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Learning to Like What We Have
Life Is a School with No Promise of a Graduation
Ever since my modest personal evolvement was obviously to become a journey without a final destination, many slogans of wisdom served as valuable signposts on that treacherous path sprinkled with question marks.
I would never go as far as to boast that at any stage it looked like a bold marching in a straight line - but rather a series of zig-zag baby steps, with those guiding slogans often playing me in circles.
Most of them were approved by my intuition as precious pieces of wisdom, although I must admit that some of them I dropped at the side of my road as not belonging to the mindset that was gradually forming into a solid mass of ideas and attitudes.
However, most of them have survived the scrutiny of my ever fussy intuition all the way into these days, while gathering a critical mass of evidence and evolving into something on the next level of reasoning.
Could We Like what Is Not Likable?
One of such pearls of wisdom was a tenet of "est", a name having a double meaning - one being a short for Erhard Seminars Training popular in 70s, and the other simply meaning the Latin word for "is" - which will have its significance for us explained along the rest of the article.
So, in the context of the Training it was regularly said: "If in your life you want to have what you like, then start liking what you have". At the beginning it didn't have much of a meaning to me, but nevertheless I kept it in my memory for some possible future use, while intuitively sensing its wisdom more than understanding it.
It didn't take long for me to take it out from its dormant state and make something huge of it. Namely, my experience and further modest studies of human nature gave it a life when its value got confirmed through parallels being drawn with some other insights.
Wrestling with "Acceptance"
It might have happened at a point when I realized how my mental disciplines were to remain futile as long as they were based upon a conflict between what I had and what I wanted. "Having" did not mean just my material possessions and living circumstances, but much more than that - my mindset with all of its emotional and attitudinal tendencies.
The reason why I kept Werner's saying on the back burner for a while was in my misunderstanding of it, as I thought that it meant "acceptance". I just couldn't accept acceptance, because to me a change meant not accepting my intimate status quo, but rather replacing it with something that would be more to my intuitive taste.
Also, in the literature I read I kept bumping into a "need to accept and surrender to the flow", which simply didn't look anything like "changing" to me, but rather as succumbing and wallowing. But then something in me computed a fresh meaning of those words, and I found myself in a wonderland of magic change.
Whatever Is - Is; whatever Isn't - Isn't
The new understanding of that idea created a little intellectual shock in me. While it meant a dissolving of the inner conflict which was also achievable by "acceptance", it didn't mean "acceptance of bad", but - "not noticing it".
Crazy-me, at realizations of that magnitude I always get goosebumps and possibly tears in my eyes, as if my body wants to join me in my intellectual celebration. However, now I was facing a gigantic mental task of requalifying so much in my memory bank into something "likable" which didn't look one bit like that.
It must have been at that very point that another famous but tantalizingly simplistic tenet of est popped up: "Whatever is - is, and whatever isn't - isn't" - as if coming from a zen master in a form of a challenging koan to be brainstormed upon.
With all those fresh realizations I suddenly felt so alone in this world that was obviously thriving on conflict which seemed to give a motoric to all that tribal model of coexistence, with psycho-physical survival seemingly being its highest motivation.
Not a Moral or Emotional Issue
Once that we truly, on our gut level understand that "whatever is - is", while none of our possible interpretations and positionalities will make it any different, we make ourselves qualified for that next step - to start liking what we have.
Without that preliminary understanding, "liking something that we don't like" is a phony nonsense, isn't it? Suppose my father left our family for another woman when I was a little boy; now, how could I possibly "like" the memory of it?
You see, "liking" in this proposed context is not about "approval", it's about a mental activity detached from the moral or emotional value of its object, upon realization that it's all merely our state of mind, our mind's construct one way or the other.
That's what "is", my friends, that introspective ability to detach our consciousness from mind's works, that allows us to do some "liking". Moreover, we don't even have to "try hard" to like it, as it comes natural to us once when we detach ourselves from "disliking it". We naturally heal our body and our soul when we don't disturb the wound.
So, in the above example, my father's deserting his family doesn't represent a moral or emotional issue. It's nothing but my memory displaying something from its files. I can like it, I can hate it, but hating it would bring up another golden and regular response of the est trainer to a whiner in the attendance: "Why are you such an asshole to do it to yourself?"
Thus, parroting in my mind about my "unhappy and fatherless childhood" I would have never allowed my father to finish his desertion - so he would have kept deserting me into my adult years, with my dark passion of tormenting myself instead of - let's say, liking my ability to see that "it isn't" my reality.
A pigeon landing on my balcony right now is more of my reality than my father's desertion.
But it takes an open mind and flexible gut to fathom it in its all liberating significance, and I wish more people could cut off their emotional umbilical cord with their childhood traumas, by seeing with fresh eyes what "is", and what "isn't" in their life.
Liking what We Have Affects Our Future
So far we could see how to deal with those not likable aspects of our past; and now let's examine a bit how our liking what we have affects our future. When we genuinely like our life as it already is, we have created an inner environment of content, sufficiency, satisfaction. Then, guess what follows in terms of that much talked about "Law of Attraction" - we are bound to get "more of the same", as the Law is stating. And that's exactly the main reason why so many hopefuls are failing miserably to make use of it.
Their desire is stemming from an inner environment of a lack, of a need, of a worry - which again attracts getting "more of the same" in its variety of possible negative outcomes and events.
Now, even if we completely junk the idea of this "Law", on psychological level we are bound to repeat our "bad luck" by thinking, feeling, and acting when it is generated by something negative. So it certainly makes a lot of sense to like what we already have, or - what "is" in our life.
Having a strong desire for something to enrich our future is clearly O.K., as long as it doesn't stem from a "lack", but from a satisfaction with life, which is to merely "add" something that matches, belongs to our lot - as we are experiencing it as an abundance and being grateful for it.
"Liking" Is an Attitude We Deliberately Choose
As we initially go through the process of this awakening, there is an enormous resistance coming from our addiction to "blame", and our dark passion to notice something "wrong". We may start calling the whole idea of "liking what is not likable" downright crazy.
I did it, so I know. But what came through my mind made me appreciate its flexibility. "Hey, - I said to myself - what's preventing me from liking this crazy stuff?! Indeed, instead on wallowing in a negativity, I could detach my consciousness from it and "consciously like it".
Do you know what I mean? I am talking about consciously insisting on producing "liking" mood, and whatever my 5 senses touch in my life I can envelop into that mood, whether it deserves it or not.
Simply because it makes so much more sense from the physiological perspective of living this life. I can still exercise my approving or disapproving, but I don't have to get emotionally involved, because I don't want to be an asshole to do it to myself, to hurt myself with my own mind's constructs.
You see, my capacity to enjoy my life is something that "is", something that counts. My memories don't count, and my expectations don't count, they are not a tangible part of my life - unless I am amusing myself with them.
Birth of Personal Sovereignty
Ever since those insights occurred to me, life became a subjective game, and I was more than willing to be playful. What logically followed was this new-born sense of my personal responsibility, my personal power to choose my intimate reality, and in a much broader sense my personal sovereignty and spiritual freedom.
From the depth of my being I could hear: "If the whole world minus one person (me) sees something a certain way, and it doesn't sit right in my mind - their multitude doesn't mean an "authority". From the perspective of my biological uniqueness - I have to do my own breathing, eating, sleeping, and one day I'll do my own dying, so I might as well do my own thinking, not echoing others' beliefs what can or cannot be done.
Authorities ceased to exist. Of course, it's one thing to be a law abiding citizen and being compassionate fellow-man to others - but a totally another thing allowing them to think for ourselves. So, I am happy to say that in most areas of life I may have used this or that idea of others, but as a whole it's all of my own make. And I love it this way.
Without Inner Conflicts into a New, Likable Life
If I wanted to single out one core idea in all these things presented, it would be heavily wrapped around resolving all inner conflicts by not focusing on what has to be "fixed", "removed", "what we would rather have" - but rather "liking what already is" in our life, tangible, usable, doable.
No amount of inner campaigning against something will do. Inner conflicts are eating us alive, morsel by morsel, starting with our brain, our hormonal glands, and then comes heart, stomach, and the rest of our precious biological machine - as a target of our "being an asshole to ourselves".
Some day, as the world starts awakening, everyone may developed an audacity (if spirituality is too heavy a word) to say to themselves with a smile: "Life is good - because I say so."