“The basic creative energy of life—life force—bubbles up and courses through all of existence. It can be experienced as open, free, unburdened, full of possibility, energizing. Or this very same energy can be experienced as petty, narrow, stuck, caught. Even though there are so many teachings, so many meditation, so many instructions, the basic point of it all is just to learn to be extremely honest and also wholehearted about what exists in your mind—thoughts, emotions, bodily sensations, the whole thing that adds up to what we call ‘me’ or ‘I.’ … No one else can really sort out for you what to accept—what opens up your world—and what to reject—what seems to keep you going round and round in some kind of repetitive misery. …
“The message is that each of us has all that it takes to become fully enlightened. We have basic energy coursing through us. … Because we are decent, basically good people,we ourselves can sort out what to accept and what to reject.” ~Pema Chödrön
Life Force, Life Energy
Chödrön says that life force, or life energy, flows “through all of existence”. That is a powerful statement that each of us should stop and consider for a moment. If life energy flows through everything, then that that mean that on some level, everything is alive? I think it does.
Electrical energy flows through our bodies. That makes us electrical conductors, whether we like it or not. We might even say that we are more than conductors of electricity, we are generators of it. Some of the electricity that come from us didn’t come from outside, but was generated within us. When we have too much electricity in us, we may get shocked when we touch a metal doorknob. Which means that to some degree, we have affected that doorknob. We have altered it with our electrical energy. It, in turn, has affected us with that shock we received.
Negative and Positive Energy
It is correct to say that this life force is neutral energy. It is neither positive or negative. It can do good or evil. As long as it is in it’s natural state. Where things get complicated is that humans can take in some of that energy and send it back out filled with their own thoughts and ideas. That is how it can become negative or positive. A person who is full of anger, fear, and jealousy sends out energy full of those negative thoughts. That is why it may make you feel uncomfortable being around that person. On the other hand, a person full of love and joy send out positive energy which can also be felt by sensitive people. We often find ourselves attracted to those people without really knowing why.
Round and Round
Going round and round might be a reference to reincarnation, but in this case, I don’t think it is. I think Chödrön is talking about the way so many of us lead our lives here on Earth. We are like a hamster in a wheel going around and around. The sad part is that many think they are moving forward when they are doing that. We all have to move forward, and going around in circles isn’t doing that. We need to break out of that cycle.
Breaking Out with Life Force
We break out of that cycle using the power of our life force. But we can’t do that if our life energy is limited because we have been using it all on trivial things. We have to start channeling that force into spiritual growth. That is the only real path out of the cycle of materialism and illusion. And we have to take more energy into us. We do that by gazing at the spiritual sun. But we have to have the right attitude when we do that. We have to be positive. We have to have a desire for a spiritual awakening. Spiritual growth comes partly from providing the energy for it, and partly from having a strong desire for it. Both have to work together. And we have to have patience. It doesn’t happen overnight.