I was boarding a flight to India to meet my main teacher for the first time when another teacher called: Selina, leave all your linear western expectations on the plane and go with the randomness, otherwise you will go mad in India.
This is some of the the best advice I’ve ever been given. In the West, we have many constructs in place to give us a sense of order amidst the actual chaos. Assuring ourselves if we tick certain boxes, we are on the right track, and everything is in order. Or if we hit these targets, meeting expectations and fulfilling ideals we have been downloaded with, then we are successful human beings.
Our desire for control is I’m sure a way of dealing with the uncertainty that underpins everything.
So what if we could let this go? The gripping that things are going to turn out how we want them to, or that we can bend the world to our will. I am not talking about sinking into apathy - far from it. We need to work hard, with integrity and fortitude in our chosen field or fields. Striving to open our hearts, learn lessons as they are dealt to us, take care of ourself and those around us, while being kind and generous.
This is where faith comes in for me, because I can renege my control to that which supports me. I have faith that if I do my best, whatever is in store for me will unfold. And if I have no expectations of what that will look like, then I can keep being delighted.
Now I know this is harder than it sounds, trusss me, I engage with it most days, and boy do I like things how I think I like them.
But this is the work, I think, and perhaps one of the central messages of many world religions. The Bible, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Dhammapada each talk of the type of seeds you sow and the fruit that will grow as a result.
In the Bhagavad Gita, Lord Krishna talks to Arjuna of his dharma (which is the Sanskrit word for ‘our life’s work’), and karma yoga (the way of selfless action and service): Action alone is thy province, never the fruits thereof; let not thy motive be the fruit of action, nor shouldst thou desire to avoid action (c.2 v.47)
So just do the work, don't look to what you might become as a result of it or who's looking, just get on with it.
Or the Bible’s Parable of the Sower, told in the gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. (Mark, c.4 v.26-29)
He knows not how.
This idea of us being in control of how things turn out, or how our lives will pan out is an illusion. We have this idea that we can bend our reality to our means. That we can make everything how we want it to be. And there’s a lot of messaging to back this up. From The Secret to the Law of Attraction. But if you push something too hard, or bend anything, it either breaks or resumes its former shape, making a mess of that which was so carefully constructed around it.
I used to love Rev Run's Words of Wisdom on Twitter, this was one of my favourites:
Once you've done all you can, just stand, God got it.