Lurking just beneath the calm surface of the beautiful waters of the Gulf of Mexico, here along the "Emerald Coast", is an often deadly phenomenon know as a rip current. The view from the snow white beaches can be so enticing - and deceiving. Each year there are a handful of visitors and locals alike who fall victim. Whether they are unaware of the danger or just don't take it seriously makes no difference. Once in the current, fear, panic and exhaustion take their toll, with disastrous results. The impulse is to fight, of course. To escape. To control. That's only natural. But if we don't know or understand what it is we're trying to escape from, our actions only lead to the situation getting even worse. And so we struggle more.
The best and easiest way to escape from a rip current is, basically, to do nothing. Relax and go with the flow, but with mindfulness. Relax with awareness and wait for the current to stop. It will cease in it's own time, which is surprisingly fast. So the best course of action is as little action as possible. Easy to say, difficult to actually "do".
Meditation is like this. Dhamma practice is like this. Life is like this. We think we're on solid ground - in control. But there isn't anything really "solid" about any of it. And so we're uncomfortable, unsure, unsteady. If I stand in the water and actually pay attention, there is a continuous push and pull. Sometimes barely even noticeable, sometimes rough and very strong. Mind is the same. Sometimes just barely brushing by and sometimes knocking one flat! Mindfulness - or the lack of it - determines whether we get pulled under and drown or go with the flow until the turbulence begins to subside, calms and finally ceases. This, perhaps, is where control can be found. Not the control of wanting and struggling, but the control of gently releasing the desire for control. Being with the way it is without making it personal, so not trying to change it into anything other than what it is.
Service builds community
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