What is trust? How does it dance with control and surrender?
Trust seems to be so inter-tangled with control that often in relating we are imposing control where we think we are building trust. Take a typical example:
“I don’t want you to wear those seductive clothes that all the other men ogle at, so that I can trust you.”
A somewhat conditional trust, which actually, upon closer examination, is a form of control. Do this and don’t do this and only then I will trust you. Not very trusting really is it?
Yet if someone lets us down, we lose trust. You said you’d show up at 3…it is now 6 and you are still not here…I lose trust in your word. Am I being conditional and controlling, or is it simply that you are not trustworthy?
There is perhaps nothing more vulnerable than trusting and being let down. You said you’d be there for me, and you did not show up. You said you’d catch me, but you let me fall. You said you’d take care of me, but you forgot to prepare any food. Perhaps the only way to live in trust is to open to being let down, to surrender no matter what happens…if you drop me can I trust that I was supposed to fall?
Which brings us onto the question of who exactly it is we are trusting.
If we trust that all is as t is meant to be, no matter what it looks like, then it is not a trust in a person that we are gaining, but a trust in existence itself. I trust you to show up, but if you don’t show, I trust that I was supposed to be alone right now. A sort of trans-personal trust. Trust in God perhaps, Trust in the Mystery, trust in Life itself.
Somehow though we are always looking for proof. How can I trust God when so many people suffer? we often ask. Perhaps this is where trust meets his cousin, faith. A leap of faith, is trusting without direct evidence. Trusting in the Big Picture….it may not be happening as I think it should be happening, but can I trust in the divine perfection of it all? It is all, ultimately, for the benefit of all beings? Does life unfold in a direction towards awakening, and thus the bumps and knocks simply wake-up calls? How many people have suffered through something at the time, only to say later that it was the best thing that ever happened to them…you know, those car accidents that caused pain but also led you to yoga. The job loss that hurt as it happened, but made space for something new and amazing to unfold. And yes, then end of that relationship which you so did not want to end, and yet made space for the new love of your life to come in.
Karmic Law, a basic tenet of Hindusim and Buddhism, is the law of trusting the unfolding of Truth. The understanding that life is unfolding in a path of spiritual evolution, and the painful bits are there to show us what we need to change in order to allow this evolution to unfold. Nothing like a karmic slap in the face to wake you up. In victim-mentality we seek someone or something else to blame for our suffering. In karmic understanding, we look within to see where we might have been acting out of ego-consciousness instead of acting from our Truth. (This, by the way, does not mean self-blame…”it is all my fault, I am so egotistical and so bad”. It means we don’t have to suffer in the suffering, because we can trust that we are being awakened! If we open to pain, feel it fully, stay present, it will only lead us to evolving.
So perhaps we gain trust in the Ultimate Unfolding of Reality…marvellous! But what about the nitty gritty of everyday relating? As the Arabs say “trust in God, but tie up your camel.” How do we integrate faith in existence with the fact that our beloved said he would take the garbage out but didn’t?
Perhaps our mistake is that we seek trust through one another’s actions. My trust is then conditional on whether or not you actually take the garbage out, and it does not leave you much space. After all, you may have not taken it out because you were watching telly, or you may not have taken it out because your mother suddenly fell sick and you rushed off to help her. If I will only trust you if the act gets done, then surely I am controlling you….do this, then I will trust you. It leaves no space for you to make mistakes or to respond to what is happening in the moment…if I insist on certain actions then I am preventing you from being able to trust your own instincts in the moment.
Our relationships are just full of these conditional trust rules.
I’ll trust you if:
Yet few people are going to relate for very long with someone who endlessly lets them down. We relate, in terms of lovers, friends, business associates, with those we trust. Then we feel safe to open up. We feel safe to surrender.
It seems like an un-resolvable dilemma.
What if, instead of trying to trust one another’s actions, we trusted one another’s intentions and core values?
What if, instead of promising you that I will not wear provocative clothing, I tell you that one of my core values is to open to energy as I feel it move through my body. Thus I will wear white when I feel pure angelic energy moving in me and I will wear red and black when I feel dark and fiery energy. (surely you’d rather have a woman alive enough to dress and dance the energy living through her in each moment than a fixed and controlled woman who wears what she is supposed to wear?). What if instead of trusting me to wear a pre-arranged outfit, you trust me to follow my instincts?
What if, instead of promising me that you will come straight home after work, I trust you to follow your inner guide. And so when that work mate invites you for a drink, you feel deep within and have a knowing it is what you need to do. Who knows, if you chose from inner guidance, not from battling with guilt and should-do’s, then the connection is bound to be exactly the one you needed in that moment in time.
What if, instead of guaranteeing each other that we will always behave in certain ways for ever and ever and ever (“I promise I will never ever find anyone else attractive”…hello?!!)…what if we instead shared our core values and our intentions. “My intention is to respect you as I follow my truth moment to moment, and to put energy towards nurturing our relationship.” and so on. We of course all have different core values and intentions, and perhaps we could choose to relate with those whom we feel a resonance at the core, not on conditional agreements of actions at the periphery.
This allows rooms for that marvellous teacher called Making Mistakes. We set intentions, and of course from time to time we act out of integrity with those intentions. But if I can then see that own it, share the realization with you…then you can trust me even more. You can trust me to be coming from the right place. You can trust me according to my inner journey, rather than based on my outer actions, and ahhhh there is space for freedom and fluidity.
Trust trust trust…that keystone of relating. At the end of the day, we are so busy looking to see if others are trustworthy that we forget to check in with ourself: Can I trust myself to act out of integrity. Can I trust myself to listen to my inner voice? Can I trust myself to be dedicated to Truth/Spirit/Love? Can I trust life to hold me? At the end of the day, relating brings us back to ourself, to our true core. And what could give us greater trust in life than being able to trust our own unfolding?
After writing this, I opened my mudra book randomly right on the page for Vajrapradama Mudra, the gesture of unshakable trust. So here is a picture of it. One way to use this would be to sit in meditation, hold the mudra, remember a time when you felt unshakable trust and drop into the vibration of that feeling (drop the story). Meditate in that vibration as you hold the mudra.
© 2021. Shashi Solluna. All rights reserved.