DAY 13 of my non-Muslim Ramadan fast and it’s all going well (no weight lost but I’m thinking about the things I wanted to think about) (situation normal, then!)
Right now, I’m trying to practise ‘neutrality’. That is, contemplating the advantages of not anticipating outcomes to events, neither positive nor negative, neither hope nor dread.
It seems to me that making assumptions about outcomes, and/or endeavouring to achieve or avoid particular outcomes, is the cause of much of our suffering.
When we hope for a particular outcome, we move ourself – physically and metaphysically – towards it, engineering (aka ‘controlling’) our self-expression to acquire our desired outcome. Since events rarely work out as anticipated (because the expectation is not the prediction we treat it as, but is actually guesswork) disappointment is almost inevitable.
When we dread a particular outcome, we move ourself – physically and metaphysically – away from it, engineering (aka ‘controlling’) our self-expression to avoid our dreaded outcome. Since events rarely work out as anticipated (guesswork, not prediction) that which we fear is unlikely to transpire and we will have avoided an experience almost certainly unnecessarily. (Of course, where ended up as a result of our avoidance activities may be ‘better’, but we can’t know that.)
The thing is, both types of anticipation have been invented by our imagination. They are fictions – fictional realities – fantasies – and we conduct our lives by navigating them.
Let me say that again: we conduct our lives by navigating fictional realities.
It’s all to do with mind conditioning. Our minds are filled with these hopes and fears by our involvement in our culture. Our thoughts and feelings become attached to outcomes. It’s part of The Matrix that binds us to a hamster-wheel of aspiration and disappointment: chasing dreams and running away from nightmares.
So, as part of my mind reorganisation I am practising the idea of non-expectatation; that is, being neutral and waiting to see what happens.
I’m thinking: maybe living freely is less about being ‘fearless’ or ‘courageous’ and more about training our mind to believe something different from what we have been conditioned to believe. Instead of thinking “it has to be this-or-that way in order for me to be happy”, we could accept the unknowingness of the future, be open to whatever outcomes transpire and respond to what presents itself to us, instead of being stymied because the response we rehearsed doesn’t match the circumstance that has surprised us (because it doesn’t match our prediction / expectation / hope / fear).
I guess it’s about not investing our happiness in particular outcomes, but being consciously open to the idea of being happy whatever happens (‘proper’ disaster excepted!).
I guess it’s got something to do with relaxing into the here and now, the coordinates in space and time one finds oneself in at any and all times. I think it must also have to do with self-acceptance, because to relax into the here and now surely means relaxing into yourself and how can you do that if you have an aversion to yourself?
That thought has brought a feeling of weepiness to the fore. I’m thinking of people I know who have an aversion to themself (as I have had to my own self for the majority of my life) and I feel so (can’t think of an adequate word) for them.
Is this what Jesus meant about being like a child in order to enter the kingdom of heaven… to return the mind to its state of being before it developed an aversion to itself?