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The only way is in

12 March 2020 Anthony Eldridge-Rogers

Material circumstances come and go.

Health comes and goes.

Money comes and goes.

Lives come and go.

Desires for success ebb and flow

Love and success in relationships come and go.

Everything we hold dear in life and love is impermanent.

Most people I have met live their lives as if these facts are not true.

That the world and a life, their life, can be permanently shaped into something where they will be able to dictate what changes and what does not.

This is the greatest stupidity that we have ever perpetrated on our lovely human selves.

We have believed and fooled ourselves that somehow science has trumped nature as if it was some kind of competition. That we have inoculated ourselves against anything that threatens our stability and constant growth.

Our education system gets to work on us early in our lives preparing us for the great deception we perform on ourselves. We are going to cheat life and eventually death itself.

These are bold statements but in over 30 years of working with people who have fallen from their dreams of success due to being unable to create and live functioning lives I have witnessed too many times the desolation of waking up to reality.

What reality am I talking about? The reality that we have control over nothing external to ourselves. The only true control we do have is within us, where we are hardly ever encouraged or taught to look. It is from within that we first create the world of experience. It is from within we make choices which lead to the experience of our lives.

There is a great saying. “A fool learns from his own mistakes, a wise man learns from the mistakes of others”. It is easy to see the failure to find fulfilment in our highly materialist societies, disconnected from the natural world. We have never been so materially successful and yet vast numbers of people who have unprecedented levels of material comfort, are depressed, anxious and asleep.

Then, along comes a crisis such as the one we face, in the form of a virus and we receive the shock, a slap in the emotional face if you like and we wake up yelling in anxiety.

Thanks for coming along so far with me. I know I am writing for a coaching blog but you might be thinking I have gone off track. In fact we are right on track. A human life is a one off gift from life itself. When we step into companionship as a coach we are either colluding with this mass self deception that most of my clients are involved in or we are holding a flag for something I would call freedom.

People almost always want change only if it consolidates their delusion, not if it threatens to break it. The degree to which they will resist waking up is the degree to which they realise their very life is threatened. Change or die is often the call to action for people in the grip of a chronic severe addiction or other behavioural health challenge. Tinkering gets us nowhere. Can I keep on taking the drugs but cheat the consequences? How many of us are like this in our lives? We want to carry on please but not have to really change anything. This is how addicted we are.

All of this is external. We see our lives as outside ourselves, with what happens outside of ourselves to ourselves, and to those we love, as the only criteria of life. In the end death comes and pulls alongside us and waves with a smile. We are all mortal and we all just got this one life as we are.

This then can be a moment in world history where we take the opportunity to look within ourselves for who we really are, what really matters and who we are able to become. Looking within we can steady ourselves and find our centre, a calm tranquil pool of joy. This centre is constant, enduring and ever present. When it appears to be lost it is because we have been drawn away from it. The trouble is that we have so allowed ourselves to be controlled by external circumstances that we have lost a natural ongoing capacity for managing our basic wellbeing when events outside our control are taking place. In fact, if you haven′t noticed we have become appallingly bad at looking after ourselves even with all the prosperity and technological development so far.

Who gets to decide how you feel? Who is making that decision? Why are we never taught to be in dominion over our emotions? Why are we so easily manipulated by information? Fake news? Fear? Success?

The most powerful questions a person can ask themselves is this: “Why am I the way I am?”, “What am I?”.

No one likes a crisis but when they come they bring an opportunity as well as disruption. They bring us the opportunity to wake up from the conditioned self we usually are and start asking different, better questions. The answers we want will lie within us and that is where we should look.

How might this step be taken? The world has never been short of men and women who have dedicated their lives to take the journey within. You may well have read some of their works or listened to recordings, attended seminars. Whatever your level of engagement, this is a time to restart the search or start from scratch. It may be mindfulness or other kind of meditation. It may be the greek classics or modern self help. Whatever the path, take it now even if your mind says otherwise. Freedom from suffering is what all of us can attain. Freedom from being buffeted by every life event in ways that cause us suffering can be found.