“Un-Happiness is a retardation of the eliminative exercise….”
—Adi Da Samraj
For decades I thought I was not an “accumulator,” because I love getting rid of stuff—clothes, books, furniture, kitchen utensils. It drives my wife a little batty. There are trips out to IKEA to buy something like a new end-table because I threw out a perfectly good one that had been sitting harmlessly in our basement storage room.
But in recent years I’ve had to face the fact that I accumulate all kinds of shit. I hoard, for example, “insights” into my head. Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh compares collecting insights to collecting pebbles in our pants pockets. Before we know it, he says, we are weighted down with pounds of bulging pebbles. Word.
Also, I am constipated with baroque concepts of what psycho-spiritual growth is, what it looks like, how “it all” works, how it must and must not proceed, in what order, and where I stand in that tangled conceptual jungle. These “knowings”—the accretions of too much thinking and reading—clog up my psyche like vast landfills.
They’re all refusals to release. This kind of retention is a train wreck. It makes our thinking old and rigid. It is also central to unhappiness. Adi Da says:
“Un-happiness is the self-contraction itself, retention, the inability to release, to let go, to be continuous with the present moment of existence. The self-contraction [the ego] is the self-toxifying motive. It backs up all the forces of life…”
And according to Christian mystic, Meister Eckhart:
“Everything is meant to be lost, that the soul may stand in unhampered nothingness.”
Here is Steve Martin demonstrating the inability to release and let go.
Adi Da points out that although this allergy to release is inherent to the ego, it is also culturally reinforced. We are trained to live and think as consumers. All advertisers know the axiom of the Western psyche: “What’s in it for me? What do I get?”:
“[In conventional society] You are not supposed to think of yourself as an eliminative character. You are supposed to think of yourself as an acquisitive character—someone who acquires things, the consumer always stuffing itself, filling itself, consoling itself…
“The entire ‘Westernized’ society—which is basically the world-society today—is based on the consumer psychology, not the eliminative psychology of free being.”
This acquisitive mindset characterizes much ordinary religion, too.
“Conventional religion is just another consumer product for un-Happy people who cannot release and let go of things, and who (because they are in a self-toxified state physically, psychically, and altogether) need to console themselves with illusions. Conventional religion is a plastic hamburger for the mind…It is just a support for a living being that cannot be free, that cannot release itself.”
Here’s a man who plainly has not been a good eliminator for most of his life but who now seems to be getting the hang of it.
Stuff To Do
* List your accumulations. Brainstorm everything you think you might collect, acquire, own, curate, hoard and hold on to, including within the dusty museum of your mind. Write about them in a free-flowing, stream-of-consciousness way. Simply explore. Bring in some gentle awareness.
* Get into pooping. The physical, elemental aspect of elimination is not nothing. It can impact and inform your whole psyche. Do a round of colonics. Eat way more raw plant foods and fermented foods. Do an herbal colon cleanse. Make sure you’re having at least three bowel movements a day. Again, Adi Da:
“In order to be free…you must (among other things) somehow come to terms with the fact that you (as the body-mind) are an eliminative character, and you must begin to live as such. Get amused with it. Get strong with it. Somehow you must feel right with the idea that you are an eliminator. You must feel it as an expression of your strength, your freedom, your purity.”
“…(in your un-Happiness) you do not find others attractive as eliminators. You find others attractive as accumulators, or owners. This attitude has become the design of human consciousness everywhere, and human beings have become consumers and owners—associated with attributes, clinging to forms, substances, states, imageries. You release nothing and you are not free.”
“The body is a food bag, a food sheath, a big balloon, a vessel. It needs to communicate substances to itself to regenerate its cellular existence, but when it accumulates it goes out of balance. It must eliminate, most basically.”
(It’s not for nothing that Bertrand Russell said that the ultimate secret to happiness was two regular bowel movements per day.)
* Purge physical stuff. If you are the type who accumulates material things, do a purge of your home. For that, there’s no more inspiring a book than The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up (though the author seems a bit on the OCD-ish side about getting rid of stuff). But try not to piss off your spouse. None of us need any extra trips to IKEA.
* Feel and enjoy your exhalations. Get into them, emotionally. Yes, receive fully, with each inhalation, but allow and enjoy the small, mini-death-relinquishment of your exhalations. Notice how the exhalation feels more like surrender.
Lastly, you could release your fear of getting super awesome emails by subscribing to my email list. I’ll send you new posts as they go up, plus—occasionally—other cool stuff, which, to be honest, I’ve not thought up yet. But I will.