May 29, 2016 On battling like a flowing river, with unblocking, high vibration, zero limits and non-attachment
Nobody ever said that trial lawyering would be an easy profession. As I have said time and time again, this work is filled with proverbial projectile vomiting, projectile diarrhea, underhandedness by too many prosecutors and police, unfairness by too many judges, and shoveling sh*t. With my devotion to criminal defendants’ rights, I go to the battlefields where my clients are being prosecuted, because my only other choice is to stay on the sidelines, which is not an option.
Moreover, in the end, my real path to success for my clients is not trying to change — versus persuade — judges, prosecutors, police or anyone else but myself. As my remote teacher Thubten Chodron aptly reminded me only two days ago, the source of our recurring problems is our own ignorance with a mind that misapprehends how things actually exist (minute 18:00). Persuasion starts as an inside job.
Some people ask how I can keep putting up with the challenges of being a criminal defense lawyer, and I often respond that one does not know how well s/he can battle without doing so in the eye of the storm, even when that storm might be a sh*tstorm.
Dwelling over the unfairness and sh*tstorms in life is a barrier to succeeding in any endeavor. That is not a Norman Vincent Peale concept, but a truism. We always will have unfairness and sh*tstorms, bigotry, disease and death, natural disasters, poverty, unfair distribution of power and wealth, human rights violations, violent crime, those with mental health challenges, friends and family who betray us, and pollution. It is worthwhile to work on ameliorating any of those issues, but we will debiltate ourselves to curse the darkness rather than to focus on slaying the dragon.
Key aspects of fighting on the powerful path include the interrelated approaches of battling like a powerfully unfolding and flowing river and sometimes tidalwave, with unblocking, high vibrations, zero limits and non-attachment. And of course, the battlefield should be turned into a powerful playground.
The concept of the flowing river is a high-energy approach that counteracts the opposing forces of sluggishness, dread, and darkness. During even the most bloody nearby battles, Vietnam’s Mekong River continued to flow with equanimity, undaunted by all the surrounding killing. In my office is a fountain to keep that sense of flow going. Good instrumental music in the background can serve the same function of invigorating onward movement and onward action. Rather than seeing work as challenging our time, we can feel as invigorated with each new task as was Anandamayi Ma in her youth, with each new physical labor chore.
Starting each day with taijiquan or meditation practice also both serves flow and unblocking of ideas and circumstances that can interfere with moving forward on the path of success. Out with the crud that blocks the flow, and in with fresh ideas and uplifted approaches.
High vibrations are both an inspiration to battle forward and a disinfectant of the low vibrations presented by seemingly heartless prosecutors, cops and judges, and anyone or anything else that seems to get in our way, or to simply kvetch. As George C. Scott playing Patton reminded the green soldiers about the enter battle, “When you put your hand, into a bunch of goo, that a moment before was your best friend’s face… you’ll know what to do.” When you feel that goo, it is time to battle onward, and not to recoil nor be distracted in debilitating upset.
Focusing on zero limits is the antidote to all the limiting ideas we get in our mind, including whether we will rise to the occasion on the battlefield, and how we will address our mistakes.
Non-attachment/non-duality is about being our best in the moment, and getting right back up — rather than unravelling — no matter how many times we get knocked down or make a mistake. Franken and Davis well exemplified this non-duality concept, while satirizing it, when Franken playing a Hare Krishna devotee got all bent out of shape when Davis cut off his remaining lock of hair. The hair will grow back. The river will continue flowing and not hold onto anything. Battle onwards.
I continue to write about all the above concepts, because the temptation always is present to kvetch and get sidetracked by the many seeming obstacles in the courthouse battlefield. Even though many of my clients seemingly get caught red-handed or otherwise seem at first blush to have uphill battles, I am reminded of my great trial teacher Steve Rench‘s recounting of getting no worse than a jury manslaughter conviction, rather than murder, against his client who shot his victim, paused, reloaded, and shot again. Steve also recounted his client caught redhanded pickpocketing a man at a bar, with the jury still acquitting her, possibly recognizing that she already had spent enough time in jail before trial. In fact, when Steve later bumped into a juror from that case and asked if he would speak about the trial, the juror simply said “Your client is okay.” Beyond the inspiration of Steve Rench and so many other great criminal defense lawyers, by now I add the inspiration of my own victories so many times against high odds. As my teacher SunWolf encouraged early in my criminal defense career, “Reality is no obstacle.”