On Being Open and Closed

by Christopher Lovejoy on June 30, 2018

What if I were content ~ at peace, at ease, in my bliss ~ to receive whatever arises here and now for the highest good of all? Could a true, deep, wise, full reception be the ultimate secret to consciously and creatively living and loving a life by design rather than by default?

In light of these questions, this motto certainly makes sense: “keep the mind open to everything, close the mind to nothing”; maybe the same could hold true for me if this motto were applied to my heart of soul, namely, “keep the heart open to everything, close the heart to nothing.”

But then again, maybe not.

The path from confinement (of any kind) to contentment by way of fulfillment is a richly complex one, one that is, by its very nature, filled with perceived problems, conflicts, inadequacies, difficulties, challenges, and complications. No one I know has ever said life on earth is easy.

Without a perceived problem, conflict, inadequacy, difficulty, challenge, or complication, what would it even mean to serve another, or myself, with the best of intentions? What reason would we have to manage anything, improve anything, grow from anything, or excel at anything?

Calling on the word “perceived” (as in perceived troubles) is not a mere trick of the mind; it actually serves a useful function. When I say this, I know all too well that being a spiritual being in human form is inherently problematic; I cannot always divine what is going to happen next.

By the same token, the word “perceived” also serves as a hedge against the constricting, contracting energies and ideologies of skepticism, cynicism, pessimism, nihilism, and fatalism. A certain kind of innocence is retained when one persists in viewing the world as mostly benign.

Hello. My name is Forrest. Forrest Gump …

Do ya wanna a chocolate? … I could eat about a million and a half of these … My momma always said, “life was like a box of chocolates; you never know what yer gonna get”

~ Forrest Gump

Rather than ignore, avoid, bypass, or evade an ever increasing and intrusive string of perceived troubles, holding space for the problematic nature of having a spiritual being in human form is my saving grace for meeting the human in myself and others a little more than half way.

First and foremost, I hold the space to do no harm, regardless of how I feel.

*

Have you heard? One can reduce every perceived trouble to a set of facts.

For example, it is a fact that these two people over here are embroiled in a heated conflict because she wants to go outside and he wants to stay inside. Of course, it is never as simple as that when you consider that the conflict might be an eruption of a complex underlying issue.

Maybe “loving what is” (a set of facts made evident by a careful, prolonged exploration and examination of reality) will cure the trouble, at least on the surface, but then, what is happening in the depths?

If Forrest Gump offered you a chocolate, would you take one and thank him? If not, why not? On the surface it all seems rather benign; just take the chocolate, thank him, and then put it in your mouth.

Easy …

Except, … would you accept a chocolate from any Tom, Dick, or Harry? Or from any Sue, Jane, or Mary, for that matter? In this day and age, what might be the implications and consequences of doing so?

Not so easy.

*

Unless you’re superhuman (I am willing to concede this), you have no outstanding issues whatsoever from having ignored, avoided, bypassed, or evaded your perceived troubles, which is not to say that you can or will continue to function without incurring any more issues of note.

Resistance to a perceived trouble can be unconsciously ignored, avoided, bypassed, or evaded, but if one is especially fortunate, a perceived trouble can also be mindfully, skillfully bypassed consciously.

Why do I say this?

Not every perceived trouble can be managed, processed, dispatched, resolved, or released in the moment in which it is perceived. If I give myself the space to mindfully and skillfully bypass a perceived trouble, I also give myself a choice to do likewise, so as to buy some time.

From there, I can decide how to respond: welcome and address? … or … welcome and delegate? Or … keep calmly noting and bypassing the perceived trouble until the moment feels right to welcome it?

Hint: welcome and entertain the possibility that this moment might not ever arise.

Being at cause (and at ease) requires choice all across the board.

*

A perceived trouble is … rarely? … sometimes? … oftentimes? … most times? … always? … (I’ll let you choose your attitude) … a blessing in disguise. That is to say, a perceived trouble contains the seed for a novel idea, a fresh approach, a new way of being, doing, or having.

In a moment of fear, doubt, dread, guilt, shame, sorrow, anger, or regret, I alert myself.

What seems to be the problem? Why does this situation or interaction seem wrong? What did I do wrong? What did I do right? What can I possibly do to make things right? What are my best options to do this? What obstacles lie on my current path? Is a new path called for?

Now you might be wondering, as I have: how can this wordless gestalt of questions (and more) possibly be a blessing for the one who fears, doubts, dreads, or worries? Understandably, under the weight of this heavy gestalt, the temptation to retreat, aggress, or freeze is strong.

The human survival instinct can overwhelm and undermine even the most loving, most caring among us with alarming ease. Here, again, are the relevant assumptions to be considered and entertained:

  1. a perceived trouble is a blessing in disguise
  2. a trouble is perceived by the instinct to survive
  3. a gestalt of questions overwhelms the conscious mind
  4. a gestalt of questions overwhelms the subconscious map
  5. the temptation to retreat, aggress, or freeze is ridiculously strong
  6. it is ridiculously easy to say or do something you regret
  7. it is ridiculously easy to get discouraged if you say or do nothing
  8. regardless, worry invades the mind: “am I still part of the tribe?”

This is why so many people fear change. Those who do not give the impression of fearing change have mastered the fine art of bypassing or repressing worry; the compulsive ways in which they treat others or behave with others is glaringly obvious to anyone with feelings to feel.

Please understand, I do not wish to pass judgment on anyone here, least of all those seemingly anti-fragile, seemingly invulnerable souls who have become extraordinarily good at giving extraordinarily good impressions; I’m just stating the obvious for anyone who can’t yet see it.

Furthermore, it’s not an easy matter being a divine spark of consciousness (who also happens to have a heart) encased inside the form of an animal inside a realm where all manner of games are devised and played out to see who can keep their troubles to an absolute minimum.

Now that I’ve exposed the ultimate catalyst for humanity, where does one go from here?

Is there a way to redeem the notion that “perceived troubles are blessings in disguise?”

*

Many words have been written and spoken on coming to terms with perceived troubles as blessings in disguise. This is serious stuff because perceptions of “where I am, what I have, and how I feel about both” will greatly influence, if not largely determine, what the future displays.

When I speak of “where I am and what I have” I am speaking of having a position in life, and perceptions of trouble are intimately bound with perceptions of position. If someone is losing money, gaining weight, and grieving the loss of a loved one, trouble is not so easily welcomed.

Even for those who publicly advocate “loving what is”; yes, even them.

If I were to lose my position entirely, would I lose my sense of worth as a person? Just as ominous, if I were to worry about losing my position entirely, would I not develop a confirmation bias that attracts and manifests perceptions of “I am slowly (or quickly) losing my position?”

If I worry too much about what could happen to me in the future, compelling me to take too many risks, I could lose my position in life; on the other hand, if I lean too heavily into taking too few risks to generate and manifest desired results for myself, I could also lose my position.

The world is inherently unstable, as is any relationship with it, as is any relationship with the self in relation to it; a single “why me? why now? what now?” event can throw any of us into a tizzy and a series of such events can all too easily throw any of us into an emotional tailspin.

A general response to this overall instability is one of three mutually exclusive strategies: (1) summon the energy of entitlement (light or dark) and attach, (2) summon the energy of abandonment (light or dark) and detach, or (3) find some middle way between these two strategies.

Attachment (to health, home, and happiness, for example) with a sense of entitlement creates the illusion of stability and security; detachment (from outcomes related to health, home, and happiness, for example) with a sense of abandonment also generates the illusion of stability.

The middle way is to be consciously and creatively discerning and deserving enough to find some measure of stability and security through attachment with a sense of entitlement while also finding some measure of stability with detachment through a sense of abandonment.

I have a name for this; I call it existential juggling. Knowing and trusting if and when and where to attach to realized outcomes and knowing and trusting if and when and where to detach from desired outcomes is a valuable skill to have. Such a skill keeps one in the driver’s seat of life.

And so, the options for steering (or not) the course of a life are …

  1. live unconsciously and live out a destiny by default;
  2. summon the energy of entitlement and keep attaching;
  3. summon the energy of abandonment and stay detached; or
  4. be consciously and creatively discerning and deserving

The fourth option is ideal, not only because it improves the odds of remaining in the driver’s seat, but because it offers some flexibility around whether to bind a sense of worth to a current position in life ~ I can persist in feeling good about myself regardless of having a position in life.

As I renew and refresh my intention to learn and grow, the more satisfaction (and dissatisfaction) I feel about my position in life; conversely, the more I oscillate at the frequency of satisfaction and dissatisfaction, the more inclined I am to renew and refresh my intention to learn and grow, even as I grow in my ability to take all perceived troubles in stride as opportunities to learn and grow.

Where I am and what I have is not who I am, and because of this, I get to choose my troubles.

With no care for past or future, I am here, now, open to learning, growing, and serving as I go.

*

How might I serve as I go? How might you serve as you go? Consider …

I embody an exquisite balance of contentment and fulfillment to welcome
a world of peace and prosperity where souls can live and love in harmony

How big are we in relation to our perceived troubles? Are we as big as we need to be to bypass them in the moment or, better yet, welcome and address or delegate them with grace and ease in the moment?

Has the consciousness of humanity expanded and evolved to a point and a place where it is bigger than all of its potential and actual problems perceived? If not, why not? What is holding it back from doing so?

Me, We.

~ a poem by Muhammad Ali

Recall what I wrote near the beginning of this post …

Without a perceived problem, conflict, inadequacy, difficulty, challenge, or complication, what would it even mean to serve another, or myself, with the best of intentions? What reason would we have to manage anything, improve anything, grow from anything, or excel at anything?

In putting all perceived troubles in their place, is humanity ready to in-habit paradise? In keeping all perceived troubles in their place, are the many and various and diverse members of humanity ready to co-habitate in paradise? Are they ready to call on the paradise engineers?

The days when introspection had any meaning or purpose are soon to pass. We’re in the 21st century now, advancing faster than many can keep up, and a new phase for the course of humanity is emerging. For lack of a better word, it’s being called outrospection. Outrospection?

Outrospection.

Rather than looking deep within to find out who I am and why I matter, I instead step outside myself to discover, with and through others, who I am, what I’m made of, and why I matter.

With an outrospective perspective, the ultimate art form is empathy.

… empathy is the art of stepping imaginatively into the shoes of another person, understanding their feelings and perspectives, and using that understanding to guide your actions. So empathy is distinct from expressions of sympathy ~ such as pity or feeling sorry for somebody ~ because these do not involve trying to understand the other person’s emotions or point of view.

~ from Empathy: Why it Matters, and How to Get it

In light of this definition, I invite you to contemplate this distinction:

Empathy 1.0: do unto others as you would have them do unto you (the Golden Rule).

Empathy 2.0: do unto others as they would have you do unto them (the Platinum Rule).

Note the shift in perspective; empathy 2.0 feels like more of a stretch by comparison.

A few quick tips for being more empathetic, empathy 2.0 style: one, make it a practice to meditate with loving kindness; two, open yourself to different ways of living, working, being, knowing, having, or doing, both through fiction and in real life; three, stop talking and start listening.

May I be safe and sound; may I be healthy and happy; may I be at peace and at ease;
May you be safe and sound; may you be healthy and happy; may you be at peace and at ease;
May __ be safe and sound; may __ be healthy and happy; may __ be at peace and at ease

Empathy does more than expand the moral universe of your relations. Not only does the application of empathy enhance the quality and vitality of your relationships, it also gets your creative juices flowing in directions that forge the bonds of relationship that make your life worth living.

In the spirit of We Are One, we are beginning to see through each other, in-specting each other: how warm, kind, gentle, and transparent are you in the here and now? How authentic? How sincere? Are you honest? Are you integrous? Are you pure of heart with an eye for value?

Can you be vulnerable, intimate, and empathetic?

Can I live with you, work with you, play with you?

Are you empathetic rather than sympathetic? In the midst of so much apparent separation, exclusion, and isolation in the world, all manner of resources, human and material, are being stretched to the very limits.

An equalitarian social memory complex is begging to be born, even as an authoritarian social memory complex is demanding to be imposed. In light of this tension, it is prudent to ask ourselves these questions: whose side am I on? Am I open to sharing or am I closed to suffering?

Here’s to having clarity, contentment, fulfillment, harmony, and prosperity for one and all.


This post has been filed under Integration in the Ultimate Outline.

Note: my evolving outline on approaching a realization of the ultimate in personal fulfillment can be found here, accessible from the nav menu under the page “Be Here Now”.

Note: this ever growing perspective began here: Ultimate Perspective

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