Most of us believe that we need to take charge of our lives. This belief runs so deep that we don’t even see it as a belief, but more as an essential, unquestioned foundation of our existence. We see it both as a reality and a necessity, and it usually does not occur to us that a meaningful life could be different.
We do this because we have lost our sense of the inherent, intelligent dynamism of the Universe, and of being one with that dynamism. Instead, we experience ourselves as separate beings who have to take charge of our own separate lives.
Taking charge of our destiny
Because we’ve lost touch with that universal dynamism, we have no choice but to take control of our destiny. Our souls feel the need for direction, and if it seems that it’s not coming from anyplace else, we step into the role ourselves. We take control of ourselves and our lives in every possible way – including our actions, our emotions, our past and our future.
When it comes to our actions, we use our will and our determination to make ourselves do what seems to be needed. This is especially true when we just don’t feel like doing whatever that is. We wake up to an alarm and force ourselves out of bed, whether or not we’ve had enough sleep. We micromanage our jobs when we’d rather be taking it easy. We come home tired but make ourselves cook a good meal. We listen sympathetically to our partner, even if the sympathy’s forced. We often fall into bed exhausted from the effort of pushing ourselves through the day.
We also use will to control our emotions. We’re afraid that if we get angry, we might do some serious damage, so we carefully control our anger. We’re afraid that if we start crying we might never stop, so we stifle the sobs inside us. When we feel lonely, we push it away by making ourselves busy. When we feel anxious, we tell ourselves not to be silly. Fearing the conflict of asserting our needs, we keep ourselves small in relationships.
We don’t just control our present, but our past and our future too. When we feel grief or anger about an event in the past, we suppress the feelings by telling ourselves to just move on and put it all behind us. We make plans and goals for the future, then push ourselves to achieve them regardless of how we feel.
So why are we so deeply invested in all these ways of taking charge of ourselves? Why do we continually control our actions, our emotions, our past and our future and pretty much every moment of life?
Distrusting our dynamism
It seems that we simply don’t trust that we could spontaneously unfold exactly as needed. We don’t trust that the right responses to life will appear. We are out of touch with the intelligent dynamism of the universe, which is also the intelligent dynamism of our own inner being. We do not know that our Being actually includes a true will, as distinct from the everyday will we use to control our lives. Feeling the lack of that true creative unfolding within us, we fill the void however we can.
And yet, there are signs that we miss the true will we have lost. We find that we long to be fully ourselves, without effort or pressure. We long for spontaneity and relaxation. We long for the inner ease that just knows how to be and what to do. We long for a sense of right action.
But true will cannot appear in the same place as our usual willful control. And it is impossible to force ourselves to give up that usual control. What’s needed is not to force anything, but rather to acknowledge, explore and understand all the ways that we try to control ourselves.
Because control is so fundamental to the ego, this is one of the greatest challenges in living a spiritual life. However, as we slowly come to understand the willful parts of ourselves, they do start to soften and make way for true will to appear. And as our need for control diminishes, we are able to surrender more and more to the intelligent dynamism that always lives within us.
We are the moved, not the mover
True will gives us the knowledge that we are the moved, not the mover. There is a sense of curiosity and wonder at the dynamism that arises within us, and the flow of our body, emotions and soul becomes light, easy, relaxed, spontaneous, responsive and intelligent. There is attunement and harmony within us, with those around us, and with the totality of the universe. We feel ourselves as an expression of the larger will of the universe, one that is totally benevolent and optimizing for us and all that exists. This gives us a ground and a confidence that things will flow as they should. It gives us a sense of solidity in ourselves and our actions. It allows us to be exactly where we are, with no need to change or control anything.
We discover that true will and our will are actually one and the same, and that paradoxically, in surrendering our will, we have found our will.
As A.H.Almaas teaches, (see Diamond Heart Book 2, p.114) we find that Will is actually effortless, complete spontaneity, complete letting go. It is surrender. (You) think that to surrender is to let go of your will. This is not true. To surrender is to have your will completely …
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