Tuesday, January 29, 2008
I have hit a point in my personal work that's a little different than where I have been in quite some time.
On Thursday, I thought this was just a passing low, but I now realize something a bit different is afoot.
My divorce in August 1999 dealt a repeated series of intense emotional blows. I was able to bear up relatively well under the stress--thanks in no small part to the amazing support I received from family and friends--, and in many ways it was a tremendous relief to be finally out of the marriage.
Nonetheless, I went through a period for a year or more where I would suddenly burst out in tears for no apparent reason, for example, standing in the middle of the supermarket aisle in front of the produce section, when nothing in particular actually seemed to be wrong.
I have learned by now that when emotional states like that begin to manifest, they usually come because there is something inside that is hard, and cruel, and insensitive that needs to be broken.
The only way that is going to happen is by submitting, by surrendering, by experiencing the utter truth of what I am, and being willing to stand naked in the middle of my life and accept it.
Right now, I am suffering in this manner. I don't just have to see it, I have to allow myself to feel it, and admit to myself that right now, this is how this life is, and this is how these feelings are.
From this vantage point, it seems like I am the one that is lacking in every situation, even when it is other people who are being unpleasant, or unkind, or just plain ornery. I see that they cannot help how they are; they are just ordinary people, being ordinary.
If I am the one who wants to work, I am the one who has to make the choice to exercise compassion, instead of reaction, and I don't know how to do that. A new kind of vulnerability has to be offered.
This doesn't mean being stupid about life, or becoming a doormat for others. It means actually becoming sensitive and accepting. Now, we all talk about acceptance and compassion, we Buddhists and Christians and Muslims love talking about this kind of thing. I talk about it myself.
I start out quietly with the best intentions, and end up making an awful lot of noise. This does not mean that I am practicing. It means that I know the right words, not that I understand what right action is. Far too much of me is right words, and not anywhere near enough of me is right action.
Right action starts with disintegration. It starts with a vibration inside me that tells me this hard shell I wear, this aura of confidence and authority, this lack of real feeling -- as opposed to emotion, which I have in excess -- all those things have to go.
The walls of Jericho have to come tumbling down inside, not "out there" where the enemy appears to lie.
As I engage with my life and I encounter this process, sorrow arises. I am back where I was last Thursday -- I am back where I was in 1999 and 2000--I don't know where I am, or who I am. I only know that the fortress does not offer protection anymore. I cannot hide behind walls and still be alive. I need to drink from wild streams and walk through leafy forests, not hoard my treasure and man the ramparts with slings and stones and arrows.
So I tremble, I sense, I feel. I stand in front of life without my armor. I actively abandon opinions --in the immediate moment, I discover, they are worthless when attempting to deal in a real way with real human beings. My assumptions don't work -- they are all based on the false premises of my ego, which knows nothing. And in these exchanges--intimate, heartfelt, raw--I don't know what's going to happen next...
Where do I go next, as tears flow and every person takes on a new aspect that demands a different kind of contact from me? I don't know. I have to live in this body, and encounter this moment. Beyond that, all bets are off.
This is not a bad place to be. I am seated at the table of the Lord.
And here, in my experience, when the cutlery falls, when the plates are broken and the crystal is shattered, it means that a new kind of food will soon be served. One that does not rely on its dinnerware to look good, but a food that is whole within its Self, and can be appreciated for what it tastes like--
not how nice it looks when it comes out of the kitchen.
May your roots find water, and your leaves know sun.