photo (1)

Audio eLesson_2013-0923

Are we followers of the masses, or leaders of ourselves? The Taoist Chuang Tzu said, “The mass of men deem what is unnecessary to be necessary, and therefore they are often at war within themselves.” What do the mass of people focus on that is unnecessary, that they deem necessary? And why does the unnecessary cause war within them?

Motivation drives our decisions and actions, so it’s helpful to understand where our motivation comes from. Motivation derives from receiving something. We participate in an activity, or are part of a group because we get something from it. Being part of the masses gives us security and acceptance. Decisions, such as what to believe or what to value, are made by the group. Lack of security, non-acceptance, and making decisions are stressful. We tend to unconsciously resist that stress and take the easier path of following the masses. In short, we’re motivated by comfort and follow the masses instead of being leaders of ourselves.

The opposite of security, is lack of security. Instead of getting security from the masses we must find security within ourselves. The opposite of being accepted, is not being accepted. Instead of getting acceptance from the masses we must accept ourselves. The opposite of following decisions made by the masses, is accepting the stress of making decisions ourselves. This opposite orientation is stressful. Making the shift to valuing stress helps us become leaders of ourselves.

Comfort is the “unnecessary” that the masses deem as “necessary.” We face a paradox. It’s not that valuing comfort is wrong. It’s that the masses overvalue comfort and strive for it directly. Life, growth, and learning are stressful, yet if we engage stress we build comfort from the experience. We achieve the comfort we desire indirectly. We gain comfort because we’ve expanded our ability to deal with stress. Perhaps we’ve all experienced this when we desire to achieve a climbing goal. We want to reach the top, where we’ll be comfortable. Yet to accomplish that goal, that comfort, we must focus on the stress of doing the climbing. We’re at war within ourselves because we strive for comfort directly. That’s the big paradox of life: we must engage stress, process ourselves through it, to gain comfort.

We all want to be part of a group. That’s natural. Yet, if we embrace the stress of developing ourselves, which gives us individual security and acceptance, then we have something to contribute to a group. Then we can follow a group with awareness. We’ve found balance: we lead ourselves with awareness; we follow a group with awareness.

We can’t do this unconsciously. We need to consciously understand our motivation, value stress, and strive for the comfort we seek indirectly. We need to understand that stress is necessary. If we can do that, then we won’t be at war with ourselves.

Share on Facebook

This Post Has 6 Comments

  1. Thomas Beck

    Good post

  2. Donna Champagne

    I totally agree. Embracing stress is very important, but not so easy to do. I sometimes think my mind is deluding me when I believe I am embracing stress, but I’ve really just found a work-around to doing so!

  3. Josh Gold

    Getting enough stress, but not too much, is the balance beam we attempting to walk on.

  4. Kyle

    Finding balance between society/group/family and ourselves/individual/”I” can be stressful as was stated.

    Humans deal with stress in many ways. A very common way is to induce something external (alcohol, marijuana, etc) to “calm the nerves”.

    What is your take Arno on external substances as a stress reliever?

    Can marijuana or alcohol (2 most common in my experience) be used in a healthy, balanced way? daily? weekly?

    If you were to suggest substituting an external substance (alcohol, etc) for another stress relieving technique (meditations in morn and night, work on accecptance, breathing exercises, “beat the bag” ancient chinese exercise, etc) what would it/they be?

    Im just curious your opinion/way on this topic and your recommended non-climbing stress relieving techniques/ways.

    1. Arno

      Hi Kyle, Consider the intention behind our decisions and actions. Using an external substance to relieve stress doesn’t help process stress. The intention seems to devalue stress.

      Maybe an important point here is to make sure we choose the stress we want to learn from. If we do that then we won’t be inclined to seek relief. Then there is all the other stress that we don’t intentionally choose. Using our breath and bodies (posture and relaxing) would be more engaging and process stress through our bodymind better than external substances. a

  5. Kyle

    To add to the last post:

    Can stress in society help me become a better climber? Is there a transfer from dealing with stress in my everyday life to dealing with stress on the rock?

    Can I practice/put effort into learning, dealing with stress in my everyday life and have that knowledge/experience gained (from looking internally, inwards) convienently transfer to rock? Or vice versa?

    Thank you.

Leave a Reply