Find the cost of freedom
Buried in the ground
Mother Earth will swallow you
Lay your body down
For the last few days, I have awoken humming this refrain. It replays throughout the day and rocks me to sleep. Although it was written about war, it sings to my soul about internal war, the one we fight with ourselves, the one that I’ve been fighting for some time now.
The First Noble Truth of Buddhism is that human existence is suffering. We suffer because we struggle. We desire things, including ourselves, to be other than they are and we fight to make them conform to our wishes. We fight until we learn that the Borg had it right – resistance is futile.
A series of seemingly unrelated events over the last year and a half has brought me repeatedly to the razor’s edge, the place I’ve written about as where we practice. With each event, I went through the same process of struggle, acceptance, peace. Then I would sit smug in relief, thinking that surely I had passed all my cosmic tests and could now chillax in enlightened equanimity.
But the universe, in its infinite wisdom and with a warped sense of humor, would nod and say, “Okay, well then how about this?!” And off we’d go again.
And so, as my last post said, I return to practice. Marianne Williamson wrote about a series of events in her own life that kept knocking her to her knees. With that good old perseverance that we value so much in our culture, she would pull herself to her feet only to be knocked down again. Finally, she realized, maybe she should just stay on her knees.
“Surrender is the name of the spiritual game,” teaches Adyashanti.
And so it is. Not the surrender of defeat, but the surrender into freedom. On my cushion this morning in meditation, I saw so clearly my struggle of the past weeks, a struggle to avoid pain and uncertainty, a struggle masking grief and sadness with anger and frustration, a struggle not born of courage but of fear.
I realized, in that instantaneous way we sometimes realize the simplest and most obvious things, that I didn’t need to struggle anymore. I…could…just…stop. I could stop listening to the endless spin of stories in my mind. I could act according to my own values and not let someone provoke me to react according to theirs. I could lay my body down and be swallowed up in the loving arms of the universe. I could choose freedom.
And so I did. Freedom is a choice available to all of us. The cost? Giving up everything that keeps us from loving.
I will fight no more forever. ~Chief Joseph
Well, at least for today. ~me