“Struggling toward Surrender” was written by Jaya Kula student Lavinia Magliocco.
I used take pride in the tremendous effort I put into the things I cared about.
My effort came loaded with the desire to be noticed, admired and deemed worthy. Pride worked pretty well for me as a dancer. I used the anxious, wound-up-tight feeling to fuel more effort. I didn’t recognize what was happening because I was so used to it.
I felt resentment doing things I didn’t enjoy so much – dusting, washing dishes and paying bills – because they took time away from the things that supposedly mattered. I made crises out of “interruptions” – such as unexpected medical bills.
When I met my teacher, I took on spiritual practices such as kriya yoga with the same effort and earnestness I had brought to ballet. Determined to excel, I was going to crack this thing called “enlightenment.”
Bit by bit I began to discover an underbelly to this struggle: aggression. I was angry because no matter how much effort I expended, the results never really satisfied me for long. And I became exhausted when I realized this effort was a pretext for getting love. I was finally getting in touch with my real condition.
After a serious illness during which I clung to my practice like a life raft, the bottom dropped out. I didn’t know anymore why I was practicing. Practice wasn’t going to save me from dying or keep bad things from happening. And clearly, I wasn’t going to become enlightened in this lifetime.
I felt like the air had been suddenly whooshed out of my life. I felt limp, yet strangely more relaxed. Suddenly, nothing mattered so much.
Fortunately, having a teacher with whom to share my feelings helped me get to through this in-betweenness. She even encouraged me to hang out there for a while. But eventually I gravitated back to practice, this time with fewer expectations.
When I hear my teacher talk about kindness as the ultimate siddhi (spiritual power), it brings me back to earth.
Seeing how much I’ve pushed through life with an agenda, and how brutish and clumsy that makes me, I realize that not doing this makes life more available, open and replete with possibilities. I get to find out what’s really here, instead of what my limited, habitual mind wants me to think is here.
I’m at the point where I don’t really care about “enlightenment” as some goal to be achieved. I’m starting to understand that there is no final destination. There is only this aliveness, this Intelligent energy that pervades everything that is.