Mysteries are not to be solved: The eye goes blind when it only wants to see why ― Rumi
Start to Tolerate Paradox
There is a world of difference between change and transformation. Change requires no alteration in your present level of consciousness. Your level of consciousness dictates your worldview, determining the size of your particular peephole on the world. An fool can change their behaviour by learning new skills, anyone can change their mind by re-organising their thoughts, but without rising above their current worldview they are still looking through the same hole. The same old thoughts, the same old views, the same old world.
This is you without transformation. Without continuing to grow and evolve along an ever-evolving spectrum of consciousness you get stuck. You continue to lap up all the belief systems, all the stories your society spoon-feeds you. You still judge and interpret the world according these stories. People con themselves into thinking that their belief systems can make them feel safe in an unpredictable world. This is a big mistake that keeps people infantilised. They remain Princes and Princesses, never stepping up to claim their crowns as Kings and Queens, leaders of the only domains over which they ever have certain control, the land of their minds.
To transform is to transcend your current worldview so that you can operate from a higher mind. This is not a metaphor nor an abstract idea but a proven fact that the structures of your mind change as you go beyond (trans) your previous levels of consciousness. Higher levels engender ever more complex structures that lead your mind into clearer, wiser, vastly more spacious terrains where you are no longer identified with your silly, tiny little ego mind This ego mind still exists, it's still included in the transformed you but you have transcended it and therefore you are no longer exclusively identified with it. This is the first step to freedom; you have transcended your thinking mind and with it the limits you have always placed on your sense of self, your understanding of who you are. Indeed my study found that transcending the ego mind offers a freedom so immense that people will gladly loosen the strictures of their buttoned down beliefs to achieve it. All you have to do is give up the need to be 'right', let go of believing that your ego mind can make you safe by waking up to the fact that there is no such thing as certainty. Without certainty there is only theory, interpretation, conjecture. Accepting this is the first step to overcoming the grip of the ego and then all you have to do is:
Choose to tolerate uncertainty, ambiguity and paradox. Practice makes perfect so put your energy and attention into practising getting comfortable with the unknowability of existence. Quit kidding yourself that you can find certainty - it's so refreshing to be honest with yourself.
Societal beliefs should come with a health warning. It is not good for you to pretend to yourself that life is knowable, predictable, certain. Because the truth is that there are no ultimate certainties in life and deep down we know it. How can we live authentically with so much denial of truth? It's like living with dirty little secrets. We think we are keeping ourselves safe, but in fact we’re keeping ourselves stuck by clinging to belief systems that aren’t even ours, as client M. H. attests:
“I have really looked at my beliefs since childhood and realised that so many of them either didn't belong to me or were based on assumption. I get into a lot less trouble with people these days due to questioning some of my beliefs”.
Stop living other peoples' lives. Stop understanding your life and your world based on what other people say. Look how screwed up the world is. And you want to model your life on this world's belief systems?
Do you want to live your own unique authentic life? How can you when not one of your beliefs is your own? This is why it is essential to hold your beliefs up to the light of examination:
Are they really your beliefs?
Are you sure about that?
When beliefs are not questioned they have us; they have our unconscious buy-in and then they dictate how we experience our life. Unexamined beliefs belong to 1st tier levels of thinking where each level thinks that it has the proper, the correct, the one and only true set of beliefs. Many people are at a level of consciousness labelled 'amber' in Integral theory to signify certain personal values and self-identities. Those who have developed to the amber stage are led by group values and identify only with their own groups. This is a conformist, ethnocentric stage where allegiance is paramount and groups demand loyalty, obedience and rule-following. There is a strong moralistic sense of right and wrong, good or bad, with an emphasis on rules, obligations, honour and duty. Amber is the highest stage of development of those following fundamentalist religions. They believe that "My God is the only right and true God and the rest of you can all burn in hell". They form their convictions based on the literal interpretation of corrupted religious texts, demonstrating no facility for rational reflection. Those at amber share the level of awareness of a 10 - 12 year old no matter their chronological age. This is where their development stopped mainly because this is the level of maturity of their nation. Sophisticated weapons in the hands of children whose beliefs are pre-rational is a deadly combination.
Beliefs are also deadly on a personal level. They are death to the spirit. Spirit blossoms in a still mind. There is no stillness in a war-torn mind. There is no peace in fighting to defend a belief that you pretend to be a certainty That you have to try so hard to shore up a position shows that you have no confidence in your position, no certainty. Your soul, or higher self or inner wisdom or whatever label we slap on it, knows somehow that nothing is sure, nothing is certain. We intuit in our bones that life is a great mystery and no amount of so-called knowledge or belief systems can change that. But when the ego drowns out the voice of the soul, an internal battle rages between your mind trying to convince you that life is knowable and controllable, and your intuition whispering that this is not so.
Intuition comes from a higher, deeper level of consciousness than the ego mind. To transcend the rational mind and reach the embodied wisdom of intuition, we have to get comfortable with the uncertainties, ambiguities and paradoxes of life by developing a little trust in the mystery. Client M.G.’s excerpt shows the accommodation and resolution of previous paradoxical thinking:
“After wrestling with doubts and uncertainties, I’ve learned that there is a much more powerful place for me to go – both/and and not either/or” (M. G., client).
So there is more power in thinking that reconciles opposites and nurses doubts than in the pretence of the 'safety' of a polarized belief system. It’s a relief to move beyond either/or thinking to arrive at 2nd tier consciousness. It’s not only good for you, it’s good for others around you:
“Now I operate on a different level. I am not attached to beliefs – mine or anyone else’s. It’s so freeing. I’m lighter, brighter, more loving and more tolerant, of myself and others” (S.D., client)
Aha moments are stimulated when you can tolerate uncertainty without becoming insecure. Learn to widen your telescope to include opposites and polarities. Don't chop things up into good and bad, right and wrong, black and white. You can be free of concepts by positively embracing paradox and uncertainty:
“As I embrace apparent paradox and uncertainty, I’m free to create and act in ways I wasn’t before. I’m finding myself much less judgmental and far more compassionate towards others.” (L.R., client)
Paradox, ambiguity, uncertainty are all concepts of the mind. There is nothing wrong with the mind. It is a fine instrument as long as it used as the servant of our lives and not the master. The thinking mind is at our disposal for all for the ways is which we can use it wisely. And when we’re not using it we shouldn’t be in it. But we are. Constantly. We are no longer the master of our minds but the slaves. Thinking has grown out of control. Like a cancer is has spread to the more important dimensions of life – the creative mind, the intuitive body, the depths of consciousness where we discover our true nature, and has silenced them all. It is through stilling this ego mind that the higher dimensions can be recaptured. When we see through the absurdity of the ego mind, we position ourselves to get comfortable with uncertainty. We can end up laughing at the absurdity of our ego:
“I am so much more aware of my ego and its frustrations and demands. I used to be a slave to these demands but now I can recognise it and laugh at it” (M.M., client)
Stop trying to find answers. See that every belief you hold is a mere concept, it is not reality itself which is beyond any conceptual thinking the mind can entertain. Sit quietly and reflect on this. You might like to reflect on this wonderful poem from Rilke:
Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves like locked rooms and like books that are written in a very foreign tongue. Do not seek the answers, which cannot be given to you because you would not be able to live them. And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer.