Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Why I am a fatalist (in a good way)

Humans seem to have this crazy idea that they are in control of things.  When life goes the way we want, we say we created this, when it doesn't, we say it was bad luck.  Some of us are obsessed with keeping things in our control and others seem to float through life, control freaks would call them spacy. Anyway, I have come to believe that we are in control of nothing, though personally I still act as if I think I am in control sometimes.

So much thought has gone into the workings of my mind.  I have observed that every action and therefore every decision is based on the related events that have happened before in my experience.  Should I touch the hot pot or not?  The decision depends on whether I have touched a hot surface before, or if someone instructed me before.   All decisions come from past experience which influences the next experience. All actions in any given moment are determined by the past.  One could go so far as to say, some actions are determined by our constitution and genetics - which some would say are the fruits of past karma in past lives (if you believe that sort of thing.  And therefore, all actions and thoughts are predetermined.

So that's my simple mental explanation for this conclusion.  There were also several experiences that lead me to this as well and I welcome your comments on any part of this.

I was living for a time after my 2nd marriage had ended in a quite town with one son.  I spent a lot of time when not working, doing yoga and meditation.  I took up the practice of "doing nothing".  I describe it as simply sitting, wherever and whenever I decide to do this, with my eyes open and notice whatever is the experience.

The first time I did this practice I sat for about 20 minutes and noticed breathing, the couch beneath me, random thoughts that didn't last too long, spaces of mental quiet, a spate  of very interesting thoughts which died down, and probably things about the visual surroundings.  I practiced not labeling or identifying with the experiences, just witnessing.  After 20 minutes my body stood up and walked to my desk - with no thought and picked up my checkbook and statement and sat down to balance my check book.  And then my "doing nothing" was over.  This task was not on my list of things to do, nor did I have a previous thought or debate about whether to do this, it just happened - I reflect after the fact that it was simply because it was time to do it.

Many of these experiments led to varying results which in reflection seem to indicate that my life will happen regardless of my mental directing of it.  One time in one of these "not doings" it was a Saturday when Amma was offering her blessings to the public in Marlboro, MA.  I had considered going, but "decided" that I didn't want to rush to get out the door and by the time I would get there, I would have to wait a really long time to even get on line to receive her hug.  So I sat on the couch to "do nothing".  While doing nothing, I picked up the TV clicker and put on the tour de france.  Done doing nothing I was content to watch the race and stay at home.  About an hour later (home alone) I heard clear as day, "It's time to go", Startled, I stood up and looked around and there was no one around.  It wasn't the usual voice in my head (I don't typically hear voices, just my usual mental chatter).  With little thought, I picked up my car keys and drove to Marlboro, wondering why I had to go right then.  I was never going to stay long enough to get a hug/blessing.

I arrived and had to park at the very very back of the lot.  I walked from my car past the front of the hotel towards the convention hall where they had the event.  There was Amma sitting outside alone, waiting for her ride to the hall.  I looked at her and bowed a quick pranam and walked on.  "Well that was unexpected" I thought and immediately broke into sobbing tears - these spiritual teachers can have quite the effect.  Anyway, I had got my hug.  As I continued to the hall, I received my ticket which indicated when I could get in line for blessings.  My ticket number was something like XY45.  They start at A1.  My time was going to be around 8am the next morning.  I laughed, enjoyed the chanting and went home, having already received my blessing.

So... long story, my experiments also indicated that I had no control, no mental participation in these events.  I found that when I surrender to the moment, life just happens.  I don't have to worry about anything (though I still sometimes worry about my children over whom I really cant even have the appearance of control).  I gave up lists.  I still get everything done, even though I don't keep them all in my mind.  The next thing is always there.  The next moment always comes with an experience - positive, neutral, or unpleasant.  I have stopped trying to avoid the unpleasant and boring and stopped trying to create the pleasant, and just enjoy the fun when it's there and be present for the not fun.

It doesn't mean that I don't plan.  Sometimes the moment requires planning.  Like trips, classes, schedules.  But then it's over.

There is so much less suffering without the worry about the future, the obsessing about getting things right (I'm a virgo - perfection was everything), getting everyone elses things right.  When I trust that the moments are just as they need to be, everything flows.  And what else could possibly be besides the Tao.

I think the human mind has just developed to the point, that it thinks it is the director and superimposes itself on the experience of life, which would go on exactly the same without this superimposition.