Saturday, May 30, 2015

Living Ourselves Into New Ways of Thinking

We stand in the middle, living and fully accepting our reality, neither taking this new awareness on from the power position nor denying it for fear of the pain it will bring. We do not think ourselves into new ways of living. We live ourselves into new ways of thinking.  Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs
We've all had peak experiences, times when we were washed with a sense of clarity, of deep appreciation, of being at one with the universe. Perhaps you were watching the sunset from a sailboat, or feeling unconditional love from someone who matters to you, or being present at the birth of a child, or hearing a piece of music that touched you deeply. 

This awareness need not be serendipitous. You can invite it.

Rohr suggests that when trapped in "the ways things are" we have to allow ourselves to be drawn into sacred space, to remain on a threshold where the old world is left behind but we're not sure of the new one yet. In this realm, where we hold a naïve awareness, everything belongs: darkness and light coexist, paradox is revealed.

In our everyday world, what we think we know is a world we've made up. In what Rohr calls the "second naïveté," that everyday world falls apart and a new one is revealed. In this return to simple consciousness (beginner's mind), "we are finally at home in the only world that ever existed." 

Some years ago I was entranced by the film Little Buddha, about a boy who might be the reincarnation of a revered Tibetan teacher. The acting was reserved and there wasn't much action or character development. Why it so appealing to me? Probably because it spoke to some of my personality patterns, an attraction to being Buddha-like. 

People feel safe with my peaceful nature. But one of my most difficult patterns to release has been the tendency to avoid conflict, the only path to real relationship. (Who are you dealing with if I agree with everything you say, if I distract myself from my own agenda, if I don't set clear boundaries about what’s important to me?)

Suzanne Zuercher (Enneagram Spirituality) writes of active contemplation, not passive surrender to the process, but carrying a posture of awareness, intention, and readiness throughout our daily lives: awareness of our habits of attention and how they play out uniquely for us; intention to invite our unknown and disowned parts to come forth, and readiness to take specific actions that shift our focus of attention: doing the things most difficult for us, staying present without avoiding or denying or projecting blame. 

When we remember to be present with naïve awareness, with beginner's mind, we can live ourselves into new ways of thinking.