Saturday, January 23, 2016

How To Realize Resolutions, Part 2: Cultivating Confidence and Will

In Part 1, I shared some thoughts on the importance of burning Desire in Self-realization and manifestation of one's resolutions or goals.  As I mentioned, burning Desire is a necessary but not sufficient condition for manifestation.  One must also empower yourself with two other Virtues:  Confidence and Will.

Confidence

Pop self-help systems like The Secret  convey the impression that every one's words are magical if only repeated a sufficient number of times with enough emotion.  All you need to do is ask and you shall receive; just visualize whatever you want with sufficient emotional charge, and the cosmic UPS will deliver whatever you wish.  Abracadabra, alakazam, rub the genie's bottle and everything is delivered.

Be Careful What You Ask For!
Comic by Edmund Finney

According to traditional philosophies of Self-realization, this is just wishful thinking.  Your words or visions don't have the power to manifest in Reality unless you have sufficient personal power arising from alignment with Ultimate Reality accumulated through discipline.

According to Yoga philosophy, the demanding practice of truth is one of the most important disciplines for anyone who wants the Virtue required for Self-realization and manifestation of one's vision.  In B.K.S. Iyengar's translation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Sutra II.36 states:

"When the sādhaka [seeker] is firmly established in the practice of truth, his words become so potent that whatever he says comes to realization."

The practice of truth is the essential foundation for Confidence in one's ability to Self Realize.  You need to know that your words are law.  If your words or vision are frequently contradicted by Reality, you are a house divided against its Self.  Outer-inner contradictions weaken you.  Honesty grants you Virtue (remember, virtue means power) because it aligns your thoughts, words, and actions with Reality, the One Source of all power.

I have found that to become firmly established in truth is not an easy thing.  We have all been trained from birth to accept many lies about our selves, our world, and our potential.  Hence, to become firmly established in the truth, one must first discover it, which is different from knowing your beliefs, opinion or judgement, or the prevailing belief system of your culture or sub-culture.  Often we think we know something, but upon examination, we find that what we think we know, we really don't know, we just believe.  This even applies to many "facts" taught to us as "scientifically proven" in schools.
"To know what you know and what you do not know, that is true knowledge."  ~Confucius
Most importantly, you must distinguish between Reality and the opinions and fantasies foisted upon you by others, and clearly know Who/What you are.  If you want to empower your words, align them with the truth, and toss the opinions and fantasies in the bin.

Tao is obscured when men understand only one pair of opposites,
or concentrate only on a partial aspect of being.
Then clear expression also becomes muddled by mere wordplay,
affirming this one aspect and denying all the rest.
The pivot of Tao passes through the center where all affirmations and denials converge.
He who grasps the pivot is at the still-point
from which all movements and oppositions can be seen in their right relationship...
Abandoning all thought of imposing a limit or taking sides, he rests in direct intuition.  
Chuang Tzu, Inner Chapters 2:3, Thomas Merton trans.


Many times people talk as if they Know, when they don't.  It seems most of us have been trained to do so; I know I was.  Consider this classic Taoist story:
Among the people who lived close to the border, there was a man who led a righteous life. Without reason, his horse escaped, and fled into barbarian territory. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said : "what makes you think this is not a good thing?"  
Several months later, his horse returned, accompanied by a superb barbarian stallion. Everyone congratulated him. But the old man said: "what makes you think this is cannot be a bad thing?" 
The family was richer from a good horse, his son enjoyed riding it. He fell and broke his hip. Everyone pitied him, but the old man said: "what makes you think this is not a good thing!" 
One year later, a large party of barbarians entered the border. All the valid men drew their bows and went to battle. From the people living around the border, nine out of ten died. But just because he was lame, the old man and his son were both spared.
The people thought they "knew" that the events were good or bad.  The righteous man didn't say either way, but questioned the others' opinions.  He remained neutral, aligned with the truth of what happened, not with the opinions about it.

Every time Reality contradicts your opinion, you lose self-Confidence.  The solution is simply to stop opining, which is easier said than done.  Most of us have minds trained to automatically spout opinions, most of which we inherited from other people who lacked alignment with the truth.  To become a free, realized being one must,  through meditation and contemplation, transcend this and train oneself to see the ego's opinions as meaningless babble unworthy of One's attention.  This is why the Tao Te Ching says that the Way of Virtue consists of getting rid of "knowledge" rather than collecting it.
In the pursuit of learning, every day something is acquired.
In the pursuit of Tao, every day something is dropped.
Less and less is done
Until non-action is achieved.
When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.
The world is ruled by letting things take their course.
It cannot be ruled by interfering.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 48 (Feng and English trans.)
Though beliefs and opinions are not truth, they influence one's experience, much as a film influences the projection of light onto a screen.  Any limitation you see happening in your experience is the logical result of your beliefs and opinions about yourself and the world which influenced your attention and perception and came to fruition through past decisions and actions.  To manifest your dreams it is necessary to drop false beliefs and opinions about yourself and the world.

Besides dropping the opinionated mind, the Creative Way involves allowing the Virtue of Tao to work in, through, and as one's life.  In other words, one does what one is called to do, not what one thinks of doing.  The Seeker aspires not for personal glory, but to allow the Virtue of the One Source to express through his or her unique gifts and talents.  Just as a surfer can only succeed if she rides with the tides, rather than against them, if your way goes against the Way, it will come to an early end; it might not even get started.

Just do what needs to be done.
Never take advantage of power.
Achieve results,
But never glory in them.
Achieve results,
But never boast.
Achieve results,
But never be proud.
Achieve results,
Because this is the natural way.
Achieve results,
But not through violence.
Force is followed by loss of strength.
This is not the way of Tao.
That which goes against the Tao comes to an early end.
Tao Te Ching, Chapter 30 (Feng and English trans.)

Most of us identify with the finite mind or body, and see scarcity surrounding us.  In Reality every One of us is a unique expression of the Infinite, as a wave is an expression of the ocean.  Who observes the mind and body?  The Witness of shapes, colors, sounds, textures, odors, and tastes has no shape, color, sound, texture, odor, or taste.  That Witness, called Awareness, has no boundaries, is infinite.  It is the never changing back Ground that enables Humans the to envision and create circumstances different from those events in the ever-changing foreground.  Each of us can choose to identify with either finite, transient, and changeable phenomena (body, mind, personality, events), or the Unchanging, Infinite, Eternal, and Creative within us.  The former is false and hence weak, the latter truth and strength.

To become firmly established in the practice of truth, one needs to make one's word one's law.  Don't make promises to others or yourself unless you are prepared to do everything in your power to make them come true.  Every time you make a resolution or promise and fail to make progress toward or fulfill it, you confirm only that your words are empty and your Will weak.  The next time you make a resolution or goal your mind says "Yeah right, you never follow through."  You always know when you are blowing smoke.  How can you have Confidence in your self and your ability to manifest what you wish, if you keep proving yourself impotent?

If someone asks you to do something and you aren't willing to commit to it, say something like "I'm not sure, let me think about it and get back to you."  Don't commit unless you are going to follow through.

If you want to accumulate strength, speak only as necessary, and keep your words aligned with Reality.  If you have nothing True or Good to say, keep noble silence.

Will

If you want to escape from wishful thinking and weak words, you need to build up a Confidence in your ability to draw on Will.  You can start by setting yourself an intention to do something specific every day, preferably something you find a bit unpleasant.  Then, do it.  For example, agree to get up at 5 AM every day and cheerfully do something that's challenging or uncomfortable to the ego, like take a cold shower.  In this you assert your Will over your weak ego, which wants to sleep in and stay warm.

But don't go around bragging about your disciplines.  Boasting comes from a desire to impress other people, which comes from lack of Self-confidence.
He who stands on tiptoe is not steady. 
He who strides cannot maintain the pace. 
He who makes a show is not enlightened. 
He who is self-righteous is not respected. 
He who boasts achieves nothing. 
He who brags will not endure. 
According to followers of the Tao, "These are extra food and unnecessary luggage." 
They do not bring happiness. 
therefore followers of the Tao avoid them.

Tao Te Ching, Chapter 24, Feng and English trans.

Strength exerted produces greater strength; weakness indulged produces greater weakness. Replace resolutions with Desire backed by Confidence and indomitable Will.