The Wisdom of No Escape

The Wisdom of No Escape

Photo by dannebrog

Susanne Marie writes occasional short articles she calls Reality Bites. I particularly enjoyed this one:

“Sometimes the only way to be free of something is to allow yourself to be fully trapped. Our desire to escape suffering creates it’s own bondage. Most of us are initially drawn to spirituality with the understandable desire to feel better and in general to be released from suffering.

But this desire in itself plays into the belief that something needs to be done about how we are feeling. That we need to somehow disappear a feeling by replacing it with bliss or peace, or whatever we imagine freedom to be.

But the truth of reality is that all is One. Which means that what you are feeling and trying to escape is part of totality. By wishing something away, we are setting ourselves up to be at odds with an aspect of ourselves. Truth is inclusive, meaning that what you are feeling and experiencing is included in what you are.

As we mature spiritually, we gain the understanding that healing occurs by opening. In this doing there is a momentary surrender to allowing things to be exactly as they are, including the feeling of being swallowed up or trapped by what we are resisting.

This goes against everything that we have been taught and modeled collectively. We are conditioned to move away from being uncomfortable and to soothe or medicate ourselves to numb the pain. If spirituality is used in this way, it will quickly backfire as we grow weary of the unsustainabilty of chasing one spiritual experience after another.

We are evolving in our understanding of what freedom actually means. To be free of something does not mean to spiritually bypass pain by replacing it with a more pleasurable experience.

It is time to reevaluate what freedom looks like. To me freedom is the embrace of yourself exactly as you are.”

– The Wisdom of No Escape, Reality Bites by Susanne Marie

(I did not write this article so will not have a spoken version.)

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  1. Hi David, (thank you Susanne Marie) it’s funny this opening — simultaneously receiving and giving.


    Like flower petals opening in response to and being bathed in the sunlight while giving out perfume pollen and nectar but actually, it feels more like one movement/flow and not really a stimulus and response.


    And not coming from or going anywhere.

  2. I love the synchronicity of this piece in my life’s understanding right now! To quote Susanne, “We are conditioned to move away from being uncomfortable and to soothe or medicate ourselves to numb the pain.” Yes…what I’ve found is that people usually do the direct opposite of what will help the most; looking at the energy (issue) right in the eyes is how I work with them & this awareness alone often starts the transformation. I just read an amazing ancient Vedantic book “Astavakra Samhita” & highlighted parts that apply directly to Susanne’s “Our desire to escape suffering creates it’s own bondage.” From the Astavarakra Samhita: “One who abhors sense-objects becomes non-attached, and one who covets them becomes attached to them. But he who does not accept or reject is neither unattached nor attached.”…”Activity (prompted by desire) begets attachment; and abstention from it aversion. The man of wisdom is free from the pairs of opposites, like a child, and indeed he lives on like a child.” Finally Shakti is teaching me the meaning of ‘Non-Dual’…any thoughts?

    1. Hi Andrew
      Yes, realizing we’ve got it backwards can be something of a doh! moment. Yet few people have understood this and modeled it energetically as examples. (We may not realize it but we learn from others by how they “carry” their energy.)
      I have a copy of that text but have not studied it yet. I probably would have translated that a little differently. Coveting or abhorring (resisting) both lead to suffering. The Yoga Sutra calls it grasping and aversion. Both are resistance to what is.
      On the other hand, this may be more of a Unity perspective. Then the attachment of identification and the non-attachment of Self Realization are both transcended (Self Realization is dvaita or a state of duality – inner awakeness with separate outer world). Someone in Unity enjoys a uniting of subject and object, a progressive collapse of all dualities towards a fuller non-duality. They are neither attached nor unattached. Instead they are the Self which is all. All is one and contained within mySelf.
      From the perspective here, enlightenment unfolds in progressive stages so there is a series of realities. Some teachers don’t speak of stages because it creates concepts that become entrenched. Yet do we deny the traveler a map of the road? It’s also useful to put texts into some kind of context.
      In this case, I’m not sure of the context of the Astavakra so I couldn’t say off the top which perspective it leans on.
      Taking a quick look at one of the translations, it is said to have an unknown author and refers to King Janaka and his Guru Astavakra. This places events prior to the Ramayana of about 8,000 years ago. The text may have a similar history to the Bhagavad Gita and Ramayana where the story is told by a remote sage describing events of another place and/or time.
      Here’s another translation, more like Yoga:
      One who abhors sense objects avoids them.
      One who desires them becomes ensnared.
      One who neither abhors nor desires
      is neither detached nor attached.

      As long as there is desire–
      which is the absence of discrimination–
      there will be attachment and non-attachment.
      This is the cause of the world.

      Indulgence creates attachment.
      Aversion creates abstinence.
      Like a child, the sage is free of both
      and thus lives on as a child.

      One who is attached to the world
      thinks renouncing it will relieve his misery.
      One who is attached to nothing is free
      and does not feel miserable
      even in the world.

      (Bart Marshall translation)
      Again, I’d probably translate “non-attachment” more like it’s usually used. It sounds like the text as a whole is somewhat like the Bhagavad Gita where Arjuna is walked through the stages. In other words, different chapters are about different stages and different perspectives of reality, leading to greater and greater wholeness. 🙂

    2. It’s also worth noting that the text would be from a higher age where it was more possible to move through the stages in relatively short order, once the stage was set. Typically, things move a little slower in the current time, although it’s speeding up considerably.

  3. Gina Westbrook

    Speaking from a level of pre-unity consciousness it seems to me that all three lead to problems: abhorring sense objects, desiring sense objects and also TRYING to be unattached to sense objects will to lead to problems because even that can lead to stress. All three are functions of the mind. One can only be unattached if one is inherently unattached and that can only be in some state of enlightenment where the identification is with the Self. Until then it seems to me the only way to be unattached to a feeling or emotion, is to let it be there until it dissolves on it’s own, (and it will because the mind is in a constant state of change.) neither encouraging nor discouraging it. It kind of reminds me about what Oscar Wild said, “Whenever I feel the desire to exercise I lay down till it goes away.”

    1. Hi Gina
      Right – one cannot try to be unattached as that is a doing. True detachment is a non-doing. Trying is also a type of control which will tend to increased attachment.
      There is a kind of learning involved in just allowing emotions to be there without trying to manipulate them (mind). But this is a relaxing into it rather than a new way to control. It is a surrendering of the habit of mind to manage everything.
      Doing that requires some value of presence or consciousness to be alive so we can step back from the mind. Otherwise, it’s just mind manipulating itself.
      Once Self Realized, there can still be some related habits of mind a/a that need to be wound down. But this isn’t required to do some healing.
      (laughs) Probably not what Wilde was referring to but yes.

  4. herwig

    Reality bites. Quite so!

    I learnt the lesson of no escape during a severe personal crisis more than 20 years ago. As far as I understand Susanne, it is this kind of thing she refers to. When the suffering is so violent that you can‘t find rest, not even in sleep or self-destructive forms of escape, then you have no choice other than face it, whatever it is.
    When you manage to direct your awaress there and to simply accept the factuality of the pain, be it physical, mental or pychological, and dive into it instead of trying to escape, then you can find the eye of the hurrican. The Self is everywhere. When there is no way out, there is only the way in, and nature takes over. But it requires courage and faith (not belief) – or desperation – to jump into a bottomless pit. There is no pain in the centre of the pain. It is void like everything. The paradox is, it it easier to find when one is trapped. Even a small light shines brightly in the dark:

    „En la noche dichosa en secreto, que nadie me veía, ni yo miraba cosa, sin otra luz y guía sino la que en el corazón ardía. Aquésta me guiaba más cierto que la luz del mediodía, adonde me esperaba quien yo bien me sabía, en parte donde nadie parecía.“

    „In the happy night, In secret, when none saw me, Nor I beheld aught, Without light or guide, save that which burned in my heart. This light guided me More surely than the light of noonday To the place where he (well I knew who!) was awaiting me — A place where none appeared.“ [i.e. in a place where there was no second]“
    San Juan de la Cruz, Noche oscura (The Dark Night of the Soul)

    In this phase I had a very violent and uncontrolled Kundalini rising. When it hits you in a rather unenlightend state, it requires guidance. At least you need some verification that it is a natural process going on and not insanity.
    The path of Shakti can be very efficient and fulfilling, but involves the lower chakras at an earlier stage. That makes it risky without competent individual supervision.

    Not easy to find.

    Of course, the interpretation of scripture depends on whether non-attachment is discussed in terms of desription or instruction.

    There is probably a lot of confusion about this.

    1. Hi Herwig
      Yes – ideally, we get the signals to face something sooner and are able to process it without it becoming such a crisis. But karma tends to come with a blind spot and circumstances do sometimes seem to “trap” us.
      Sometimes, we blame others for circumstances and don’t face what is in us. But when we do face the core you describe, it changes everything. And yes, at the core it is void, just like the eye of a hurricane.
      I agree – it is very helpful to understand whats going on. Even normal stuff like purification and release are foreign ideas even in some spiritual circles.
      I mention a couple of people to support difficult kundalini processes on the Recommended tab. Qualified people are indeed rare. This is also one of the reasons I recommend certain practices – they are less likely to led to rougher processes. Although that too is dependent on our process over several lives.
      And yes – a big difference between ideas in a book, faking it, and living it.
      Waking up can be quite the journey. 🙂

    1. Hi Jeff
      There is a simple, beautiful truth in that. And yet, we may also find that taking care includes acting in specific ways. And that some entrenched habits/ identifications are getting in the way of allowing life to take care of itself.
      Myself, I’ve found that certain proactive steps are valuable. This is why, for example, Maharishi brought out other programs later.

    1. Hi Guru
      Technically, if we adopt good practices and a sensible lifestyle, we can make steady progress.
      But if we want enlightenment in this lifetime, we may wish to take our process a little further.
      Yet it’s a tricky balance. it’s not about controlling the process or accomplishing something. It’s about learning to let go in all areas of life.
      Very simply, a lot of suffering comes from grasping and aversion. Both are forms of trying to control our experience. Both are attachments to life being a certain way. Letting go means releasing more and more.

      Eventually, we release suffering itself.

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