While reading What is Tao? by Alan Watts, I was struck by an analogy he made of Taoism/Life to the act of a cat falling from a tree. He makes the point that the cat essentially let’s go of itself . During the act of falling, “the cat becomes completely relaxed and lands lightly on the ground. But if the cat were about to fall out of a tree and suddenly made up its mind that it didn’t want to fall, it would become tense and rigid, and would just be a bag of broken bones upon landing.
In the same way, it is the philosophy of the Tao that we are all falling off a tree, at every moment of our lives. As a matter of fact, the moment we were born we were kicked off a precipice and we are falling, and there is nothing that can stop it. So instead of living in a state of chronic tension, and clinging to all sorts of things that are actually falling with us because the whole world is impermanent, be like a cat. Don’t resist it.”
Going with the flow is so much easier said than done. So much in life is meant to create resistance within us. Evil, pain, sorrow…how can we ever accept some of the unfathomable horror that happens around us? While it could be argued that there is no Evil except through our perception (since everything is an illusion), I will be the first to admit that I’m not a robot. There are things and situations that bring me to my knees because the weight is simply too much…
In these dim times, it may seem that there is no where to go, nothing to do…and one may even question the belief in a God that would allow some things in this world to happen and that would allow such Evil to even exist. Or a God that would even allow us to feel such pain.
And even if we consider that the Universe is exploring itself through us…and loves to ride the highest joys when love and kindness are shown…how could it be possible that any force of Creation would want to explore the lowest depths of despair and heartbreak?
And how can we pretend that it doesn’t exist? Or that atrocities never happened?
The reality is that perhaps we can’t.
The upside in all of this is that since everything really is impermanent, nothing will last forever. So even when caught in moments of greatest despair, hope comes to us in the knowledge that it won’t last forever….even when this doesn’t seem possible, we know from experience that time heals all wounds. This is especially because the situation often resolves itself in miraculous ways that we would have never even believed possible. We live miracles all of the time but do not recognize them as such until much later (if at all!).
This is why we must learn to live in the present. We must let go.
No matter how hard it might be, if we continue to re-live atrocities in our mind, we will continue to hurt ourselves through this fall. We become tense and rigid…and we will break.
The beauty of Taoism is in the understanding that water is the greatest element. It flows through the lowest places and creates beauty through wearing down what is hard and rigid. The Grand Canyon was created through the force of water alone.
In being like water, we do not allow ourselves to become attached to thoughts or things. We continue moving and we don’t resist the negativity that life throws our way. We know that it too shall pass.
We understand that there are situations outside of our reach. There are things that we simply can’t control. And we stop resisting things that we have no power to change.
We understand that there’s our business, their business and God’s business.
In attending to our business, we choose to breathe out love, hope, kindness, and compassion. We attend to what we can and let go of the rest.
We understand that we cannot control the business (and lives) of others. That is forever out of our control.
And we accept that God’s business (consisting of natural disasters, etc.) are outside of our power. Even if we consider our part in climate change, we cannot change what has already happened. We can only do our part to make wise decisions in the present.
There is nothing we can do to change what has occurred. All that we have the power to change is ourselves and how we choose to perceive and manage the situation. This is the only way that we bring out a different future circumstance. And it all happens through living in the moment before us now.
So my prayer for myself and for you is to let go of what you cannot change now. To have the strength to keep breathing love out into the world now. And to attach love and hope to every situation in your mind that seems full of despair and hopelessness now.
As the water made a way and created the Grand Canyon, I truly believe that God is making a way in our lives through every situation to create within us a beauty just as great.
We must just have the courage to let go now so that we make the way to give ourselves a gentle landing.
Sending love and light to you.
Photo source: falling by Micael Carlsson