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Resistance

Thursday, September 29th, 2005

Resistance is a weird phenomenon.

Have you ever rented a horse at a commercial stable? I’m talking about the horses you ride when you don’t really know how to ride horses.

Commercial stable horses are generally reluctant to go anywhere.As you set out, anticipating your big day as a faux cowgirl, or even faux-er aristocrat, your horse walks slowly and seems to be resisting every step of the way. But, lo and behold, as soon as it senses you are even thinking about turning back toward the stable, it takes off toward home at a vigorous trot.

Are these horses just lazy?

Think about it. The horse doesn’t use more energy riding in one direction than in the other. In fact, it uses less energy moving along at the slow pace of the inexperienced rider than in dashing madly back to the stable.

Or it’s like this: Getting up, putting on your shoes, and driving with insane focus to the nearest convenience store for ice cream at midnight, might just take more energy than staying home, cooking some veggies and rice, and hitting the sack by 10.

So what gives?

Karmic patterns have momentum. Momentum is a quantity of energy, not a quantity of lack of energy. Things tend to do this or that when reinforced over time.

If you are driving on a freeway habitually traveled by heavy trucks, you notice that the road surface tends to get these grooves worn in it from the big tires. You notice that your car tends to fall into driving in these grooves.

If you remain unconscious, you just follow the grooves. It takes consciously applied energy to drive “differently.” We must wake up and decide to take responsibility for where the rubber meets the road. (heh, heh)

What we call resistance is our sensitivity to the force of karmic momentum. When some quantity of awareness-responsibility-decision energy, even a small quantity, meets karmic momentum, there is a sensation we call resistance. We don’t feel resistance until we are semi-aware, semi-ready for a change. Resistance is part of waking up.

At this point, though, most of us give in to momentum. Momentum wins out. But when we generate enough awareness-responsibility-decision energy, we transform the momentum of karma and we grow.

Deciding to take responsibility for the path followed is the powerful quantity of energy that must be applied to overcome the momentum of karmic patterning. Sadhana is the repatterning activity.

Becoming aware, taking responsibility, and making a powerful decision to change might happen all at once. More usually, it happens incrementally. The momentum of karmic patterning revisits us in subtler and subtler forms. We must make a renewed decision to seek freedom instead of enslavement to habit. But the decision, growing out of awareness and taking responsibility, is the key quantity.

The Mahasiddha Chogyam Trungpa wrote a great poem about all this. In it, a “sitter” means a person who sits in meditation.

Here’s a piece of the poem:

I met a sitter who said
She could build the Buddhist version of Disneyland—
If we would permit her not to sit for at least forty-five minutes.

I met a sitter who said,
“I could ape like a monkey, growl like a tiger;
I could huff and puff and get lots of money for Vajradhatu—
If you would permit me not to sit for at least forty-five minutes.

I met a sitter who shrieked like a loon,
Who said,
“I don’t like what’s going on. I never did.
Either I have a room to fix things up or I’ll quit.
In any case, I want to be acknowledged—
If you would permit me not to sit for at least forty-five minutes.

Whew! These folks are using up tremendous quantities of energy, but they haven’t made the decision to grow.

So, when you complain that you just can’t get up the energy to do sadhana, or change a habit, you have to wax a wee bit ironic with yourself and realize that it doesn’t take more energy to do the stuff you normally do than to do other stuff you don’t normally do.

It just takes more awareness and responsibility.

OM Shanti,
Shambhavi

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