How to be a rock in a chaotic world
Imagine being a rock in the turmoil of the world around you.
Imagine the power, the security, the peace, and the calm.
Is it reserved only for the highest spiritual masters? It might sound like it, but no. It is available to you now. The quote below hides the secret.
“When hot be thoroughly hot, when cold be thoroughly cold.”
I forgot where I read it, I dont even know if I quoted it right. But over the years it’s stuck with me. Can you find the secret?
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Roll with the punches
Non-resistance. Earth-shattering, it might not seem, but read on.
Inner resistance disrupts peace.
Although this applies to everything that can happen in life, well use something in the quote as an example
Extreme heat is something that makes many people uncomfortable and grumpy. Why?
The automatic reaction is to fight the heat. Turn the air-con on, take a shower. Thats fine. But what if you cant? What if you have to sit in a boiling room for an hour?
Dont fight it. Fighting it is what causes the discomfort. Telling yourself I dont want this; I wish I was somewhere else, I hate this feeling.
This inner resistance is not your fault; it is simply an automatic response. This article will help you to recognise that habit, and help you break it.
What happens when you break it? If, in the middle of summer, you simply let yourself be hot, without complaining mentally or vocally, and simply feel the heat, won’t there be true peace?
A burning hot example
To help explain, let me use myself as an example. I was searching for peace and happiness. It consumed me. But I went about it the wrong way. I tried to fix everything that made me unhappy on an individual basis.
Argument with my girlfriend? Hit the books and find a tactic to deal with it. That worked until a different problem came up. Then open the books again.
It didnt work well. My core personality was still the same, and my peace was easily disturbed and fragile.
Then something happened that no Self-Help book can fix. Extreme heat.
It was in the middle of a 48 degree Celsius heatwave. I was stuck in the middle of an important evening class. The fan was on, but with 50 people in the room we were burning.
It made me grumpy and irritated. I couldnt concentrate. My thoughts began drifting back to past hurts and memories, no matter what I tried to do. As the class continued my mood got worse and worse. The heat seemed to get more and more unbearable.
Why was this so? I was resisting the heat. I wanted to finish the class so I couldnt leave.
Then I tried just letting myself be hot. There was no resistance to it.
I turned off my mind. I let myself stop thinking. I simply let myself feel the heat.
What does it feel like? A warm sensation on my skin. My skin was sticky. The air seemed heavy.
These sensations in themselves were not bad. They were only bad because I made them bad. No sensation in itself is good or bad, it is only your mind that makes it good or bad.
Why is being sweaty irritating? It was just a sensation, no different to the sensation of rolling around in the softest silk sheets. Only our mind makes the artificial distinction.
Turn the mind off. When its off, it can no longer make a story around the heat, and then what you are feeling just becomes a sensation. Without any resistance to it, it means nothing any more. In my meditation class, after a while, the heat actually became quite pleasant.
More tips of switching off your mind
One way to switch your mind off is to feel everything. This doesnt apply only to heat. Even if you are in the midst of a bad situation – someone is shouting at you, you just found out you went bankrupt – you can simply feel. Feel the sensation of your shirt on your skin. Feel the wind on your skin. Feel everything – use all your senses. But dont attach any meaning – good or bad – to them.
That sound you are hearing isnt good or bad in itself – you make it good or bad. That sound might be your favourite song, but it might drive someone else crazy. Just use your senses and dont attach any meaning to anything.
Another tip is to feel your breath. Feel the breath as it enters your nose, as it moves down your throat, into your lungs. Feel it come out of your lungs and out of your nose again. You dont have to purposely make your breaths deep if you do this; it will naturally become deep.
By focusing your mind on feeling, it can no longer think. Contrary to what we might think, the mind cannot do more than one thing at a time. Try it if you dont believe me.
Once you turn your mind off, the emotions follow soon after. Its like heating a soup on an oven – even if you turn the fire off, the soup remains hot for a while – it doesnt cool down straight away.
Go with the flow
Can you see how this might apply to many events that are happening in your life? Are you living in a house that you are unhappy with? Are you being stood up by your date? Is someone shouting at you? By letting go of inner resistance, you go with the flow, you roll with the punch, and you take away most of the pain.
Sleeping in a small house doesn’t feel that much different from sleeping in a huge mansion. Sitting alone at a café waiting for a date that never shows up feels no different from sitting at a café alone because you want to be alone. Someone shouting at you is no different from someone whispering sweet nothings in your ear. It might hurt your ego, it might hurt your pride, but who you are, your essential core being, is unaffected.
This principle appears in major philosophies worldwide, and in the works of many great thinkers. But most of them just dont explain it. I dont know why, perhaps it works better if you figure it out for yourself.
The willow which bends to the tempest, often escapes better than the oak which resists it; and so in great calamities, it sometimes happens that light and frivolous spirits recover their elasticity and presence of mind sooner than those of a loftier character. – Albert Schweitzer
This philosophy is not encouraging you to let yourself be abused, or anything of the sort. I’m talking about inner resistance, which is different from outer resistance.
For example, if someone is slapping you around, I’m not recommending you stand there and let them do it! Do something! Calling the police is not inner resistance, it’s not wrong. Get out of it!
If you are freezing to death, put a jacket on! If you are in the middle of a fire, non resistance wont magically save you from being burnt to a crisp. Get out of it!
But once it is over, it is over. It doesnt exist any more. Die to the past every moment. He or she is no longer abusing you; learn from your mistakes and never let it happen again.
If you are in a poor financial situation and you don’t like it, I’m not saying that you just be poor forever. If you like it, then more power to you. But if you don’t want to be poor, work on getting out of poverty. That is not inner resistance; that is growing.
But what if you get angry and upset, thinking about it over and again? That is inner resistance, and that is the cause of unhappiness.
When hot be thoroughly hot, when cold be thoroughly cold.