In my sixties I seem to still possess a youthful willingness to explore life with curiosity and adventure. From what I can see of it am actively involved in creating my life. It certainly hasn’t guaranteed that life did not have difficult moments or discomfort in fact I have come to accept those experiences as an inseparable part of the whole. It is not easy to stay present to pain at times and it is not uncommon that still I feel a sense of helplessness in those moments yet I know that there is a likely possibility that a surge of creativity, insight and connectedness may follow from that. I have come to the realization that striving to make everything in life easy, is more about not bringing my pain out into the open and in that perpetuating separation. Advice I often here encourages insulating from discomfort or unpleasant experiences but there is something to be gained from embracing them and meeting them with the heart open; or at least with the willingness to opening of it. I hope that each day I can open to life and true self as it is now at least enough that I can bring something authentic of myself to it. For me to be able to perceive the infinite in all things requires this quality of sincerity in the self-work I do.
I write the contents of this blog and I paint and create as part of connecting with my self and if I am fortunate from that to others. Having been born into and raised during an era that the scientific rationalist, materialistic world view was dominant I clothed myself in the layers of cultural and intelectual fashion and convention of the time ultimately leading to a separation from my self, others and the cosmos. There was something about how I learned and what I had become that was confined and limited as opposed to being expansive and unfolding. I came to seek change in a willful mechanical way ; a projection of my separation. I resisted what was authentic and whatever emerged from that, in unconscious ways as many of us did. Even though I knew at some level that something was amiss I knew nothing of the possibility of awakening from this. I lived in sleep, according to the norms of common culture; bound and capable of only a shallow awareness. In this consciousness I was incapable of realizing the mysterious, beautiful perfection and enlightened state of my natural human consciousness.
There were times and moments that I witnessed directly the suffering of others and in that I was moved to compassion. I would then return to my distracted ways finding it difficult to remain for long in those vulnerable, here and now, moments. At that time I could not bare the openness that came with the experience of vulnerability that included a realization of my own humanity.
These days I am more ready to open to deeper, more sensitive and mysterious places. I spend more time recognizing and witnessing the suffering of myself and others. It has enabled me to see more realistically and clearly past the the layers that have accumulated that have insulated me from experiencing my own suffering and and attention to life, that is a natural, inherent aspect of my own being. In coming to be present to my own suffering I am able to realize that the suffering that other humans experience is inseparable from my own. The barriers between me and them are transcended in awareness. In presence I open to what is hidden in the darkness and to the vulnerable state of being human that I have disconnected from.
Nothing has been more heartbreaking for me than my reliance on what I refer to as received wisdom. Caught in the details of time I can not see the truth of what is real or not. In the search for comfort and acceptance and avoidance of pain and suffering I banish something of myself to the darkness. I end up searching for my humanity, some semblance of authentic compassion and completion of myself in a dualistic, external world.. These days I see more clearly how I become blocked by what I have in fact banished to the darkness.
I am waking up and for me that has most to do, simply with acknowledging my reluctance to experience my own pain. The consequence of that disconnection is that I have been left standing apart from the pain of others. As I age I find that if I am able to stay present to what I experience more directly; pain and everything else and in this awareness I am enabled to enter into a more truthful, rewarding embracing of life. Idealistic dreams and perceptions fall away and I am left with insight, more directly acquired and experienced and with more investment in intimacy with myself and others and from these realizations an increased passion for living arises..
There are experiences beyond the reach of words that I am not able to express. It might be that I have yet to come across words that capture them. I have attempted to illuminate this aspect of my being in the past but something of that place that I was looking to express in this way was partially gated and any. attempt most always seemed pretentious and disconnected. These days it seems less to be so and there is an increasing accumulation of these experiences looking for the light. Possibly it is that a more attentive, contemplative focus is influencing an increased awareness of what has always been there.. There is something of me that desires to share what emerges from within but, ill equipped as I am and have been I sometimes seem to make more of a folly out of these attempts than is helpful. I am realizing that this is best left to lie within and to arise on its own,
There are a select few who I will risk sharing with . John O’donahue writes that “We need to learn the art of inner reverence and never force the soul out into false light of social gratification and expectation.” This is appreciated advice for me. In general I value this quality of intimate sharing over a more conventional discourse of endless chatter and psychological labeling. Finding the silence allows for authentic listening and a space for the formulation of words emerging out of the darkness within. In writing of the “soulful darkness” it is not without a reference to experiencing an emerging awareness of how I have been distracted from the world within and the refreshing experience of undergoing the loosening of old unhelpful ways and from that a reorientation and adjustment to a more passion filled existence. And than there is the joy of the search for words to capture that.
It is in opening that I come to be more fully alive and engaged in the journey of becoming “fully my self”. In opening I experience an existential sensitivity, a vital vulnerability as I let go of my identification with defensive and rigid perceptions, from which familiar an d habitual boundaries that enclose me are loosened. In trusting what lie within, a knowing is illuminated from the unknowing of the darkness. I hold lightly to this newly emerging “knowing” as it is but a part of an endless flow and unfolding.
I am learning to see how I habitually react to the sense of vulnerability and to be more courageous than I have been in the past in looking to understand it in greater depth. I come to a place that I am able to radically merge with it and in so doing allow for resistance and apprehension to be transformed. I am most grateful for this new realization, that it is an opportunity to expand and extend my appreciation of life and consciousness, there is the beginning of seeing beauty where I once could not unfolding in a vulnerability that is the essence of unencumbered being. The sense of vulnerability might somehow be a part of the overwhelming passion involved in once again being able to witness beauty in myself and life in this ongoing journey of discovering what I am in this.
I enjoy sharing and exploring with others. I try not to take myself to seriously or become to attached to what I express. Any expression that I attempt whether artistic, written or verbal is always a reduced description of what is. It is best undertaken though as a moment of dynamic creating that emerges from unknowing and from listening attentively, sharing and opening that serves to illuminate life. Most important is presence, to influences that arise out from the darkness, outside of my more rigid conscious perceptions; to what is. It all seems to me to be a very organic process. Even this claim of what are important things has arisen from this process and is subject to impermanence and to transformation.
I am limited in my formulation by my attachment to my own and other’s ideas and to what I have been conditioned to in the automatic traffic of functioning and attention to the little piece perceptions of the puzzle. These little pieces of intellectual understanding are a way of understanding and referring that has had its practical use but that are limited in efforts to comprehend the vast reality of existence and the dynamic connection between all that exists. A more comprehensive way of experiencing is better suited for me to do so, the expression of that becoming another challenging and creative issue. The fixed selective way of grasping onto my fragmented perceptions in a search for meaning leads to fragmenting consequences which are often incompletely illuminated .
In my opening I experience an existential sensitivity, a vital vulnerability as I let go of my identification with fixed defences, rigid perceptions and the loosening of irrelevant boundaries.