The Illusion of Control
There is nothing like walking along the Walk of Fame during the evening and admiring the coastline of Hong Kong. The dazzling light show that involves the coordination of all the buildings are such a sight to behold. No wonder it is known as the Pearl of the Orient.
Hong Kong itself has produced many powerful people. People who are passionate about life and live the dreams that they have envisioned.
Bruce Lee, such a legend, whose belief in his dreams, capabilities and love for the martial arts inspires so many during and after his lifetime. Despite living a very short lifespan of only 32 years of age, he is a great example of one that lives his life in totality.
It made me wonder that it is not the duration of life but the quality of life that matters. It doesn’t matter that one lives up to eighty when most of his or her life is spent being asleep and unconscious. Given a lengthy average lifespan, most people have failed to live a conscious life, a life of their choosing.
At the end, there is no one to answer to, only ourselves, whether we have made most of our lives, living without regrets.
I am humbled to stand before the monument of a great man once lived.
There is one thing that the ego or the mind would have us believe that is the greatest deceit. It says that we have control over external circumstances and it tells us that if we are to do certain actions, the outcome would give us what we want.
“You must be shapeless, formless, like water. When you pour water in a cup, it becomes the cup. When you pour water in a bottle, it becomes the bottle. When you pour water in a teapot, it becomes the teapot. Water can drip and it can crash. Become like water my friend.”
Control is an illusion. In the big scheme of things, there is only very little we can control. This little part that we can control is only within, everything without is not within our control.
There is a saying that the one with the most flexibility will go the furthest and that strength of being flexible can only be harnessed within us.
Take a look at the trees by the beach. Does the trunks of the trees tend to be long and flexible or hard and stiff? When the great wind blows, the flexible trunk will bend with the wind and survive long before its time, the hard and stiff will break. Can the trees control when the wind blows? No, but they can always go with the flow.
In life it is pretty much the same. There is so much factors involved in creating our life events and experiences and we can only influence a very small part of it. The big part of that little control we have lies within how we see the experience and react or not react accordingly.
In the universe where the law of cause and effect is always in motion, what we do or do not do will always have an immediate effect on our lives and the people around us but the fact is we don’t usually get to know precisely what the outcome will be.
So why do we always think that we are in control? We work so hard to force our fate in life to give us what we want. We try so hard to control others, thinking that we can bend them to our will. We want to conquer that which cannot be conquered. The universe has its own rhythm, we are just a small speck participating in the game of the cosmos, but inside our egoistic minds, we felt like we are the biggest and greatest in the world. It seemed like the universe lives inside us and not the other way around.
It is just that we didn’t realize that we have been taught from young by well-meaning people and most of them are also not aware that they too have been hypnotized. Hypnotized by the millions of adverts and information that says that you can be this and that if you do or buy this and that. So this cycle continues and we wonder why most people are miserable on the planet when they are not able to have or make things go their way.
One of the most notable example of deceiving the mind is the punish and reward system. This technique itself is base on fear and desire as a motivational force. If you do the right thing, you get the reward, if you do the wrong thing, suffer the consequences. So we continue to strive hard to do the right thing in the hopes of getting what we want and live in the fear of being punished.
The question then becomes doing the right thing from whose perspective? What is right to one might not be right to the other. We became so automatically obedient to the authority that delivers the punish and reward system without questioning why. In this way it slowly becomes modern slavery and very few people can consciously say that their choices in life are theirs alone.
In order to escape the system, one must first be aware that control of what is outside of you is an illusion. Understand it and you will come to the realization that all the control you really have is only within yourself and restricted to you alone.
If you can allow and choose not to interfere with what is, there will ultimately be only joy and peace left in you because you will finally be able to let go and move with the flow of life. This detachment will allow you to see things for what it really is and not what the mind think it is.
I used to be an easily agitated driver. I always felt that why is there a need to design the traffic rules and regulations if not everyone is going to follow it? Some people tailgate, they speed dangerously, they cut in front without regards for the safety of others. I would get mad with irresponsible drivers and then I realized, the one who is angry is the one who gets hurt at the end. Life is too short and precious to be wasting energy on negative emotions. Every minute that I am upset, I waste a minute of my life on things that doesn’t really mean anything at the end of the day.
We can never experience anything that is happening outside of us since everything that we see, feel and touch must first happen inside our minds. We can always change the story within to inspire a different outcome.
The trick is then to imagine myself rowing along a river stream. The other drivers are like floating logs and debris that blocks my path. They are just there and they will swerve into my path as and when. I can’t control what is there but I can navigate in a way that I could evade them and not be agitated. I can just do my best to avoid the obstacles so that I can reach where I intended safely, everything else is just what nature intended.
If laws and regulations can’t control people all the time, what makes me think I can control them? Realizing that I do not need to control them in the first place gives me a sense of peace and confidence since I do not depend on external circumstances for how I feel, and as a result, that makes it safer for myself and other road users.
Once we really understand and break this illusion of control, we can finally divert and channel our energies on to the self. If a situation does not go our way, it is okay. The way it happens is not truly good nor bad, it is just not the way we expected and if we have no control over anything external, there can really be nothing that could be expected. We will just have to learn to accept and see everything as an experience for growth.
We can never experience anything that is happening outside of us since everything that we see, feel and touch must first happen inside our minds. We can always change the story within to inspire a different outcome. What this outcome will be, we will never know since there are infinite possibilities that can happen to every situation.
The truth is, not knowing the mysteries and surprises in life is a beautiful thing.
It makes life worth living.