The impulse to escape experience

 

Elaboration on an earlier inquiry:

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Basic dynamics

(a) When I believe I need to escape experience, I may be able to do so partially and for a while.

I may distract myself.

I may find tools and techniques that change my state and experience for a while.

But I cannot control experience. Experiences come and go. They live their own life.

I cannot control what I will experience when I wake up tomorrow, or next week, or even the next minute or second.

The specific experiences I try to avoid may still be there in the background, and they may surface again and be triggered again.

When I try to escape experience, I can only do so partially and temporarily.

(b) Also, believing that I need to change my experience is uncomfortable in itself.

I get myself into escape mode. I keep trying to run from what’s here.

And that is inherently uncomfortable.

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No escape

 

Two ways there is no escape:

First, there is no escape from experience – as it shows up here now. If I fight it, there is discomfort. If I fully allow it, as it is, in a wholehearted and heartfelt way, there is a shift – often into a sense of nurturing fullness from the content of experience, and a quiet joy from just experiencing. And since fully allowing experience invites a shift of identification out of content of experience, it is also easier to notice what I am.

And then, there is no escape from what we are. However much I am caught up with and identified with content of experience, and independent of states and content of experience, what I am is still here. It is all there is.

So in both of these cases, the nature of no escape is an expression of what is, as this timeless present all experience happens within, to and as. It is a quiet and stable guide inviting us to find the wholeness of who we are and to notice what we are. And we can also see it as an expression of the love and intelligence of what is – whether it plays hide and seek with itself, or has discovered itself here now.

No escape

 

As Pema Chödrön says, there is a wisdom in no escape.

We notice that content of experience is what it is, right now, and that identifying with resistance to it only creates drama and suffering, so I may as well fully allow it, in a wholehearted way, as it is, as if it would never change.

And we may also notice that the sense of no escape is created from wanting to escape, in three ways.

First, without the thought of escape, there is no thought of no escape.

Then, by identifying with the thought of wanting escape, we try to escape, and realize it cannot be done.

And finally, identifying with the intention of escape is exactly how we are trapped in a sense of no escape.It brings identification firmly within content of experience, in this case the thought and intention and attempts of escape, so our identification is trapped within content of experience. We take ourselves to be an object in the world, at the mercy of the whims of a world living its own life.

Yet, as soon as identification is released out of this identification, there is an escape. When we fully allow experience as it is, including resistance to experience, there is a release of identification out of content of experience.

We find ourselves as that which experience happens within, to and as.

We find ourselves as that which is inherently free from any experience, allows all experience, and that all experience happens within, to and as.

We find ourselves as that which doesn’t need to escape. It is already free from it, so there is no need to escape that which does not bind. And it is already any content of experience happening, so there is no need to escape that which is not Other.

So to summarize:

  • The wisdom of no escape is to realize that what is, is. The content of experience, here now, is what it is. Trying to escape it only creates drama and suffering. Fully allowing it invites in a sense of peace and clarity.
  • The sense of no escape is created in three ways.
    • Without the thought of escape, no thought of no escape.
    • It is the trying to escape, which brings us to notice that there is no escape.
    • And it is the identification with that thought of escaping which traps us in the first place. It brings identification firmly within the world of form, so we are trapped within it and the whims of this world of form.
  • As soon as we fully allow content of experience as it is, as if it would never change, identification is released out of content of experience. We find ourselves as that which content of experience happens within, to and as. As that which is already free from content of experience, because there is no identification with the thought of escape, because it is that which the ever changing world of form happens within, to and as, and because content of experience is not Other.