Do you ever feel like you’re learning the same lesson over and over again, only to forget?
Sometimes I feel like I’m in a spiral and I’m getting whirled around and around, returning almost to the same spot after a rotation, but at a slightly different point in space and time. And lessons I thought I learned need to be re-learned. The world winks at me and says, You thought you’d gotten so far, didn’t you, darling? Well how about this. Take that.
Humbling, to say the least.
But we are moving along, and up, up, up… but it’s not a direct path, maybe more like a spiral, and not perfectly symmetrical or predictable. Maybe it feels like we haven’t learned yet, when the same lesson comes around again, but really we are learning it on a deeper level.
And if our lives are just a series of moments along this spiral, I wish I could remember. I wish I wouldn’t keep forgetting that everything changes. Everything. Change is the only constant. Inner and outer change. Ups and downs and ups and downs.
Here it comes. Another low. I can feel it coming. The lights, the colours, the tint around me all flicker and dim. I am dragged into another world, another point along the spiral, powerless against the spin. For me personally, it’s the frequent dramatic inner shifts that are the hardest. Nothing much has happened out there, but in here, everything has changed. The weather has turned violently and for no apparent reason. The monster is stirring.
I can dig my heels into the ground and resist and wish for things to be another way, and try to control and manipulate… or I can accept the shift. Loosen my grip. Be flexible, pliant. Let go of trying to control everything. Surf the waves. Be okay with the flow, the ups and downs.
Freedom is being okay with what is. That’s equanimity. (I love the etymology of this word: [aequus = equal] + [animus = mind], evenness of mind.)
But what to do when I’m not okay? When I can’t find equanimity? When I’m not able to remember the lesson, that this, whatever this is, is just another transient state?
It can be tempting and easy to let the feelings take over. To sink, to sulk and to point fingers. To check out.
The answer appears like a neon sign in my mind, kind of obnoxious, but always right, with letters spelling out, Meditate more.
Another opportunity to practice. Sigh. May this be the cause of my awakening.
Some habits and thought patterns are really sticky. Some concepts, like impermanence, I keep forgetting about and keep slipping back into the delusion of permanence and control. But when I sit on my cushion, find stillness and quiet, find that space between… I get a little glimpse of the grand design.
And I can see the spiral, and the light ahead, and then it’s all okay.
Next time: Equanimity — not to be confused with indifference or passivity.