If You Want Simplicity, Give Up All Hope

I’ve noticed that there’s this way in which humans always seem to want to simplify life. This is a fine goal, but when it’s driven by ego or conditioning (read: the part of us that just wants everything to be easy and comfortable), just like any other ego-driven effort, it seems to go awry. It’s natural to want a rule, a guide, an easy algorithm for navigating it all. But it’s an immature wish, and leads people to be rigid and judgmental, and makes them chase gurus and dictators in pursuit of simple answers.

Our insistence that things be easy comes from the feeling that life is hard, which is based on another assumption that we have to keep track of lots of things and direct and control them all, or else life will be a disaster, or something. Most people haven’t even ever questioned what the “or something” is, or who/what needs to control everything in order to prevent it. If we check, the something is probably like “it’s dangerous”, or “I won’t get what I want”, and the person can’t be found who thinks those things, other than the nebulous “me”.

It’s pretty easy to fall into this trap of trying to invent a place to rest, as we’re naturally designed for survival, not happiness.

But happiness is possible. Simplicity is possible. It just doesn’t look the way most people assume it does. In fact, from the outside, it might not even be visible. Ego can’t visualize it because it can’t view life from the perspective I’m talking about. Ego will most likely tell you it’s dangerous to disregard its concerns, that the solution MUST be OUT THERE, instead of within.

True simplicity comes from an inner shift. A shift from pursuing comfort and stability by manipulating the external world, to radical acceptance and unconditional friendliness with self and life. When we can rest in the unfolding, even while watching the egoic mind squirm and doubt it’s indispensable-ness, and know that all we need to do is be present so we can respond with love and awareness to whatever appearance life seems to take in the moment, THAT is true simplicity. Without this shift, efforts to achieve true simplicity are futile.

And even after the shift, it may take time to be able to rest in that knowing with any consistency. But that’s why they call it practice. It’s tricky at first. People get stuck, big time, in all kinds of ways.

  • Sometimes they get stuck in spirituality, and preach or condescend to others who aren’t up in the floaty clouds with them. Or they may thing “this is it”, and they have no more work to do. This is another ego trap, the desire to avoid life’s messiness and stay blissed out all the time.
  • Sometimes they get stuck in fixing, in a hurry to get rid of all the conditioning or physical problems. More ego, always in a hurry to get somewhere. Ego can use anything as a foundation for pursuing its goals.
  • Sometimes they get stuck in depression or meaninglessness, and have no care for others or anything. Sometimes there’s a limbo after awakening to our true identity, and mind automatically assumes “this is it” and it will always be this way.

We don’t have to get stuck, though. If we are honest and present, we can keep moving through any storm. If we have truly seen through ego, we can always question the movements of mind and come back to a place of rest in our knowing (that the humanness wants to find a place to rest), no matter how often or far we fall off track. No system or plan can provide the kind of lasting peace I’m talking about. If we fully acknowledge we are dynamic living beings then we know that no plan can ever be flexible enough to cover all the eventualities forever. Seeing through ego starts with realizing that there is no hope for such endeavors.

Lasting peace becomes possible when we “give up all hope” of alternatives to the present moment.

NOTE: It’s normal for our humanness to seek safety, but excessive seeking of safety can also be a sign of unresolved trauma, as could the feeling that everything is dangerous. Sorting through what is spiritual journey and what is trauma/human stuff can be challenging, and therefore some find it helpful to have a skilled guide who understands both nondual spirituality, and how to work with traumatic stress. Contact me if you’d like more info about spiritual coaching or trauma resolution.

About Cynthia M Clingan

Cynthia Clingan is a licensed professional clinical counselor in Columbus, Ohio who offers somatic psychotherapy, spiritual coaching, and meditation and mindfulness instruction.
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