A Different Orientation Toward the World

I keep thinking about a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset. A fixed mindset asserts that your intelligence, talents, and personality are fixed traits that cannot grow. There’s no improvement, there’s no change. A growth mindset is the opposite – it’s a belief that your intelligence, talents, and personality improve and change over time. However, instead of only applying the growth mindset to myself, as in, my novel-writing skills will improve, I also apply it to how I approach the world.

My spiritual tradition is a tantra-oriented practice, which if you break down the literal definition of tantra means liberation through expansion. In practice, tantra uses everything as a vehicle for liberation. That means every situation, every struggle, every everything is an opportunity to move closer to the Divine Beloved or further away.

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Grow, baby, grow! Photo by Victoria Strukovskaya on Unsplash

Here’s a silly, but perfect, example of how I use everything as a vehicle for liberation. In June 2016, I went to a cat café and none of the cats came up to me. I consider myself a cat person even though I don’t have one and usually, cats rub against me, want to sit on my lap, etc. But these cats didn’t and I was offended, especially because they came up to my friend. What the heck?!? Was she special and I wasn’t?!? Truly, it threw me into a tizzy and it’s what prompted my post, “You So Special.”

My interaction (or lack of interaction) with a random cat, once, spurred me to start affirming that I’m special and unique. It showed me that I was relying on other people to do that for me but using that method is like trying to fill up a colander with water – there are too many holes and the water will keep streaming out. I had to, and have to, give myself what I need first.

Bringing it back to tantra, my spiritual teacher says tantra is an all-around fight, both internally and externally. That means facing my fears, protesting injustice, and always asking, “How can I use this situation or experience to grow?” In my personal life, it also means becoming more accepting of whatever is in front of me because I understand it’s there for a reason and the reason is not to torture me.

My friend Ramesh Bjonnes, author of Tantra: The Yoga of Love and Awakening, wrote about this on Facebook in 2016 and I’m partially quoting him now. He said:

“In meditation, we do not deny anything, we actually become more accepting of everything, and in doing so, we realize where peace and true satisfaction is truly found – not in the fluctuating reality of the body and the mind, but in the stillness of the soul. And that stillness is so big that it contains everything, the only change is that our focus has changed, our identification has changed. It is from this state, we can more soulfully deal with pain, heartbreak, stress, and all the other stuff of life. This is the gift of meditation, to be able to dip into the ocean of the soul and thus return spiritually refreshed.”

Dipping into the ocean of the soul means taking a broader perspective. It means approaching life not from a fixed mindset of, “This will never change” or “I just need to find the right configuration of ____ to be happy.” It’s approaching life from a growth mindset of, “How can I grow from this situation? What can I learn?”

I dream of a world where we recognize we have a choice about how we approach life. A world where we understand we can view the things that happen to us from the standpoint of a victim or as something we have agency over. A world where we recognize we can grow from our experiences if we wish. A world where we have a different orientation toward the world that’s about moving us closer to the Divine Beloved.

Another world is not only possible, it’s probable.

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