On Embracing the Darkness

“The modern hero, the modern individual who dares to heed the call and seek the mansion of that presence with whom it is our whole destiny to be atoned, cannot, indeed must not, wait for his [sic] community to cast off its slough of pride, fear, rationalized avarice, and sanctified misunderstanding. ‘Live,’ Nietzsche says, “as though the day were here.’ It is not society that is to guide and save the creative hero, but precisely the reverse. And so every one of us shares the supreme ordeal- carries the cross of the redeemer- not in the bright moments of his [sic] tribe’s great victories, but in the silences of his personal despair.”

The concluding paragraph of Joseph Campbell’s, “The Hero With A Thousand Faces”

On Beauty and the Onset of Pain

Yesterday, I had an opportunity to speak with the lovely young woman with the awakened heart who is the subject of my recent blogs, https://murshidava.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/earth-offerings/ and https://murshidava.wordpress.com/2010/03/12/god-in-the-heart/


She spoke with me about her experience reading Earth Offerings.  She told me that when she first read the blog, it was so poetic, that she immediately and rather automatically recoiled into an unexpected cynicism, denying, for a moment, the validity and depth of her own experience.

Recovering from this state, she realized how human her response was and spent the night pondering this phenomena which she called, “a deeply cynical denial and invalidation of what is most beautiful to us.”

What emerged from our dialogue was an awareness of the difficulty we human beings have loving ourselves and how that stops us from loving life, and one another, completely.  If we think and believe, “Oh, I could not possibly be that beautiful, my life could not possibly be that beautiful, the mind will create a trap to stop the flow of beauty through the heart.

I asked her why she thought people do this.  Her answer: “I think people reject what is most beautiful to them because they are afraid of the pain of losing it… because it will hurt more to lose this, it will hurt more to lose so much beauty.”

So, yes, much truth here.  Impermanence is inescapable.

Truly masterful non-attachment is the ability to feel everything, completely, to be completely alive, and to allow all that which moves through us to just keep on moving through us.  It is to neither cling nor reject while at the same time feeling everything.

The Path we are walking is through experience, through life and the body, with awareness.  To stand in ourselves fully and burn from the inside out with passionate love or ache with grief or shimmer or tremble as fear travels by, to feel the spirit gradually lift and lighten as guilt is removed from the crevasses of the heart, all of this is… life.

When we fear feeling, we begin to construct limitations with our minds that inhibit the full spectrum of our experience and we get ‘stuck’ in clogged corners of ourselves, while the rest of  us is left screaming, “Hey, wait, I’m in here, see me, feel me– wait!!!”

But the Voices of Reason, guarding the door, just calmly shush us, rationalizing our outcries.

The Cynic waves her hand and says, “None of this is even real,” relegating huge parts of the soul to the realms of Shadow where the pressure continues to build and build, toward inevitable breakdown or explosion.

Often, in this condition, we begin to feel persistently trapped as if we must escape from our lives to save our own lives, and so we run from one commitment to another, or one place to another, but in escaping we only bring the clogged stuck mess inside us along wherever we go, wondering why nothing ever really seems to change.

My beautiful young friend caught herself in the stuck place and wiggled free.  Now she is feeling all of life, including the trajedy of our own humanity resisting it.

God in the Heart

When I was a child, I felt God in my heart all the time.  My earliest memories are of this energy in my heart, this spinning, whirling love that “looked” to me like sparkling electric green-blue and white light.  I always knew this energy was God.  I never doubted or questioned it at all.

I can hardly even imagine what it would be like to be this sensitive young woman from yesterday’s blog entry, praying and praying but feeling nothing and then suddenly, at the age of 22, awakening with such force to the interconnectedness of everything.  What a shock to the system to suddenly feel alive, to suddenly feel connected to Life, to all of Life.

For me it was a shock to suddenly feel dead.  I remember being about nineteen when it happened.  There had been trauma, oh, lots of trauma, but what I did to myself was the last straw.  The cocaine was the last straw.  One day I woke up and that place in my heart was simply dead.  It was as if it was frozen, ice ice cold.

In an interview with a man named Peter Miller who is doing an extensive research project on the shamanic qualities of plants, I described this experience as having appropriated the power of the spirit of cocaine as my own because I felt so powerless, had lost so much of my own power to the relentlessly abusive and psychologically violent patterns of my family of origin.  The Cocaine Daemon, filled that empty place inside me and gave me the illusion that I was empowered.  But actually, it was sucking my Qi, my fundamental life force energy, right out of me.

I had attempted to appropriate it, and it was appropriating me right back.

If there can be such a thing, I was a fortunate addict.  ‘Rolling Stone Magazine’ published an article on Cocaine Addiction in 1983 and I checked off all the signs and symptoms of withdrawal.  A little switch went click in my head and I knew, just “saw” that my body was having a chemical reaction to the cocaine which was creating the addiction. I realized that if I continued putting cocaine into my body, that same series of chemical reactions would keep occurring.  So I stopped.  Right then and there.  I never did another line again.

Well, I did get my nose repaired a few years later and the standard anesthesiology for rhinoplasty is liquid pharmaceutical cocaine, but after the surgery, I breathed through the cravings.  I did not relapse.

There never was NA or AA for me.  Not that I was rebellious, just that I didn’t know the options existed and the shame was so terrible, at having hurt myself so deeply, that I confided in no one what I was going through.

Yes, I was really one of the lucky ones.

It took almost ten years before the craving stopped, and for another five years I would still periodically dream I was snorting lines and wake up terrified, shaking myself out of sleep into the deep relief of my clean life.  I did all the right things– I cut all my ties with anyone and everyone from that world; I turned to exercise, meditation and daily spiritual practice and developed a better diet; I tried to really process every single feeling I was feeling, leave no stone unturned and cry a lot, more than most modern, industrialized humans.  I really really cried a lot.  And as much as possible I did not criticize myself for crying, or for feeling anything.  Gradually, I even learned to set boundaries with my family and say “No.” to cruelty and meanness, not with a rising battle of well-I’ll-show you, but with a bow and a “No thank you, please.”  Gradually  I relearned that incredible gift I was born with– loving kindness– and in relearning it, I learned also to protect it this time, and never ever to take it for granted.

Yes, I am definitely one of the lucky ones.

By the time I heard about 12-Step groups, I had been clean so long it really seemed moot.  Instead, still struggling with family issues, I attended Al-Anon for several years. That was incredibly helpful.

Years later, I ran an addiction recovery program in the Lowell Prison.  It was my 12th Step work.  I was very very good at it.  The women in that program helped me to heal my shame, to forgive myself, finally, for everything I had done to myself. They helped me to see myself in each of them, in their terrible stories, in their loneliness and desperation and deep sense of powerlessness.  Together we survived all of our parents and grandparents and aunts and uncles, processed the collective ignorance, cruelty and selfishness of humanity, and helped one another to heal and to love.

I didn’t exactly follow the NA guidelines.  After all, I didn’t really know them.  But that wasn’t my job:  my job was to be helpful.  So I taught awareness.  And it helped.  It helped all of us.

And that feeling of God in my heart, of God being alive within my own heart, that eventually, after 17 years or so, came back home to me, and now, after almost 28 years clean, has continued to grow stronger and deeper.  There is not a single day that I do not feel grateful for simply being and for being able to love.

Sometimes people find me strange– I am so grateful, so appreciative, so deeply aware of how precious life is and how easily it can be taken from us.  Gone, gone in a moment, vanished.  Sometimes it makes people uncomfortable to be around me.

Sometimes they leave.  Sometimes they stay.  I go on loving them anyway.  Just as life goes on being precious– whether we dare to truly feel that or not.

in Loving Kindness,

Murshida VA

——

To participate in Peter Miller’s research project, take the online survey at: http://www.botany.hawaii.edu/era/PsychoPlants/

Earth Offerings

“It appears to me as if the omnipotent intelligence of planet Earth is recognizing the advancement in the level of evolution in human beings.”–Shahabuddin David Less.

The beautiful young woman on the phone was describing her experience in the forest, hearing the voice of the Earth speak to her of thousands of years of pain.  As a child, her parents and all the elders told her to pray. They told her that if she would pray, she would feel God in her heart, but although she prayed and prayed, she felt nothing.  And then this, this mystery, this miracle, this sitting on the Earth and hearing, simply hearing the voice of the Mother herself, telling the story of her pain.

And her heart broke wide open and she began to feel everything and hear everything– all of the feelings, all of the voices of the One Being.  At first the voices of pain were easier to hear and she felt her life slipping away into the Abyss, her soul tumbling into fear and desolation.  But as she fell, another voice reached out to her from beyond the Void, penetrating her heart, filling her soul with light and hope.

“Go back to the earth and make love, little one.” it said.  “Make love on the prairie, on the beach, on the forest floor.  So many people are raped on the Earth nowadays, but so few people lie down in love on her body.

“Make love on her.  Make wild love on her.  Make crazy love on her.  Let her feel your ecstasy.  Let her feel your joy.  Let her know how grateful you are for your life.  Let her know how grateful you are for your life.  Thank her for the gift of your life with your whole body and everything you feel– what prayer could be more beautiful than this?  What prayer could be  more beautiful than this?

“Tell her, tell her you will do whatever is within your power to do to help to heal this world and ask her to heal you, ask her, humbly and openly, to heal you, to heal you completely, so that you may serve the healing of this world.

“Then put all your attention to your healing.  And when it is done, when it is done, when the healing is completed, live your vow– give all you are able to give to the healing of this world.  You will see miracles.

“You will see miracles.  And you will be Magic.”

Let her feel your joy.

That was my voice.  I am her Teacher, her Guide. And these things I learned from my Teacher, my Guide, but when the world was cracking open for me and rushing into  my heart with all it’s pain and joy and horror and beauty, and the tears did not stop for more than four years, I did not have a Guide.

I am lucky to be here in this world.  So fortunate not to have been consumed by desolation and darkness.  When I first met Shahabuddin, he pointed me out from a group of about 75 people and said, “You almost didn’t make it.”  And I knew it was true.

So I am here, now for the young people of our community, holding the light as they traverse the darkness, throw themselves headlong into the abyss, penetrate the Void, all in the name of finding that Truth which Awakens within us as Embodied Divine Love.  Hopefully, their journeys will be easier than mine because I am here.  Hopefully, I will save them some time.  My mother always said, “A good teacher will save you time.”  One never knows, though.  One just does the best that one can do every moment and the rest is up to the brilliant Universe.

We rarely talk about ourselves as individual “I’s” in the Dervish tradition, but my life is all I have to offer to the world.  It is the most precious gift God has given me, and it is the most precious gift I can give.  So I talk about my life.  I write about my life.  I love my life.  I live my life.  And I strive to inspire others to live their lives in this way- with complete fullness, with uncompromised vitality.

Amidst all this pain and suffering, there is so much beauty here, and as we learn to love through and beyond it all, as we learn to transform the darkness within and around us, not by denial but by embracing, we become, one by one, part of the healing.

The Message which came through for this beautiful, sensitive young woman opening into her enlightenment, is a Message for All of us–  if we can call up the courage to heal ourselves, we can heal the world.  We can heal this world.  Together.  All we have to do is heal ourselves and it will begin.

In Loving Kindness,

Murshida VA

On Compassionate Truth and the Dissolution of Friendships

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,

Murshida VA


Notes:

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.

Addiction and the Quest for God

Addiction, a brief definition from the clinical worldA beautiful young man, after Zikr last night, shared his struggles and challenges in finding compassion for a family member caught in the throws of addiction.  He felt it was so difficult to comprehend why any person would be caught in such a trajectory of self-annihilation.  But an addict is an amazing being– someone who is willing to annihilate themselves, even for the momentary illusion of being more alive, someone seeking life more passionately than many of the successful, careful and properly behaved among us may ever know.

Perhaps that is why, in 1968, God told Murshid Samuel Lewis, “Teach the Hippies.”  Perhaps God looked with great appreciation upon those reckless young people who were throwing themselves over and over at the jaws of death in hopes of a glimpse of Truth, a sweet taste of the Infinite.

It is so easy to turn away from suffering.  Addicts walk the edge, but how insane are those of us who feel that if we do not look at the suffering in the world, it will pass us by?  Do we honestly believe that by dissociating ourselves from that which is too painful to see, we will insure our safety from pain as if God were an insurance salesman and our willful blindness was a signature on His contract?

Oh, and then there are the  Fixers.   Not the healers, healers are of another ilk, but the Fixers– those of us who believe we have all the solutions, and by following the appropriate rules, all problems will be solved.  What a comforting offer! It’s so seductive, so seductive.  Here is the attraction and beauty of religious Fundamentalism at it’s core:  follow the rule book and we will be spared all pain… or at least whatever inexplicable pain we are subject to endure in this life will be explained or rewarded the next.

What addiction is the obsessive attachment to the belief that if we just find the right rule book and follow it exactly, that we will finally be saved, blessed, free of pain?  What a dark road it leads us down, over and over again, into Holy Wars and hell on Earth and yet we persist.  What ‘loss of control in limiting intake” is that?

And Fundamentalism isn’t limited to the spiritual realms.  There are Material Fundamentalists, even Atheist Fundamentalists.  For when we cry  “Give me rational proof or give me death!”  we are no different than those who cry, “Give me my God my way or give me death!”.  In these cries, we are still courting death to preserve our precious attachment to the righteousness of our points of view.  How precious is it to simply question?  To possibly not know?  To be willing to consider?  To be willing to examine the possibilities?

What if Heaven and Hell as places of reward and punishment don’t exist?  What if they are here, right now, here with us, in our minds, our points of view, our beliefs and concepts?  What if we truly have the power to bring Heaven to the Earth, or Earth toward Heaven, just by altering the condition of the human heart?  What if the addict’s painful and often horrible descent into personal hell is just the result of throwing herself into God without any flying lessons ? What if the horrible face that stares back at the addict from his mirror each day is a face humanity needs to recognize as part of itself every bit as much as humanity needs to recognize the Saints and the Prophets?  What if  “There but for the Grace of God go I” is a lie because all of us are everyone and none of us is truly free until we can accept fully and completely both the beauty and the capacity for utter devastation within us?

After all, we would not expect a child to excel at any academic discipline without recognizing and training his or her capacities, so why would we think we can fully attain our potential as a humanity or  realize, as a humanity, any real self- responsibility at all by persisting in denying the darkness within us.

Perhaps the addicts among us are actually Saints, sacrificing themselves so that we can finally see who and what we truly are.  Ask any addict in recovery and he will tell you– no matter what horrible things he did and how many people he hurt, the person who was hurt most by his addiction was the addict himself.

Notes:

On the clinical view of Addiction–

http://www.nida.nih.gov/pubs/teaching/teaching2/Teaching3.html

On Murshid Samuel Lewis (Murshid SAM)–

http://www.marinsufis.com/murshid.php

http://www.gnostic.org/murshidsam/forward.htm

Lotus Impressions

Om Mani Padme HumSo many readers have commented on the connection between the muck and the Lotus, that it seemed only apt to devote an entry to the Lotus and the proverbial jewel within Her.  Om mani padme hum.  The jewel, resting within the thousand-petaled lotus which blooms within the awakened heart.  Omg,  mani padme hum.  The lingam resting within the yoni.  Om mani padme hum.  The most exquisite lotus blooming pure from the filthiest, muddy waters, and humanity arising, finally and pure, from the muck of the collective psyche of impressions,  separating us from the knowledge of who and what we truly are.

Listen, the Lotus does not arise exquisite despite of the filth of the mud, the Lotus arises exquisite because of it.  Listen, the Lotus does not arise exquisite despite of the filth of the mud, the Lotus arises exquisite because of it.  Listen

All existence is a mirror of the Divine Creative Intelligence of the Infinite.  Born into form through the gates of the Divine Mother, the Manifestation delights in its own existence and the Manifestation delights the Infinite.  We are the Manifestation.  We are, each of us, an embodiment of the Divine.  And Divine, when the Doorway of the Heart opens, it is the Infinite which awakens within us.

The Embodiment of Compassion, Tibetan Diety of Om Mani Padme Hum

References:

To learn more about Om Mani Padme Hum–

A general introduction is acquired here– http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Om_mani_padme_hum

From the Office of the Tibetan Government in Exile.  That’s right, it doesn’t get more official than this– http://www.tibet.com/Buddhism/om-mantra.html

http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/mani-graphics.htm

Basics information, straightforward and easy to grasp– http://www.dharma-haven.org/tibetan/meaning-of-om-mani-padme-hung.htm