No story - No problem
IDAN MEIR, TUESDAY 15.2.2022
How surrendering changes the way we approach challenges.
Before leaving Israel in 2011, I celebrated my departure with the Palestinian and Israeli Theatre group I co-founded in 2007 in Combatants for Peace. We met in the small village Shiffa, in the West Bank, where we practised our Theatre. It was an evening with mixed feelings of gratefulness and sadness. At the end of the event, I was mentally and emotionally ready to leave. Still, my car refused to collaborate and on the way home, at the skirts of the village, it brocked down.
My first reaction was resistance and denial.
“I cannot believe that this is happening right now… and what a miserable way to end such a nice evening….” My mind continued with, “how did that happen?” A typical refusal to accept the reality that the car is simply brocked down. Then the fear started taking over, “not the best place to be stuck in the middle of the night as an Israeli, and how will I get home now?”. My eyes began to search around for the danger, and it appeared.
You see what you think.
Three teenagers came across. They looked suspicious. Now I could not hide anymore. They knocked on the window to check what was going on. An Israeli licenced car sitting in the middle of a road looks very strange. I never had good Arabic, ‘Sayara kaput,’ I said, slightly opening the window. I thought they would leave now, but they stayed, and one of them opened his mobile phone.
You feel what you think.
My sense of danger developed with the generous help of my mind. “What is this boy talking about, and who is he calling?” I tried to reach Nur, my Palestinian mate, which was already back home, but he didn’t answer. He always answers. This time, he did not.
The crack had opened.
I let my phone go and heavily exhaled. That was a moment where my mind suddenly subsided for a couple of seconds. That allowed a deeper side of me to take over. A level of alertness arrived in my body. Not a kind of alertness that pointed out danger, no heartbeat and no adrenalin running down to the legs, just a sense of quietness and stillness. Surprisingly, I felt peaceful.
Suddenly the teens looked different. I saw their innocence and goodness. The story of my mind changed: “After four years of voluntary work in this village, nothing could go wrong”. Finally, I opened the car door, and the boys were smiling at me, probably laughing. A strange man arrived with a suitcase and started chatting with the guy who was before on his phone.
“Open the engine lied”, he said to me in Hebrew. The boy called him to help. At that point, my phone rang. It was Nur, my Palestinian friend. I let him talk to the guy with the suitcase, which turned out to be a toolbox, and he had explained to Nur that I needed to leave the car for the night.
The old narrative sneaks back.
The thought that if I leave the car there for the night, I won’t see it again crept into my mind. Still, at this point, there was enough space within me to ignore it. The sense of deep trust was present and more substantial at that stage than any mind story.
We pushed the car to a parking place next to the road, and I left the car behind. I cannot remember how I got home that night, but my car was fixed and sound the day after.
When picking up the car, I took some money out of my pocket and gave the guy who fixed it for me, but he refused to take anything, I insisted, and he refused. It was the only conflict we had.
From joy to enthusiasm
Finally, I drove back home excited and grateful. I was excited to tell this story to as many Israelis as possible. I wanted to share this story and break the narrative implemented into our minds by a media, government and education system run by unconscious people. And I was grateful for the lovely experience and the positive memory of my last night in Shiffa.
A glimpse into a state of awakening
Awakening doesn’t have to come in a sudden moment of enlightenment. It can slowly grow in you. Like the breath of the ocean, the tides can be one day high and the other day; the shore is far again from the water.
Eleven years ago in the West Bank, I couldn’t tell what was going on with me at that moment in the car. Looking back in perspective, I know that some deep part of me spontaneously took over and didn’t let the unconscious side run the show. I am sure that the in-depth work I did in Combatants for Peace since 2007 also broke my narrative.
Alertness in everyday life
You don’t need to have such an intense experience to find your deep self. Life provides plenty of daily challenges where you can, whether follow the stories of your minds or follow a more profound level of awareness that can take over in every given situation. Packing a family with three kids for a holiday can become a nightmare without attention to the mind. Evening dinner with your parents can be full of challenges without alertness. Going shopping with a tired, hungry child and every simple daily task at home or work can be filled with stories when there is no presence.
No story — no problem
Eckhart Tolle is talking about the ‘isness’ of the situation. He offers a simple formula: what is = what is. You have no problem if you don’t add story, narrative, or opinions to a situation and simply take it as it is. In fact, we never have any problems in life. All issues are somewhere in the stories we tell ourselves about the giving moment that life puts us in.
Challenges without suffering
Challenging situations are essential for personal and global development. All life forms face challenges at any step of life.
When complaining, resisting, fighting against or running away from challenges, we miss the chance to grow and know our true selves. When we bring awareness to the narrative our mind tells us, we can step out of the ‘mind story’ and face a simpler reality.
THE SUFFERING IMMEDIATELY DISAPPEARED when I surrendered entirely to the fact that I was stuck with a broken car in a foreign country. And when I stopped adding stories to the situation, A ‘miserable situation’ became joyful and heart-opening.