I remember good ole Eckhart Tolle saying years ago, when I first encountered presence teachings, “the ego is resistance.” To offer no resistance is to offer no ego. But I found this to be trickier than it appears at first glance.
My system has always had a kind of built-in resistance to what arises – a very unconscious mechanism. It was unconscious in the sense that I couldn’t see that it was happening. A craving, seeking thought, emotion or some other arising would happen and then, along with it, there was a kind of resistance or what I call “a push” against it. This was a subtle kind of trying to push away or change what was appearing. And in that pushing or trying to change, the arisings would stick around and there would be some form of identication with them. Everything felt like me – every thought, emotion and sensation – and because it felt like me, it seemed as if I had to do something with it. Mainly, there was a sense of needing to get rid of whatever was uncomfortable or painful. Therein lied my suffering.
One night while lying in bed, I just began to say “offer no push” and “offer nothing” to this thought, to that emotion, to this sensation. It helped me to see this built-in resistance mechanism in action. It helped me see the resistance towards stuff that I was experiencing internally, in the field of thoughts, emotions, and sensations. It was a deeply loving way of surrendering. But surrender is where it gets tricky. I thought, like many others, that surrender was something that would just happen in one fell swoop, like a magic bullet moment after which all resistance would just fade completely and never reappear. I have to admit that my own investigation of experience was not that clean and simple.
My investigation has been more like seeing layers under other layers of resistance. There came a point at which many of the usual kinds of ego thoughts were just allowed to come and go and then eventually quiet. You know the kind – “I’m not good enough,” “I’m not there yet,” “I am afraid of you.” I’m speaking about all the obvious “me” story thoughts. But underneath all that, once it quieted, I found a deeper layer of resistance against even the physical sensations of the body.
At this core level, the resistance felt almost primal, as if it was built into the very fabric of being human with a body.
But this is when “offering no push” became an even deeper practice. Lying quietly in bed each night and even during the day, I began to notice the “push” even more, with all of its many variations, appearing over and over. Whatever seemed to be appearing externally in my life – the people I would encounter and the situations that would trigger me – all boiled down to these pushes against the physical experience of a body with all its fight, flight, freeze responses, reactivity and seeking at the sensory level. As I offered no push and even allowed the push totally when it happened, the external changed. The problem wasn’t “out there.” It was “in here,” in this push against the internal appearances of sensation. As the push relaxed, the fight against the external began to relax, revealing the inseparability of the internal and external experience of life. The wall of separation between me and the life it seemed I needed to fight against began to dissolve.
I smile when I hear people say, “I need to accept this situation.” Many times they are referring to the need to accept someone else’s behavior or a situation they find themselves in. But if they could just see that the real key is offering no resistance to the thoughts, emotions and sensations, they might see that acceptance happens naturally within. And that transforms the outer circumstances and relationships in life. Offering no resistance to a craving can naturally diminish the power of the craving. Offering no resistance to fear can naturally diminish its power. Offering no resistance to a blocked energy gives it room to open and dissolve.
What a wonderful insight to see that we hold the power of acceptance right in our hands, within our own internal experience. We each hold the key within us to transform our entire experience both inward and outward and therefore to transform the world as we see it. In what ways are you pushing against your experience? Just notice and offer nothing.