Passivity as Spiritual Practice

Some passivity seems to be called for. I mean passivity in the sense of not offering resistance, but rather yielding to what is. This is the opposite of becoming – that energy that constantly seeks to mold and make according to the shifting dictates of good and bad, right and wrong. Can we find a way to be outside or or not subject to that kind of thinking, that sort of judgment? It limits us.

More and more I experience A Course in Miracles in terms of this one choice: between love and resistance to love, between reality and illusion. It is not just words – not just an idea. It is there in every moment, the capacity to let the self go and experience instead a loveliness, a peacefulness, a joyfulness. We cannot get to it through effort, which for the longest time confused me. And being confused, I sought to understand. But understanding is just another form of effort. So what then?

You come up to the limits of yourself. You have seen the futility of relying on external circumstances, of massaging and manipulating them. You have seen that your mind is limited to thought – always stuck in the past, endlessly circling in patterns designed to preserve the body and elevate a “me” that you can never quite grasp, never quite meet. You would surrender but to who?

We want the solution to be of our own making. It is so hard to see that and then, having seen it, to let it go. Trust comes in, like the first step on a rickety bridge. You don’t know what is going to happen next.

Passivity is not physical. It is not about sitting in a chair and waiting or meditating on the zafu according to instruction. Passivity is not expectant. It is not predicated on the idea that something good will happen if only we are patient. It doesn’t project that way. It is hard to see that thought itself is resistant, that the whole sum of self has to be released. There is no cause and effect in Oneness, no goals or ideals, no movement to or from. We can say it but what does that mean?

In passivity, resistance is dissolved. We are no longer making an effort – we are no longer projecting an ideal to which effort could be directed. There is creativity in passivity, but it is not familiar, not to those of bent so many lifetimes on achieving Enlightenment, waking up, getting into Heaven. We have worked so hard and for what? To learn that working was not required. We studied only to learn there was nothing to learn. Can we admit it? Even wanting God obscures God. To see this is humbling. There is nothing we can do.

Passivity is still alert, still aware. It observes. But it no longer decides in advance what will be observed. Or why. Or even how. It is like we extended an invitation twenty or more lifetimes ago and only now is our guest showing up. We have forgotten everything – the invitation, to whom it was made, why it was made. Passivity welcomes the stranger. It listens.

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