Sunday, July 13, 2008

Changing your experience

Do you want to change your experience?

The chances are that if this moment is unpleasant or stressful in any way, then you probably do want to change your experience. Is it not so? It is important to notice if this is so.

There is a whole world of ways out there that you can choose from to change your experience. And in life, we try many of them. By the time we come to the spiritual search, we have realized that many, and even most of them, do not ultimtately work.

On the spiritual journey, we may have lost our belief in many solutions out there, but we may retain one key belief - suffering is not ok and it must go. When I say suffering, I mean the entire range of feelings from mild discontent to acute stress.

Suffering is not ok, goes the belief, so we accumulate more and more subtle and sophisticated techniques to change our experience - to not suffer.

We have the idea that if we keep successfully changing our experience enough times using this or that technique, then somehow there will come a time when that change will stick and become a permanent state of unmitigated bliss.

There is nothing wrong with this, of course.

I mention all this because perhaps there comes a time when we may fall through to a place where nothing works. There is nowhere to turn to and nothing to depend on. And this is experienced as helplessness or depair or misery or anger or whatever else. And we feel completely overwhelmed.

With no effective technique and no defense against this onslaught, we are simply swallowed by it. And it feels like the end of everything. Which perhaps it is. It takes everything away.

There is good news here - for what it can take away completely is also the belief that suffering is not ok and needs to be changed. This is actually quite a relief, but not because relief was sought.

Sometimes all these words seem very paradoxical. What is being suggested is this:

When suffering arises, and there is no belief that it needs to be changed, then we respond to suffering from freedom. We may then happen to act in such a way that suffering stops, or we may not. Either way the action does not arise from a fear of the suffering. It arises from the freedom of experience.

This is the difference.

We no longer need to change our experience and our experience is free to change.