Essay of the Month: Non-Resistence

Split Ash & Birds (from the Sentient Landscape Series) acrylic on panel, Mark W. McGinnis

The term non-resistance can have radically different meaning to different people.
For some non-resistance is synonymous with weakness. Resistance is seen as a
noble virtue for humans to pursue. Our universe seems to function on a dominant
premise of non-resistance. The ongoing expansion of universe is the essence of
non-resistance. Any resistance to this ultimate force of nature is unthinkable
– the expansion “is.” Within the flow of the universe the forces of creation
and destruction play a continual game of transformation, but in the large
picture there is no resistance, only change.

On our tiny planet the same rules apply. Amid the turmoil of natural elements and
human follies the dominance of non-resistance still hold sway – the
inevitability of change and flow rolls on, water wears away stone. The mistaken
glory of resistance seems to be one of human beings’ largest mistakes. It is a
mistake that mystics in most of the world’s wisdom traditions have recognized,
but few, if any, cultures have taken to heart. One exception to his is the
Taoist philosophy in China where non-resistance is the very core of the
beliefs. To rear up and challenge the forces of the universe is seen as
complete folly and invitation to disaster – it is the praying mantis waving his
legs to oncoming carriage wheels.

The concept of non-resistance has particular benefit when applied to everyday
contemporary human life. The myth of the virtue of resistance seems to be
embedded in our actions at every turn. Walking step lock with resistance is our
ego. The ego is constantly grasping at resistance and is undoubtedly its
greatest promoter. If something, nearly anything, does not fit the
preconception of the ego, its knee-jerk reaction is resistance – the wife asks
for a chore to be done > resistance; a car won’t start > resistance; a
headache develops > resistance; it begins to rain > resistance. Our egos
seem to have developed the insane mindset that the universe is to obediently
comply to all its desires and if it doesn’t it will flail its arms before the
carriage wheels.

So much stress of daily life can be relieved through developing the attitude of
non-resistance to much of life’s situations. The majority of what we perceive
as “problems” are only so because we give them that importance, and the more
energy we put into our resistance the more strength the “problems” have. Surely
there are instances in our life that we must confront rather than accept, our
survival instinct sees to that, but in the comfortable safety of most of our
lives those instances are rare.

It is not easy to adopt a life style of non-resistance, as most of us have
developed deep behavioral patterns of useless and harmful resistance. One of
the best contemporary guides to help in this difficult process of recovery is Eckhart
Tolle. He believes that one way of trying change this behavior is to become an
observer of your mind. When you begin to have a conditioned response of
resistance, observe that reaction. You don’t even have to try to change the
reaction as you are having it, just observe it, be aware of what you are doing.
You don’t necessarily even have to judge it as good or bad, just observe it. It
will become quite obvious if the resistance has improved or worsened the
situation. Through repeated observation the habitual behavior of resistance
will eventually dissolve.

copyright 2011 Mark W. McGinnis


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