Thursday, March 26, 2015

Heart practice and intentional suffering

 On this trip, I've been reading Paths to the Heart, Sufism and the Christian East, edited by James Cutsinger. It's a sound piece of work, which recapitulates a number of academic and inspirational sources on the meaning of heart practice.

 Yet it doesn't matter how much I read about heart practice; because nothing touches the sacred soul like the experience of the sacred soul itself. This is a mystery that no writing can penetrate, a blessing that no Bible can describe, and a responsibility that no outer laws can enforce.

I say this because there are no words, and there is no substitute for the direct opening of the heart to God. I can't find God in words, even though I write them and I read them. I can only find God in the receiving of a sacred energy that transforms; and that energy is only open to me in so far as I submit. It doesn't matter what religion I am, or what my opinions — and they are many — are; it only matters that I come into relationship with this energy, which is a truth that surpasses all understanding.

I know that it's possible to speak of this energy with words like bliss, and joy, and peace; and, equally, sorrow, submission, and nothingness. Yet all of that falls short of the responsibility to the Lord; and that is what I remind myself of this morning, as I ponder this question.

Within me is a finer vibration that arrives from somewhere else; I don't even need to understand where it comes from — and indeed, I cannot, I'm not capable of it. I only know that this presence is the presence of the Lord, and that it is, in the end, the only thing that matters in terms of relationship in this life and in this moment.

I'm in a hotel room now, looking out over the cityscape of Shanghai as the light dawns in the morning; and later today, I will go out to be in relationship with hotel staff, taxi drivers, office staff, suppliers, and so on. It's my responsibility to meet this life while carrying within me the resistance to everything, which somehow strangely rejects what life is, despite its untold blessings and its worthy requirements. I have to live with that contradiction even as the energy within me makes it possible to come into a positive and loving relationship with life; and I will be required once again, as I am every day, to see the contradiction between my own tiny being and its selfishness, and the need to offer myself unconditionally to all of these strangers, even those who still remain strangers after I have known them intimately (not, mind you, in the biblical sense) for many years.

It brings me once again back to this day and this inwardly flowing energy, which reminds me that I don't understand anything, and that I am, in fact, born of a realm and forces that are beyond my comprehension.

I hope that I can meet my Being today with enough of this responsibility, this obligation, that is born within me from Being itself, rather than the rules and regulations I imagine governing me, all of which were put into me by outside manifestations: religions, authorities, education, and so on. I want to remember to be responsible straight from the heart, without any reservations, and without any mediator:

I want to be responsible because I can feel within the organic depths of my being how this is a right thing, not because others told me it's important to be responsible.

In this way, I go forward into this very ordinary life to suffer it. I wish I knew more about what is required of me by this Presence which meets me in the center of my life, in my heart: but I don't. This is the place where I have to use my faith and my trust in what is irrevocably true to guide me through the lies, manipulations, and confusion of my ego, which will be with me all day long today, as they are every day.


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