Nonresistance

by Dennis Bradford

in intellectual well-being

Nonresistance is critical for wisdom. There is no wisdom without acceptance, allowing, surrendering.

There is no wisdom for anyone who only experiences Becoming, who is always imprisoned by time [For the terminological distinction between Being and Becoming, click here.] Since spontaneous moments of timelessness are normal, there may, in fact, be no one who only experiences Becoming. Anyone whose life is like that, though, could only experience perpetual dissatisfaction (unease, suffering, dukkha).

Most of us only experience Being from the domain of Becoming where we live almost all of our lives. Sages experience Becoming from the domain of Being. Only sages are genuinely wise.

How can we, too, become wise?

By emulating sages. In particular, we can begin regularly to use nonresistance as a daily tactic.

What does this mean?

Wisdom requires nonresistance, acceptance, allowing, surrendering to the present moment.

Why is this wise? The only alternative, resistance to the present moment, must fail because the present moment is already what-is. Reality is what it is. Failing to accept that is condemning yourself to fruitless rebellion.

It is not necessary to like the present moment. Had you been given a choice, the present reality may not have been something you would have chosen.

Resistance to reality is the cause of dissatisfaction. Realizing this is important because it allows us to allow the present reality to be as it is. Doing this dissolves dissatisfaction and permits satisfaction.

Nonresistance is nothing but fully accepting the reality of the present moment. It is completely allowing what-is to be as it is. It is embracing this moment just as it is. It is wholly accepting life exactly as it is right now.

Nonresistance cannot change anything about what-is. However, nonresistance can change everything about the quality of your life.

Allowing the present moment to be means letting go of all thoughts about the past and the future. Allowing means accepting fully whatever emotions are present right now. In other words, allowing means dropping the egoic mind.

Why might this work?

Dissatisfaction requires separation. Separation is resistance. So nonresistance dissolves separation.

First, for example, suppose that you have suffered a serious loss and yearn for reality to be as it used to be in the past. You desire that there be no gap between the reality of the present moment and (your thoughts about) how reality used to be. By paying homage to that gap or separation, you are (probably unintentionally) creating your own suffering! To dissolve that suffering, adopt an attitude of allowing the present moment to be just as it is.

Second, for example, suppose that you do not like your present situation and yearn for a different situation in the future. You are noticing a gap between what-is and (your thoughts about) what could be. By paying homage to that gap or separation, you are creating your own suffering. To dissolve it, adopt an attitude of nonresistance to what-is right here right now.

Those are the two typical patterns of resistance. Please recall some specific examples of them from your own life. Are you now able to understand how adopting an attitude of nonresistance would have undermined your own dissatisfaction?

Dissatisfaction requires time. It is impossible to be dissatisfied, to suffer, in the present moment.

Therefore, if you practice adopting an attitude of nonresistance to the present moment, you will practice living without dissatisfaction!

You may be skeptical about this. In fact, even if the ideas offered here make some sense, if you have never experienced them, you should be skeptical!

Just try them for yourself.

For example, suppose right now that you have pains in your abdomen. Suppose they are severe and disabling.

What would a sage do in a similar situation? Allow what-is to be just as it is. Accept it fully. Bring an attitude of nonresistance to it.

What would someone who isn’t a sage likely do? Resist it by identifying with being ill, perhaps by thinking, “I have food poisoning. It must have been the hamburger I ate at yesterday’s picnic. Maybe the cramps and diarrhea will subside by tomorrow.” What’s wrong with that?

It brings time into the present moment. What’s wrong with that?

Again, dissatisfaction requires time. There is no illness in the present moment. In fact, there are no problems whatsoever in the present moment!

Physical pains such as cramps and diarrhea are nothing but physical pains. Accept them fully. Once you have done that, if there happens to be something you can do to ameliorate them, fine. If not, just allow them to be.

In other words, having pains right now is not the same as being ill. An illness has a life span with a beginning, middle, and end. Illness requires time. By labeling your pains as illness, you have transformed them from pains into an illness with which you identify. Instead of just having pains, you are now ill! You have created suffering for yourself.

Please stop doing that. Surrender right now to your pains. Fully accept them. Adopt an attitude of nonresistance to them. Then, either you can do something about them or not. If you can, fine; there’s nothing to worry about. If you cannot, fine; there’s nothing to worry about.

These are old ideas that have been advocated by many sages. I, who am not (yet!) a sage, am just offering them to you for your consideration.

For example, Shantideva was a great Indian sage and scholar. A translation of his great Sanskrit poem The Way of the Bodhisattva appeared in Tibetan translation in the 8th century. He himself remarks that “What I have to say has all been said before . . .

[W]e can never take / And turn aside the outer course of things. / But only seize and discipline the mind itself, / And what is there remaining to be curbed?” [from the Padmakara translation]

To resist intensely is to crave something else, something not here not now. Shantideva asks rhetorically, “what is there to crave?”

If you take charge of the “inner,” the “outer” will take care of itself.

So, in order to live in the full light of Being, train yourself to adopt an attitude of nonresistance and nonreactivity.

Since the egoic mind is the wellspring of resistance, bring full acceptance to the present moment and thereby antidote the poisons (thoughts) of the egoic mind.

Adope an attitude of nonresistance and claim your birthright of wisdom.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Filice, Carlo August 16, 2011 at 11:11 am

The difference between becoming and being is worthy.

The notion of accepting current pain is suspect. Pain cries for actions to stop it. It cries for craving for no pain. I must not be too wise.

Carlo

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