Part Two: Practices – 02: Do Not Protect Yourself

I have long attributed the following quote to 1960’s YIPPIE! and cultural revolutionary Abbie Hoffman, who was the first great hero of my youth. I read all his books in my teens, and was powerfully influenced and inspired by his thinking. I’ve held this quote as a core value for forty years. But, oddly, I have never as an adult been able to locate it in any book, or even on the internet, to verify the wording or the attribution…

I’m pretty sure it was Abbie, though. Here’s how I remember it:

“Live like a screen door in a hurricane. Let everything blast through. The important stuff will be what sticks.”

Such a great metaphor for radical openness. Experience everything. Don’t pick and choose.

The closed door that resists the hurricane of experience gets blown to smithereens.

The open screen door resists nothing. Everything passes through. Experience itself decides what sticks.

In Views from the Real World: Early Talks of Gurdjieff, G.I. Gurdjieff put the same advice this way:

Do not forget to concentrate all your attention. . . Do not be overcurious nor waste time on things that attract your attention but are not worth it. Time is precious and should not be wasted on things which have no direct relation to your aim. Remember where you are and why you are here. Do not protect yourself and remember that no effort is made in vain. And now you can set out on the way.

The Basic Structure of Everything phrases it:

Practices that successfully awaken us to undivided whole physimaginal YouWorldThingness experience… direct attention to the Manifest and Imaginal without reference to the attention-generated self. By fully experiencing our divided outer and inner worlds with indifference to how ego feels, what it likes or dislikes, what it thinks it all means, we retrain our attention toward YouWorldThingness.

When we chase happiness and run from sorrow, embrace what attracts us and spurn what repels us, and insist things can mean only what we want them to mean, we close the door. We risk being blown to smithereens.

By entertaining likes and dislikes, by demanding the right to pick and choose, by pretending we can (or must) embrace some parts of our whole physimaginal YouWorldThingness experience while protecting ourselves from other parts, we conspire to remain divided against ourselves.

Preferring  experience keeps us trapped in The Human Predicament.

Protecting ourselves from experience keeps us trapped in The Human Predicament.

We cannot both pursue pleasure/avoid pain and wake up to YouWorldThingness.

Do not protect yourself.

Live like a screen door in a hurricane.

The important stuff will be what sticks.

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