There is so much advice out there these days. You could drown in it. There are so many great sources of wisdom… so many Buddhist teachers, so many Eckhart Tolles and Byron Katies and teachers of different types of approaches to the same things… the Brené Browns and Martha Becks and Paul Seligs and on and on. So many! This is an age of teacher overwhelm.
I’ve been wanting to write a post for a couple of weeks now but feeling as though my mind is going in too many directions at once.
Today I started reading Byron Katie’s new book, A Mind at Home with Itself. Wow, it’s good. I had resisted getting it. There is something about the Stephen-Mitchell-Byron-Katie marketing machine that bugged me, but that impression was washed away within the first dozen pages. Mr. Mitchell may be pimping his wife, but, hey, I’m buying. At least so far.
And although I’m only 25 pages in, my mind has begun to clear up. I’ve been trying too hard. I’ve been listening to too many wonderful Buddhist lectures, reading too many books, and in general believing in a whole passel of concepts that are not my own.
As much as I love Buddhist teachings, oh my God, they can really ensnare the part of you that feels like it needs to get . it . right. Or else what? I have my own answers to that question and I’m sure you all have your own, but mine has always been:
I have to get it right so I don’t have to do this all over again. That thought arises very strongly when I study the dharma. And it feels so bad, it can’t possibly be true.
So the smoke and dust are clearing and I’m back to ground zero—to a mind basically okay with itself, taking nothing all that seriously. This seems to be a repeating cycle with me, and I get something new out of it each time.
We so easily, and especially as women, accept external authority as being real, even when it doesn’t feel good or make any sense. Last week, the Louis C.K. drama unfolded. At first I thought, hell, if somebody asks to masturbate in front of you, and you don’t want him to, just say no. Walk out of the room. You’re not a prisoner.
But what I came to understand is that we are prisoners of the belief that someone has power we do not ourselves possess. And women sometimes feel that men, especially strong and powerful, successful men, have powers we don’t have. And we believe the only way to get what we want is to sell ourselves out, or risk being injured in some way.
He said it himself in his statement, “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is also true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them. The power I had over these women is that they admired me. And I wielded that power irresponsibly.”
We give people that power. We give spiritual teachers and teachings that power, when in truth everything we need is within our own minds, and, as Byron Katie says, you can tell if a thought is true by how it feels. Same thing Abraham Hicks says.
Listen to yourself. Feel out your concepts, your thoughts. Stop believing what other people tell you. Including me.