Byron Katie: If you want real control, drop the illusion of control

 

Being present means living without control and always having your needs met. For people who are tired of the pain, nothing could be worse than trying to control what can’t be controlled. If you want real control, drop the illusion of control. Let life live you. It does anyway. You’re just telling the story about how it doesn’t, and that’s a story that can never be real. You didn’t make the rain or the sun or the moon. You have no control over your lungs or your heart or your vision or your breath. One minute you’re fine and healthy, the next minute you’re not. When you try to be safe, you live your life trying to be very, very careful, and you may wind up having no life at all. Everything is nourishment. I like to say, “Don’t be careful; you could hurt yourself.”

You can’t make people moral. People are what they are, and they’ll do what they do, with or without our laws. Remember the prohibition amendment? I hear that it was passed by well-intentioned, moral people, who just wanted to save the rest of us from the temptation of alcohol. Of course it failed, because sobriety can come only from the inside. You can’t force people to be sober or honest or kind. You can say “thou shalt not” till you’re blue in the face, and they’ll do it anyway.

The best way, the only effective way, is to serve as an example and not to impose your will.

Byron Katie, A Thousand Names for Joy

I agree with this, and also see how it can easily be misunderstood.

It’s doesn’t mean not working towards something in life. Or creating the conditions for a happy and healthy society and life. Or being assertive when that’s needed.

It doesn’t mean that anything needs to change. Apart from one thing, and that’s the idea that we can control life, or need to, or that life would be better if we could. 

So how do we arrive at this place of more clarity around control? Inquiry is one approach, including Byron Katie’s The Work. What beliefs and ideas do I have about control, especially when I allow myself to be petty, childish, and uncensored? What do I find when I investigate these beliefs, and find what’s already more true for me? 

And what does she mean by finding real control through dropping the illusion of control? I am not sure, but for me it means that when I see through the illusion of having, or needing, or even wanting control, there is a resting in reality. I, as a separate being, don’t have control over life and never will. I don’t need it and never did. When I look, I see I don’t even really want it, and never did. And, in some ways, that’s control.

At the very least, it’s freedom from the lack of control – the instability and stress – I create for myself when I believe my ideas of needing, having, or wanting control. It’s a resting in and as what is. 

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