I finally finished "The Untethered Soul." Certainly one of, if not THE most life-changing, influential books I've ever read so far in my 35 years of life. I'm excited to see how what I've learned in this book continues to help me live in Love and in Spirit. If you are new to my blog, check out my blog posts from the past couple of weeks. Most, though not all, are inspired by the chapter of the book I read the night before. I'm still amazed by the transformation I went through from start to finish of this book. So much has changed in my life and in the way I view life in a few short weeks. I literally am a different person today than I was a few weeks ago before starting this book.
So, on to today's blog....
Chapter 18 discusses the Tao. The basic principle of the Tao is balance. Everything operates on a spectrum. Like a pendulum, we swing back and forth, trying to find the middle balancing point. That middle balancing point is where the Tao is.
All parts of our life operate on this spectrum, this pendulum. And as humans, we tend to swing back and forth. We tend to swing towards one extreme for a while, then back to the other extreme.
Think about yourself and your life. I know I do this. In relationships, I often go through periods of wanting to be with someone all the time, 24/7... to not wanting to be with anyone and just needing to be alone. One side of the spectrum to the other. In my leisure time, I will be all about reading, be really into a particular book, and spend hours engrossed in the story... then go weeks without reading any book. In my working life, I'd dive into a new job, love it, work as many hours as I can get... then get burned out and not work at all, living off the savings, for weeks to months. I'm seeing how much I live my life at the extremes of the pendulum.
The latest is with my diet. As I read this chapter the other night I totally saw myself. The last two and a half to three years I've followed a pretty strict vegan diet. I was at one end of the pendulum. For a couple of months I even got quite into raw veganism... even further towards the extreme end of the pendulum.
I chose this diet because I wanted to. I saw it as the most healthy way to eat, as well as the best moral/ethical choice. It was a no-brainer for me. I was excited about eating that way. I felt good eating that way. I loved eating that way.
Now I see I was at one end of a pendulum. And the pendulum is swinging back.
It's hard to explain, and it's not something I ever expected to happen. But in the past couple of months I've had a much stronger desire to eat non-vegan things. When I first decided to eat vegan, it was easy. I didn't miss animal products (except cheese, at the beginning). It was a relatively easy transition and choice. That's why it's so interesting to me how strong my desire for animal products is now.
Compared to many Americans, I still eat far fewer animal products. But compared to how I've eaten the past three years.... I've eaten things (like a hot dog last night) that I haven't eaten in years.
Anyway, this blog isn't about my diet. It's about the pendulum that runs through every aspect of our lives. I just most notice my pendulum swinging in regards to my diet at this point in my life.
According to Michael Singer, "When you spend your energy trying to maintain the extremes, nothing goes forward. You get stuck in a rut....The Way is in the middle because that's the place where the energies are balanced. [H]ow do you stop the pendulum from swinging?...[B]y leaving it alone....Don't participate in [the extremes], and the pendulum will naturally come toward the center. As it comes to the center, you will get filled with energy," (p. 169).
When we live out on the extremes, at the ends of the spectrum, we tend to devote so much of our energy to that extreme. I know I did with my diet. It consumed a lot of my thoughts. I'm not saying being 100% vegan is bad, or being 100% raw vegan is bad... or any of my other extremes (working lots of hours, reading a lot, choosing to be alone). We all get to choose how to live our lives and what we do in it. I'm just fascinated right now by the swinging pendulum effect. I've noticed it in my life, certainly, but reading about it in "The Untethered Soul" brought new meaning to it.
So why would you not want to continually swing back and forth amid the extremes of the pendulum? Michael Singer answers this question. "The inefficiency of your actions is determined by how many degrees off-center you are. You will be that much less able to use your energy for living life because you are using it to adjust to the pendulum swings," (p. 168).
When we're constantly swinging from one end to the other, it takes more of our energy. That's why the middle is "The Way," which is to say what the Tao encourages. It's where we are the most powerful. The most at peace.
"For the being who is in the Tao, events take place and last just as long as they are taking place. That's it. If you're driving and somebody cuts you off, you feel your energy start to pull off-center. You actually feel it in your heart. As you let go, it comes back to center," (p. 170).
Have you noticed yourself experiencing that? I like that Michael Singer uses an example of driving because I think many of us can relate to that. I know I certainly can. Things other drivers do is one of the quickest triggers for me. I have noticed my energy pull off-center in an instant. In the worst periods of my "road rage," I would remain off-center for a while after the actual incident. It would continue to get to me. My blood would be boiling and I'd have a hard time letting it go. Thankfully, I've learned to let go better. I don't consider myself as someone with "road rage" any longer. But I certainly was!
"When you move in the Tao, you are always present....[I]f you have all kinds of reactions going on inside because you're involved in the extremes, life seems confusing. That's because you're confused, not because life's confusing. When you stop being confused, everything becomes simple. If you have no preference, if the only thing you want to remain is centered, then life unfolds while you simply feel for the center. There is an invisible thread that passes through everything. All things move quietly through that center balance. That is the Tao. It is really there. It is there in your relationships, your diet, and in your business activities. It is there in everything. It is the eye of the storm. It is completely at peace," (p. 170).
"In the Tao...,the balance point is not static....You move from balance point to balance point....You can't have any concepts or preferences; you have to let the forces move you....[N]othing is personal....Effortless action is what happens when you come into the Tao. Life happens, you're there, but you don't make it happen. There is no burden; there is no stress," (p. 171).
"You're no longer held down to your earthly self, so you begin to feel more spaciousness inside....You don't feel as much anger, fear, or self-consciousness. You don't feel resentment towards people. You don't close or get tight as often. Things still happen that you don't want to happen, but they don't seem to touch you as much. They can't reach back to where you are because you've drifted behind the part of you that reacts to things....It's just what naturally happens when you let go of the lower vibrations of your being. You drift in and up to the deeper vibrations.
As you associate less with the physical and psychological parts of your being, you begin to identify more with the flow of pure energy. What does it feel like to identify more with Spirit than with form? You used to walk around feeling anxiety and tension; now you walk around feeling love," (p. 174).
"The individual consciousness falls into the Universal Oneness. And that's it....[T]hey had merged and there was no differentiation within the Universal Oneness of God. The drop of consciousness, which is individual Spirit, is like a ray of light emanating from the sun. The individual ray is really no different from the sun. When consciousness stops identifying itself as the ray, it comes to know itself as the sun. Beings have merged into that state....[You] start feeling tremendous love for all creatures...[Y]ou are no longer judging....[J]udging as simply stopped. There is just appreciating and honoring," (p. 176-177).
"Then nobody will upset or disappoint you. Nothing will create a problem. It will all appear as part of the beautiful dance of creating unfolding before you," (p. 180).
I apologize for the long quotes from the book. I just couldn't find a good way to break it up, as it all flowed together so well. And I couldn't say it any better myself. It's all so beautiful.
Doesn't that sound just amazing? That way of life? No more judging. Just love. No more problems. Peace.
Total and utter freedom. That's what I saw as I read those words. And it's what I'm feeling as I'm putting those words into practice in my own life.
I still feel my pendulum swinging. I'm learning to find my center. My balance.
This doesn't have anything to do with my blog, but I was so moved, I wanted to share. I just watched a Jeff Probst show I had on DVR. It was about organ donation, and specifically a 13-year-old girl, Taylor. She died in a ski accident and her parents agreed to have her organs donated. She saved the lives of 5 different people.
Taylor's parents started a foundation called Taylor's Gift. Check out the webpage (www.taylorsgift.org). You can click on the link on the home page and register to be an organ donor in your state. That way you know it's on file, should anything happen.
I'm already signed up as an organ donor, as per my driver's license, but I went on the website and signed up again, just to be sure. :)