Companionship

Companionship is an aspect of equanimity.

The relationship you have with yourself and the relationships you have with others are and will be subject to a plethora of phenomena beyond your control.

Sometimes happiness comes. Sometimes anger. Coming together. Needing space. Good fortune. Bad fortune. Heartache. Heart healing. Exuberance. Sadness.

It can be a real mix.

If we have expectations — desire — for what these relationships are supposed to look and feel like, we are setting ourselves up to be thrashed around this way and that when what is happening comes into conflict (as it inevitably will) with our beliefs about what should be happening. We will then find ourselves in a state of reaction, pulled out and away from our centre, where our sense of self lives.

Instead of expecting things to be a certain way all the time, what can happen when we commit to companionship with ourselves? What can happen when we commit to companionship with others?

We can welcome all.

We can welcome all of the experience. The ups and downs, the sudden shifts, the wrong turns, the right turns, and everything in between.

Companionship means we have committed to the journey—not to any one particular feeling, experience, or outcome. It means we are able to weather all storms because we have given up our preferences and expectations.

Of course smooth sailing feels great. However, is it not when the going gets tough that we form our strongest bonds and learn our most beneficial lessons?

Companionship means we live in the moment. We follow the simple instructions of the moment where we see everything we experience as a new puzzle piece and, beyond that, a beautiful gift we have given to ourselves.

In companionship, we can embrace the happiness and we can embrace the difficulty because we have made a commitment to the journey and the process of love. In fact, it becomes difficult to differentiate the two.

If we can start to see everything as love — the light and the dark — we can wonder, “What is not love?”

What or who is not on our side?

What is lacking?

Pleasure and Pain

Very few look at the experience of pleasure as a problem to be solved. That judgment is strictly reserved for pain.

As soon as we have a problem, somebody hurts us, something goes wrong, or whatever it is that causes us pain, we go into problem-solving mode to, as quickly as possible, remove the pain, as if it were some kind of bug crawling up our leg. That’s understandable.

Given that we find this and that and that in this in duality, we could easily be similarly squeamish about pain’s “opposite”—pleasure.

Pleasure is a kind of tease, at cause for addictive types of behavior. We get happy for some reason, the happiness fades, and then we feel a need to get happy again. We become consumers. Consumers of experience that create pleasure. Look at the world. It more or less operates on this simple paradigm.

And more than consumers, we become addicts. We become addicted to sources of pleasure, which can easily cause us to lose and give ourselves up in pursuit of the next happy feeling, and the next, and the next… ad infinitum.

At some point, we need to hop off of the wheel—the wheel of pain and pleasure. The constant cycle between the two grows unbearably frustrating after enough go arounds. We tire of the drama, we tire of the seeking, and we start to yearn for a deeper, more stable experience.

Rumi once said, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

He was talking about the space beyond duality, which is the space you are already occupying right now and here, in this very moment.

In this field — this space — there is total completeness. Utter and absolute perfection. Nothing needs to change here. Nothing can be improved or diminished. All our mentally-constructed labels of this, that, good, bad, pleasure, pain dissolve and disappear. In fact, they were never there to begin with. They were dreams.

What we are left with is one of the most fundamental truths of existence that our project-oriented minds and egos just won’t believe. All is already well.

If we can get this — really get this — with more than just our minds but with our felt sense of being, we can access the universally accessible and sustainable source of joy that is ever present and never ending.

We can smile for no reason. And keep smiling. Just because.

Opportunities

Older, more patriarchal forms of religion brought with them the concept of divine testing.

It’s a test when somebody comes to you in need, extending their hand for help.

It’s a test whether or not you will take that glass of alcohol, or sugary desert, or piece of meat.

It’s a test whether or not you will be able to humble yourself accordingly.

It’s a test.

It’s a test of your generosity.

It’s a test of your character.

And, it’s a test of the essence of who you are.

Or, so they say.

These types of religion are almost always rules-based. Follow certain rules — pass enough tests — and you will progress, and maybe even get into heaven.

Those that break the rules and fail the tests, well, better luck next time.

This is classic patriarchal thinking—linear, logical, and based on punishment and reward. Judgment and criticism, similarly, are near at hand.

While there is a time and place for such thinking, casual observations of nature demonstrate that there is no punishment and reward system to be found.

What there are, instead, are cause and effect dynamics.

Threaten a snake and you will get a bite. Sow a seed and a plant will grow. Jump up and the force of gravity pulls you down.

In cause and effect, there is no “right” and “wrong,” in the holy sense. There is no judgment. There is no test. There is no pass and fail.

It is not tests of your worth that you are given over and over again, but opportunities.

You are given opportunities to dig a little deeper. Be a little kinder. Love a little more fearlessly. Evolve a little further.

What you do with those opportunities is your choice. There is no external judgment about the choice you will make, or the consequences that will result.

What you have is your inner guru, or conscious, which will let you know immediately whether or not the choices you make are in line with your values and truth. You get to decide how, if at all, you adjust your behaviour as a result.

Like any artist, athlete or performer learning their craft, you would not fault them for their mistakes, shortcomings, and weaknesses. These are seen as the necessary stepping stones toward mastery. The more “tests” you fail (which means the more opportunities you miss), the more you can learn, and the sharper you can become. Ask Michael Jordan.

Chronic feelings of guilt and having to live up to a “higher” standard is a method of control and should be rejected on its face for the toxin that it is to human psychology.

You mess up. Whoops, I’m sorry. You mop the floor, and then commit to do it better next time. You do not chastise yourself. You do not need to repent. You do not need to cower on for decades.

Be your best self and be kind to your worst self.