Joy and Suffering: Let Go or Take Control?

youth-570881_1280History bears witness to the value that chaos, in the form of diversity, can have. Happy accidents advance the sciences, diverse opinions and viewpoints enhance creativity, and biological diversity builds stronger ecosystems and living creatures.  On the other hand, having some level of control, in the form of maintaining a healthy attitude, diet, and exercise, and managing both physical and emotional challenges, can increase our enjoyment of life and the joy of others in relationship with us.

History also bears witness to chaos in the form of war and natural disasters as significant sources of suffering and death.  And history bears witness to how the quest for control and order can produce suffering and death. Oppression, enslavement, and death have been repeatedly imposed upon those who are considered different, outside the cultural norms of the “in group”.

In the beginning of Jewish Scripture, we are told that two entities existed – dark formless chaotic city-440126_1280“earth”, and God. And God brought forth order from the chaos, in the form of light and darkness, heavens and earth, water, living creatures, and humans beings. From this beginning, the idea emerged that control and order were good and resulted in enjoyment of life, and that chaos was evil and resulted in suffering and death.

Perhaps ironically, Buddhist thought later emerged taking a somewhat opposite view of the causes of suffering and death.   The Buddhist “Four Noble Truths” identify the desire for control as a source of suffering.

While their initial approaches to the problem of good and evil were different, Jewish and Buddhist views of good and evil were fairly consistent – good being supportive of joyful life, and evil being the source of suffering and death.

good-v-s-evil-1560338Contained within both approaches to the problem of good and evil were also the seeds for the opposite approaches. Within the Judeo Christian culture, surrendering control to a benevolent “Higher Power” is viewed as a valuable approach to addressing suffering, and the Eightfold Path of the Buddhist culture describes the self control required to “live a good and compassionate life”.

What can we do to increase our enjoyment of life, and increase the well being of others? Which approach should we take? Should we exercise control in the hope that others will recognize the value of control and learn from us? Or should we let go of all control and just let life happen, smelling the roses along the way and helping others when we get can?

This is one of those “false dichotomy” questions that can cause a lot of conflict and anxiety,within individuals and within communities and between neighbors. Different 20150219_065337approaches to the problem of good and evil result in a great deal of chaos, conflict, and death. How ironic is it that by trying to exert control on ourselves and others, we can end up causing suffering for ourselves and others?

The nondual answer worth exploring to any “either or” question is “yes.” Look at the merits of both approaches. A balance of “letting go” and “self control” can indeed bring peace and joy to our lives and the lives of our loved ones, our neighbors, and even our enemies.

We tend to be programmed from an early age as to what the “right reaction” to suffering should be. Whether taking control or surrendering (fight or flight), we tend to react to extreme situations with extreme thoughts and behaviors. And whatever our natural reaction is, most of us can think of occasions where extreme reactions have produced even more suffering for ourselves and others.

floating-bonsaiThe ability to react, to live, and to have relationships that are healthy and balanced, allowing for a reasonable amount of control and chaos, can require some training and practice. Meditation can be a very helpful in this regard. It is perhaps ironic that for some people “letting go” of a desire for control can be achieved through a controlled meditation practice. It is perhaps equally ironic that for others, practicing “letting go” of fears can help a person to cope better and have more self control.

With this in mind, we are happy to announce the opening phase 2 Christian Tantric Meditation classes covering “Self Emptying” practices on Saturday September 12th.  The morning session will cover “Freeing the mind and heart of harmful desires and resentments”, and the afternoon session will cover “Freeing the Core of Fears and Opening Self to Bliss”. Please visit or call 678-358-8775 for more information.

Phase 1 Christian Tantric Meditation classes are also being opened on Saturday, September 26th. These classes introduce core concepts and exercises that are used throughout all four phases of the practice.   These workshops introduce mindfulness, mind stabilization, and open consciousness practices.  We also introduce practices that can reduce physical and emotional pain and enhance compassion for others in our phase 1 classes. Again, please visit or call 678-358-8775 for more information.

If you are interested in learning more about Christian Tantric Meditation, Atlanta area classes are being offered in the beautiful North Georgia Mountains. Registration is open now, visit our website for more information and to register on line.  The book Christian Tantric Meditation Guide is also available through and local bookstores.

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