As many of you long-time readers know I experienced an awakening three to four years ago. It blew the socks off this personality temporarily. One minute a Kathy drove the car and the next minute…something I later called “It” drove the car.
The personality metaphorically took the back seat. Something so alive and rich and textured and appreciative and responsive took the front seat. It thrilled in the color of the road signs, the shape of trees, the curve of the creek, the immediacy of the waitress smile. It sipped wine, it chatted with husband, it laughed, it cried, it did whatever arose. And it was beyond good.
However, the personality simultaneously protested in the background like a mis-firing engine, “What? What’s happening? I’m dying! Help me! Nothing is the same! Help! Help!”
The identification with personality began to stick and come unglued for the next three weeks, stick and unglue, stick and unglue. It began to feel like a violent roller-coaster of delight and despair. Over and over again the roller coaster rose and plummeted until suddenly, very definitively, the personality cemented itself back together.
Thus began three or four years of sometimes-gentle, sometimes-painful chiseling away of identification with the “I” of personality. I started blogging partially in an effort to ease the pain of this process; partly to give the personality room to play; partly to recapitulate and release old wounds.
And it’s been a great show for the most part. It’s also been a classic Dark Night of the Soul at times.
Part of my challenge has been grasping/desire/wanting. It has also been a deep-seated fear of emptiness, of “nothing to do”. When losing identification with our personalities we all experience different arenas of challenge.
Last spring it was possible to move more deeply into fear of emptiness and to slowly, slowly, meet the present moment as a comrade rather than enemy. Last spring the personality also began to lose interest in externals such as checking blog stats and other surface pursuits.
Yet the cycle of grasping/desiring/wanting continued to accelerate. It became almost impossible to say “no” to a desire (thank God the Universe didn’t provide a desire of say, cocaine or heroine or something really addictive).
The weekend before January 8th proved a particular difficult spell. The cycle of wanting (wanting to check emails, Facebook, eat a cookie, drink coffee or caffeinated teas even when the body protested, as so forth–ordinary desires that many of us experience) and inability to control and say “no” accelerated. I doubled over with suffering. It felt like the emotional body could not tolerate any more.
The morning of January 8th I awoke with a craving for hot and sour soup (don’t laugh) and, like a robot, drove 45 miles north to a Chinese restaurant. Immediately thereafter a craving rose for a Dairy Queen Blizzard (please don’t cry) and you know what happened.
I came home and doubled over with suffering.
Later in the evening sat on the couch and began to do Inquiry yet once again. Inquiry goes like “What am I?” “Who desires?” “Who suffers?” and leads the participants back into the empty open space which we really are.
Suddenly, in the depths of this inquiry, it was as if a light bulb turned on. The mind already deeply understood the mechanics of suffering, you must understand. But the bones and cells and the deeply unconscious fibers had not yet realized.
As the light bulb switched “on” the entire cycle of human desire/suffering illuminated. It became utterly clear the futility of it. It showed explicitly that desire (any desire which arises from “not enough”, from craving) will always, and I mean always, result in suffering. It must. It’s a cycle of creation. If you say “yes” to the craving you will suffer.
The word “wow” uttered maybe four times in the next hour. It was seen through with utter clarity. I remember thinking “OK, so next time I have a craving for hot and sour soup I will have to say no, there’s no question about it.”
(Reader, I am talking here explicitly about the craving kind of desire, not the simple wanting to watch Downton Abbey or have a piece of cheesecake because your hostess serves one.)
It’s not the checking email or eating chocolate or drinking wine that’s the problem. It’s the craving of not-enough, a subtle or overt movement away from the present moment, which starts the cycle of suffering.
In the clear seeing, I also saw how this cycle of desire/suffering also cements the personality into form. It actually holds together the identification with Kathy/Joe/Jennifer.
I was ready to put all this into practice, but guess what? The craving never rose again. In the deep seeing it was gone, gone, completely gone.
Not only was the desire gone, the personality seemed to have receded far into the background again. In the front was now this wakefulness of Presence. It was back again.
This time it all felt much more mature. There was some clarity and understanding. The personality didn’t panic overtly. It was disconcerted because everything had changed. It didn’t know what to do next and didn’t care.
For twelve days this larger awareness operated at the forefront. Finally, in a completely sleepless night this past weekend, an attachment to personality began to re-form.
This morning I’m both awake and asleep, half Kathy and half Universal spirit and it’s good, it’s really good, it’s not one way or another, it’s just what it is. May write more about this later–or not. The need to share arose and the Universe didn’t not agree. 🙂 (Sorry, you grammaticians, that double negative seemed to express it best.)
P.S. Just want to make it clear that it’s not Kathy who woke up. The personality doesn’t “wake up”. That’s an enlightenment myth. What happens is that the Universe comes forth. The background of what we already are simply shifts to the foreground. It’s very ordinary. It’s as ordinary as, say, brushing your teeth or enjoying hot and sour soup.