Last night I wrote a very difficult letter to a friend. I love this friend. Really with my entire being, but there are times when we see something in someone’s actions and we just have to call it out. This, for me, was one of those times. I found myself like a wolf baying at the moon, calling for all the truth to come out of the shadows, to light the darkness of the soul. And how this light penetrated my friend, I may never know– his response was to remove me from his facebook friends and cut all communication.
It was not a cruel or angry letter. It was just honest, clear, penetrating, and ruthlessly compassionate, but these energies are not always something people are willing to take in.
And so, my friend may have shut me out permanently. And, the thing is, no matter how much the head says, “Well, that is just how it has to be” the heart still grieves. And my heart is grieving.
When I was younger perhaps I would have grieved for days over this, but now it just isn’t possible for me to feel that kind of despair. I have seen too much of life to feel utterly devastated by the loss of even the most beautiful and promising love or friendship. Somehow, along the way, my bones got the message that nothing which is truly mine in this world can ever be taken from me. And I certainly have known for many years that, “There are some truths far better than belonging.”
If I compromise the integrity of my Self to keep a friend, both the friend and I will have less than nothing.
One of my students said today that the thing about our community is that all your shit can come up, it can go right out on the table and you will be loved even more for that as long “…as you’re willing to work with it. We don’t care what the shit is,” he said. “We love you more for being human.”
Growth happens at these times. Real growth. Real change. Real transformation. It also requires real courage and cultivates fearlessness to go to and through these places. It’s not for everybody.
“We are deep divers here,” he said. “If that’s not for you, go to the kiddie pool.”
He has a way with words.
And he is very loyal.
Deep diving is not for everyone. It does not make a person immature or less if they prefer not to dive. We are all made differently. Some of us are better swimmers than others. Some of us have better lung capacity and so do not fear the deep water. For those who look on the expanse of the ocean and all they see is the terror of drowning, God has made the shallows, hot springs, cold springs, rivers, waterfalls… there are many beautiful choices.
Deep diving is only one. And, yes, all rivers do eventually lead to the ocean, but one doesn’t have to begin on the back of a blue whale in the middle of the Pacific.
Many people still live lives where the deepest secrets they keep about themselves are from themselves and if anything shines a light into that darkness it is profoundly threatening. Often, we will kill (some parts of ourselves, the spirit of others, or even literally kill) to protect our ‘horrible secrets’ when the most life-giving thing that could happen to us is that the secrets be dragged out of the Shadow and into the light of conscious awareness in a safe space.
When we actually have the courage to see what is underneath the ‘horrible’ things we have done or are doing, or sometimes even just thinking and feeling, then we begin to make progress in Self-Love. Almost invariably, what is beneath these choices is some real need begging to be fulfilled. In recognizing and honoring the need underneath the darkness, we can begin to find beautiful and powerful ways to fulfill ourselves, truly.
Carl Jung said that the Shadow, our disowned and often denied, repressed and even consciously suppressed parts of ourselves, contained some of our finest qualities. The key to transforming the Shadow world lies in having the courage to face who and what we are, as individuals and as a humanity.
As Jesus of Nazareth said, “When we bring forth what is within us, what we bring forth will save us. When we deny what is within us, what we deny will destroy us.”
Truth has an immutable, an unchanging quality. It endures when all else passes away. Perhaps this is why I prefer relationships built on this foundation– I find they persevere gracefully even in the face of Life’s most challenging passages. So for those of us who prefer the shallows, the springs, hot and cold, the waterfalls, our time will come eventually, those waters will eventually flow into the ocean.
And in the meantime, I am working through my grief. And it may take a while, but it is better to know now, rather than later, at a crucial time of tension or stress, who and what will have the strength to persevere.
in Loving Kindness,
Lama Tsultrim Allione has a truly magnificent CD, entitled, “Cutting through Fear” which walks the seeker directly through the process of facing and transforming these dark or hidden inner forces. Ultimately this process becomes a way of life and is deepest when practiced within the container of a conscious community (Holy Company). However, for anyone who is curious and wants to experiment on their own, dip in a toe or a finger, Allione’s CD a great place to start. “Cutting Through Fear” is available through Amazon.