Giving Up

Giving Up
by Shawn Nevins

                     
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I decided that even if I failed to find the truth, and seemingly wasted my life looking, I still would prefer that prospect of failure to a situation where I had not even tried. ~ Richard Rose

Cerro Alto
I was recently asked if I had surrendered when, several years ago, I gave up the search and moved to Austin, Texas to seek riches in the world of business. Memory tends to gloss over details and create connections where there was only confusion, and fate from blind struggle. In my attic are my journals, so I went to the source to see what that fellow was thinking.

What I found was a person suffering from months of spiritual dryness. He wasn't reading, meditating, working with others, or engaged in any practice. He was studying the stock market, lifting weights, and watching TV, yet finding no meaning in these new practices either. They were simply more enjoyable. He was convinced that he had failed in the search and was looking for the second place prize.

I didn't want to give up, but when you're out of ammo what do you do? It is clear I had lost all hope in my ability to do something, yet I still kept looking for help. I went to a Douglas Harding workshop in May of 1999, and was impressed enough to journey to England two months later. His experiments tantalized me; kept alive the feeling that an answer was close, but I still had no idea what action, what movement of the mind would lead to an understanding of what that mind was.

I went looking for a new life to live, but in a town where I felt I could start a small discussion group and be of some service to others. I didn't practice Harding's techniques, meditate, or write. Only a handful of entries mark my journal for the fall of 1999:

10/5/99: Any intense wish will eventually bring an answer.
11/23/99: In the half-light of the morning, whole truth seems but a step away. In the light of day, all fades to grey.
12/25/99: Life is like, to use a John Davis phrase, "whistling in a graveyard."

I recall working hard to build the spiritualteachers.org website: reviewing books, summarizing my experiences to leave a record for others. I felt that my personal spiritual effort was finished, but I recognized that others might succeed and this goal was the highest in life.

On the 28th of December, everything changed:

12/28/99: God is here. He rings in the death of all we know.

I disappeared. Everything disappeared and there was only All.

Did I surrender those many months before? If by that the questioner meant I surrendered to a higher power – absolutely not. No such thought entered my head. Implicit in the question, I believe, is the thought that one could surrender or give up as a practice, thus accelerating one's journey. Maybe it's possible; Christian mystics speak of such. Not me, though. I have to be beaten before I'll surrender or let go. And here I have to be careful not to confound reality with Reality, in a world where we do nothing yet our choices matter.

Don't make a logical story out of this. You can forget this whole essay, except the opening lines by Richard Rose. Understand that what one person found another can. Not in one mighty summoning of will and determination as it may seem in glossy retrospect, but in a series of small steps and choices that build momentum, that change who you are, that build a vector – a force in a direction. When the day comes that you lose hope and give up, the force of your life may lead to a discovery.

~ Originally published in the August 2007 TAT Forum.