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Life Cannot Resist Nonresistance

The world will freely offer itself to you to be unmasked, it has no choice, it will roll in ecstasy at your feet.

--Franz Kafka


Life cannot resist nonresistance.  At first glance, this seems counterintuitive.  Our fear is that if we lay down our arms, we will be annihilated.  It is only in surrender that we discover life has been waiting all along to do our bidding.  We just tire ourselves out struggling against the currents of life.  We must learn to relax and allow ourselves to be carried downstream. 

There is a catch, of course.  Surrender is not an act of will.  Will power merely reinforces the illusion of separation that causes us to splash about in the first place.  How do we surrender without willing it?  Therein lies the rub. 

Eugen Herrigel confronted a similar problem when he was learning archery from a Zen master in prewar Japan.  After four years of practice, he still had not yet learned how to release the bowstring properly.  "How can the shot be loosed if 'I' do not do it?"  he asked in frustration.  His teacher replied, "'It' shoots."  

To those raised with a Western understanding of how things happen, the teacher seems to be suggesting that actions arise without intention.  When the time comes to surrender to life, "it" happens spontaneously, seemingly without any intention or effort on our part.  In reality, there is nothing apart from life itself to do any surrendering.  

So what happens to our precious dream of self once we awaken?

Eugen Herrigel, Zen in the Art of Archery

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