Learning To Live Spontaneously: Loosening Our Hold on Fear and Desire
Life is a dance between two intense emotions: fear and desire. We go back and forth between these two throughout our lives. But what we’re exploring here is what precedes and pervades life before desire and fear.
Who are we, foundationally, before these two emotions that we go back and forth between? Enlightenment is about permanence – who we are at our foundation, who we are that doesn’t change, who we are that remains permanent. The only thing that we can attest to and which stays permanent from the day we’re born until the day we die is awareness. We are aware that sometimes we experience pain and sometimes we experience desire. They change and develop, but that which never changes is our awareness.
We are the awareness of what is happening right here and right now. A universe full of things can be created out of fears and desires. In fact, the whole universe is constantly pulsating between these two emotions. But fears and desires can change; they’re impermanent so we can’t be them. What we can be, however, is the awareness of these two strong impulses that truly shape and create our world.
When we think about our fears and desires, we think they belong to us. We attach ownership to them, as well as volition to them. But, like our hearts, they just beat. Our goal is to just witness them, watch them and live spontaneously.
Let’s explore this in a bit more detail. First, we start with the foundation of who we are ultimately, that which cannot be described but out of which comes the universe full of fears and desires. We don’t choose which part of the universe to live in, we don’t choose our parents, we don’t choose our genetics, we don’t choose the time of history that we’re born in. All these things happen beyond our control. But what we can do spontaneously is witness what is happening. Again, in the same way that our hearts beat throughout the day without us having to be involved in the process, when fears and desires arise we can witness them without taking ownership of them or trying to control them. We realize they’re part of this impermanent life and they’re not part of who we ultimately are.
When there is something to witness, we are the awareness of that. When there’s nothing to witness, then we are that which cannot be described but which we truly are, beyond words, beyond descriptions. Ultimately, that which we are. One of the keys here is to stop identifying with labels we give to ourselves. For instance, “This is my body”, “This is my soul” or “This is my mind.” Yes, there is a body, a person, but don’t identify with it. By doing that, we really limit who we are. In essence, we’re everything that we see and even more than this, we are beyond that out of which everything comes.
I often like to describe us as the ocean. We are the ocean who thinks, for a brief amount of time, that it is only the drop of water in the ocean. Let go of the identity of the drop and become the wholeness of the ocean. We are both, we are neither; we just are. We have always been, we will always be.
Once we let go of the labels, we’ll find that we can just live spontaneously. We will be able to watch our actions, watch other people’s actions and just witness them. Life becomes very spontaneous and in that silent witnessing we find that decisions that are made are good ones. What follows from this is that the actions that are completed are good ones. We won’t identify with our actions but what we’ll discover is this: our actions occur though they are not chosen. These actions are beautiful, loving ones. When we tend to take volition of our actions we may find that our actions appear more negative, more cruel and more selfish. Spontaneous living, however, is loving living, or living in a loving way. Again, this is a label and we always have to be careful of labels because who we are is beyond description. But what we may find by living spontaneously and not taking for ourselves or others, is that life becomes a beautiful existence permeated with love.
I use the example of the heart, but think about how many organs in our body function without us having to be involved in the process? Our breathing, our circulatory system and our immune system are examples of such bodily functions. If we extend this to our behavior, to our choices and actions, it is an incredibly freeing feeling. Ultimately it’s about letting go of desire and fear which can essentially be translated into “no more failures, no more successes.” Thus, “no more fears, no more worries, no more pride, no more envy, and so on.”
Everything becomes free – we are truly free because we let go of volition. We also lose the idea of “I’m in control.” I live in southern California, not far from Disneyland, and if you ever get a chance to visit Disneyland, try the cars that they have there to drive. They’re on a track and when you’re a kid you really think you’re driving them. Then as you get older you realize, “Oh! I’m not driving this car, it’s actually telling me which way to go. I think I’m driving but actually I’m very safe, there’s nothing to worry about and I can just enjoy the ride.” Life is like that: we have to enjoy the ride, let go and just be. When we need to make decisions, spontaneous living can help us make the right ones that will work out for the best.
When we flow with life, we don’t fight it and life tends to work out well. At the deepest level, we’re really not in control. We can just let go and enjoy the ride, trusting that God, the universe, will ultimately take care of things. We just need to enjoy the journey. As relaxation sets in, a peace follows it because we realize that we’re not in control. We can just let go and do what seems right to do at the time.
There exists karma in life. It’s like a rule of life: when our toe strikes a sharp object, we cry out spontaneously in pain and feel a throbbing in our foot. If actions arise spontaneously from us that cause others to suffer, there is going to be a negative reaction or consequence to us, whether in the short or long term. As a result of this, our spontaneous reactions tend to be kinder and more loving. We don’t like pain and we do like pleasure. Since our minds remember the negative consequences of some of our behaviors and the positive consequences of other behaviors, once there isn’t any shame or guilt attached to them we gravitate towards being loving towards each other and ourselves. Karma is thus a teacher helping us to make the right decisions. Those decisions and actions are still spontaneous, but without guilt and shame, it’s much easier to make good and loving decisions.
The ultimate proof of this is going to be you. Try just witnessing your behavior without shame or guilt, because there is no volition, and see if it isn’t easier to make good and loving decisions that have positive karma. I can support this with the example of people who tend to be very cruel and mean. They have horrible lives and they hate themselves. In order to help them break free of that, they have to lose their sense of guilt. They can learn from their behavior, but self-loathing creates the same pattern of behavior over and over again. By losing volition, they lose the guilt and then they can just focus on changing their behavior.
It works, but we tend to believe things better when they happen to us, so try living spontaneously, let go of guilt, shame, fears and desires. Just watch them but stop taking ownership of them. We may find with this freedom that there exists peace, joy and love truly beyond description.
Dr. Robert Puff, Ph.D. is a meditation expert, international speaker and creates a podcast and articles that explores the world of Enlightenment available at http://www.EnlightenmentPodcast.com He also has a blog at http://www.Meditation-Enlightenment.com He is the creator of the weekly Meditation For Health Podcast, available at http://www.MeditationForHealthPodcast.com He has a weekly podcast that explores the world of Happiness at http://www.HappinessPodcast.org If you would like to contact Dr. Puff, his e-mail address is DrPuff@cox.net