The Coronavirus is bringing into stark view the fact that we are not in control. Which is fine, because we never have been, we just thought we were. So now what?
I bumped into a friend last weekend. He’s the MD of a business that’s already seen significant decline as a result of Coronavirus. “We just don’t know what things will be like by next Friday,” he told me. It occurred to me afterwards, of course, we don’t. We have never known. The only difference is that the shifts and changes between a “normal” Monday to Friday are relatively small. They constitute the kinds of ups and downs that we’ve come to think of as a standard week. Now the virus has exaggerated the variance, bringing it into stark view.
Confronting us with the truth that we were never in control.
What was your reaction just then?
The conceptual mind (intellect, idea of self, ego) can often hear ‘you’re not in control’ in two ways:
- What do you mean I’m not in control? Of course, I am! Look at all the decisions and choices I’ve made in my life. Look at all the people I’ve influenced and the changes I’ve made to circumstances around me.
- Phew! I’m not in control!! Thank the Lord for that!
Maybe even both will appear. Because that’s the nature of the conceptual mind. It bandies around all sorts of thoughts, most of which are opposing and contradictory to each other — and this is what we’ve been listening to. No wonder we’re confused and lost. We’ve been walking around on one of those wobbly-floor fairground attractions trying to find solid ground. Impossible!
Let’s explore responses 1. and 2.
In the presence of response no.1, we’ll experience difficulty and effort. Battling our way through life in resistance to what shows up that apparently needs taking control of. Something new that needs controlling will always appear when this is the thinking we’re believing.
With no. 2 we’ll experience a moment of calm, comfort, security and OK-ness. The relief of it! And shortly after we’ll go back to feeling uncertain and insecure.
When the mind notices that calm, comforting, secure feeling and then the return to discomfort, it thinks the nice feelings were coming from this new ‘I’m not in control’ game and it thinks great! I’ll start playing that game because it feels nicer than trying to be in control.
It looks like saying ‘I’m not in control’ is the route to security but this is a misunderstanding. There was never a causal relationship here. The conceptual mind lives to pattern-match and correlate and all it’s done is correlate ‘nice feelings’ with a new made-up belief of ‘I’m not in control’. From this belief, it now walks a different tightrope of life. ‘I’ll be OK when I stay out of control. Must not control anything!’. This leads to a denial of what’s appearing. A blase, laissez-faire attitude to life — Oh I don’t care, I’m not in control anyway.
This is no more true than the old ‘I’m in control’ game because the conceptual mind isn’t in control, and neither is it not in control. It’s just a bunch of ideas floating around in the ether of the mind. It layers a story over life of seeking and resisting. Hanging out in a misremembered past and an imagined future. Wishing and avoiding. Hoping and fearing.
The conceptual never had anything to do with life. Life happened and then it applied a storyline.
There was information in the glimpse of calm, comfort and security. Just not the information the conceptual mind took it to be. In ignorance, the mind starts us on its addictive chase of that chase of applying the new game. But in ‘knowing’, we start to reveal the whole thing.
The glimpse is us catching sight of our innate nature.
The moment the conceptual mind goes quiet (which it does when it thinks it’s found a way to shut itself up) brilliance shines through. It’s not the idea of ‘not being in control’ that makes the nice feeling appear, it’s the absence of the voice in our heads that reveals what was always here.
The brilliance that’s always here takes the form of calm, secure, grounded, content, joyful, creative, connected, resourceful, resilient, compassionate, authentic, boundaried. Human.
Believing a conceptual mind that seeks control, certainty and ‘right answers’ is, in fact, the very activity covering up what’s being searched for. Running around, kicking up so much dust that everything gets obscured.
How do we do this?
This is a question of the conceptual mind as it always wants a ‘do’, a way to apply what’s being shared, an action to take to succeed and live life the ‘right’ way. There is nothing to do, nothing to change, there is no right way. Whatever you’re experiencing is just how it is right now. Whatever changes is what changes. It’s not the conceptual mind that will make anything change from you reading this piece.
Awareness can be refocused towards the constants and away from the ever-changing:
- Look towards what emerges naturally the moment thinking settles down.
- Look towards the break in the clouds that allows something fresh and full of life to appear.
- Look towards the experience that naturally arises when the clouds pass on, change shape, or when they stop looking so troublesome and in need of change in the first place.
With love, Helen