What is your center of convergence when things fall apart?
I wonder what would it be like to only have a mechanistic materialistic scientific paradigm when in the throes of uncertainty? Does it contain and hold one through life’s obstacles? Does hearing the quantum field theory help one overcome obstacles and pain when one is chronically ill or one’s world view is disintegrating?
When I was in grad school, many of my peers and colleagues were “God” phobic. Many did not like the word God because of personal associations. I was puzzled. I saw they were repulsed by the sociopolitical expressions and translation of God. To me God is everything, everywhere, in you, in me, in the dewdrops, the dawn and the dusk. And over the years, I have come to see God also in my pain, in the apparent chaos, the chronic illnesses, and yes the wars too. God is consciousness. There is nothing that is not consciousness. It saturates the material world and beyond it. There is more to life than the material plane. In the West, we are accustomed to investigating outside, but fail to look inside ourselves. There is a whole universe within. And when you find the subtle, still there is more.
In the multiplicity of experiences called life, where is your center of convergence? When things fall apart, where do you go? My friends see me as self reliant and strong, yet it is in the depth of that unshakability is Source, God, Great Spirit, Mystery, Oneness -whatever you call it. I know that whatever happens in life, things come and go. Sometimes we are on the top of the well, sometimes on the bottom. To be evaluated unfairly is no different than being placed on a pedestal. Simply life expressing itself in turns.
The philosopher and Vedanta teacher Vivekananda said, “Really good and evil are one and the same, and are in our own mind. When the mind is tranquil neither good nor evil affects it. Be perfectly free; then neither can affect you, and you will enjoy freedom and bliss. Evil is the iron chain; good is the gold one. both are chains. Be free, and know once for all that there is no chain for you. Lay hold of the gold chain to loosen the hold of the iron one; then throw both away.”
When I visited my teacher several ago in the Thai monastery, he gave a dharma teaching and at one point, the disciples looked at me. I was puzzled until I was given a rough translation of his talk. He was using me as an example of someone who has used the dharma to overcome obstacles. He put it bluntly: It was meditation that helped me through two suicides of people I loved.
It took me a few years before I could even approach my feelings around my brother dying when I was 19 years old. When I first meditated at 22 years old, my heart opened and the wounds of sadness came pouring out. I sat with all of it – the confusion, the anger, the chaos. Hearing the Buddhadharma on the four noble truths made sense in my experience. There I was was falling apart and the inquisitiveness and presence made/allowed it to be okay for me to approach me. Oh, it was very difficult and uncomfortable. But I could let them be, and for the first time, I was finally honoring the bond of the love between my brother and I through the outpouring of grief. I accepted this too as part of divinity. I have always had a very close relationship to God throughout my youth, but with my brother dying, I became angry with God and it took me walking the path back into and through my pain to remake this trusted friendship again.
The first person I ever really spoke with my vulnerable feelings around his death was a man who was to become my partner of 10 years. You can imagine the deep sense of betrayal I felt when he too took his own life! Again it was meditation that was the container by which I sat with my feelings of tumult, sorrow, desperation, courage and fortitude. It was a hell of edginess, but deep down inside, there was flicker that kept reminding me that this too was workable. In the heat, basic goodness kept me company. Over the years, this has developed into a truer compassion and understanding of the uncertainty of life. Knowing this, I have softened. I know I am not invincible nor irreplaceable in the scheme of life. I also dropped into a place that was eternal and undivided. I accepted death.
Today I meet adults who have not had anyone close to them die, nor have truly faced the broken parts of themselves. And I wonder, how is that possible? Is there anyone else out there who can’t keep it together? Yes, if we breathe, then it will fall apart because this is the nature of life – change.
The English neurologist Grey Walters wrote, “How often I watched the ripples on the surface of a still lake made by a passing boat, noted their regularity and admired the patterns formed when two such ripple-systems meet, but the lake must be perfectly calm. To look for high intellectual development in a milieu whose properties have not become stabilized, is to seek ripple-patterns on the surface of the stormy Atlantic.” I have been very fortunate in this life to have watched ripples on the still lake and from this place, I follow my Thai teacher’s encouragement to share from that place to inspire others.
For me, when I seek resolution in the moment of falling apart, I am no longer being. I am simply fixing. Of course, we look for solutions to our problems. When breaking apart, it is really our certainties and securities that are breaking. In the storm, seek to settle in the eye. It doesn’t change the dynamic movement of the storm, but we come to a place of peace and acceptance. So the rent (crisis) in the fabric of life becomes an opportunity to investigate. Our ideas and concepts of how it ought to be and have the chance for its dissolution. The light can come through the clouds on a stormy day.
According to the Srimad Bhagavantam, Krishna uttered, “In this very human personality, also, wise ones, who have mastered the science and art of spirituality, clearly realize Me. (God, as the One universal Self of all) as the infinite reservoir of all energies.”
Using God language (heaven forbid it would be a death knell from so many of my contemporaries!), could it be possible that this crisis – this illness, this divorce, this homelessness, this political ideology of isolationism rebounding from globalism – is a gift from God to allow me and you to get closer and to quicken the realization and our knowing of God even more so? Could we accept the possibility that God seeking God though God experiences is what the human journey is about? To know our deepest divine nature is why we are here in the first place. To know ourselves as both manifest and unmanifest, the totality of the unified field, unseparated from all else.
Just keep feeling your heart. There is no place to go and nothing to prove.
May you be inspired.