A spiritual thread that I’ve been absolutely fascinated by recently is this idea that the more ordinary you become, the more extraordinary you will be.
… And on the flipside, your desire to “stand out,” “be special” and “be unique” is what puts you on the predicable downward slide towards ordinary.
As David DeAngelo puts it: “Your desire to be unique is unoriginal.”
As I look back at my youth I smile at how just how goddamn unique and special I thought I was being:
— Attending University – thinking I was so smart and special above all the rest who weren’t.
… Just like all the other hundreds of thousands that enter + graduate University each year.
— Going off to Japan to teach english after University to have ‘adventures that most men only dream of,’ as I put it.
… Again, just like so many who go off to teach or travel overseas after University.
(In fact, in Europe the Erasmus programs are common as dirt – every city is packed with shining-eyed students who believe they are lighting up the streets with their specialness, yet are repeating the same predicable behaviour.)
Rebellion. Achievement. Attainment.
Seen it, seen it, seen it.
Your desire to be unique is stamped in the very fabric of the human ego, thus of course history repeats itself in the same dull way. Your “specialness” is no more predicable than the sun coming up tomorrow.
Now I’m not saying that this isn’t needed for many individuals. Au contraire, this is a very crucial stepping stone of development for most young people. However what I’ve been excited to discover is that despite the Western obsession with growth and improvement and standing out(!), is this idea that exceptionalism ironically lies in becoming more ORDINARY.
Another Way: Dare to ‘Become the Gum on Nothing’s Shoe’
My invitation instead? Dare to take the revolutionary approach to become the proverbial gum on the bottom of a dirty shoe. Be the gutter water along a forgotten ally in a forgotten city. Strive to be ordinary amidst a room of shining stars.
I realized I was not only nothing, I was the gum on the nothing’s shoe.
I was water borrowed from the ocean that the ocean forgot.
– Aubrey Marcus, (via his podcast)
Seek to be ordinary. Strive to be normal. Systematically chip away all that precious “specialness” you love to show off so much.
… Because then a very strange thing happens. You stand out as exceptional.
You become the only one in the room at the high school reunion perfectly OK with just being. You stand out amongst the bright red lips, and the “desperate reach” towards grandeur and importance.
In a room full of those teetering tippy-toed, you stand flat footed.
Make the Shift From “Improving Yourself” to “Becoming Hollow”
In the West, ‘Improve yourself’ is the slogan – either in terms of this world or in terms of the other, but improve. How to improve? How to become greater and bigger?
… [Yet] the very effort to improve is leading you on a wrong path… Desiring, you miss.
… Let desiring subside, become a silent pool of nondesiring – and suddenly you are surprised, unexpectedly it is there. And you will have a belly laugh, as Bodhidharma laughed. And Bodhidharma’s followers say that when you become silent again you can hear his roaring laugh. He is still laughing. He has not stopped laughing since then. He laughed because, “What type of joke is this? You are already that which you are trying to become! How can you be successful if you are already that, and you are trying to become that? Your failure is absolutely certain. How can you become that which you are already?
So Bodhidharma laughed.
– From “Creativity: Unleashing the Forces Within” by Osho
To the Western mind this idea to “become ordinary” is absolutely insane, as it runs opposite to everything we’ve been taught since children. We believe that if we do not strive, then we will fall back into this horrible hell called “mediocrity.”
Comfort zones will set in. We will settle. Full potentials will not be reached.
To us “being ordinary” means we don’t go higher. We don’t fly. We make no effort strive or transform or sail. All our motivational memes will scream in protest.
… And yet all the great mystics show us that the very opposite is true.
Ironically, it’s only by ‘being ordinary’ that we stand to rise above our petty egoic limits, and transcend to become a living, breathing extension of the Universe.
Tilopa (ancient spiritual teacher) taught the spiritual practice that helped him attain, which is to become hollow. He taught that once you become hollow, when you are empty and the space is there – the seed explodes. God can enter and move through you.
Again from Osho, “You become a vehicle – clear, with no obstructions. You become a flute, and Krishna can sing through you. You become just a passage, empty, nothing of your own – this is what I call surrender.”
The way I put it is to get yourself to the point where you become the best possible conductor you can be – to the point where you are “ringing” – and allow life to flow through you. You just surrender to the life that flows through you and moves you.
… You become an arm of Shiva.
As Sadhguru puts it, “Do not try to be special. If you are simply ordinary, more ordinary than others, you will become extraordinary.”
I love this concept.
Chop wood. Carry water. Set your sights for “alignment” rather than “achievement.” Because nothing outside of alignment today is really worth watch or talking about. See how silly or gross everyone born from ego ends up looking.
The good stuff is what comes out fresh and alive and still dripping wet from the fucking ether – our job is to surrender into a receptacle where this mystery is able to move through you. And you have to be a nobody in order for that to happen. Zero hindrance.
Again, as the Buddhists put it: chop wood, carry water…
… And burst into full shining light of a true human being.
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