As I wrote in Shared Experience, it felt like the other two had not changed in the intervening 16 years. I wondered whether I had changed at all. In their eyes probably not, but I know I have grown since I first met them. But then I wondered whether any of us ever change. Maybe we just spend our lives layering over who we really are, and that any improvement we achieve is either just an appreciation of the layers themselves, or a gradual revealing of our original essence.
Maybe, instead of exerting ourselves and pushing forward, all we need to do is stand still and accept things as they are. By continually observing and accepting what is always there, we tap directly into life and remain forever in its flow. Maybe that’s all we need to do: not change what we don’t like, but embrace it as an expression of life.
It was during that first conversation that Sunil spoke of two comments Karaj had made to him many years ago. With each one, I felt Karaj’s caring, gentle nature, which so obviously contrasted with his forceful, challenging side. He had instructed Sunil that he didn’t have to do anything he didn’t want to, and also that he should just open his mouth and allow the words to come out.
Sunil spoke with his usual measured voice and with a wisdom he has always had, but which was now more noticeable. He reported that, at the time, he had understood Karaj’s words but was unable to do anything with them. Instead, he was prone to chastising himself and seeking the apparent safety of withdrawal. Now, years later, he was finally able to put them into practice because he had learnt to accept himself.
That is the crux of this post: Karaj knew what we needed (to do) and his frustration was probably because he saw how close we were and yet how incapable we seemed of getting there. It was frustrating for us too, because we felt severely challenged by the simplicity of what was being asked of us. We made ourselves wrong for being incapable, and fought even harder to overcome our conditioning, when all we needed to do was relax and see what he could see.
Prompted by Dev’s curiosity, Sunil explained that his acceptance of himself has come through observation. That’s it. Observe whatever’s there. See it as clearly as possible. Then be okay with it.
Our problems start because we wish things were different. We wish it about ourselves, we wish it about life, and we wish it about the world. But that’s not helpful. In wishing things to be different, we immediately create (internal) conflict and resistance. We become fixed and inflexible, and we exert ourselves unnecessarily.
By contrast, when we relax and allow things to be as they are, there is harmony and fluidity. In that fluidity things can shift more easily. We become unstuck and are able to move and exist more freely. Moreover, we are more fully engaged with life.
Paradoxically, then, all we need to do for any movement to occur is to stand still and accept who we are – our anxieties, faults and foibles, but also our beauty and splendour. Such acceptance allows us to access our truth in a way that feels to us like change. But it isn’t change. It’s merely a return to a place we never left. As Rumi declared:
‘I have lived on the lip of insanity, wanting to know reasons, knocking on a door. It opens. I’ve been knocking from the inside.’