The world is a mysterious place full of surprises, unexpected circumstances and uncontrollable people and events. It is a place of no guarantees. What is to be done about such randomness?
"Be open to outcome, not attached to outcome" is one of the powerful principles expressed in The Four-Fold Way" by Angeles Arrien. Being open to outcome is the best way we can prepare for the unexpected to happen and maintain a certain degree of detachment. Angeles defines detachment as "the capacity to care deeply from an objective place." Detachment is necessary to weather change, upsets, confusion, or disappointment.
The ability to remain open and not attached requires a recognition that there is always a greater plan unfolding, a plan that we may not understand, but one that we must trust. Angeles Arrien writes:
"When we find ourselves attached to outcome, our tendency is to control rather than trust. When we are attached to something, we often lose our objectivity about it, and thus lose our ability to do right by it."
Being open to outcome is an expression of openheartedness and a declaration that no matter what happens, our trust remains steadfast. We resolve to meet "a disturbance without disturbance"–the definition of equanimity. We seek to maintain balance and meet these circumstances from a place of curiosity, flexibility and humour, especially when things go wrong.
Curiosity is the strong desire to know and learn. It is a quality associated with deep engagement that causes us to wonder, explore and follow the call to adventure. It leads to the expansion of knowledge and wisdom. It also funds the resiliency to learn from mistakes.
Flexibility is the capacity to bend without breaking. Every athlete understand the importance of maintaining flexibility to support high performance. It funds the capacity to meet changing conditions and circumstances with fluidity.
Humour shares the same etymological root as humid. It literally means "to moisten." Humour is a gift of insight and is the capacity to illuminate a deeper truth and express that truth through joy, surprise and delight. When stuff happens, as it inevitably will, the ability to maintain a sense of humour is also the ability to keep things in their proper perspective.
By being open to outcome, we are able to maintain a sense of excitement, wonder and deep engagement with life, even when things don't go as planned. We look forward to the adventure of living, greeting each day with the enthusiasm of an explorer on an expedition into the unknown.
© Patrick O’Neill 2008. All rights reserved.