Years ago Bobbi came back from a conference she'd attended and shared this:
1. Show up
2. Pay attention
3. Speak the truth
4. Don't be attached to the outcome
She called it "Grace in action."
Professor Google tells me this comes from cross-cultural anthropologist Angeles Arien, who died in 2014. And maybe it's called something else. There's a bunch of stuff on the web about Angeles, here, and here, for example. But she has no Wikipedia page! I didn't know it was possible for someone to be that well known and MIA on Wikipedia. She must be an exceptional woman.
Back to the steps. When people try to follow them they often see them as progressively harder. Showing up is the easiest. Not being attached is the hardest. I think that's because "showing up" is not well explained.
So I'm gonna fix that!
Step 1 is the hard one. If you show up -- properly -- the rest is easy.
Showing up means just showing up. That means being conscious, and that requires waking up. You can seem to show up without waking up, but that's seeming. You can't really show up if you are not awake. The body is there. The conditioning is there. But you are not.
And showing up means showing up without baggage. Otherwise you are not "just showing up." If you show up with baggage, who packed your bags? And why are you carrying them? Drop the bags and just show up.
Just showing up means showing up without an attitude, without an agenda, without anything attached to you or that you are attached to that keeps you from doing what you showed up to do.
Tying it back to the thread prompted by reading Sam Harris book "Waking up," "showing up" means showing up not attached to the illusion of the conventional self. Illusions are useful. The illusion of the conventional self is sometimes useful. But mainly it's baggage. And attached to that bit of baggage is lots of other baggage. A whole baggage car full. A baggage train full.
Perhaps you are not able to easily show up awake and without baggage. No problem. I can't do it easily either, at least most of the time. But when I can't, I can always do the next best thing: I can show up, then wake up. Then there, and awake, I can THEN see my conventional self as an illusion. I don't have to get rid of the illusion -- it might be useful. But if the illusion is holding me back, then I do what I need to do so it's not.
And THEN I can see the rest of the baggage I am carrying. But only if I look. If I look, it's illusions within illusions. Like turtles, it goes all the way down.
That goes for reality, too. As I've written elsewhere, and other elsewhere reality is an illusion. But it can be a very useful one. The goal is not to have no illusions, but to avoid illusions that are in your way: illusions that you don't realize are illusions; illusions that control what you do; illusions that cause you to do what you don't want to do.
If you see harmful illusions you can swap them for helpful ones (knowing they are illusions, or not), or drop them and have no illusions at all. Sometimes one is best, sometimes the other.
So if going through steps 1-4 gets hard (as it sometimes does for almost everyone) the remedy is not to give up. It's not to try to force your way through. It's to wake up, look around, see what kind of baggage (illusions) you are carrying and drop the bags. Or swap them for bags that help.
Step 1, show up, means show up, conscious, without illusions that get in your way. And that makes the other steps easy.
Step 2: pay attention. If you just show up, it's easy to pay attention because there's nothing to distract you.
Step 3: speak the truth. If you just show up it's easy to speak the truth because there's no obstacle to saying anything at all. And saying nothing can be a kind of truth, too. Showing up makes that easy.
Step 4: don't be attached to the outcome. If you just show up not attached to anything, it's hard to get attached to the outcome. Easy to not be attached to the outcome. So easy.
Still, people have problems because they don't just show up. Instead, they show up with baggage that they don't know they're carrying.
"The need to win" in a conflict is a common form of baggage. And the conflict is often an illusion.
If you are intentionally playing a game with a willing opponent and you agree on what winning is, and agree on winning as a goal of the game, and you're looking forward to having fun playing the game, then the illusion of the game is a nice one and the illusion of winning helps make the game a nice one.
But if you're not in the game by choice but fell into it asleep and unaware; or if your counterpart is not there by choice; or you don't agree on the game; and especially if you are not enjoying it, then wake up! You need to do something. Asleep, you can't. Awake, you can.
If you wake up you can realize that you're not actually in the game. Rather you were in the metaphoric movie theatre of the mind, watching a dystopic movie in which the hero (you) has gotten into an awful situation with someone he or she loves.
It's a movie. Wake up!
Waking up doesn't stop the movie. But it does give you some creative control: new freedom of action and new ability to change the story line.
Important: you don't need to wake up the other characters. Indeed, unless they've told you that they want you to wake them up, you should not. Eventually, probably, they will wake up. But in their own time.
If we're committed to being awake, then our first job is to keep ourselves awake. Our second is to wake others who have asked us to wake them. Waking those who like their illusion and enjoy dreaming (or still believe it's real) is no part of our job.
Our job is to wake up and stay awake. It's a full-time job.
Awake, for me, means looking around for my own baggage and starting to get rid of it -- or to keep it depending on how useful I -- and not my conditioned self -- find it.
Awake, I know that winning and losing are both illusions. What my conditioned self had called winning might have made my conditioned self happy (I was asleep and registered no opinion.) But it would have made someone else (who my conditioned self saw as the opponent or "enemy") unhappy.
If I want to keep the illusion that my counterpart is really an enemy, I can do that. There are people who are worth hating and treating as enemies. But if my conditioned self perceives someone as the enemy, despite the fact that I love them, then that perception an illusion, and not a good one. And it needs to be gotten rid of.
Awake, I can change what I cannot change when I am asleep.
Awake, I can see that's an illusion, a harmful one, and one I choose no longer to maintain. Awake, I can change the game from combative to cooperative. I can redefine what winning and losing are for me. Awake, I can define winning as "making someone who I love happy" and losing as its opposite.
Now winning makes two people happy, and losing makes no people happy. So why not win?
Some time ago I might have imagined someone looking at me as I changed the game and imagined them judging me to be weak, or soft, for "giving in." Maybe someone even did it. It doesn't matter. What mattered was that there were times when I agreed with this real or imagined judge, and fought hard to keep playing a game that I hated against someone I loved, to satisfy someone whose opinion didn't really matter.
Some years ago, I realized that my ability to change was a strength, not a weakness. And so I redefined winning. When in a fight with my loved one, I'd take her hand and declare "I win." And at that point winning and losing would be different.
Over time I got better. Over time she started "winning" too. The game stopped being "who can hold out the longest" but "who can reach the fastest."
Now, I see things even more clearly. I add -- to my ability to change -- my ability to wake up, and the power of seeing illusions as illusions.
It took a long time to get here, but the way I see it now is this: I have the ability to wake up; I have the power to see through illusions -- mine and others; I am determined to free myself from conditioning; I have the courage to make someone who I love happy while facing the illusion that I am weak for doing so.
I'm certain that what I do is because I am able, powerful, determined, brave and strong.
I used to fight while still asleep. Then I learned to win while still asleep. Now I win, awake.