“What if I get it wrong? What if it doesn’t work? What if I’m left here alone?”
Just look over the edge of that “what if.” Let your mind open up and realize that you’ve been running away from phantoms. Examine the attitudes you might have like, “What if I get it wrong?” We’ve been getting it wrong all our life—it’s no big deal! Everybody’s making mistakes and losing it. We’ve all been blundering, not noticing, disrespectful, impolite, unkind. We’ve been talking too long or not saying enough. Everybody’s getting it wrong. Why don’t we just practice forgiveness instead and get out of this trap? You forgive me, and I’ll forgive you, okay?
Yes, everything is breaking down. But we can get through that, we can be bigger than that. We can be bigger than getting it right and wrong. We can be bigger than success and failure, praise and blame, gain and loss. What a relief to get out of the game. There will be some pain, though, and we might even cause pain. Maybe the way out of it is being a bit more relaxed, at ease, broad-minded, and less concerned about being right, perfect, on time, prepared, well-defended, and approved.
We can go down into our bellies, relax, breathe out, open up, and trust that as human beings we have what it takes to be human beings. We can learn from that process, and we can learn to not make a big deal out of it. We can learn to not get confused by it or expect miracles out of it. Then we can learn to let go of it, to come out of it—and to come out of the agitation and self-consciousness that arises up in these forms.
This is important to learn, isn’t it? It is nothing esoteric or high-minded, just basic sanity. But the wonderful thing is that, although it is very ordinary, it is also extremely profound because it starts to dismantle all those reflexes that seem so ingrained and out of control—reflexes that grip us, push us around, make us flustered, say things we wish we hadn’t said, or make us feel bad.
We can simply start to dismantle all that stuff, to dismantle our hold on all that need—the need to be something, prove something, get somewhere—until we can be, miraculously, right here, in a place that doesn’t have a location. Because it doesn’t have a location, we never leave it. Because we never leave it, we can’t leave it. So there isn’t any kind of grief or sadness, up or down, holding on, or worrying.
In the ongoing truthfulness of our practice it’s important to sift through all the static and white noise that the emotions and the mind’s programs set up. It’s important to see and get a handle on what intention feels like in our nervous system. And the same with the quality of attention—to see how big, narrow, tight, or bound we feel when we’re occupied with a series of thoughts—how our attention bunches up with that sort of proliferation. We start to get a real sense of how this feels in the body. Then we start to get a sense of what it’s like to release it all.
This is what we practice. This is the dissolving. Dissolving involves letting go of control, self-image, and self-territories. For that to happen, it has to be a comfortable ride. We can feel that comfort in the breathing in and the breathing out, in good friendship, and in moral living. We get the sense that It’s okay. It’s okay to be here. That gives us the ability to trust the process and to trust the practice.
This reflection by Ajahn Sucitto is from the book, Beginning Our Day, Volume One, (pdf) pp.124-126.