Saturday, August 6, 2011

Kerouac Day 12: On Resisting What Is

If you're a regular reader of The Daily Beat, you know we're presenting all of the passages from The Dharma Bums and On The Road (the latter starting on Day 23) in chronological order as they relate to the daily readings in my book, The Beat Handbook. Day 12 is titled, "On Resisting What Is." I discuss, briefly (because it is ineffable in the first place), the essential teaching of all spiritual disciplines: it is our resistance to "what is" that causes suffering. Jack points this out in the below passage from Bums.

It's a short passage, but powerful:
I was hurting deep inside from the sad business of trying to deny what was.

How can we tell when we are trying to deny what is? In other words, how can we tell when we are resisting the present moment?

Not to harp on it, but one clear sign is when some version of the word "should" creeps into your spoken vocabulary or into the scripts you run in your mind.

"They should appreciate me for all I've done."
"That guy shouldn't drive that way."
"She should wear her hair a different way."

Another clear sign is labels. Maybe you hadn't thought about this before, but whenever you label someone or something, you are resisting "what is." Here's how it works.

You call someone an "idiot." What does that mean? It means you think they should be something other than what they are. See how a "should" crept in there without even saying or thinking it? Shoulds make us suffer, plain and simple.

When we make judgements, we are resisting what is. Not that making judgements isn't necessary from time to time for practical purposes. We judge a stovetop too hot to touch right now and act accordingly. That is a good use of judgement. Eckhart Tolle discusses how some interpret this teaching to mean that if your car is stuck in the mud, accepting it means doing nothing about it. Not so. If your car is stuck in the mud, you do what you need to do to get it out, like calling AAA. But you don't suffer over it. You can tell someone is suffering over such an event when they are complaining and whining and swearing about it.

On the other hand, judging that your neighbor is a douchebag because his dog is barking is resisting what is and that is the source of your suffering. Not the dog. Not your neighbor. YOU are the source of your own suffering. Krishnamurti goes further and says you are suffering. You are not separate from it. You are fear. You are envy, greed, and all the rest of it.

Once you see that, you realize you can do absolutely nothing about it, and therefore it ends.

Yes, that simple. And that difficult. Believe me, I know. Most of the examples above are from personal epic failures with the concept.

Today, when you are suffering over something, ask yourself: Is the source of my suffering resistance to what is?

You can never change the present moment. But you can always accept it.

As Eckhart Tolle says, "This is my secret: I don't mind what happens."

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