The Power of No

The holidays are a wonderful time to embrace the potency of saying no.

As I write this we’re putting a wrap on November and heading into the frenzy of winter holidays, American Style. Just insert yourself into your favorite Hieronymus Bosch painting, dole out a few Santa hats and candy canes and that’s pretty much what I’m talking about. 

It’s the perfect time of year to practice saying no. Not an apologetic no, the one where you have to qualify and explain and justify and negotiate (to yourself or to others). Look inside yourself, past the people pleasing, past the lack of personal authority and find that uncompromising no. The no that owes no explanation. 

It’s not a defensive no. It’s not a no that contains a subext of “I don’t give a giddy fook how you feel about this”. It’s a no that is so secure in itself, in the authority from which it comes, that it doesn’t need to defend itself, even internally. 

Spend money, eat, drink, drive here and there, shop, shop, shop, Secret Santa, obligatory cocktail parties, cook, bake, look for parking, people you don’t like, situations that drain you, what am I doing? Why am I here? Frenzy. One more party. Last minute gifts. Sugar. Booze. Social Media immersion hell.

And yet…for us in the Northern Hemisphere at least…it’s winter! Winter is pure magic. Winter is the depth of the heart’s delight. Winter holds the promise of what’s next, but yet unseen, unknown. Winter holds the whispers of lives past and yet to be lived. Don’t squander your winter magic, people. 

Find your no. Get used to wielding it…it takes some skill to do it well. It takes time for people around you to adjust to this, perhaps heretofore unknown, no. It can feel really uncomfortable at first, for you and for everyone else. So be patient with yourself and with them. 

Using the uncompromising no internally also takes some getting used to. Sometimes it’s ourselves or our reflexive tendencies we need to say no to. Are you indulging in food or booze that feels good for five minutes and then just makes you sick? Are you indulging in soggy old-era emotions, habits or attitudes? When you say no internally, watch to see if there is any reaction. 

This can range from negotiating with yourself, justifying your no, or even feeling smug and oh so self-congratulatory. Can you say no and then drop the whole thing, immediately? This kind of no that I’m talking about has nothing beyond it — you’ve dropped any possibility of whatever it is you said no to and so it doesn’t exist for you, it no longer has anything to do with you. 

Say yes to everything you love, or to things you truly want or need to do, or even frivolities you truly want to engage in…this isn’t about being grim after all.

But do learn to say no-full-stop. The no that annihilates. The no that is true. And carry this forward beyond the holidays…see what happens!

“It is better for me to offend him once, than myself every day. That would be perpetual slavery.”

Montaigne
Essay: Ceremony of Interviews Between Kings

We put so much effort into keeping the show going.

We don’t want to see the cracks, the creeping mold, the actual motivations that make up the foundations of the cherished edifices of our lives. We diligently maintain them so that others won’t see the flaws, but even more importantly, so that we don’t have to look at them directly.

read

Learning about Enlightenment can be an interesting pastime, but that is what it is.

A hobby. There is nothing wrong with that, except that so many people seem to believe that it is "spiritual" and special—and perhaps even sacred.

They revere people they deem to be Enlightened, whether they are contemporary or some long gone figure like the Buddha. They have a bookshelf full of writings by such people, well worn and dog eared. Some can even quote them with great accuracy and felicity.

Collecting all the super hero cards will not make you a super hero. It makes you a collector. Learning about the awakened state can be interesting, for sure, but it won't make you awake.

If you want to spend your time and effort learning about something that will make a qualitative difference, turn your attention to the state you actually inhabit rather than one you cannot understand with the mind. Enlightenment doesn't yield itself through learning. However, investigating your current state of somnambulance—becoming an expert on its mechanisms, tricks and peculiar physicswill produce incrementally a more lucid dreamstate, a less heavy torpor.

Who cares if you are awake or having a lovely journey in which you believe you are "awakening"?

You seem to appreciate your journey, so in that case, why wake up? Is being awake better than having a dream you are enjoying—a dream you find worthy or somehow valuable? 

I do not advocate enlightenment. For some people, there is no other option but to wake up.

People who are “on a journey” want that journey validated.

I have never come across a person who had this paradigm of being on a spiritual journey who didn’t feel the urge to validate it, and seek validation for it.

I don’t doubt that you have learned many valuable things along the way. I don’t refute your epiphanies. What I’m saying, only from personal experience, is that there is a state of awareness after which there is no more seeking. One is finished, done. It’s over. That will sound like a “destination” to you. It is not. But it’s also not a state which one who values their journey, identifies with their journey, can easily comprehend. If spiritual seeking has become an identity for you, a life in which you've found, and seeking is finished, will not compute.

When you are awake, it is so stark and different. There exists no notion that one is in some process of waking up or that one is operating on various levels of being awake.

Only Sleepwalkers make these distinctions because they are still dreaming and do not have the experience of being truly awake by which to understand the difference. People are awake or they are not.

In a mundane sense, you can understand this: A brain surgeon is awake or he’s not. The pilot flying you from Los Angeles to London is awake or she’s not. In those circumstances you would never think to apply and accept some kind of gradation of how deeply or lightly asleep these people are.

People often confuse Persona Remodeling, Repair and Maintenance with Enlightenment.

read

People are desperate to relieve themselves of this miserable "I" by becoming awakened, and people who are awakened are in suicidal despair because they've lost their "I". Whatever you think this is a solution for, it's not. There are people in blazing despair on either side.

read

When I woke up, I was a spiritually literate person...very much so. But no understanding I thought I had gained from study or gathering information even approximated the reality of waking up. I could have read and studied and gathered the whole rest of my life without adding anything to my true understanding of being awake.

If you're gathering knowledge, you will surely become an expert on Enlightenment. But if you think that represents your movement toward Enlightenment—that's just a trick the Program plays on you.

The minute you understand what being awake is, you will be awake. They are the same.

read