These days I am aware of how those early years of my life and how I was so driven by self centred selfishness. That belief in my “self” is something fixed in thought that blinds me to the the change that is perpetually occurring. I am something static and at times stagnant when I am caught in that belief. We humans so much have the capacity to fool ourselves in our attachment to thoughts. Truth, is what we think it is at any given moment of time. That idea that I held of self , separated me from others, from life and from truth.
Looking back at how I have acted and who I have hurt as believing in myself as a separated self, I really didn’t know much about wholeness or truth. My ability to be truly contemplative was limited by that attachment to self image and not so deeply developed in early years. I was at the mercy of what I thought and believed although there were moments of openness to reflection that arose, often amidst suffering, but quickly forgotten upon moving past the pain. I’m afraid it can still be a similar pattern although I now see those moments of suffering more clearly; to be inseparable from the joy of life and the difficulty in life and as an inevitable part of life.
These days, times of reflection run longer and deeper and from that, I have come to see the relevance of intuitive insight In turn I am more aware of some of my egoistic pursuit and intuitively realize that there is still much that runs deep, that I do not see. My moments of frustration are an indication that there is something that I am missing; that I cant tolerate of my world being a certain way.
My desire for peace and comfort seems to have arisen from some of those illusions that I have held in life that lay hidden from full view. Even in the seeing I return to cling to it and others nevertheless. I seem to need them at times, for reasons at first not so apparent. Perhaps from belief that my practice will one day lead to the elimination of suffering from my life. I am seeing now that it is not a place to be reached as I imagined and that I simply can not float through life striving for this place, in this way forever. As Joan Chittister writes, “Every wave of life brings with it a new set of circumstances to consider. In our agitated sleep we know that we do not have the luxury of running away.” These days my contemplation mostly involves reflecting on how to be with everything that arises, pleasant and unpleasant as it may be.
There is a part of the soul that stirs at night, in the dark and soundless times of day, when our defenses are down and our daylight distractions no longer serve to protect us from ourselves. What we suppress in the light emerges clearly in the dusk. It’s then, in the still of life, when we least expect it, that questions emerge from the damp murkiness of our inner underworld. – Anne Lamont
In my aging, diminished physicality there is an increased realization of the futility of taking refuge in a personal and familiar, yet limited, sense of identity. In that realization I am left wandering and wondering at times as to how I should entertain my self. So much of my time before was spent in propping and bolstering that identity. As a result of the journey of self discovery that I have embraced I am inspired to turn my focus towards inner realizations rather than towards my past preoccupation with external phenomenon. Although at times I find myself in darkness, accepting that I don’t know what I will discover, something more is inevitably revealed in that shift. There is a more intimate seeing of those parts of me that have been broken, as a result of my obsessive striving to survive in the ways of a surface existence. My spirit came into this world within the narrow confines of the world with which it found itself. Given that, more than half of the life I have lived, has been with the belief that there was no other perceived resource in terms of a choice of how I should exist in the living of life. I lived in a practical way from that, but, now I seem to be outgrowing it seeing that life is more than what I knew it to be and in the lifting of that old filter, a revelation of the consequences for having attached to that particular creation seem to be increasingly apparent.
I am broken and incomplete as is our planet. How I have lived my life has contributed to that. There is fear encountered at the same time as there is the stirring of the soul, in letting go of that familiar shell and it’s ways and any perceived crisis can enable it’s quick return although, something more adapted to a more authentic existence appears at moments that I am aware enough to relax habitual impulses. In that awareness I permit myself to settle into a more natural, authentic and encompassing way of being aware that there is the other side of death.
This has been one of the most significant revelations fo me, that has resulted in a shift towards trusting more in my direct experience of life. Arthur Zajonic shares his view regarding “direct experience” with Krista Tippett, in her wonderful book, “Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living“. This is ultimately the hope of meditation for me, that it might lead to this way of being.
She writes what he has shared with her ” What you do, what you experience, is reality. It’s a strange thing, that what we experience in life as our real world—the world of children and suffering and getting old and getting born and all the rest of it, that sensual lived world of experience—gets explained away, in the old view, in terms of a whole set of other things. Sometimes I think of this as a kind of idolatry. If you’re pointing at the gods, but you can’t really see the gods, you create a statue. Same sort of things in physics. You can’t see that far, so you create a model. That’s what we call it, right? And then you fall in love with the model, and it becomes a form of idolatry. You end up worshipping the model as opposed to the thing you were trying to understand, which was the human being or the planet or the whole cosmos. So you need to be an iconoclast in some sense, to take those down and reanimate your direct experience, your direct epiphanies and insights into that world of pattern. Yet taking that turn also connects back into lived experience in a way that, to me, opens up the moral and ethical dimensions of life once again.