Overcoming What We Resist
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IMO, deeper than our day-to-day involuntary reactions to life is our stubborn resistance to things. Often we are not even aware of our own resistance because we are too busy resisting. And while it’s not difficult to become aware of our knee-jerk reactions and learn to tone them back, it is much harder to become aware (much less realize) our resistances and work them out.

To keep it simple, “resistance” is when we resist something, whether it is something we don’t feel like doing or something we are unaware that we are even resisting, like when we find ourselves pushing-back for no reason we know. I’m not referring to resisting “evil” or the law, etc., but rather deep-seated prejudice and bias or even sheer laziness. For example, I resisted taking the trash and recycle out each week for years, until I realized that it was far easier just to do it (and get into it) than to gripe about it to myself. Now it’s a chance to get some early-morning fresh air. Overcoming our resistances is a positive pleasure that also releases large amounts of previously inert or frozen energy.

Our moment-to-moment reactions are just instantaneous (and I have written about them often), but resistance is often so ingrained or deep that we can even mistake it for a part of us, who we are or perhaps who we think we will be or turn into in the future. In other words, we can fall into thinking that a particular resistance we feel is our character, who (or what) we are, i.e. that our resistance is actually an innate part us, the way we are. To me, that is something to watch out for.

I know of only one way to handle resistance and that is to first become aware that it exists, even if we at first only can see the tiniest outline or edge of it. And once recognized, resistance is then not removed suddenly or by force, but slowly and very carefully like we would go about removing a thorn from a foot or a sliver in our hand. We work it out gradually until we can see to embrace the totality of it and free it up. But unlike a thorn or a sliver, we do not then pass the resistance from our system. Instead, we work through the resistance, which is like freeze-dried karma. Just add heart and awareness and it can become again a positive part of us rather than something we resist. There is always “something” to a resistance and ultimately when we realize its essential nature, it vanishes and ceased to be separate from us. This may be as close to removing deep karma as we can get.

And, as we do become aware of a resistance, we realize that our resistances are everywhere that we are, deeply embedded in the very fabric of our existence. So, what are we resisting? That is a question for each of us to ask. Once we tap into them, our resistances are a very rich find, an immense storehouse of energy, much like petroleum, that can fuel our path to enlightenment for a very long time indeed.

Once we are aware of them, we find that our resistances are ubiquitous; they are everywhere. In each case, our resistance to what we don’t like or don’t feel like doing can be savored and sucked dry of its habitual hold on us. That’s the dharma of it. Our resistances are the low-hanging karmic fruit that, once discovered, are the gift that keeps on giving.

And like thoughts, whose every essence is the same, the way to unravel and free our resistance is also always the same. While our knee-jerk reactions, although numerous, are fleeting, resistance takes time to be unearthed and thus can be, as mentioned, storehouses, treasures of energy for our realization.

Although the path of dharma may seem at times to be long and arduous, much like a desert that must be crossed, our deep pools of resistance are like oases of energy, waiting to be discovered. And unlike our reactions, which are like lightning bugs in the night, resistances are a slow-burning fuel that, as they are liberated, can shed light for a very long time. They become a torch that helps to light our liberation.

However, we have to realize our resistances. And that means becoming familiar with what we resist and why. And then we revitalize our resistance, like adding water to freeze-dried food, only in this case, we just add awareness. We finally take the time to stop resisting and instead love (or at least neutralize) our resistances, eventually reincorporating and recognizing them as us.

You are reading here (and in several previous blogs) about the dharma of resistance. This is a link to some articles on the other form of reactivity we experience, our moment-to-moment reactions:

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