The Buddha sat under the Bodhi tree for forty years and asked himself the quintessential question, “Who am I?" His patience was infinite and his resolve unyielding. He knew his old way of looking at the world had brought him pain and suffering; he also knew there must be another way. As he asked himself the all important question about essence and heard the answers, he rejected them by saying, “Not this, not this, not this. "
I imagine those forty years were fairly treacherous. From the time he sat down to the time he got up forty years later, a lot must have happened. I'm sure there were times that he just wanted to get up and leave. But he somehow knew the truth would take him to another place, and he was willing to go through it all to get there. Imagine the power that was at work. He had no idea where he was going. All he knew was that where he had been was not the answer. Through confusion, fear, anxiety and darkness, he sat. Never knowing if there would be an end to his quest, he resolved to stay in the gap.
The gap between the old way no longer working and the new way not yet found is the only place that consciousness expands. To stay in that space takes tremendous courage and discipline. As familiar forms shift and mutate, what once was capable of making us feel secure and comfortable becomes a distant memory. It simply doesn't bring us happiness anymore. The energy is changing. We make a conscious choice to go with the energy rather than cling to the form. Something inside us is letting us know that if we want something more, we have to be something more. It is only when we move from the known to the unknown that energy has a place to stretch and expand and create new ways for us to express ourselves.
The space in between is always uncomfortable. The old forms have dropped away and have not been replaced. There is nothing to hang on to other than the romanticized remembrance of an exotic adventure. Like the Buddha, when we say, “Not this, not this, not this. . . " we are making an implicit commitment to accept only the truth and nothing else. When we tell the universe that we are not willing to do it the old way anymore, what we are actually doing is withdrawing our energy from that way.
As we withdraw the energy, we can instantly see the forms change. The relationship we thought we would die without suddenly loses its allure, and the job we were so scared to quit is something we no longer want. As we surrender to that place, a movement of new energy is at work. Although nothing has yet come to fruition, that doesn't mean things aren't changing. The darkness we are experiencing is a necessary prelude to a whole new way of doing things, and we stay in the gap until another door opens.
From Reality Works, Copyright © 2002 Chandra Alexander
Chandra Alexander, MSW, has been living and teaching authenticity for the last thirty years. Selected by The Oprah Magazine as the Life Coach to deliver twelve coaching sessions to the grand prize winner of their Toyota Moving Forward contest, she also spent five years on NBC/TV/Daytime giving a weekly “Reality Check. " Her blog, http://ChandraUnplugged.com is a real find for any true seeker on the path to authenticity. Along with a private practice in Tampa, FL, she coaches clients all over the world in the areas of relationships, work and consciousness. To learn more about her books and CDs, visit her website at http://Coachgirl.com