There's something refreshing about feeling free to speak the truth as we see it, don’t you think?
The French have a word for this - 'témoignage', which means being willing to speak openly about what we see in front of us. As far as I'm aware, there's no English equivalent. The universities in Ancient Greece were very much into this. If you'd discovered something cool you could just come and tell. It wasn't so much about recognition or status, as sharing.
But there's another, perhaps less obvious, benefit in being present and open. We discover a natural wisdom and ability to respond perfectly to whatever arises. Almost childlike, we sense, feel and act without any of the judgments or friction that accumulate as we grow up.
This inner knowing doesn't announce itself or insist. The mind doesn't know, 'Is this the right way?', 'Is this what is best?', 'Is this what I want to do?' That's mind stuff. But when we accept the fact that intellect can never really know, we become aware of this feeling -- an inner movement... and where it leans, we can go. But when our mind asks, 'do I know this is the right way?' the answer is always no. In fact, 'not knowing' is the way... a way that brings with it an incredible freedom and peace of mind from letting go of the burden of ever needing to know again.
This is wisdom. And yet it doesn't come as a formula, you can't learn about from or set of bullet points, you don't gain it from experience and it's not something that some old guru can pass on to us at a retreat. It's something that pre-exists and is wholly formed in all of us. It is something we've had all along, closer than our next breath. We've just been too busy preening our self image, defending against an imagined past or planning for a better future, to notice.
There's absolutely nothing needed to start having this inner wisdom move us right now -- by stepping back and instead of moving, allowing ourselves to be moved instead. And if our mind asks, 'Is this the right feeling?' there will be no answer. Our mind never knows.. but inside we do, because as we move the right way we feel a congruity and peace. This is direct knowing. Anticipation, or any other thought process, plays no part at all in this.
And as we do, what arises on the 'inside' and what appears as 'outside' start to move in harmony as the distinction we have made between the two begins to fade. What we begin to see reflects the peace and harmony of our true nature as opposed to conflicts and confusion in mind.
It seems that the movement of life is always towards this. One way or another life finds a way to prise our fingers away from clinging to littleness, which is what we do when we try to control our little corner of the Universe. There is no joy in clinging. Our safety, our happiness and our influence lie in the flow of Life itself. It is this same inner wisdom that flows through us and moves us when we let it. We are not apart from it all. It is no coincidence that when people recall the moments of real flow in their life, they report everything working to perfection, with what's needed arriving at exactly the right moment and doors opening where previously there were no doors at all.
But nevertheless, before we commit to live true to this inner truth in us -- in Flow, the question comes, 'How could we possibly let go of conscious control of our lives?' and perhaps also, 'How would we organise a team or build any successful enterprise without our time tested control strategies?'
To let go of our need to control seems crazy, doesn't it? Wouldn't chaos reign?
When we let go of our need to control we are free to receive others just as they are.
When we are connected information flows freely. Without resistance everything flows perfectly.
Do you see the irony? Controls act as resistance... and it resistance that causes the problems that we seek to control!
When you think about it, using plans to managing anything is wishful thinking at best. Who in their right mind could possibly say they could predict all that was to happen and know the effect of their decision on everyone that may happen to be affected?
A future focused, control/goal orientation is a sorry substitute for the clarity, the wisdom and joy of being free to let our attention be openly present and respond 'as we feel' to what is here in front of us. In an open, self-aware environment the gap between us disappears and we all become wise. We become too close for answers not to flow to where they are needed and too connected for our influence not to flow everywhere.
By allowing ourselves to come together in present trust -- to Flow, opens up our awareness. In that awareness if there are plans needed they become obvious, without the need to plan. And if there's any doubts, we can ask each other: 'What is it right now that appears to stand before us as an obstacle?' An open question with a present focus is never left unanswered. In our willingness to come together and fully experience whatever appears to stand in our way, insight reveals both it's nature and it's cause, and in seeing this it is done. This is wisdom.
As the challenges of our world appear more complex and daunting there's an inexorable push towards better education, more sophisticated management techniques, more 'intelligent' control systems, more commitment to goals and best practices. But one thing we never do is question the nature of the complexity we are attempting to respond to. Why should it all be so difficult? We take as given that the world is a complex place and yet the great discoveries in science and other disciplines, are invariably beautiful in their simplicity. Once discovered they seem too obvious, and make everyone appear foolish for not having discovered them before. As Einstein said, "If you can't explain it simply you don't understand it well enough.”
But deep down we already know this. When we recognise something as true it doesn't come to us via a thought process, but as an experiential one -- we feel it as a sudden 'AHA'. And then, surprised at the simplicity of it, we are amazed that it was never known before. We've all experienced this, usually whilst engaged in an activity that involves 'feeling' as opposed to thinking -- such as shaving or putting on our make-up, or both!
Just take a moment to consider what a strange idea it is that the nature of reality should be hard to see! And yet the 'greatest minds' among us struggle with this. You would imagine that to simply see the nature of 'what is' would be, by definition, ease itself. If reality appears complex, with struggle being the norm, doesn't that suggest that the lens through which we see it might actually be causing the distortion?
By leaving the appearance of complexity unexamined, the connection between the 'way we see' and 'what we see' goes overlooked... and then the world of science and academia are left attempting to see things not as they are, but as a pathologists would -- by looking at each part and trying to figure out its relationship to the rest. But this body is already dead… by taking ourselves out of the picture there is no Life left to see and understand.
This is not wisdom, it is madness. It leaves us having to derive a multitude of rules, driven by our most pressing problems, to operate in a complex and precarious world based on our latest 'understanding'... and expecting scientific or philosophical answers to our problems, where in fact the answers are so simple and self-evident. And yet it never occurs to us once to question the way we look. Reason surely tells us that the starting point of any investigation ought to be to know our own relationship with the world.
Whereas, deep down, we know the simple answers, we're brought up to believe it must be more complicated than it is. Our mind rejects as too naive, the notion that the answers could lie in simply choosing to be open to fully experience what is here in front of us and allow our own inner guidance to show us what is true and how to flow with that.
All it takes is a little courage... and 'courage' only because it flies in the face of all our societal conditioning. We have learned to prize 'good' judgment and be wary of being open; and we have been brought up to be ashamed of ignorance and to accumulate knowledge. But what's called for here is the exact opposite -- to embrace 'not knowing'.
There's an inexplicably beauty in allowing ourselves to be guided, because as we step back the light in us steps forward and encompasses the world.
This requires no reasoning, no calculation, no learning, no practice or
discussion... no thinking or activity of any kind. Just a radical honesty -- a
willingness to live in non-resistance to what is here in each moment and be true
to truth as it appears to us, instead of what we believe it to be. Témoignage, in
Footnote: This post is an adaptation of an article I’ve
written by way of introduction to a talk I’m giving in a couple of weeks at the
Summer School for the Welsh Government. All being well, as part of this talk
we’ll take a deep dive into seeing and understanding this connection between
‘the way we see' and 'what we see'. The idea behind this is that with awareness
comes choice, and with choice freedom. :)