A quiet moment, birds singing, front lawn mowed, back yard begun and I have to rest a moment, this book is always waiting, so I read. One passage of brilliant and deep illumination cannot go without noting. Here it is:
“For enlightenment, or accord with the Tao, remains unrealized so long as it is considered as a specific state to be attained, and for which there are tests and standards of success. It is much rather freedom to be the failure that one is.
Unlikely as it may seem, this outrageous and nonmoral freedom is the basis of all mental and spiritual wholeness, provided…that it seeks no result. But so full an acceptance includes also this seeking, along with just anything that one happens to be doing or feeling. The apparently extreme passivity of this acceptance is, however, creative because it permits one to be all of a piece, to be good, bad, indifferent, or merely confused, with a whole heart. To act or grow creatively we must begin from where we are, but we cannot begin at all if we are not “all here” without reservation or regret. Lacking self-acceptance, we are always at odds with our point of departure, always doubting the ground on which we stand, always so divided against ourselves that we cannot act with sincerity. Apart from self-acceptance as the groundwork of thought and action, every attempt at spiritual or moral discipline is the fruitless struggle of a mind that is split asunder and insincere. It is the freedom which is the essential basis of self-restraint.”
I am reminded of moments even just this weekend where I was split on “what next?” And with good reason. But I realize that the moment I accepted myself unconditionally, gave myself permission to feel what I feel, to act on it with wisdom and grace, in that moment I was released to flow into decisiveness and rest. We can make a mountain, even, out of self-acceptance. Or we can rest and trust the process of surrendering to all we realize about ourselves. There is this deep abiding with self, a deep releasing of all we value (simply in the moment) that enables what is always there awaiting emergence – that wellspring of resonance with Source or Spirit or Tao and it is a tremendous opportunity to be with. Be with faults, be with failings, be with what didn’t work and why (even if the “why” is ugly-seeming), be with desires, be with even the most troubling mental disturbance and, in that being with, resting in non-judgement. Not running. Not refusing to see. Not making a decree against. Just withness. In that moment, it is as if these roiling elements simply want mommy to come along and witness. They sigh. They settle after a few whimpers. They melt gradually. They fade. And in this process self-acceptance is not forced or brought about by some acrobatic mental exposition. It simply emerges. Then we taste freedom.
So, in this sense, this freedom is “amoral.” There is no bothering with good or bad. It’s a being-withness in acceptance that provokes a release, and it is that release that enables the very thing Watts highlights as a by-product of not effort supreme or hog-tying the ego – the emergence of self-restraint, when it matters most. And when it will produce the ripest, richest fruit.
It becomes a dance with Source, with love, with whatever you suppose to be Divine. With Tao. Not grasping, grabbing to be the grand evolved one. Just unfolding, witnessing and letting go of judgement.
Why does it matter? Don’t we just need to go get the groceries, fight corruption and plan out the summer? It matters because the peace and energy such a process releases is worth more than any notion of enlightenment or success. We become – while plotting, revolutionizing and shopping – the feasts we’ve always known we could be and life cooks us up from her grandest kitchen of delights. And yes, of sorrows. And it turns out that the “failures” provide some of the best ingredients in a rich stew.
But now I ramble…time to get back to work.