of action are not personal. It’s physics.

      Really, reactivity is automated so is not free will. Clearing our reactivity brings freedom from the binding influence of action. And it brings true choice.

      Karma is a vast and complex arena. The principles are simple but it quickly becomes very complex in practice. I would not try to figure it out. Sometimes, you will get insights but thats just a snapshot.

      If someone takes revenge, you will of course react. The issue is if that reaction leaves a lasting impression. Better to let go of it quickly. That depends on how you are, not what you know about your past.

      A hard lesson for the ego is that it controls nothing. Even when we have choice, we do not control the fruits. We act because it is the right thing to do. (The Bhagavad Gita explores this)

      You don’t “fight against injustice” as that will make it stronger. Anti-war makes war stronger. Instead we work for peace. We point out injustice and offer solutions. We educate.

      These are very big topics. 🙂

  2. Jim

    Thanks – yes resistance accomplishes very little. What is pushing back, and why?

    Silly ego, strutting about as if it is the captain of the vessel, when in fact it is more of a general staff manager at best, or perhaps vital conscious connective tissue.

    Because if the ego owns nothing and controls nothing, what does it do, except possibly keep our jelly in a transient mold, ever adjusted for consciousness?

    1. (laughs) I give ego credit for distinguishing what is self and other. But then it gets carried away with itself and starts claiming everything. “I did this”, “I’m in control”, etc.

      All of which gets in the way of dharma, enjoyment, and flow.

  3. K

    yes – even when one is not awakened the decluttering process makes everything easier and flowing even if external circumstances are the same (I thought it was due to age :-)). One thing that amazes me a little is how very mundane life circumstances are. What I am saying is that everything is connected to the great awareness/consciousness. Even stuff such as plumbing problems. I used to detach myself from the nitty gritty of life (like plumbing for instance) and thought that living in one’s mind slightly detached from the details of living was the better way to be. But life is in everything – even the mundane and seemingly trivial.
    Also, unrelated to the above, I think suffering is a choice but I am not fully sure.

    1. Right, K. It’s a good process in any case.

      I have noticed that people tend to mellow with age, or they get grumpier. The long term trend of our approach to life. So yes, aging in a sense. But that’s intertwined with the subject of this article.

      One of the first things people often notice with a clear awakening is how simple and ordinary it is. Especially if they’ve idealized it.

      It is very much about living it right in the mundane. But the mundane is both our means and the expression of the highest aspects of our being.

      I would say suffering becomes a choice. When we’re caught, it isn’t. But as we clear, we begin to see it taking place. Then we can begin to respond otherwise.

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