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Why is Becoming a Process of Struggle?

Together, can we inquire into the process of becoming? Here, by becoming, we mean psychological becoming, like wanting to become happy when we are sad, wanting to become a better person feeling we are not good enough; the process of becoming an engineer, a doctor, or a painter, on the other hand, is a simple process of learning the necessary skills, but psychological becoming is much more complex but ever more present because we are trying to become something all the time. While our aspirations may be noble – as in the case of wanting to become a better person – the process of becoming involves a great deal of struggle, and the question we are concerned with here is: what is the nature of the struggle involved in the process of becoming? Is this struggle the appropriate engagement of our energy? Is there another way that our energy can be engaged, leading to a deeper transformation? Let us find out together.

When we say we would like to become a better person, I wonder how we are relating to the state we are in? The feeling we may be feeling presently is a fact, but the preferred state which we would like to be in, is not a fact, it is just an idea. Thought creates the idea of this possible future state based on past ideas and memories, and then begins to pursue this idea. Thus, in trying to become a better person, we move away from what is fact – which is our present state – towards a state which is just an idea. In this movement away from what is real, towards a state that is an idea, we stop attending to what we are actually feeling, and forgo an insight into the movement of our own mind, thus never understanding why we feel how we feel. This is a very strong tendency we all feel: we have always done this, and continue to do this. But, any action taken from a place of not fully understanding our present state lacks clarity, and is bound to cause confusion. Therefore, any attempt to become a better person by moving away from the state we are in, towards an idea of what is better, may not be an intelligent action.

What then is intelligent action? Definitely not one that is based on ideas of what virtue ought to be, be they another’s or one’s own. But action that is grounded in understanding of how we are as we are, is intelligent action. Remaining with what “is” allows insight into our conditioning, and whatever may follow from this deep understanding is intelligent action.

So, what we are seeing is that the struggle to become something based on an idea implies that one is in a present state, the state that “is,” and one is trying to get to another state, the preferred state, the state that “should” be. If we notice the subtlety of what is involved here, we can see the fact that these two states are different from each other, which implies a conflict between what we are presently, and what we want to become, between what is and what should be, and this conflict dissipates our energy. And the question we would like to ask is, if our energy is dissipated in this conflict all the time, could we undergo a radical transformation?

We are perpetually trying to become something, which implies a perpetual state of conflict and dissipation of our energy. Now, if our energy is dissipating in conflict all the time, how would we ever have the capacity and the freshness of mind to deeply understand ourselves as we are? How would we understand the depth of our sorrow, emptiness, agitation, anger, and greed if we are trying to move away from these states all the time? How would we find a way out of our confusion if the very process of becoming better fuels this confusion? Can we sit with our agitation, our sorrow, our pain, our emptiness, so that it can reveal the story it has been waiting to reveal to us all our life, but never has because we are always trying to escape it?

Noticing the conflict between what “is” and what we are trying to “become” is an immense discovery, for we begin to see how this conflict dissipates our energy, and how moving away from what “is” is not an intelligent action. We begin to remain with what we are feeling, and when we remain with what we are feeling, there is no conflict. Then, since our energy is not dissipating in conflict, we begin to understand what these intense feelings have to reveal; we begin to understand why we are as we are, without the energy dissipating failingly in trying to change these feelings. To try to change something without having understood it deeply, is an act of violence. A deep understanding brings change naturally, a change which is intelligent, which begins to act in its own right, without the need of a belief, ideal, or goal.

Let us take a simple example to put in perspective what we are finding out. Let us suppose I am an insensitive person, and want to become more sensitive towards others. How do I become more sensitive? Please ask yourself this, how do you become more sensitive? If our answer to this question depends on an idea of what it means to be sensitive, I would have to act along this idea, executing particular actions, to become more sensitive, which involves struggle and time. So until I have made those actions to become sensitive, I continue to be insensitive. Is that not an intriguing fact, that while I am trying to become more sensitive, I continue to remain insensitive until I execute those actions conforming to the idea I am following?

Now, what if we perceive the matter completely differently, in the following way: let us say I am with a friend and act unkindly towards him. If I suddenly become aware of what I have done, that I have acted insensitively towards him, am I not already more sensitive to my insensitivity, and therefore, have become sensitive without a practice or a premeditated idea of how to become more sensitive. Am I not transformed by mere awareness of how I acted? So, we are seeing that mere observation and understanding of the state we are in at any moment, is a process of deepening sensitivity, and thus no energy is dissipated in conflict and struggle to become more sensitive along a certain idea. Similarly, observation of what “is” is a deep state of transformation.

Thus, the moment we see that the movement of becoming gives rise to conflict in our being, and see how it dissipates our energy, the process of becoming simply comes to an end in that moment. This is an awakening of intelligence whose action is immediate and whole because it does not depend on a narrow set of past ideas. Furthermore, the process of becoming can only come to an end in the present moment, for that is the only moment in which we can notice the movement of our mind. Trying to end the process of becoming in the future is just a thought, it keeps the struggle of becoming alive. Whether our tendency to want to become something manifests again in the future or not, is not the concern here, because the future is completely unknown. As one observes in the present moment, one understands, and this understanding manifests as intelligent action.

There is a more subtle aspect of becoming which can take us a little deeper into the nature of our mind. To become ‘something’ implies that you are ‘something’ presently. Can we ask of ourselves if we are actually something, psychologically? Are we ever a particular ‘thing’? At this moment, what are we? Kind, unkind, angry, frustrated? Can we ever pin down what we are feeling into a single word? Or, the moment we pin it down, we realize that what is actually going on is incredibly complex, that there is actually a movement of infinite complexity moving within us. Similarly, to say that one would like to become a certain thing, kinder, more loving, once again is to simplify the complexity of what our future state may be. The only thing we can guess about our future state is that it is going to be a complex movement of many feelings, and fixation on a particular feeling is to not be in the understanding of the complex nature of our mind. Therefore, the process of wanting to become something is one of not understanding the complexity of reality. Becoming one thing from another implies that one is assuming that the state one is in, and the state one wishes to become, are stagnant states, when in reality there is no stagnancy, only a perpetual psychological movement. Becoming aware of the complexity of the movement in oneself moves one’s concern away from becoming to understanding this immense movement, witnessing its ebb and flow in the stillness of the present moment.


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