Stillness 3. Flexibility

You know, when your head gets spun out of shape, there’s just no way in the world that you can feel the stillness and the power within you. You’ve lost it.  And any reaction to another person means they’re either pushing you away or pulling you toward them. So, sometimes even we get deluded that we have some sense of control when really we don’t. Anything that attracts us or repels us is running us.

You know, if we allow people to mess with our head (reaction) or allow our head to mess with people, (attraction) we can’t really be still and we certainly can’t have stillness.  All that said, emotions are a natural part of life and so there’s going to be some reactiveness and there’s going to be some emotionalism around people and I think that’s fairly honest. The question is what we do about it.  

I want to emphasise that there’s a lot of myth around the idea of being able to remain emotionless because it’s not possible. Every human being, male or female, young or old, has emotion.  Without emotion we wouldn’t know how to cross the road. Without feelings we would have no compassion, without compassion, we’d be a manic crazy person and we’d probably go and do a lot of damage.

So, emotions are the things that connect us to sensitivity and life and therefore they’re a necessary thing.  However, emotions are based on the senses of the body, the eyes, the ears, the mouth, touch, smell, taste, and therefore emotions are, in a sense, a part of or the cause of bipolar thinking – distortions.  Because the eyes, ears, the nose, the mouth and the fingers and the touch can’t really measure anything unless it’s relative. In other words, more close, more far away, more loud, more soft, more tasting better, more tasting worse, more feeling good, more feeling worse. So, the senses are all based on some sense of imbalance.  It’s further or closer.  Imbalance.  

But the truth is that actually everything is balanced and something that’s a hundred metres away is just a hundred metres away. It’s not “too far” or “too close” it’s a hundred metres. That’s the fact. It’s not better or worse.  We put that spin on it ourselves. Louder or softer. It’s appropriate to describe things as louder or softer because that’s our story. We like it or don’t like it.  But the truth of the matter is the music is just the music and it’s at a certain volume and it’s so many decibels.  So, before we emotionalise things, there’s a fact. 

Now, events are events until the mind turns them into emotions.  So, what we see is not beautiful or ugly until our mind converts it into that.  The interesting thing is that if you travel around the world you will see that what one culture calls beautiful, another culture calls ugly. What one culture calls loud, is to another culture soft. If you go to a rock concert or an opera, you might find that the music is so loud or too soft for you but to the people in the audience, they say, turn it up, turn it up, we want it louder because it’s not loud enough.  

So, all of these sensory experiences are relative and relativity is important because it gives us a story, a sense of what’s right for us or what feels good or what doesn’t feel good.  The most important thing here is to acknowledge that it isn’t the truth and everyone will interpret things differently. You can’t be flexible in life if you’re always going around saying, my perception of this experience is the real one, like I know what loud is. Now, this is the biggest problem with religion.  Some religions say, our perception of these experiences is the real one and therefore everybody else’s is not the real one.  So, there are one type of religious people who are saying, our perception is right and there are other religious people saying, our perception is the truth.  And then everybody gets caught up arguing.  

The fact of the matter is, everything is just neutral. Everything is just neutral until we judge it.  In other words, there are no “ALL” bad people.  There are people that we call bad because that’s our perception. Our perceptions are might not even want to see the good in a “BAD” person.

So, yes there are things that we consider to be normal but those perceptions are still not truth, they are just perceptions, they are just expectations.  And an inflexible person is always walking around saying, “what I perceive is the truth and you should apologise if you don’t see it my way.” That makes a tough life because there, in those comments, they are making a huge mistake.  Frankly speaking, there is no such thing as truth, there is just individualised truth or community truth, or religious truth but none of those things are really, really truth.

A person is a person and then we judge them, good or bad.  A partner in marriage is a person until we judge them good or bad, attractive or repulsive.  What’s very interesting is to see how the more we are attracted to someone the initial phases and then we learn more about it during the middle phases, the more we’re repelled from it in the later phases. So, infatuation breeds resentment.

Now, turbulence comes from swinging like a monkey on a rope from one position to another position.  In other words, seeing the beauty of something and then seeing the ugliness of it.  Seeing the happiness in a situation and then seeing the sadness in it.  Now, this all bends us out of shape, we get all upset and turbulent and it’s very unnecessary because the truth of the matter is, if we could see that our thoughts are only perceptions.  That what we’re seeing in the world and how we’re reacting to the world is just our perception, if we knew how to change those perceptions, we’d always know how to find stillness.  

So, let’s think about it.  How do we change the perception of a circumstance?  The answer is very simple.  It comes from nature and it’s called the concept of balance.  The concept of balance is there can’t be a birth without a death, there can’t be a good without a bad, there can’t be a right without a wrong, there can’t be an up without a down, there can’t be a happy time without a sad time.  Now, that’s the truth of it.  

You might look at your partner in life and say, gee they’re a fantastic person.  But that’s not love, that’s illusion because the fact is, they’re a fantastic person and, in the long term you’re going to find out, there’s parts of them that aren’t so fantastic.  So, the truth is, there’s two sides to everything.  Both of those sides might be fantastic.  There’s a light side and there’s a dark side and we need to own them both.  And that doesn’t mean we have to express them both.  It means we need to own them both.

Now, a flexible person has realistic expectations.  They don’t start a new job saying, this job is going to be the “be all and end all”.  They say, this is a job.  It’s going to have good news and it’s going to have bad news but I’m going to love doing my work here.  This is a relationship.  This person has good news, they have bad news but I’m going to love them.  This is my body.  It’s going to have health and it’s going to have ill health.  I’m still going to love my body.  

Now, this flexibility means that if something goes wrong it’s still within the scope of our expectations and therefore it’s not provocative or antagonistic to us and therefore it doesn’t disturb us.  It’s like watching your footy team and you go, gee I hope they win, I love my footy team, I love watching the game.  But if they lose, that’s just another half of the equation.  You can’t go home disturbed and turbulated just because your football team lost. 

Now, over and over again we get opportunities, maybe ten thousand opportunities every single day of our life, to make a choice.  To make a choice to listen to our senses and go, woohoo, this is an upper, or listen to our senses and go, ooh, this is a downer.  And we’ve got the choice to swing like a monkey on a rope or we can actually imagine the monkey on the rope, we can actually feel the uppers and the downers but not react to that.

Now, flexibility means, again, that we have realistic expectations.  The realistic expectations are that the more someone supports you in the world, the more someone else is going to challenge you.  The more peaceful you are, the more turbulent it’s going to be when you finally come out of that peace.  So, life is about support and challenge.  That’s a realistic expectation, and then when somebody challenges you, you can say, ah, I expected this because last week I got a lot of support.  And you can actually remain flexible, open and therefore hold stillness in your heart because nothing’s going to come in that’s a big surprise.  

If you’re going down a ski slope and you’ve got your skis but you don’t know how to stop, you’re going to go down that ski slope very, very hesitantly.  Oh, you know, what happens if I go too fast?  What happens if I go too fast?  All this is going to be going on in your mind, all the way down the hill.  But if you know how to stop, if you know how to stop, you’ll go down that ski slope just flat out, and who cares?  Because you say, well if I hit the mogul, I’m going to jump up in the air and I know how to spin around and I’ll slide along the ground on my butt and stop.  But if you’re going down saying, I have no idea and I’m afraid of breaking my leg because if I hit a mogul I don’t know how to recover from that and then I’d better go slower because just in case something goes wrong.  

And this happens in life.  When our expectations of the world are unrealistic.  When we think only uppers, when we think only good, when we think only winning, when we think only success, then the downside is like we don’t know how to handle it, so we’re running away from it, so it’s like going down a ski slope saying, I’m not going to fall over, I’m never going to fall over.  But there’s something in the back of your head that will say, oh yes, you are, but what if, but what if?  

And so, the idea is to have realistic expectations so you can take the foot off the brake.  You take the foot off the brake and you go through life.  And you go, well, if this happens, there’s going to be some good news and bad news and I can deal with both.  And that’s how we get flexible.  I think it’s like a bamboo, or even a tree, but a bamboo in the wind and the wind blows from the left, it leans a little bit over but it still stays strong because its base is anchored in the soil and it blows a little bit to the other direction and the bamboo bends over.  But if you put something in the wind that was brittle and stands there saying, I’m right, I’m right, I’m right, there are no problems, I’m right, there is not going to be any challenge, I’m right, I’m right, then eventually, Click!!  That thing’s going to become brittle and fall and it’s going to get sore knees and sore hips and sore bank accounts and sore relationships and all sore.

So, the idea is that we see two sides of every coin.  It’s an opportunity to remain flexible in life.  There are two sides to every argument, there’s two sides to every coin, there’s two opinions for everything.  That’s why advice is free, that’s all it’s worth.  There’s two sides to every situation.  And in reality, if you can acknowledge that then you’ll remain flexible.  The truth of the matter is that people are afraid of this idea of duality because it gives them no sense of certainty because the only way that most people can be certain of what to do is to become infatuated with it or resentful of it.  In other words, they have to polarise arguments in order to become confident.  

But there’s another confidence.  And that’s in your heart, and it’s stillness.  And that stillness requires that we see two sides of the coin and don’t use logic to make decisions.  Actually logic – good decisions are made with intuition but good intuition only comes when logic is exhausted.  In other words, we take the good side and we take the bad side, we balance them both and then intuitively we’ll have the right decision.  It’s not right because it’s the most correct, it’s our decision.  It’s the way we want to go about doing things.  It’s not because it’s right, it’s because it’s the way we want to go about doing it.  

Gathering both positive and negative information, seeing that other people are right, you are right, you are wrong, they are right, seeing the two sides of everything, will give you an amazing sense of inner stillness.  You won’t get your head bent out of shape, people won’t mess with you.  It means that you can go, yep, you’re right and you’re wrong.  I’m right and I’m wrong and this is what I’m going to do, as a result.