When moving through spiritual growth, it is often handy to have a road map that helps you to put tools into perspective – where they belong on the map and what usefulness they have. People often start with something like positive thinking or law of attraction as their first step on the personal growth ladder and then become confused when they see other tools that tell them to let go and stop trying to control.
So should we control or not?
It’s not a simple yes/no answer – it depends where you are on the map, and what stage you are at, also what pathway you are travelling.
In this article, I am exploring the pathway taken by the majority of us – the step by step learning to reveal our deeper inner truth – who we are ultimately as the one source or conscious universal awareness.
Let’s begin at the beginning of your own awareness. When you were born, you were conscious. There was an energy or spirit looking out of your eyes, but you had no frame of reference – you were out of time and space – in a sense you were simply pure awareness. As you learn to label things you begin to assign meaning. This is edible, this is not, this is family, this is not, this is safe, this is not. The mind uses its processing power to categorise, label, and name things. Once something is named, it is filed as a “fact” or a “thing” and you think you know it. As you grow this huge library of so-called knowledge, you begin to form beliefs and structures, and you label them and categorise them as “facts” too.
It’s not long before we think we have everything sorted, and then we expend enormous energy trying to keep the scaffolding intact – adding only beliefs that strengthen the scaffolding, discrediting, or denying anything that may threaten our scaffolding. Essentially, we close down to any real stimuli and new information.
The scaffolding brings suffering because either life doesn’t flow according to plan, or we begin to suspect that it’s not real. We suffer imposter syndrome because we are. All of us. We act from an extremely small prison of our making, we know there is more, but we have no idea how to release ourselves.
This is where most of us get to in order to embark on a spiritual journey. Those who are happy in the scaffolding have no impulse to free themselves, they have no idea they are trapped. By happy I do not mean without suffering, I just mean, it doesn’t occur to them they are more than what they think. There is no movement of expansion or seeking.
But if you have felt the suffering and also a movement within you to remove or diminish it, then you are on the spiritual path.
1. If I have/do this then I will fix the suffering
The first part of the journey is an external game. All of us have been on it: “If I achieve this then I’ll be happy”. We can be in this game for decades and achieve more and more and then be duped into the next thing, the next goal, the next success.
I am assuming that for most of you reading this, you have seen through this stage already and are onto the next one. But it bears stating that some people will jump straight from this to stage 3 and not do any internal seeking at all. This may occur if the suffering caused at this stage is so great it forces a shift that is quicker.
2. If I change myself then I will fix the suffering
The second stage is an important realisation that the external is not the issue. But rather than see the scaffolding as the true issue, we think we need to fix ourselves instead. The external game shifts into the internal game. We may begin to dismantle parts of the scaffolding – certainly the parts that have held blame or guilt around not achieving or doing enough – anything that was connected with the external game can be dismantled, as this has been seen through.
The dismantling is the key, we feel some relief, but we think it is because we are in the right game now – nothing is external, everything is internal. The dropping of the need for success, the need to achieve, to grasp at things brings great relief. And this may be another few decades where we feel better and better, there is less labelling, less judgement and more openness.
But this is just another stage in the dismantling. Once you get to the end of this stage, you see that even taking full responsibility for everything – utilising all the intention setting, all the positive thinking, all the good vibes, you are still not really any closer to the deep inner peace or contentment you had hoped for.
You see that sometimes you get what you want, and sometimes you don’t. It may take you awhile to realise this as you will continue for quite some time to try to “do it better”, listen to more positive affirmations, unblock more chakras, send more Reiki. Then, hopefully, you see the joke. Your internal search for success is no different to your external search for success. Instead of trying to control your external circumstances and people around you, you are trying to control your internal beliefs, intentions, and energy. The key is the word “control”
3. There is nothing to fix or change
The third stage is realising it is not personal. Intention setting and law of attraction are stage 2 tools. We are now looking at the ground swell of life itself and going with the movement we feel deep within us. This is not the same as fatalistic giving up, or the “say YES to everything” movement. The whole point of having an intelligent self-awareness is to use it. Having gone through the previous stages you will now be tuned in to your body and tuned in to the environment. When events occur around you or thoughts occur within you there will be an innate reaction in your body. The first 2 stages prepare our receptivity to this – nothing is ever wasted or a waste of time – each stage has a very important part to play in our growth.
This stage is a deepening into the knowing that everything is unfolding. There will be many times when you try to control and you will feel this in the body. It will tighten and feel stressed. When you remain curious and open, the body will relax and your stress will disappear.
The dismantling of the remaining scaffolding accelerates now – the old beliefs around control, the thinking you have to be someone or do something will dissolve. You are left with an inner alertness that observes the thinking mind, the grasping, the impulse to control and make things personal. The remaining work is to keep gently dissolving this. And again it could be like this for decades. Who knows how long these things take? And what part of you is rushing?
At this stage the only tools needed are meditation, bringing the mind into a place of neutrality so that you can tune into the groundswell of life. Prayer may be useful or sending Reiki, but only as a tool to release any moments of controlling or grasping you feel within you. You are no longer asking for anything in particular to happen; you have noticed that life itself is interesting just as it is. There is no need to make it go one way or another – whatever unfolds brings its own fascinating result.
All that is needed now is to be curious to what each new day brings. Notice when you are leaning too much into the future. Notice when you are reminiscing or regretting the past, notice when you are clutching and wasting energy.
Here you will feel peace, stability and a deep OKness. Rather than a movement to try to get somewhere, the movement is more to notice when you leave this peace and go out into the thinking scaffold. You will see more and more clearly how the scaffold is the issue, and as you continue to dismantle it you are left with your intelligence that can label and has knowledge, but is fluid and loose. It does not cling. You are free to build things, do things, achieve things but with no personal motive.
Life itself moves through you, is you, and flows freely. You may still do and be exactly as you are, yet the suffering lifts, and you settle home, deep in awareness, enjoying your life and your experiences with total openness and joy.