Very few of us are unfamiliar with the immense struggles that life presents us with. Sometimes these challenges intensify even further and push us to breaking point; occasionally they abate and our world returns to a more tolerable condition.
Whatever our personal circumstances are and the type of problems that life throws up at us we, as humans, tend to make our personal suffering more intense through our own striving for personal improvement or in our constant search for material security.
It seems, however that the more we struggle against adversity the greater the challenges become.
An Alternative Approach
In his book Dropping the Struggle: Seven Ways to Live the Life You Have author of twenty-two books; including the best-selling Ten Poems series, Roger Housden, explains how, like so many other people in similar situations, he became caught up in a relentless battle to escape from his own life of constant struggle.
Not only does Dropping the Struggle follow his progress through resolving his need to struggle but it also highlights the diverse approaches that exist between Eastern and Western spiritual traditions in coping with struggle.
On the one-hand Western Christian values teaches us that man carries with him an inherent quality of original sin and that at the core of each one of us there is something inherently wrong.
On the other hand the Eastern Zen and the Buddhist traditions tell us that we are perfect as we are.
It is against these two, oftentimes conflicting principles, that the book challenges us to accept the idea that sometimes it is permissible to simply let go of the need to challenge and constantly fight for our own survival.
Giving up on the struggle, so a Housden argues, it not equivalent to surrendering to an enemy. Instead, if we can learn to place our need to dominate to one side for a while, we may well find things working their way out in a seemingly frictionless way.
As Housden says; “When we drop the struggle to find our way and surrender to our complete bewilderment, a new quality of knowing, as distinct to knowledge, can emerge. Then our actions come from a higher intelligence that somehow allows us to act without acting.”
It is by reaching that point in our mundane affairs that the struggle magically ceases and a deep sense of clarity emerges.
In a sense, he seems to be suggesting that by dropping the struggle; the struggle drops us!
Our Review of Dropping the Struggle by Roger Housden
Dropping the Struggle is not a workbook. Instead it is a commentary; a spiritual journey through an alternative way of approaching modern life and one which highlights our current failing social bias towards control and domination.
Anyone who is acquainted with Housdens’s style and form of communication through the written word will know exactly what they are getting with this book – and, I feel, they will derive equal enjoyment from this one.
Those who are new to the writer and his philosophies may indeed find this a good place to start.
Either way this is a publication that meanders through a succession of philosophical ideas and spiritual insights that, in a sense, soothes the soul and encourages the very actions that the author would extols us to produce for ourselves.
Whilst I did not feel that his arguments were without the need to be challenged in some areas I did enjoy the overall composition of his writing and his avoidance of dogma and certitude. After all, to give up the personal struggle is a challenge of near epic qualities in itself and we would each approach this task from different directions.
This is a book that identifies some of those subtle approaches and for that the result is successful on several levels.
Dropping the Struggle is – to my mind, another Roger Housden success!