Limitations

by Dennis Bradford

in intellectual well-being

We all have limitations (constraints, disabilities, handicaps). The only question is, “What’s the best way to respond to them?”

Sages from both the eastern and western traditions seem to agree on the best way to respond to them.

The response depends upon dividing them into two kinds: those we are able to do something about and those we unable to do anything about.

With respect to the first kind, namely, limitations you have that you are able to do something about, decide whether or not it’s worth paying the price to do something about them.

If they are, get busy. If they are not, let go of all thoughts about them.

For example, suppose that your plans are limited by a lack of money. That’s only an “external” constraint that can be cured. There are lots of ways to create financial wealth: select one that fits your strengths and get to work.

Similarly, if you lacked the understanding or background for a certain job that you desired, do whatever it takes to improve your skills and then pursue that position.

Suppose that you are constrained by a correctable physical constraint. For example, suppose that you are too fat or too unfit to go very far in a certain sport that is otherwise well suited for you that you want to pursue. That’s an “internal” constraint that can be cured by losing body fat and increasing your degree of fitness.

The goals of this sort that are most important are those that relate to your personal purpose. These are the ones that are the most valuable to you.

If, for example, being a physician or a carpenter or a clothing designer really fits your aptitudes well and you think that is where you’d enjoy being of greatest service, then turning those aptitudes into strengths will be high priorities for you.

The way to ensure that your work is of the highest quality is to bring your human purpose [click here for a discussion of human purpose] into your personal purpose. This involves regularly letting yourself become wholly absorbed in whatever you are doing.

In other words, to use my preferred terminology, this means opening Becoming to Being [click here for the Being / Becoming distinction].

However, it’s really with respect to the second kind, namely, limitations you have that you are unable to do anything about, that relate most closely to spiritual well-being.

Why even consider constraints of this kind when you have no control over them?

You may be powerless to affect a particular constraint, but you still have full control over your attitude towards it.

That attitude is critical.

The first step is to admit that you do have limitations of this second kind.

For example, your body is a form of limited duration; in other words, you will die.

For example, you are aging, and there’s nothing you can do about that.

For example, you are subject to illness. You can take precautions, but, sooner or later, you will succumb to illness.

For example, as important as they may be, all your relationships with others will end.

It’s also true that, the more identified with your mind you are, the more you will find such limitations unpleasant.

Nothing abides. There’s no such thing as a permanent form.

So, what should your attitude be about limitations of this second kind?

Complete surrender. This means a total absence of inner resistance [click here for more on nonresistance].

This applies to all limitations of this second kind. Suppose, for example, that you are suffering from a serious genetic illness or other incurable disease.

Externally, there may be acts available that will ameliorate its effects such as taking pain-killing medication.

Internally, however, any resistance is counter-productive. Please let it all go.

How?

By stopping identification with any form or set of forms (such as your body, your thoughts, and your emotions). As long as you continue to choose to identify with form(s), you are creating your own limitations!

Ultimately, you are not any form or set of forms. You are not limited to Becoming.

You are Being. You are one with Being itself.

That is relevant here precisely because Being is Unlimited. It is The Limitless.

Surrendering to the fact that you have irremediable limitations is a critical step on the spiritual path.

Instead of thinking there is something wrong with you, you are exactly as you should be. If you think there is something irremediably wrong with you, that is because you have not yet realized your true nature, namely, Being itself.

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