“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” ~Lao Tzu
In a riveting documentary, “Talking with Buddha,” the filmmaker interviewed a Buddhist nun, Jetsumna Tenzin Palmo, a western female who, in her 20’s, traveled to the Indian/Tibetan region to become a Buddhist practitioner. She trained with her Lama (teacher) for 6 years, then lived in a remote monastery in the Himalayan mountains for 6 years, and then into a small cave for another 12. In her Himalayan cave, Palmo’s bed was a small wooden box, in which she would have to sleep upright, so she spent 18 years in isolation with bare comforts. In her interview, she eloquently said:.
“One of the good things about suffering is that it gets people up and gets them thinking…It’s not a quick and easy fix. A genuine spiritual path is not easy because our lower nature is like the force of gravity. It keeps pulling us back down and it’s very very hard to get beyond that and to be like an eagle soaring. Mostly, at the very best, we are like little sparrows newly hatched just trying to flap our wings just to get a few inches above the ground and down we go again. It’s very hard to really soar, and it takes tremendous amount of effort to become effortless.”
I couldn’t agree more that to live effortlessly, ironically, requires much effort, so it begged the question: why does it take so much effort to live effortlessly? While there can be many reasons, I believe the fundamental answer is in Lao Tzu’s quote: “When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” It is in letting go of our lower nature, i.e. our ego based on fear, that we can discover our higher nature, the essence of love, light and compassion.
Unfortunately, our collective consciousness of society is so attached to our lower nature of fear that we find it so difficult to rise to our higher nature. Dalai Lama said, “of course, when I say that human nature is gentleness, it is not 100% so. Every human being has that nature (gentleness), but there are many people acting against their nature, being false.”
As spiritual beings in a temporary physical body, we are trying to navigate in the physical world, so it becomes difficult to find ourselves, like a diamond in the rough. We are trapped — individually and collectively — by the matrix of our society and this physical world, where material gain is our highest priority, which never fully serves our soul. Our souls are just yearning for love and could care less about material comforts, which is why we find people with wealth still unhappy. When our soul — the essence of who we are — is not being served, then, of course, we struggle through life, finding it hard to live effortlessly.
Society dictates to us about how we should live and be, so naturally we feel this enormous pressure to conform, which removes us farther away from our soul and true nature. When we are constantly measured by our level of education, financial status, knowledge, etc., we will always feel like we’re not good enough. In fact, as an image of God and this Universe, we are already perfect, but we don’t realize this. As soon as we are born, our stage-driven parents, who are also victims of their ego’s fears, are telling us how to live based on society’s norms, so we are naturally disadvantaged from the get go — no wonder why we’re so attached to our lower nature. As we enter adulthood, becoming more and more dependent on our lower nature, we only experience more and more stress and unhappiness in our lives, struggling to live effortlessly.
It takes enormous faith and belief to live in your Truth when society’s collective consciousness says otherwise. Great souls like Nelson Mandela or Gandhi, who spoke the truth, were caste out of society and imprisoned for it, so we can only imagine why it’s so hard to live in the truth. To be singular in our minds and act upon it publicly takes tremendous courage, conviction, and sacrifice.
While the Truth may go against the accepted mainstream, the path to living effortlessly is by being in our true nature. Like the physical laws of gravity, there are spiritual laws that speak to the truth, so when we abide by these laws, we are aligned with ourselves and this Universe. Louise Hay makes a wonderful analogy of life to our computers. She says that the more we know about how our computer works, the more the computer works for us. Most of us just know the basic features of our computers, but if we knew all of the features, how much more powerful can it be. It’s the same in life: the more we know about the laws of life, the more powerfully life can work for us.
The way to finding that Truth is by releasing our fear-based ego and tapping into our higher nature. It is letting go of who we think we are by society’s standards and being who we really are by our own truthful standards. If we measure ourselves by society’s ruler, we’re always setting ourselves up for failure. The white noise of society is just smoke and mirrors, distracting ourselves from the truth. The only compass we should watch is within ourselves — our souls — because it will always lead us in the right direction.
The more we connect to our souls, the more we can live in our higher nature. We are all on a spectrum in our soul connection. So if we have a scale of 0-10 in measuring our connection to our soul, the serial killer is probably at level 0, Mother Teresa would probably be at 9 or even 10, and the rest of us is anywhere between 2-8. As we move higher up on this scale, we are able to live more effortlessly. The Truth is the key to opening the doors to our souls, and the deeper we connect to our souls, the more we’re living in the flow.
As we move through our life, we must be aware of whether we are living based on our lower or higher nature. If we become mindful of this, we can always choose to live in our higher nature by making decisions that serve our fellow humans and our souls. Our conscious choice to align ourselves with our higher nature not only defines who we are, but, more importantly, allows us to live effortlessly. Living effortlessly, where we can soar like that eagle, now that is heaven!
By Moon Cho, Creator of Ying & Yang Living