As you probably have realized a lot of these meditations come from whatever problems I run across in my own life…writing about obstacles I find in trying to achieve balance and abundance in my life helps me work through them, and hopefully you’ve found something you can take away too. So this week I want to talk about disengaging from things that have no value to you.
Why is this coming up? Well in my life I’m getting a little bogged down by both work and the final sprint of this election and I have had to learned to prioritize better than I usually do. (Saying no to work is a little hard for me, I’m a bit of an oppressive compulsive workaholic…no? really? Said anyone who has waded through the nearly 3,000 pages of this blog)…but it’s going to get worse in the next few weeks. I assume that if you read the meditations you probably also pay attention to the politics of this blog, and then you know that no matter what happens (Romney’s going to win) the next couple of weeks will probably be a little touch as just under half the country is bound to be really pissed off and will probably be looking for someone to fight with to blow off their rage.
Now from a spiritual perspective standing up for, advocating and fighting for your beliefs if necessary. Even if your meager efforts have no effect on the world as a whole, it is hopefully the act of carrying out your beliefs that helps you refine your beliefs and allows you to learn from your experience. Krishna didn’t tell Arjuna to run away; Christ wasn’t encouraged to back down; Moses kept coming back demanding his people be let go; Lao Tzu never suggested we should back down in the Tao, and saints like Joan are not known for doing anything other than standing their ground (and maybe advancing). So I would never say that turning your back on your beliefs, or giving up because it’s too stressful, or giving into pressure is a good thing spiritually.
But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t disengage from individual conflicts.
One of the reasons I haven’t expanding my social networking to tumblr is, well, that place vicious. There are just bucket loads of attacks and slurs and I have seen otherwise rational people get so wrapped up in fighting people who are insulting them they can’t see the fight is affecting them and their psychological health in a negative way.
Everyone we meet can teach us something. But just because they engage us on certain topic does not mean that we are meant to learn from them on the topic they want to engage us on. Long time readers may remember my disturbing persistent troll. He taught me nothing about politics but he did teach me to disengage, and for that I thank him. How did he do that? Because he’s still sending comments, I’m just not approving them and am deleting them as he has nothing I can see of any value to any of my readers. They’re not worth my time.
And that is a good standard. Can anyone benefit from the fight? Can I benefit? Can my opponent benefit? Can a bystander benefit from our argument?
In a lot of cases no. Arguing with idiots never benefits me because they seldom if ever have anything to contribute (you’re more likely to get a good argument from an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters). And if you’re arguing with an idiot, it’s unlikely you’re going to convince them. And only the first couple of rounds with an idiot can help someone else to show that bystander why that person is an idiot.
Now the fear is, and also usually the call from the idiot, is that if you don’t respond to them you’re conceding that their argument is superior and you have nothing to come back with. I have fallen victim to this fear as well (certainly more when I started this blog, than now). But in reality, no. My choosing to not waste my time with you does not mean your argument is superior, it just means I have better things to do. The fight will not benefit me, you, or anyone else. And the real faulty argument is thinking that if you continue to argue with them that you could somehow persuade them to your side.
Now the insult might come up from your interlocutor that you’re a coward or showing you’re stupid. Who cares. I know, that, as human, we have a knee jerk reaction to respond to insults. But really who cares. You didn’t really respect the opponent anyway, why should you care if they think you’re a coward.
We need to remain focused on helping ourselves and helping others learn….and to disengage from situations that don’t provide opportunities for learning but rather only distractions from it.
To disengage from pointless arguments and confrontations (and yes this does go beyond political/philosophical arguments, but it seemed like the most timely example) is to not give up on what you believe. It is merely to say this battle will not help me win the war that is the quest for enlightenment. Thus it serves no purpose and merely distracts us from our goal.
So this week (and maybe for a few weeks depending on how politically active you are) I would start each day with the following mantra:
I will speak the truth as I know it. I will not back down because of pressure. I will yield to reason when it is presented. And I will only engage in encounters that can benefit myself or someone else. I will disengage from any conflict that cannot benefit anyone.
Think on the phrase and let it sink in. At the end of the day I would review any conflicts you had and ask yourself if it was worth it, if you or someone else learned something, and if you should have disengaged earlier.
With any luck this will help us all keep a little more sane and further us on our path to enlightenment.