So you want to be a genius, huh?
I came across these words this morning on the Eckhart Tolle web site. They pretty much reflect my own perspective:
To meet everyone and everything through stillness instead of mental noise is the greatest gift you can give to the Universe. I call it stillness, but it is a jewel with many facets: that stillness is also joy, and it is love."
... and it is also genius.
But the problem is, we find it incredibly difficult to have a still mind in the midst of our busy lives. There are reasons for this and seeing them can help us no end.
The mind trap that catches most of us goes something like this -
- Reality can only be experienced directly, in stillness. We don't need to do anything to experience the truth of who we. Why would we need to do anything to just experience 'what is' ? And so in stillness (a lack of mind activity) our true nature shines bright and plain to see. We experience the creativity, love and joy that Eckhart talks about above - our awake, alert essence that never changes.
- Our life revolves a self-image. But because we don't experience ourselves as this we create a self-image, a 'me' (some call it ego). And because this self -image is built around things that are capable of changing - the body, personality, reputation, and material things it needs constant maintenance, promotion and protection. The mind creates the illusion that we have a separate little bit of consciousness that is somehow shackled to the brain within a human body. And so we appear to be separate from everything else, vulnerable and powerless in a scary world where things appear to come unbidden and outside our field of consciousness.
- The mind works ceaselessly to maintain our self-image. Not only does the mind have to battle to try and create a 'life' for us that is stable and secure out of things that are forever changing but also, because our self image is in fact an illusion (a sad parody of who we really are - a mental construct maintained by selective perception) the mind has to work doubly hard to maintain this illusion in the face of evidence of that would disprove it. Hence to maintain this illusory self-image the mind puts 'me' at the centre of the Universe and puts everything else 'out there'. It then looks out on these projected, seemingly separate things and sees them not as they are in reality but as they relate to 'me' and 'my history'.
- In this lack of stillness our reality remains unrecognised. The mind can therefore never rest. Even when the body sleeps the mind is still in motion.  In the midst of this continuous mind activity there is no stillness for reality and the truth of who we are to be experienced.
So back then to the question of why we find it so hard to be still.
The popular belief is that to 'be still' we need to discipline our minds and tame our wayward thoughts. Perhaps we use meditation, or maybe we prefer to go for a long run or knit - each of us has our own favourite ways. But the reason we find it so difficult and the reason very few of us find any deep, lasting stillness is the mind resists any attempt to control it. Have you ever noticed that when you try and control your thoughts your mind kicks back? You can almost hear it saying, "Hey man, what gives?.. I'm just trying to do the job you gave me - LOOKING OUT FOR YOU". The mind is just doing it's job - serving us. So do you see the dilemma? - Our mind is given the purpose of serving our best interests with one hand and then other hand is trying to stop it! No wonder we find it so difficult.
It's because the very nature of our 'thinking, rational mind' (ego?) is one of selective perception and control, that any way we could imagine to tame it is just another part of the trap. Any strategy of the mind to 'become still' comes from the same mind-set that needs to maintain control, and is itself yet another thought form - another step away from stillness.
So the problem is not our overactive or wayward mind - the mind is a wonderful things and serve whatever purpose we give it. The problem is the purpose we give our mind to serve in the first place: our perceived need to control our world. When we are willing to let everyone and everything be exactly as it is, and be present with whatever is in front of us right now, the mind falls still naturally. And then in that stillness a greater intelligence arises that sees beyond the superficial perception of our 'thinking, rational mind' to what is really going on, and then responds automatically with both love and right action to whatever presents itself.
So with this perspective in mind let's consider a simple and direct approach to 'being still', a shortcut if you like.
A simpler way
What could be an easier or more effective way to end the illusion that I am separate from the rest of life and separate from the source of all love and power, than to simply allow ourselves to feel the connection that exists between us? What could be simpler than to just stop resisting the experience of what already is?
There's a old Sanskrit greeting that I know some of you are familiar with - Namaste (nam-a-STAY). I'm not sure of the exact translation but it goes something like this: "The truth in me bows to the truth in you". What a lovely way to greet someone. When I hold this intention in mind it's amazing the transformative effect it can have. And just choosing this is enough. We just need to choose to feel the connection that exists between us and trust that in choosing it is done. We don't have to 'try' because it is this stillness, the essence of who we Are, that knows the way into our conscious awareness.
It is very, very difficult to still the mind. To attempt to do so directly is like trying to fight fire with fire. It's recognising ourselves as we really are that dispels our illusory self-image and we do this when we recognise the formless in another. So here's the key: It's impossible to hold the intention to see someone as they really are and not be still. And it doesn't have to be a person - it could be a bird, a pencil or a blade of grass... whatever is here right now. In the willingness to simply feel the connection that already exists in this present moment the mind quite easily and naturally falls still of it's own accord. And what flows from that stillness is always perfect.
But if this so easy and powerful why isn't it common knowledge? And why, for the few who do know about it, do we still resist using it and try to find yet another way? The answer to that comes back the mind's fear of losing control.
Seeing through resistance
This fear appears on the face of it to be quite reasonable. After all, what could happen if we set aside our intellect and forgot about the self-imagine we have so carefully nurtured and polished? What if, without our control strategies, we said something stupid or passed wind at an inappropriate moment, or forgot something that was important? Yet if we just once allowed ourselves to meet in stillness we would see that all our fears are totally unfounded. When we let go of our desire to control, things work out absolutely perfectly and in fact, it is the ONLY time that (we are aware of) that they actually do. Gangaji describes her own realisation of this -
[I saw that] thought could no longer be trusted, could no longer be master. The previous fear of not knowing was transformed into the joy of not knowing. To not know was the opening of my mind to what could not be perceived by thought..... What profound release."
Out of the stillness that arises from letting all things be 'exactly as they are' and from embracing not knowing what to think or do, arises a clarity, an inner knowing and an intelligence that has no comparison to anything we are commonly aware of... one that is virtually unknown in our society. We open ourselves to the source of all genius - the same source that Buddha, DaVinci, Jesus, Shakespeare and Einstein learned to tap into. It is the source of all true creativity and, although we each express it in our own unique way, it is the same Source. We should never for one moment doubt that we have any less access to it than any being that has ever walked this way before us.
It is the simplest and easiest thing in the world to do, and it's only our ego's insistence that there must be more, that it can't be that easy, that makes it seem so difficult. Stillness is simply our nature, and genius arises naturally out of that and shines into everything we look upon or touch. What comes from the heart always speaks to the heart and is never lost.
Choosing to let go
To go looking for 'our genius' or our 'unique gift' is to play small because genius is simply an irrevocable attribute of who we already Are. And trying to maintain control over our life is to play small also, because by doing so we deny our own truly creative abilities to bring about whatever we really want. It's easy to think of stillness as a dormant state, or something that could be quite boring, but the stillness that comes from within is wide awake, alert and teeming with intelligence and energy. It is the very essence of life itself and who we are,
Never confuse genius with knowledge. Inspiration has nothing to do with thought but everything to do with it's opposite. We Are genius, and our capacity to express this is dependant only on our ability to be still, our willingness to let go of our perceived need to control of our days, to be open to receive instead of organise or plan.
For so many of us it takes a cataclysmic event in our life to make a mockery of our plans and thereby get us to relinquish control. Paul McCartney's words from the song 'Let it be' spring to mind -
When I find myself in times of trouble, mother Mary comes to me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
And in my hour of darkness she is standing right in front of me,
speaking words of wisdom, let it be.
Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom, let it be.
But we don't have to wait for times of trouble to turn within, or be shocked into stillness by accident, tragedy or grief; it's available to us in any moment we choose. We think of 'letting go of control' as a difficult thing but it's actually trying to maintain a sense of control that takes all the effort and causes all the stress in our lives. But let's be really honest with ourselves - has any amount of control we have ever excerpted ever stopped things from changing? No it hasn't, because it's the very nature of the world we look upon to change. Suffering arises from the demand that something be different than it actually is.
My my, what a crazy and joyless game we play. When we finally do let go of control it is not with regret but with a huge sigh of release and a glance back in disbelief at how we ever managed to toil with such a burden for so long.
A one day challenge.
We think that without some form of control our life would be chaos, but we can never know that until we try it and see for ourselves. So this is my suggestion: Just for one day why not have a go at this. Let everyone and all things be exactly as they are and allow the stillness that arises from that to nourish us, guide us and move us. Put aside our schedule, our GTD, take off our watch and come naked of all ideas about what serves our best interests..... Just for one day. In Luke Skywalker parlance - let's turn off the computer, and trust the Force.
I am not for one moment suggesting that this will be easy because until trust has built there's a huge temptation to use the old habitual ways of 'control and conquer'; but I promise that if we relax and allow our inner knowing to carry us we'll be amazed at all the blessings that serendipitously come our way without any conscious planning.
This is genius, and it has power to dissolve any problematic situation we find ourselves in. It is, quite literally miraculous, and the only thing that can limit it's inspiration and power is our lack of trust, our perceived need to withhold some level of personal control. So don't do that, don't play small. Instead, when we are tempted, just call upon it and trust it to be there for us.... nothing more. And then just let attention rest in that feeling of Love that grows from within and allow That to take control. Remember that it's this real Self that knows the way into our conscious awareness so no amount of 'trying' can take us there, but it can called upon in an instant.
Perhaps it's just a little reassurance we need. These are the words that were once given me:
Anticipation plays no part at all for present trust guarantees a future undisturbed, without a trace of sorrow and joy that constantly increases, so just relax and enjoy this day. If you need a thought, a word or just a tranquil open mind then that will be my gift for I [ our real Self] am in charge by your request."
If we are willing to give the power of decision to our inner knowing and just relax and enjoy the ride, we will never again doubt that we have the power to create the kind of day we thought we could only ever dream about.
So there you have it on the blackboard - my 'General Theory of Genius'. Oh yes... and of health, happiness and love too. I hope it serves you as well as it does me.
Namaste my friends.
- Finding Flow by Letting Go
- The little book of Flow (draft). Since I first posted this article several readers have taken it upon themselves to edit my awful grammar. Thank you so much. I'd particularly like to thank Omar Rabhi who has translated it into French and posted it here. I'll try to finally get it written up properly before too long.
Credits: Hetemeel for the Einstein image.
... This is not to say that meditation or a long run or quite time in your den doesn't help, of course it does. We each have our own pet ways of finding some peace and quiet and there are as many paths that take us Home as there are travelers. But ultimately, if we want to open ourselves to an unlimited, joyful and effortless way of creating then we need to step beyond the waters edge, and to do that we must leave all forms of practice behind.
We often imagine this realisation of our true potential as something that is complex or difficult, but it isn't. In fact it is so simple and easy that there is really nothing to so. This is the revelation of enlightenment: We think it requires years of practice or embarking on some form of spiritual journey but in truth it's one requirement is that we need do nothing and of course, to do nothing is to be still.
... A few years ago I asked a wise man when would I become fully awakened. The reply I got was, "when you find nothing that is unacceptable". I instantly recognised the truth in that statement but at the same the answer was both shocking and discouraging. At the time it seemed a totally unreasonable idea that I could never imagine accepting. Until the day that is, when I suddenly realised that everything we attract to us in our lives, right down to the smallest detail, is perfectly useful in bringing us to the point of surrendering control and becoming still... and recognising the source of our joy and power that arises in that. It was both the answer and the solution to all those things that I could never imagine accepting. I saw in that moment that Life delights only to make us happy; that Life was simply a process of waking up to our own happiness. End of story.
... I don't actually say this aloud because folks would know just how crazy I really am. ;-)
... This applies to everything, including both fear (I use fear in it's broadest sense here - any negative emotion, anything feeling that does not reflect love) and physical pain. If fear or pain arises then by all means do whatever you think will help you find relief, but try not to resist the experience. Instead, just let it be what it is - just be aware of it as you would anything else that appears in our Presence. If we don't resist it or follow it or make a story around it, but simply recognise that it no longer serve a purpose for us anymore, then it will have no place to settle. Without resistance or purpose, fear and physical pain are deprived of sustenance and can find nowhere to make a home with us. The exact same principal applies to our wayward thoughts too. If we neither resist them or follow them but simply observe them, we break the chain. One thought can no longer lead onto another and they can have no affect on our wellbeing.
... By this I mean the way a Tiger would carry one of her cubs - the cub really has nothing to do except relax and enjoy the ride. For many of us when we first start down this path we try to cling on to this 'inner knowing' as if we would lose it if we let go - almost like a baby monkey hangs on to it's mother belly as it jumps from tree to tree... a bit scary really. There is no hanging on to do. Just relax and let yourself be carried, because it's only when we try to struggle and take back control ourselves that we can get into difficulties..