Sunday, July 22, 2007

Free Won't

On Friday I had lunch with a lovely, wonderful person. Our conversation was lively and engaging. We were speaking about our personal spiritual walking. I related how my mind says, "Yes, yes, I want to work for world peace, I want to be a holy person, I will strive to be peaceful and compassionate." Then I get down to the place where the implications of these grand sentiments begin to get clear and sharp: this means giving up some things, like maybe slobbing out on the couch every night after work, watching trashy tv and munching things.

I explained that this seems to me to be the place of "free will." This is the place we need to look. Not in the grand, glorious pronouncements of our intention, but in the small, sorry little places of personal capitulation, funny little ways we circumvent internal pockets of emotional quicksand.

My friend calls it "free won't." I agree. It's what we're not willing to do that defines the shape of our spiritual environment. It's the 'little things' we're refusing to do...

And yet, it is important not to do violence, to ourselves as well as to others and the environment. So, the work seems to be about those comforting little attachments we use for emotional stability, not so much about prohibiting them as about exploring them, coaxing out their secrets, finding how to persuade them either to join us or at least not to continue to oppose us.

A lot of "not's" in that story. Refraining from doing harm. We'seem to have many capabilities to do harm. Possibly the worst of them are almost trivial in scope, rather than the drama-filled scenarios of imagination and physical violence.


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, Robin! It's as if we lack the courage to really live, and need to be willing to be coaxed out of our comfort zone. But why is it comfortable to insist on being weak, afraid and spiritless? Is it because we push ourselves around so much, expecting that we do what we should do, and that retreating is simply a response to that? I believe it is possible to live from inspiration, at least more than we would like to think.

Robin said...

Hi Marty, Thank you for your comment, which is, as usual, full of interesting ideas.

I think that we are almost useless at training our children to deal with feelings and real life. So we get to be adults who are afraid to express ourselves, have low self-esteem, and live with many other shortcomings, which we pass on to our own children, world without end.

So, yes, we often lack the courage to get behind all of the problems our feelings present to us each day.

And then there's the problem of just getting our basic physical needs taken care of. I am very fortunate to be able to earn a good income in this economy, but that could change within one day, were I to make a mistake in how I deal with my feelings and thoughts. In fact, I lost a job when certain aspects of it felt dishonest to me - when I didn't participate in those dishonesties, I found myself on the street.

So we do what we 'should' do and hope for the best, at least for much of our lives, in my opinion.

My quest, starting a few years ago is to do just as you suggest: live from inspiration, find a spiritual path, to stop retreating.

Even so, I am finding that, whether or not I believe that I can live from inspiration, I am constantly coming up against these little, funny ways I try to avoid just that.

Thank God for humor. Otherwise it would be unbearable to be a human.