Denial vs. Opening

 

There is an impression I sometimes run across: Zen (or more generally meditation) somehow is about repression or denial. It is curious, as there seems to be little in Zen that could give rise to that idea. At the same time, it is understandable, as most people have an impression that Zen is about equanimity (which is partly accurate), and only know how to achieve a semblance of equanimity through repression and denial…

Degrees of Resistance
We relate to our experiences in varying degrees of resistance, and the two ends of the polarity both give a sort of equanimity.

At one extreme, we resist to the point of numbness. The resulting deadening can be seen as a form of equanimity, although one that hides a volcano.

Inbetween the two ends, we variously fuel and push away our experiences. Both of which are forms of resistance – resistance to letting it go, and resistance to having it stay. This brings a sense of struggle and uneasiness.

At the other end of the polarity, there is no resistance to experiences. We allow them to arise, unfold and fade, without fuelling or pushing away. This allows us to fully experience, and allows the experiences to surge through without trace (no resentment etc). This gives a more genuine equanimity – there is no resistance to any experience.

One way to come to this is to consciously drop resistance – through tools such as sitting practice, Byron Katie’s process, asking ourselves Can I be with what I am experiencing right now?, working with projections (see all qualities in the inner and outer world), and meditation in action such as yoga, tai chi, chi gong and Breema.

Of course, the only way to really drop resistance is for awareness to realize itself as inherently space and clarity, in which all experiences arise, unfold and fade – without trace. We find a “ground” in the formless nature of mind, and this allows us to not hold onto its content.

I just re-saw the Matrix trilogy, and what comes to mind here is Neo’s final realization. From continually struggling with and resisting Agent Smith, he realized that the next step is to not resist. To allow the two to be one, with intimacy and no separation. And this allowed them both to transform into light and space.

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