Rehabilitation of a Yogi: The Tyranny of Smooth
July 19, 2011 § Leave a comment
Sometimes it seems like everyone is searching for a smooth road, smooth skin, for everything to go smoothly.
Don’t rock the boat!
Our culture whispers the message into our ears: move toward the smooth, away from the rough. Smooth things over. Make everything neat and tidy, a smooth easy life. Everyone’s hoping for smooth sailing. And it seems irrefutable that smooth is better than rough. It’s preferable. One would never say “hope you have a rough time, my friend”.
But the truth is the sailing is at times smooth and other times choppy. That’s ok. That’s actually the nature of sailing. The surf does not stay one way, rough or smooth, for more than a few hours. The sea’s watery characteristics are in a constant state of flux. Impermanence, baby.
The beauty of duality is that we know hot by learning cold, we appreciate up when we’ve had down, we recognize smooth because we’ve experienced rough. The pairs of opposites compliment and complete each other.
“Smooth seas do not make skillful sailors.” – African proverb
Recently a friend of mine was going away for two weeks and my mouth formed the words “Enjoy the retreat!” I heard myself say it and then I wondered, is that what I really mean? “Have a good time.” That’s pretty standard, but is it accurate? Life is not always about enjoyment, and not always about having a good time. The focus on one end of the spectrum is unreasanable because it makes us feel like we fail when we are not enjoying it, not having a smooth easy experience, not rocking a good time.
“Have a time, my friend! Be with what is. Allow what happens to happen to you. Have the experience you are having. Embrace the tough times and the glorious times and all the other times in between. Accept the full incredible range of human experience!”
When things are going well, let it happen, breathe. When the sailing is rough and ragged, let it happen, breathe. There’s nothing to hold on to. Nothing stays the same.
The way to freedom lies in letting go of hope and fear. Hope for smooth and fear of rough are both equaly inconsequential and futile. The sea of life will be what it will be, is what it is, and was what it was.
“Meditation practice awakens our trust that the wisdom and compassion that we need are already within us. It helps us to know ourselves: our rough parts and our smooth parts, our passion, aggression, ignorance and wisdom.” -Pema Chodron, The Key to Knowing Ourselves Is Meditation
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