The "butterfly effect" states that the slightest flutter in one insect’s wings can ignite a chain reaction concluding with an entire storm on the other side of the world. This scientifically proven principle yields implications utilized across larger schools of theory. For each seeker on a spiritual journey, the butterfly effect illustrates the infinite and mysterious manners in which divinity manifests.
For example — my writing career truly began three years ago, when I left Bensonhurst for Bed-Stuy. My writing career began because I knew that moving to trendier North Brooklyn meant new people who would ask “what do you do?” North Brooklyn boasts a heavy association with New York's creative scene. It was the right place and the right time.
However, I didn’t leave Bensonhurst to chase destiny. I left in flight from a bedbug infestation, a punishing situation that provided an opportunity I didn’t recognize until years later. Sometimes the butterfly effect hops around the animal kingdom, trading arthropods.
In retrospect, life looks like a butterfly's wings -- a magnificent pattern borne of beauty and harmony. In the up-close microcosm of a moment, this pattern proves incomprehensible, instead appearing as frenetic shapes without reason. Moments of pure trial can actually catalyze crucial change, but it's futile to predict which unrelated circumstances will eventually shape our lives. In this constantly shifting network of possibilities called our universe, how can one hope to find remote sanity?
Submission. It’s the theme we’ll be speaking to all month long. So often, our hard-driving culture equates submission with weakness, defeatism. However, submission is actually the first step to liberation. It’s pure power. This month on the Raise Karma blog, we’re exploring how letting go is foundational, instrumental, and even joyful. Here’s five steps for embracing the paradox.
"Abundance Now" by Johnnie Grinder. Acrylic on canvas.
Have a laugh — control is a myth!
What are we really submitting to? This varies according to each person’s beliefs, but it’s typically some force greater than humanity itself. The first step lies in how we regard that larger force and the uncertain power it wields. Uncertainty can be considered less like a booby-trapped sandpit and more like a lottery with the odds stacked in your favor. It was uncertainty colliding against itself which created amethyst snow-capped mountains and jubilant Toucans. Uncertainty delivers divine treats from beyond the mind’s eye. Uncertainty deserves open arms.
Accept inevitable imperfections.
Societal expectations hawk a cult of perfectionism. Consumerism graciously offers a full gamut of discretionary goods intended to fix every imaginable flaw — Mr. Clean Magic Erasers for the family who just can’t help but make a mess, Biore pore strips for the teenager whose angst extends to the cellular level. It’s like spiritual Whack A Mole the way we wail on one problem only to turn around and find a new crop in its wake. A commitment to submission means acceptance. It means understanding there’s a perfection too big to grasp. Momentary imperfections are more than a cost of doing business. They possess elements of opportunity.
Practice active listening through observation.
Accepting the uncomfortable understanding of just how much lies beyond human perception actually assists with increasing what can be seen. Like a Magic Eye image, some knowledge only imparts itself to unfocused eyes and entities not otherwise occupied with wild-eyed hunger. Observation is a peaceful and passive method to discovering divine knowledge because it seeks with submission in mind. Observation waits and notices without disrupting the influx of intuition.
Foster an openness to unexpected manifestations.
Upon finding peace with the inability to wholeheartedly control what presently exists, true submission requires its practitioners to extend this amnesty to events occurring all the way into the far-off future. Traipsing the winding path of life, watching the wings take shape, unexpected circumstances interrupt every placid path. Submission to greater truths requires an openness to the possibilities, mindfully noting them without judgement and granting their messages a gracious ear.
Understand that the act is the end in itself.
There’s no ultimate reward, no final participation trophy for practicing submission, acceptance, or openness. The universe's grand composition never ends. Instead, this music elaborates upon itself endlessly, forging new rhythms and relinquishing past beats to obsolescence. This song keeps playing after every life ends, until the universe itself collapses. The mind might attempt to regard submission as a tool towards its own desires, but submission is the end in itself. Paradoxically, only in accepting the endless nature of this act do we achieve its final realization.
We look forward to exploring this theme through the lens of art throughout January. Portions of this post are based on recommended reading for the theme of submission, including The Sufi Path of Knowledge by William C. Chittick and Nothing to Summit by accomplished author and Raise Karma Season One artist, Irum Ibrahim.