What makes you confident?
In all the one-on-one work I do, people present many and varied situations in their lives which they'd truly like to master. It strikes me that in all of the situations I encounter with people, what we're really looking for is a sense of true empowerment: to be empowered to see and make the right choices in life, to be confident in what we're doing. So exactly what is empowerment and where does it come from? Is it something we are born with, or can we develop it? Here's a brief point of view that came to me today...
The mockery of confidence
People have always regarded me as a confident person (even when I wasn't!). I guess there's always been an underlying yearning to be the centred rock in the storm. So even when I was beset with self-doubt, I still worked to overcome that and find a solidity that both I and others could rely on. I guess I must have achieved this with varying degrees of success.
But it wasn't until I became transfigured that true empowerment arose naturally of its own accord. It was no longer something I had to search for or to manifest. To me, Transfiguration is where we cease to be an identity - instead we've dissolved completely into pure, empty presence (well almost bar a few shadows). It's then that for me, the previous nature of confidence became a mockery - I could simply laugh at myself for all the times I'd tried to be confident.
When I look back I see that confidence had become a mantel that I'd put on like some comfortable jacket. It protected me from the outside world. It meant I could 'sell a position' or point of view, I could impress or influence. But ultimately such confidence is inherently weak. By its very nature, it sets itself up to implode, just like "pride comes before a fall".
The absolute vulnerability of the moment
What came to me instead was absolute vulnerability to the moment. It seems my soul kept taking me into all the situations where ego would arise in some guise, one that needed a particular outcome from the situation or was resisting another: one that wanted to create, shape or manipulate in some way. Finally I figured it out, whenever we want or desire something, we form a limiting relationship to that which we are craving - we become 'owned' by it. Therefore when such desire or resistance does arise, we're being presented with a gift - an opportunity to soften into it, let go and expand.
But this realisation didn't stop me going for things. It didn't stop the authentic arising of yearning. I realised that if I tried to dissolve such yearnings, then yet again, I had become an identity doing so - one that could easily pop at any stage. It is the identity I call the 'dissolver' - it hides its head frequently today within the 'non-dualist' movement: "everything is one" becomes an excuse to avoid everything and think we're non attached...
- Student: master, I have reached the state of oneness, all is perfect
Zen Master: tell me more...
Student: I am at one with the divine, there is no duality
Zen Master: what else?
Student: I am....
Zen Master: what else?
Zen Master: what else?
Student: (no reply...dissolving into state of oneness)
Zen Master (strikes the student hard across the face)
Zen Master: well who felt that then!
The difference between yearning and desire
So what's the difference between authentic yearning and desire? Why can such a subtle difference have such a huge effect? What I've discovered is that if we work to come from pure non-attached presence - and we're continually observing that - then a pull will arise to engage with the world in a particular way. If we honour the pull, it has a feeling like we're being a landscape with a stream flowing through it. The stream seems to align itself with the synchronistic bob and weave of the landscape. You simply get the sense you're aligned, there's a 'rightness' to it. The more I observe this, the more empowered I feel.
It's not like I need an outcome from the stream, but I sense the stream has an inevitability to it. And no matter what granite-like boulders it may encounter as it makes its way across the landscape, I just have this growing feeling the stream will always find a way - somehow. The more I observe and feel this situation, the more I notice the inevitability. I don't need the stream to find a path, I just know it always does and always will.
So when I'm being so empty, so vulnerable to the moment, something else happens: I seem to fill up with the stream. It's like my whole being becomes full of what I know to be me. Don't ask me how I know. It's like asking "how do you know when you're in love?" The answer is the same: "you just do!" In such a place there is a curious paradox: I have all the power in the universe, but with no need to use or direct it. It just sits there within me and fulfills purpose.
Power with, but not over
So it doesn't matter if the universe now calls on me to do something small and simple - help that old lady across the road - or if it's something 'bigger'. By observation, I know I always have the power to do what I'm given to do. Even if that means complete surrender. But neither do I deny the role I'm being given. Increasingly I find myself filled with this energy and with the sense of inevitability that whatever I turn my hand to, right action will be supported.
I find I never have 'power over something', but I always seem to have power with. I'm not able to control, but then neither can I be controlled. I can't win, but neither can I loose. In all my pre-transfigured successes, I have never encountered anything quite so successful. It feels like true empowerment.
PS - what makes you feel empowered? I'd love to hear...