Saturday, September 01, 2012

Resistance is Futile

Q: How do I let go?
A: You can't, you won't, you don't.
My friends and I for some time have taken it as gospel that resisting only causes suffering – so stop it!  Let it go.  And what I am finding these past few weeks is that resistance is totally beyond my control.
It resides in my tissues as attachment - my entire love of Life as I have known it.  It is a gripping in my belly and even a hint of letting go evokes terror.  I am having pretty uncomfortable days.  

My friend’s response to my complaints was, “What did the sign say? Resistance is futile!”
She was referring to a sign Adyashanti used to post at his retreats.  But, she wasn’t sure of where the phrase originated.
So, as a joke, I found this clip from Star Trek.  What I myself did not recall was how intertwined the phrase is with my all-time favorite hero, the iconic warrior with great heart, John Luke Picard.  And too, I had no idea that the phrase refers to an epic struggle between separate self and Oneness.  It indeed embraces mythic roots.

Resistance is futile.
You will be assimilated.
Your life as it has been is over.

Wow!  That is just what my body tissue is resisting.  Intellectual understanding doesn’t touch it.  The awakening of belly letting go is preverbal.  And so the teaching goes:
How do I let go?
You can’t. You won’t.  You don’t.

I cannot stop thoughts arising in meditation.  Nor can I will myself to cease resisting.  That is my experience and it is backed-up now by neuroscience:
I was conscious of a decision to press my right finger down and you’re saying that six seconds earlier my brain had already made that decision.
[Yes.]  In your case, up to six seconds before you make up your mind, we can predict which decision you’re going to make.
Neuroscience and Free Will video clip

Resistance is futile.
Still, apparently, I resist right until the moment that I do not. That moment is beyond my personal control.  I’m getting this understanding with my body these days.
I can feel how cellular my grip is. 

And yet, from time to time, I notice the role of mind.  I notice how my mind can quiet as some intellectual reassurance dawns.
The intellect gets soothes and immediately there is relief: terror in the body is not as painful as a herniated disc.  So let the discomfort simply burn.
None of this struggle is absolutely necessary. 

Or more precisely:
You have no control over that… It’s something you realize when it’s pretty much done.  You look back and go, “What the hell was all that for?”
…It’s not necessary [to struggle] and if you can hear that…if it can actually be totally let into your system…which usually it doesn’t… it need not be difficult.
Adyashanti, on Effort

What I notice is that in going over the classic teachings, every now and then, some little word does get truly in.  It brings tears of relief and letting go.  The resistance in the tissue dissolves or is instantly just gone.


Beth said...

Oh yeah. Struggling with my own version of this these days. It helps to visualize the resistance melting, like ice, maybe in the warmth of my own tears. And I want it to melt. Often if I can identify the root of the fear at the heart of the resistance, the process goes faster. And sometimes I am simply afraid that I don't have the courage it takes to simply surrender and live with whatever is coming, especially with uncertainty. But that's the only choice. Geting there feels like resistance but often I think it's actually grief: grief of giving up the old and familiar (even with its problems) and moving into the unknown and therefore frightening future. As a priest once told me, you can go there kicking and screaming, or you can go more quietly and easily it's up to you.

Pat Bralley said...

Yes! That's a good description. Funny you bring up the word courage as I was thinking of it one the drive into work this morning. Once I found a baby bird which I carried inside and put into a crude incubator. We called him Einstein as he had this downy fuzz around his head. I put him in his nest and an hour later checked on him. He was standing in the middle of the room, naked, with his body all erect looking around for a way OUT. He was so little in the midst of that room and yet he stood there ready to face it toally naked. He was dead an hour later. But his standing there ready has become something of the icon of courage and what life asks of us. Driving into work this morning, seeing people passing by in cars - I knew they all face their troubles - Life asks for courage. Even from the littlest bird and I had to wonder if that is what is asked of everyone... can it be so bad? Surely, its not that bad, it's not not what we imagine it to be.
Thanks for writing!

Anonymous said...

Yes indeed - I know all about resistance - that's all I seem to be doing these days or rather I am more and more inclined to no longer resist my resistance - if that makes any sense? It occurs to me that perhaps, if I 'watch' even this 'phase' (for want of a better word)perhaps, it will metamorphose into acceptance/surrender? I always thought I was accepting but I realise that perhaps it was more passive suppression. So perhaps to achieve a full surrender, I need to go through a resistance first?
I guess I am rambling! Thank you for listening! :)


Pat Bralley said...

Perhaps watching is about all you can do. Eckhart Tolle would say the moment you become aware of resisting you have brought some rpesence to the situation. ... and rambling's sweet - like an innocent walk in the woods... who wouldn't want to ramble, ha, ha!!!