For years I’ve felt tension toward a cluster of concepts that are generally accepted as “good”. That cluster includes: goal, outcome, result, structure, discipline, etc.
Defending these as “good”, my word-dominated mind asks: Don’t these push us in directions we want to go? Don’t they serve as ways to pull people to finish what they want to do? Don’t they inspire continued effort when hardships occur?
But the whole-me asks: Why is a pull necessary? Why am I resisting what I’m doing now such that a “pull” or “kick in the butt” seems needed? Why am I not enjoying my task enough to be drawn to finish it naturally? Why do I need the crutch of an artificial symbol, such as the word “should”, which I so often misuse?
My word-tooled mind counters by asking: Isn’t disciplined structure a helpful way to progress step-by-step? Aren’t preconceived goals valuable in nudging or reminding me to make progress?
As I write this I’m aware of how crazy it may sound for me to question these widely valued concepts. How can any progress happen without these types of pushes and endpoints? But my experience tells me I make more progress and do better quality work without them in my field of attention. So even if “it doesn’t make sense” to my word-dominated mind in this word-dominated world, my experience gives evidence to the contrary.
Previously I excluded any possibility of the nonconceptual in my life. I was completely dominated by word-tools. But as I became just slightly aware of the nonconceptual, I began to sense a kind of word-tool force against myself. It’s the kind of force that traps me in a commitment. It’s as if I use it to put a have-to around my neck and the shackles of a threat of failure around my wrists and ankles. You will lose if you don’t lock yourself up in goals, absolute outcomes, discipline, and structure. And lurking in the shadows of the background is a soft voice, or a loud one, that says, Just like everybody else does.
When I was almost completely trapped in the conceptual realm, progress without discipline seemed impossible. As I denied the whole of Source and believed that truth came only through word-tools, the very idea of doing something without being opposed, pressured, or punished was unimaginable. In my word-based world, it was either this or it’s that. There was nothing else. The constant feeling of life as opposition appeared to be a reality.
Immersed in the this-not-that nature of word-tools, I was lost in a kind of word-based force that I used against myself and others.
I wonder if there is any constructive use for the concepts of goal, outcome, result, structure, discipline, etc. I wonder if we are trying to use a tool for something it is not suited for.
It’s tricky because our word-tools are excellent at masquerading as what they aren’t. The reason we don’t see through their masquerade is we’ve forgotten where they come from. We’ve forgotten that their original source is life experience, a source that flows naturally as it grows without force. We’re immersed so deeply in our word world that we can’t see the natural flow that is both within us and all around us.
As I began to see the closed, frozen nature of word-tools, I began to see that I don’t need this type of external, synthetic push/pull to be creative. In fact, it slows or stops creative flow. Once I opened up to sense the nonconceptual, I was able to experience the growing of life as better than the forcing of life. I saw that the “progress” of growth doesn’t come from the force of an external symbol-tool that creates the tension of resistance.
And now when I sense this resistance creeping in, I remind myself of the peaceful, playful enjoyment that comes out of putting attention on the task I’m doing right now. And then the specifics of the outcome of the task begin to fade away because the enjoyment overshadows the endpoint.
Do I still use “goal” tools? Yes, but not often. In a way they are always out there, functioning as a general direction of where I’m going. But, when I notice their tug, I use the tension as a signal that my attention is in the wrong place. In my view, goals are used far too often as clubs both within and between people, e.g., bosses and employees, and parents and children.
When I’m lost in the world of getting things done as primary, I feel resistance and find myself gritting my teeth as I push toward reaching a goal. I notice that I’m stuck between rebellion and compliance, with an unacknowledged stress hiding deep within.
When my focus is on the goal-tools of outcome, result, structure, and discipline, I find a tension akin to the this-not-that exclusionary nature of word-tools. With goals, it’s me and life that’s excluded; with word-tools, it’s everything that doesn’t fit into the word bucket. Me and life getting pushed out of the way in order to make progress toward a goal is very much like everything getting pushed away in order to form this very clear definite symbol we use as a word. Recall that the concept dog, excludes everything that is not dog.
Once I became more aware of the tension arising in those of us who take goals seriously, I began to see goal-oriented outcome and focused discipline as a kind of conceptual cage.
Why do we need to put ourselves in cages? Why not find ways to reduce resistance without setting up artificial force-agents made up of word-tools? Once I broke out of many of my own word-tool cages, I was able to experience “doing” as fueled by enjoyment rather than pressured by constraint.
That is why I refer to goal concepts as one kind of conceptual force.
By opening up to Source I discovered that there is no need for force. I’ve found a way to move forward that is comfortably easeful and enjoyable. In contrast to the firm lines set in front of me by the language of goals, structure, and discipline, the flow of moving in consonance with what’s inside me and with everything around me fosters enjoyment rather than tension. The “happening” of getting things done seems to come out of the whole of me moving Arm-in-Arm with the whole of Source.
When I fall back into using conceptual force, which I still often do, I see that I’ve misused word-tools. I’ve tried to make something happen, using me as the main pressure point. And whenever I do this, I find the outcome I had put on a pedestal is low quality, the result of letting my work be dictated by a timeframe that didn’t fit reality. I see it in a lack of fullness, a lack of Connectivity, and a lack of enjoyment.
But I was unaware of conceptual force when I believed word-tools were the only way to know and do. I could see it only after I tasted, touched, sensed Source.
What I am calling Source is a kind of nonconceptual life energy I had missed when I was lost in concepts. In the past, I often reinterpreted and denied any experience with Source as foolish and not real. I was in the habit of forcing Source experience through the narrow constriction of conceptual word-tools. Even though it presents a challenge every day, I’ve found new enjoyment in discovering the difference between Source-based growth and a conceptually-narrowed push for completion.
I couldn’t have written this section until this morning, when it came to me. The writing just poured out without plan, goal, structure, vision, or discipline. As I read through it after finishing the first draft, my conceptual mind asked, How can the writing of this section not be a product of thought? My answer is that I experienced no sign of deliberation. No long careful consideration, no discussion or analysis. Almost no intention at all. Instead, it just happened.
I had never put the two words conceptual and force together until it flowed from my hand about thirty minutes after I began writing this section.
I’ve pulled away just enough conceptual layering to allow me to give Source a chance at times. That is, to hear and answer this mode of Being when I’ve been open enough to expose and remove some of the layers of word-tooled conditioning. When we are ready to meet up – Source and I – I’m now often able to accept the invitation.
When I do accept, we flow Arm-in-Arm as we create. Not out of commitment to goals, outcomes, results, structure, or discipline; but out of the joy of Being.