“I want to learn more and more to see as beautiful what is necessary in things; then I shall be one of those who make things beautiful. Amor fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse. ….And all in all and on the whole someday I wish to be only a Yes-sayer. “ Nietzsche
Does that mean we should be embracing the perceived obstacles in our lives? What a challenging concept! We often do just the opposite! We rail against what comes our way; attempting to avoid and manipulate our circumstances time and time again.
In her memoir Marrow, Elizabeth Lesser says the following: “I have it hooked up in my head…that it is my job to stay on top of everything. If I do then maybe I can control the outcome. Like I have to be smart about everything all the time. That is the job description of me.”
She begins to investigate this pattern in herself and goes on to say, “I think it is pretty stupid sometimes to try to control life. And pretty smart to let things go. To surrender. And the smartest people, the wisest people, know when to hold on, and when to let go.”
So how do we discern when to hold on and when to let go? How do we stay present and clearly see what is necessary at any given moment? How do we show up for our lives no matter what comes our way and say YES!
No question about it! It is a tall order but I think the formula for amor fati is described in the yoga sutras. Once again it comes back to:
PRACTICING THE OPPOSITE
Having a meditation practice allows us to be present, to step out of feeling victimized by events in our lives, to remove the veils and see more clearly. In other words we get to drop into the inner wisdom that is always within us. Sometimes we leave it, but it is always there. I think we are all searching for peace, and meditation helps us tune into what is real and most important in our lives. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, “Being in peace is the basis for making peace. Only by establishing peace in yourself can you be helpful in establishing peace for others.”
Taking our meditation practice off the cushion and mat brings us to the practice of mindfulness in our everyday life. It is important to take time to welcome experience by being present for the feelings and emotions. This keeps us grounded in the present moment and proactively engaged in our lives. What would it be like to speak to a feeling or emotion and let it speak back to us? Perhaps it would be useful to ask these questions:
What do you want?
What do you need?
What action are you asking me to take?
We can discover what actions to take by working in this way with our imaginations. How different to see our feelings and emotions as messengers? Then when we take action, the feelings can go on their way. When we come to understand ourselves better through investigating our patterns, we are more present and available to the people in our lives. Coming to accept and understand the challenges that come our way, helps us touch what is often overlooked. In truth we are all more simply human than otherwise. We are spiritual beings having a human experience; facing similar hurdles and misunderstandings. We all hold the wish to be loved and admired.
Investigating our responses to life’s obstacles and blessings can be enormously informative! When I taught conflict resolution, I would ask people to recall a difficult life experience from their past. Again and again people spoke about the wisdom and understanding they had as a result of going through that difficult time. I once heard someone say that we all hate friction, but friction takes a stone and turns it into a gem. And along those same lines, in Buddhism there is a saying that your poison becomes your medicine.
The following quote from Elizabeth Lesser’s Marrow speaks to the worthiness of exploring the possibility of loving whatever comes our way. “There is no way you can help everyone and everything. This world will always be falling apart and coming together and falling apart. You will always be falling apart and coming together and falling apart. So will your friends and family. You cannot control this unruly life of ours. Can you be okay with that ? Can you be better than okay? Can you celebrate the unruliness?……Amor Fati: love of fate. Nietzsche said if you could say yes to everything – if you could love it and not just bear it, you would find beauty and meaning everywhere.”
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