On the cusp of crucial midterm elections in America, Ethan Nichtern talks about finding the middle path between complacency and being a control freak, and why we need to let go of attachment to outcomes.
How a Control Freak Lets Go
Buckle up for today’s topic: how we work on giving up control in a world that feels out of control. With the looming midterm election as a backdrop, Ethan talks about the generalized anxiety a lot of people deal with when it feels as if they’ve lost control and the world is falling apart. Fortunately for us, the Buddhist teachings are well-positioned to help us deal with that kind of experience.
“And this generalized anxiety just comes from, you could say, trying to hold together things which, in our heart of hearts, we know cannot be held together. Or cannot be held together by our own personal, solitary, Herculean efforts.” – Ethan Nichtern
Get ready for the midterm election: check your registration status and make sure you’re registered to vote!
Showing Up and Letting Go (13:00)
Ethan talks about how we can influence that which is under our control, but we can’t magically manifest the life we want. He explores the two extreme reactions to realizing the world is out of our control: refusal to accept we can’t control everything and hold the whole situation together on one hand, and complete complacency on the other. So what is the middle path between those extremes? It’s all about letting go.
“The control freak knows how to show up, but they don’t know how to let go. The complacent person knows how to let go, but they don’t know how to show up. And what we’re really talking about is showing up, then letting go of outcome.” – Ethan Nichtern
JoAnna Hardy explores what happens when Middle Path meets Wise Effort in BHNN Guest Podcast Ep. 46
Basic Goodness and Interdependence (24:30)
If we’re going to let go, what do we let go to? Ethan explores how surrender is an experience that can be easily manipulated, as we’ve seen with various religions, teachers and gurus, and cult leaders throughout history. He shares how he has decided to let go into basic goodness and the truth of interdependence. We can surrender control without falling into complacency.
“Let go into a kind of faith in reality itself. And the only words I have for that, that have really gotten me to where I am, are basic goodness and interdependence. The goodness of sentient beings and the goodness of the phenomenal world.” – Ethan Nichtern