The paradox of intention 6

It could be said that the paradox of intention might lead one to be passive or even masochistic in contrast to active and assertive but the following example suggests that it takes us beyond such thinking by emphasising a third possibility outside these opposites:

Now the question arises, is floating passive? Is it correct to say that we surrender ourselves to the water when we float? If we were to surrender ourselves to the water, we would drown. What is required in order to float? What kind of activity is required in floating? Attention. Floating is an activity occurring in consciousness. Floating is not passive, floating is not surrendering to the water, floating is not relaxing. It is the quality of consciousness which is alert, attentive and responsive to that invisible power present in the water which is called buoyancy. If we judge by appearances, floating may seem passive.

(From Thomas Hora in Existential Metapsychiatry 1977 quoted by Marvin C. Shaw.)

This is the same attitude needed in meditation and I would suggest also in a psychoanalytic session (either as therapist or indeed as patient) – in other words being responsive to the situation, being participative within it. We take response/ability in the sense of our ability to respond – we let go of trying to make ourselves be or act in a certain way. There is an acceptance both of who we are and also of the insecurity inherent in being alive. We cannot solve the anxiety of what it means to be human through effort or action – when there is nothing we can do, there is nothing we need do. This is the move from self-preoccupation to letting go or what has been called disposability, from hyperintention to a state of yielding. Accepting our insecurity is a form of liberation. Accepting our existential precariousness may be the prelude to a new, more fruitful kind of action.

Chogyam Trungpa in his book Cutting through Spiritual Materialism writes: ‘There is no need to struggle to be free; the absence of struggle is itself freedom.’

It has been said that play (as distinct from work) is any action that is not burdened by the necessity of making our physical being secure in the ultimate sense either by increasing our self-esteem or making life meaningful. In other words play is any activity not motivated by the need to resolve inner conflict. And why would this be?  – because the person does not need to achieve because they have already arrived. In this way play is peaceful and paradoxically highly productive action because the outcome is not attached to the process.