Stuck in emptiness once again

Cougar in forest


Sometime in late May the ego seemed to dry up and disappear again.  One knows it because the wanting and desiring and craving fades.  At first it felt soooo peaceful and relaxing and wonderful.  Like the peace that passeth all understanding.  Feelings (both positive and negative) came and disappeared.  Thoughts of all kinds arose and fell away.  The space of awareness held everything, all was allowed, welcome all you vagabonds!

A sudden desire to meditate on emptiness appeared.  I usually feel no desire to meditate any more, so this felt surprising.  OK, emptiness, here you are.  The body relaxed deeper, soothed by no-thing-ness.

Suns rose and suns set.  The days meandered by.  Personal will seemed gone.  Emptiness simply moved through the mornings and evenings, occasionally jarred  by sadness, anger, or whatever human emotion the body-mind produced.  Nothing ultimately disturbed.

We split and stacked our wood for next winter.  I ran the wood splitter and we both lugged the firewood into the truck.  Eventually we unloaded the pickup.  It all felt good and flowing.

The body was ill, as well, during that time.  A dull ache permeated from the underarm to beneath the right breast.  The emptiness allowed it all.  In the midst of the discomfort I called the doctor and scheduled mammogram and eventually ultrasound.  An inner thought wondered if this was it–dread disease, come to inhabit and take the body.  I remember fear and then thinking, “OK, yes, if it’s time, that’s OK, too.”

The body breathed and breathed and breathed.  We split wood, I did diagnostic tests, and hurt while feeling peaceful and flowing.  Emptiness surrounded.

Then I noticed another feeling arising. Almost a light depression.  A hollowness.  A feeling of being stuck.  A frustrating sameness to life.  No ups, no downs, no joy, no real fear.  Just this over-arching emptiness at the base of all things.

Suddenly I felt a desire to listen to Adyashanti, one of my favorite spiritual teachers.  So often his teachings truly change things at a deep level for me.

He spoke of fixation and how our point of view can fixate in any state.  We can fixate in emptiness, fullness, oneness, separate self, or divinity.

The minute he spoke I KNEW what had happened.  I was stuck in emptiness once again.  (Not the first time, and probably not the last…)

How subtle–that even a point of view can fixate like that!

As he spoke, the fixation shifted and changed and dissolved.  And now it’s all brand new.

Now the heart feels full once again.

And, joyfully, the body received a diagnosis and the pain seems to be dissolving.  Turns out I have an inflammation of the cartilage in the rib cage–probably caused from lifting wood too high to throw into the truck.  Now I can remember lifting a log and feeling a pressure under the right arm…before the discomfort spread all around the rib cage.

And life continues to change…empty, full, and who knows where next?






Allowing pain to exist



I’ve spent a lifetime pushing away pain.  Repressing it, hiding it in the nooks and crannies, refusing to feel it boldly and fully.

I’m not alone.  It’s what the human mind does.

It seeks pleasure; it bans pain.

The mind, oh what a dear, so often attempts to assist us.  It feels pain rising and offers suggestions in knee-jerk reactivity.  Here, how about this piece of chocolate cake, honey?  How about if we check email?  Cigarette anyone?  Let’s write a blog.  Anything, anything, anything to help alleviate this accelerating tension, to make that darn pain go away, back to the hell which seemingly created it.

Sweet mind–to make us want to feel good.  I love that something loves me that much.

But this technique doesn’t work, dear mind, because all those repressed feelings settle in our body, between the big toe and left knee, the ovary and intestine, the heart and frightened lungs.

We hold a lifetime of repressed pain hither and yon.  It usually remains beneath the scope of daily consciousness.  Until something–anything–triggers the prison bars and the pain surfaces like a lion’s roar in the form of emotion.  Emotion is so often a repressed feeling that now contains powerful energy.  That underground energy runs the life of so many of us.  It affects so many aspects.  It often controls what we do, what we don’t do, how we respond.

The hardest part of this spiritual journey–for me–has been bringing the repressed pain into consciousness.  Learning how to feel the pain without an attached mental story.  Simply being with the raw sensations of pain without running into the woods and never returning.

It has been intensely scary to fully feel pain which I’ve pushed away since age four.

It has been the most valuable gift.

It changes everything.

It allows me to remain conscious as Life more and more minutes during the day.

Pain has become a companion.  Not as a demon to be feared, but as yet another angel to be allowed.  I don’t always like her.  But the gifts she bears sparkle with jeweled possibility.  She lifts the prison bars and allows us to fly free.





Our mooring

Pain, like a toothache.

Pain, wearing its rainbow dress of many colors, swirling, taunting.

Pain, like an incessant knife, trimming away the excess.

Dull pain graying a January afternoon.

Razor pain shocking us from the complacency of the ways we turn from our truth.

The way pain wears away at edges, like water lapping endlessly against stone, rounding us, shaping us into newness in the lake of ourselves.

The way we cease to speak about our visitor because it’s futile.  Pain allows no whining, in the end.

It is itself. 

If you stay with her–and do not run exhausted out the back door of your day–she sometimes turns to a ragged joy, a sweet joy, a confounded joy which keeps opening onto itself.

At the altar of our weakness

At the altar of our failed intentions, we kneel.

At the altar of our weakness, tears pool in the iris of failed dreams.

In the windowless attic of our intentions we prayed.  We schemed, we planned.  We embraced ideals of ourselves.  We gathered words and will to create a perfect self, a self dazzling like a rainbow from the heavens.

We resolved.  We shall no longer do this, and that, and this!  We shall no longer stumble and fall.  We shall instead approach our desires and fears with common sense.  We shall cut a knife through our weakness.  We shall start anew, afresh. 

We shall not smoke, we shall not drink, we shall not gamble, we shall not fall in love so recklessly with the wrong ones, we shall not think negative thoughts, we shall not judge, we shall not, we shall not, we shall not…

We shall do everything right, instead!  We shall dance with our hearts!  We shall worship the divine in every ant, every snub, every blow.  We shall think so positively that we attract only the positive, only glowing life, only delighted song.  We shall swim in the oceans of life, free, without hesitation.  We shall embody what we glimpse in the attic of our intention so fully that Life itself thanks us for getting it all right, for our altars to the heart, the body, the mind!

Yet here we are again, on our knees at the altar of our weakness.  Our intentions lie scattered like wind-blown scraps of dreams around our feet.  We’ve reached again for the cigarette of our shame.  We’ve grasped where our fist should have opened.  We’ve fallen where we might stand straight.  We’ve suckled pleasure, we’ve turned from pain, even when the little inner voice whispered, “The moon lies this way–”

Tears fall on our empty altar.  Our knees ache with failed dreams.

At the altar of our weakness we rest our forehead on emptiness.  There is nothing left to utter.  We know ourselves too well.  We know we cannot be saved by intention alone.

We cannot be saved by intention alone.

We cannot be saved by intention alone.

As this mantra chants, the heart flutters like a chrysalis.  In our self-pronouned failure, in our shame, a great love kindles.  We feel humanity in our bones, our cells, our organs.  We begin to sense patterns larger than ourselves forming intentions larger than ourselves…

We discover a great love for humanity kindling in our breast, a love which includes everything imperfect we’ve subtly shunned.  Our judgments fall away, like waterfalls racing down an open river. 

We surrender at the altar, surrender anew, to something bigger than ourselves, something shining from the altar.  The divine pulses.  It encompasses All.

We still make intentions.  We still aim our canoe down the river.  Yet the intentions feel lighter, fuller now.  We carry surrender in our craft, as well as desire.  We carry trust, as well as fear.

We embrace the depths of our weakness, as well as the eagle soaring effortlessly in the cloudless sky above.

Grace joins us as we fly in all our imperfect perfection.