there’s no time like the Present to have a good cry
When the courage (le cœur: heart, French) to sit still and see what might bubble up from the heart’s cauldron finds us – and finds us innocent of any agenda to analyse, to fix or flee, tears will most assuredly flow.
I was raised a stoic. In our household one’s face had to be bright and cheerful, regardless of the inner weather. Tears said “shame”. Tears said “weak”. Tears said you were no fun to be around. Tears were taboo.
I was already ancient when, by some wild grace, courage found me and guided me into my body’s dark knowledge. (I wrote about it in this post at my ‘echoes from emptiness’ blog – following fear into the star-stuff of my cells). In my cocksure ignorance I assumed it would all be done and dusted within a modest time-frame.
Three years later the tears are still falling, the heart is still cracking, crumbling, awash in tenderness, trembling with bliss. (Yes, bliss – I had no idea that bliss is simply the opening of the heart.) Yet now the tears arise from a depth beyond the personal, from a well of sorrow that’s ownerless. Personally I don’t feel the need for notions of karma and reincarnation, but my lived experience shows me that whatever is happening here is dynamically all-inclusive and interpenetrating across time and space.
No separation can be found. The tears belong to all of us because there is only one of us.
Many wise philosophers, poets and teachers have alerted us to the crucial importance of taking the descent into the unknown depths of the psyche. The unapologetic baring of all that arises – free of analysis and explanation – turns out to be the ultimate alchemy: The healing, the return to the whole.
We are not here to flee sadness and unhappiness but to welcome them whole-heartedly as part of our living experience of an inescapable immensity that unfailingly shows up as this, here, now.
Whenever sadness visits, I cherish these lines by Hafiz. What a treasure of a poem! The perfect antidote to mind’s default denial of one’s immediate felt experience, the slick side-stepping into the God zone, where all is light and great happiness … and one is experiencing only half a life.
Hafiz knows that Wholeness can’t be whole without including everything.
I think I just want to be sad today, the way many
are in this world. True, God rides in my pocket,
as He does in yours.
Yes, I could lift Him out and look upon various
realms of light and know great happiness. Maybe
I will do that tomorrow.
The ocean has moods. Have you not seen how its
colour can change, and the waves’ force and heights
Like archaeologists of the soul, we begin to uncover the debris of our mind.
Our need to exist in full relationship to our world is what drives us.
Layer upon layer of ideas, conditioning, and fear is what we dig through.
The hubris of knowledge must be the first sacrifice. For it, we get nothing.
Nothing is a great gift indeed.
The Shimmering World: Living Meditation
Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism understands non-dual awareness as an essentially somatic state. Practitioners come to see for themselves the condition of yuganaddha or union: that the more fully we know, explore, and identify with our human incarnation, our somatic being, including our traumas, the more profound and unwavering our realization of non-duality.
Trauma is a well-known phenomenon in the Pure Awareness traditions of esoteric Tibetan Buddhism and is considered the ultimate obstacle to realization. In tantric yoga, through a series of somatic practices, practitioners are enabled first to create a safe and stable ground in the non-dual state for addressing trauma; then to open pathways so that early, previously unconscious painful experiences can communicate themselves to consciousness; and finally, how to allow unresolved emotional dilemmas to make their own journey toward healing and resolution.
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.
Who gets up early to discover the moment the light begins?
What was whispered to the rose to break it open last night was whispered to my heart.
You’ve gotten drunk on so many kinds of wine.
Taste this. It won’t make you wild.
Give up, if you don’t understand by this time that your living is firewood.
Set your life on fire.
Seek those who fan your flames.
The lamps are different,
But the Light is the same.
To change, a person must face the dragon of his appetites with another dragon, the life-energy of the soul.
What is the body?
That shadow of a shadow of your love, that somehow contains the entire universe.
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and attend them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in.
Sorrows are the rags of old clothes and jackets that serve to cover, and then are taken off.
That undressing, and the beautiful naked body underneath, is the sweetness that comes after grief.
You haven’t dared yet lose faith – so, can faith grow in you?
Gamble everything for love, if you’re a true human being.
If these poems repeat themselves, then so does Spring.
Dr. Gabor Maté:
I’ve seen so many positive thinkers in palliative care who say: “In all my life I’ve never had a negative thought. How come I have cancer?” The answer is, they have cancer because they never had a negative thought. Not having negative thoughts is not allowing reality to intrude on your perception of the world. You never see how things are. You have to always maintain a sunny, falsely rosy view of the world so that you can’t see what doesn’t work. Lots of studies show that people who are sunny and positive die quicker of their disease. If you’re a woman with breast cancer and you’re a positive thinker, you’re guaranteed to die much quicker.
Many people quit meditation practice for this very reason: it opens the door for everything we ever tried not to face. And from a Buddhist perspective we aren’t talking about just one childhood; we are talking about lifetime upon lifetime, eons of suffering. All of it will find its way into our awareness if we sit still with it long enough, and allowing that to happen is the only way it will be healed.
Trying to be Human, Zen Talks with Cheri Huber
Carl Gustav Jung:
No noble, well grown tree ever disowned its dark roots, for it grows not only upwards but downwards as well.
Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate.
Anzan Hoshin Roshi:
We actually can experience directly and intimately the activity of thinking and feeling of other bodyminds; the more that we open to how experience actually is, and move past the tendency to narrow attention into discursiveness, the more that this is the case. The more completely that we sit up straight and let our delusions fall away, the more completely that we live our life as it is, the more that we recognize ourselves as all beings and all beings as ourselves. In the realization of what Dogen calls “shinjin-datsaraku” or “dropping through the bodymind” we recognize that all beings and ourselves are only the luminosity of “nehan-myoshin” or the “radiant Knowing which is beyond reference point, the nirvana of the Buddhas.”
Life speaks only of you, of this emotion.
So, you might occasionally go to listen to someone,
but when you realize that what you hear to be true on his lips is your own truth,
you will no longer feel any need to do this.
You will see that life, in all its forms, speaks this same truth.
Every daily event is a reminder of this profound emotion.
In many ways following a tradition, a spiritual teacher, is an escape.
You must follow yourself when you feel a true emotion.
You might be reading a text by Meister Eckhart and an emotion arises in you.
Close the book; the text will fall away.
The important thing is the tear sliding down your cheek.
This is your treasure, your direction, your teaching.
It is what you must follow, must listen to.
De l’Abandon, translated from the French by Mary Mann.
Image: Vincent van Gogh, Vieil Homme Triste
Dessin au crayon noir, lavé et aquarelle (réalisé à Etten), 24 Novembre 1882
Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo (Pays-Bas).