Thursday, October 29, 2009

Jaws of Clarity

"Seek movement and there's no movement,
Seek rest and no rest comes instead.

When rest and no rest cease to be,
then even oneness disappears."

Sengcan "Xinxinming"

I'm a clarity junky. I love being clear, and being able to demonstrate to others that I have that clarity. A confession? Yes. One with a swamp of guilt and shame attached to it? No.

Clarity in life is a beautiful thing. when someone can see through the wild muck of a situation and clearly declare its truth in words and/or actions, much suffering can be alleviated. However, this same skill can become an addition, and lately, I have seen how this is the case in my own life. I've wanted to have an answer about my career future so badly that there's no space for anything new to arrive. And at the same time, I have desired a break from the very same chase for answers so strongly that my actual "rest" (i.e. sleep and free time) has been anything but restful.

The opposite of clarity is cloudiness, or being unclear. Preferring one over the other is just as much trouble as preferring any other member of a binary (Gain or loss, Praise or Blame, etc.). Being clear and decisive, however, seems to be a preference for all of us humans. I've met very few people who actually enjoy living in the mud of not being clear. Sure, many of us are attracted to altering our minds with drugs of various kinds, and like the "cloudy high" that comes from drugging ourselves. But just hanging with the mud that comes up on its own in our lives without any monkeying around? That's not something we humans seem to like much because it's such a strong reminder of how little we control in this life.

How often are you in the jaws of clarity?


ZenDotStudio said...

I was thinking of you, Nathan, as I sat this morning (after your post from yesterday). Even though the particular situations are very different (me wanting to move house, you wanting to change jobs) I can see similarity.

For me at this point I find the need to "mine" deeper into what stands in the way of completion. As I realized this I was reminded of my Zen teacher's advice to "sit with things" and that the answer comes from the "still, small voice within" rather than my thinking.

So much practice in these situations, the patience, the letting go and waiting for the mud to clear. Ah, and the faith.

"Seek movement and there's no movement,
Seek rest and no rest comes instead." Thanks for this reminder!

spldbch said...

Something I often work on with my patients is tolerating uncertainty. (Actually, if you google "uncertainty tolerance" you'll probably come up with a lot of hits). Few things in life are certain and a lot of suffering comes about by attempting to gain certainty when, at the moment, it just doesn't exist. Life is full of uncertainty but it doesn't have to be a bad thing.

I'll be the first to admit, however, that too much uncertainty makes me VERY nervous:-)

Great post -- your topics are always thoughtful and relevant!

Nathan said...

What's funny is that there are plenty of things in life I'm fine with being uncertain about. But for some reason other things, like right now my career, are difficult areas. I'm also seeing how desiring clarity is linked to lack of trust in the "whole works" of the universe.