Spirit Grooves Blogs

Published on August 19, 2013

"Given the opportunity, everyone will do what they want." My first dharma teacher Andrew Gunn McIver drilled that phrase into my head, over and over, and expected me to memorize it. I certainly have, but I can't say I have always understood what it means, but I'm getting there.

What seems to be true, but also a little unsettling, is the idea that if you take away the logistical blocks or obstacles in our path, we all just rush to fill the gaps (what we want) in our lives, willy-nilly, often without a second thought to the consequences.

As I get older I see this more and more clearly, the compulsion to do what we want, even if it goes against logic and convention. I am sure I don't fully grasp the larger significance of it all, but at times it appears that we live in a world of crazed folk all busy plugging holes in their psyches. Color me in there too.

In other words, I can hardly explain my own actions, much less understand how and why others do what they do, which often appears as not only counter-intuitive, but just plain harmful to their health and situations. I am sure at some cosmic level, the universe is self-adjusting itself, but it hasn't bothered to explain to me how it all works. I am only certain that I don't know.

The greater picture, seeing the forest 'and' the trees, is something I aspire to, but don't always realize. Why do we do just the thing that is not good for us at times? The above phrase from my teacher Andrew perhaps explains it as well as anything else IMO.

At times the whole mess appears like a giant can of worms all intertwined and I am darned if I can find the end of the thread to begin unraveling it, millions (or billions) of people all moving simultaneously in different directions to fulfill their wants or perceived needs. I often imagine what someone like a great Rinpoche (for example my dharma teacher) sees when he looks around at all of us, his students. He is so compassionate, and it's no wonder why, as he surveys the sometimes nuthouse we must appear as. One would need great compassion to make sense of us all. Greater awareness just naturally brings greater compassion. You can't have one without the other. It seems that's how it works.

One thing I do know is that I can't personally control the actions of anyone else. I can advise, but that advice is most often overpowered by the natural "wants" mentioned above. Again: as my teacher Andrew said, "Given the opportunity, everyone will do what they want." It's happening, for sure.

And I don't mean this as a rant, but just a pause in my own craziness to glimpse how nutty it is for me to be constantly rushing here and there, filling all space (and emptiness) with (what can appear as) meaningless activity, and with my psyche bubbling along like fat in a frying pan.

I learn to control my own reactions not by force of will, but simply by giving up expectations and working with things just as they are. As the Buddhists say, hope and fear are never our friends, but almost always obstacles on our path.

[Photo taken of a Michigan orchid bud. And, as an aside note, transiting Mars is conjunct my natal Sun just now, always a little harsh. It happens roughly every two years.]