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Grace and Willpower

 

When I was a boy, I used to eat my sweets really fast. I always finished before my big brother Maurice.

When I saw that he still had a plentiful supply I often looked up at him sheepishly, to which he responded, "No!!!", before I could open my ever-chewing jowls. I remember feeling rejected yet, simultaneously and on a deeper level, understanding that I was encroaching upon my brother's peace.

I was greedy and didn't know why. It took willpower to keep me from tears.

As my life rolls, the word alchemy seems to play an ever increasing importance. There is something indescribably beautiful about the subtle shifting of one form into another, higher, finer and always-worth-waiting-for transmutation.

For me, it seems that writing is a highly potent means to alchemise my lower self into something durable and perhaps beneficial to more than the small me. It's a method to my madness, a way to focus my pain, insecurity and all inclusive love and inspiration into crystalline design, awaiting anyone's consumption.

I also remember as a boy, sitting on our top-loading washing machine late at night, turning blue with croup.
I remember waiting in the staff room for my mum to come and take me home because my asthma kept me from partaking.
I remember sitting up many nights, resisting medication, pained and torn, yet firm in my mind that the voice inside my heart was telling me to do these things for some reason unknown to me at the time.
I recall lying in bed with Guillain Barre, choosing to ignore all pain and discomfort.

What seems clear, half a life or so later is, what one individual finds easy,
Another may not.
We are all wired by the same frame, yet time lines and stories vary across the tapestry.

I'm still not sure what I am,
but am more convinced as to know
what I am not.

I have always believed in God, because the thought, 'God exists' and its associated feelings,
provided me with the comfort not even an endless supply of maltesers or licquorice allsorts ever could.

Yet I have pondered and continue to......................
as to the difference between

Grace
(like a hand reaching out between the curtains of my heart saying, "Don't worry Matthew, here's a hug"), when I thought I just couldn't continue another moment

AND

Willpower
me resisting receiving this imaginary hug, in order that I may continue to appear strong and independant.

So, you might see from the above example that it seems to me;
Grace, is divine manifestation,
whereas willpower arises in my lower mind
and is something which I appear to have more conscious control over.

This topic came to me a few weeks ago following, as is so often the case, a few really interesting conversations in tandem with 'Grace vs Willpower' heating my marrow, approaching boiling and having no idea which way is 'next'.

Although at times I know I have tremendous will power, I also knew that in weeks gone by; deep down, my most important inner work was slacking.

I knew because of inner friction.

There was dialogue and emotion which I thought had been put to rest.
I also knew because I just strained my back; I overdid the physical side of things, knowing too well that this sometimes arises from ignoring that deepest voice.

The fact that one may hear internal dialogue, doesn't mean there is lack in good spirited intention.
But for me it did.
I knew because the scenery appeared all too familiar.

When one strives to conquer,
yet finds oneself spinning again,
beginning to ponder,
like walking through past-life's ghost town
and no one's around
except the voice in my head,
saying,
"What are you doing? You know this isn't right"
and yet
the force of momentum,
we call it conditioning,
or in yoga, the samskaras ('same-action' or patterns)
turns the record
and buries the heart in the deepening grooves.

Of course it is possible to have many positive grooves or patterns and these are the ones which enable us to do good frequently, smile, help an old person carry a bag and such like.

Yet simultaneously, while all this positive work is going on, now and again, or perhaps even once a day, or more than that, those negative imprints surface like a ravenous monster, biting, clawing, nourishing from the darker side.

Do you ever remember one of your parents saying "What on earth made you do that!!?"
I remember thinking "dunno................"

Years later I understand that it wasn't anything on earth specifically, but more akin to something I had been carrying around prior to that, which I have fed and cared for as
'that part of me which is sacred and private - so keep out!!!"
I have also realised that if you swap the 'a' and 'c' in 'scared' you get 'sacred'.

Embracing and moving out of the darkness provides for our growth.
If the soul returns (I believe it does) then large chunks of life may be consumed in re-membering.
Putting it all together again.

What was I doing?
No, surely my life's not just about going around in a circle called 'Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wed...............'

Why am I really here?
This question fascinated me from the age of fifteen and is still ticking within me like a time clock.

For me, such questioning moments often arise after a fall. The horizon is out of view from the trench, within which I contemplate.

Is it Grace which shows us how to step up in to clear view again?
It is willpower that fills our heart and lungs with courage to commence another round?
Are they the same thing?

I see it as a play of consciousness, a moving towards the divine so that it may enter our hearts.

Sure, there are those who rarely make any effort to do this. In such cases I believe the divine continues to present itself, although perhaps less frequently. A killer may find themself helping an old person across the street. Perhaps this is guilt, perhaps it is God saying there is another way or perhaps, I hear some of you say, he is just stalking his next victim.

I also believe that for this person, there may not be a brighter way, in this life.
They may be travelling through a lot of darkness until finally they realise,
"I can't see. Is this what I really want. Is there a better way?"
I truly believe these 'workings' do go on inside us all.

I sense such views open space for debate, disagreement and even disgust.
All the same, I have always believed in the cosmic law 'karma'; it has made a lot of sense to me. I don't see it as reward or punishment, as these are viewed subjectively from within the story.

Grace comes 'out' when we can no longer find an alternative;
When all seems lost, yet a part of us, deeper than any conditioning, is still open to the truth. From within this opening, it flows outward. It is felt in the heart and circulates through the blood, so that we may know ourselves, if but for a moment, once again.

If we are lucky, we have learned we are not merely the thoughts we hear. We know that some of them are out of place or out of date.

There is that moment of choice before we continue.

It is through repeatedly making the wrong choice, when Grace has been whirring in the background many a year, that we need to dig a little deeper, steel ourselves from the real thief and gain a little grip.
                                      

                                This is willpower.

                                                            

                                                             With sunshine,

                                                                                    Matt :)

 

 

 

 

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Matt Gluck
Pranasana Yoga Pranasana Yoga
British Wheel of Yoga