On Resistance and Flow

You must train the mind like a muscle. If you want to train your body, you must exercise regularly. Likewise, if you want to train your mind, you must practice meditation on a daily basis - you cannot carry a heavy load with weak muscles. Training is a gradual process, and you must persistently, continually train your mind if you wish to overcome difficulties and gain strength. Every time you recognize a thought, your mindfulness has become that much stronger. Slowly, you will gain in inner strength. - Garchen Rinpoche

Think back to how confusing the world was as a child, and how much more clarity you have now. Through persistence and practice, we all slowly got a grip on how things work, on how to pilot this spacesuit of a human body. Yet as we develop, it becomes clear that our capacity to change, is the only thing innate about us.

“Our medium is meat, but we are made of information” - Terrence McKenna

We are information, so it’s critical that you put yourself in a respectable formation. And what is more respectable than forming yourself to go with the flow? Forming yourself to be kind and compassionate at every turn. That means that regardless of circumstance - you must be content.

The only way to do this is to get to know your unique idiosyncratic pattern of living. It is within this knowledge that your sticking points are revealed, the ways you wish reality would ‘stick’ around. But it won’t, and it can’t.

“The privilege of a lifetime is to become who you truly are” -Carl Jung

Becoming who you are is not antagonistic to the spiritual journey, but it must be done with oversight. Ram Dass speaks of the journey as highly personal and individual - and as such, many of the practices are designed to be containers for your experience. For these containers to work - you must abide in them regularly. It is only then that you are revealed to yourself.

It’s easy to delude yourself that you’re okay with big picture change, but what about the momentary flux? What about when your leg cramps midway through a seated meditation practice - can you relax into it? It’s not enough to mentally affirm that life is change - you must train. You must actually be okay with things.

“In physical conduct, I will not allow myself to be rootless and hurried. Incapable of being still, carelessly following my every whim. I will always hold my own space. And be adorned by the training in pure discipline.” -16th Karmapa

When you act in a disciplined manner, your mind will naturally resist. This resistance is you! Asserting yourself against yourself.

“The distorted guitar sound is the sound of something too loud for the medium supposed to carry it. The blues singer with the cracked voice is the sound of an emotional cry too powerful for the throat that releases it” -Brian Eno

There is a force within you that pushes against all constraints - that longs for unrestricted expression. You will only come to know its magnificence when you hold fast, stay tight, and add some resistance. The paradox is that to ultimately remove resistance, you must first master it. Then the play of reality begins - then you can begin to dance with yourself, instead of being carried downstream an unwilling drifter.

And when you pacify and understand the forces within - you can live well wherever you are. No amount of temptation or distress can disturb you, and you will understand when Marcus Aurelius says: “One can live well even in a palace”.

It is as it is.


Antidote to Fear

Daily Zen poem