Tuesday Thoughts - Control
Control feels like this...
I heard a talk this morning that addressed the issue of Right View in life (you'll recognize this as the first step of the Eight-Fold Path). A wise meditation teacher has said that only three things are needed: A Right View, An Awareness of what is, and a Continuity of practicing these two.
What makes for a Right View? Well, the teacher went on, here's what it is not. If you are a sailor, and expend all your energies of mind, will and body attempting to calm the waves you will never learn how to sail. You will have been trying to do the impossible. A Right View of sailing is that the nature of the wind and waves are nothing more than their nature. A wise sailor learns to sail with the givenness of wind and waves.
I have written before about sailing, and have often noted that I am a "Fair Weather" sailor; I am most comfortable going out when the conditions are pleasant. The problem with this is that one doesn't really learn how to sail that way. Prudence is one thing. Avoiding the nature of things is another. My fear-based need to control my immediate environment keeps me from fully entering into sailing or whatever else it is that I might be about. I have bought the story line about what sort of sailor I am (Fair Weather) and have claimed this as my identity. Not a Right View.
I am trying to absorb this. Mary and I have discussed recently my controlling nature. It is not a new realization. Some years ago, while giving announcements in church, I mentioned a class on self-control soon to be offered by a church member. It struck me as so funny that someone would give a church class on self-control that I literally fell out of the pulpit and onto the floor in hysterics (laughter!). I could offer PhD level instructions on the subject.
A boat sailing in a brisk wind was the obvious image to connect with this insight. Then I thought of a pair of old whiskey barrels we recently moved from our deck to the woods. These half barrels have served as over-stuffed flower pots, and now they will collect leaves. One of these barrels is mostly intact. The other is falling apart. Intact one does not notice the iron barrel hoops. Let some rot set into the wooden staves and the hoops serve little purpose. There remains nothing to hold up.
My efforts to control, in the end, are like iron hoops trying vainly to manage rotting staves. It doesn't work. I can't control the wind and waves. I can't control every aspect of my life. Things change, age and decay. This is nature. This is how it is. Control feels like this.