Saturday, September 02, 2006

Surrendering to What Is

Buddha seriously found me in the past year, at first via the simple and beautiful words of Thich Nhat Hanh, and the recognition of Truths I couldn't see for all the internal fog blanketing my inner ocean. I'd discovered yoga many years prior, and splashed about a bit in the calming waters of meditation during class, but lacked context and foundation to dive deeply. I also lacked any real discipline and motivation for a daily practice.

What ultimately brought me to my meditation cushion regularly . . uh, instilled some "discipline" in me, was the demise of my marriage. I admit it, I was desperately seeking something to comfort me in those seemingly rootless and stormy times. Did I say "those?" I also meant "these", because I'm still in the midst of great internal and external change, and it's frankly awful sometimes. I felt, and still feel at moments, like a small weak branch at the top of a tree . . .flailing about in the storm, spinning this way and that, appearing disconnected from my own trunk and roots, which penetrate so deeply into the soil that I could never really be uprooted (tornados and bulldozers aside).

Meditation has become my roots and my anchor. But it's not easy. How can something be so simple and yet so damn hard? Why can't I just meditate every day for 30 minutes or so and voila! Instant calm and equanimity 24/7, right? Silly, silly woman. As I write this, I can't help laughing at myself. As I'm so fond of saying, "at least I still have my sense of humor."

But some days I don't have much of a sense of humor, or I can't find it. I can't meditate for all the tears. I can't draw a deep solid breath. It's all I can do to read some of the soothing, centering words which drew me to Buddhism. The words are a cool balm for my wounded, broken heart.

What's that? What's that you're thinking? Her heart is broken but now it can open wider? Yeah, but I'm afraid for now, I'd still prefer my heart be unwounded, even if a little less open. Pain isn't fun. Oh, life isn't all fun? Well, that's not what some teacher/gurus say. I've assembled a lovely buffet of many delicious and beautiful insights from various teacher/gurus who seem to think Life is a Cabaret, or something akin to it. Their insights often seem better suited to life at the ashram than real life. It's abundantly clear some of them have never had a real job, mortgage, or children. But I do.

Mine is not the life of a guru. I live in this world, with a child and a business and bills, dark days and pain, and also, thank you, cherished and plentiful moments of heart-filling light and love and joy so big I can't articulate it.

Living in this world is how we really grow and love and learn. (Gods please note: My life is filled with more learning lately than I sometimes desire.) In my better moments, though, I embrace it all warmly and without wincing.

I'm learning to accept things the way they are. And instead of trying to beat back the strong emotions that accompany upheaval and change, I'm learning to name my feelings and look them in the eyes. Sometimes I even smile at them. (Though I still think of this as making friends with the enemy.)

I'm learning to surrender, to give up the fight.
Surrender, but don't be defeated.
And don't walk away.

Stay with it, whatever it is.

In days past, when I could barely work for the pain, and I'd be crying so hard that a deep breath couldn't fill my lungs, the words of spiritual teachers were a lifeline. I could at least remain in the present . . .sometimes. Sharon Salzburg, Thich Nhat Hanh, Eckhart Tolle, Pema Chodren, the Dalai Lama, Rumi, Osho and new teachers in my life, some of whom have no idea they are my teachers---they've all kept me afloat at one time or another. And things are better now, with fewer of those drowning days.

Still, I'm not skillful or practiced enough to consistently maintain perfect equanimity in the face of really strong tides. Waves sometimes knock me down, but I'm discovering I can stand up much more quickly now, even with saltwater in my eyes and the waves still coming. I've collected sacred moments of peace, like so many exquisite shells on the sand. I've touched enough security inside myself to know equanimity is there. The deepest faith I've ever known has come to live within.

I look back and see the trajectory of my spiritual growth, like a beautiful jet-trail behind me in the pink/purple/blue twilight sky. I see the graceful curve rising from earth heavenward, and I feel my soul riding it--upward, and inward, to my heart center.

I'm learning all the love I will ever need or want is already here, but then . . ..the waves come again, the tempest brews on the sea of change, my small boat seems so very fragile and small . . .

I return to my cushion again. I return to my breath. As I reach inward, I hear my own voice join the chorus of those who have inspired me---people I will never meet, and those I know and love. "Reach in, Mermaid," they encourage me. Through the rain I see the beacon--even in the darkest storm, and I remember. The light comes from within. I see it.

Forward to the Beginning: She Speaks (a poem)

Sweeter beginnings were never had,
offerings of opening and softening,
wonderings of kisses and warmth of bodies.

If I enter the temple that is Becoming Us,
what will happen there?

Stilling hearts, expectant for God,
skin worshipping skin,
heart worshipping heart.
We know, we know, the preciousness of this.

How few can even see it,
how few can touch that unfolding, beating heart inside,
the eternal Center, the Source . . .
then breathe it into the Beloved?

we do.

I sought, I sought
the touch of a gentle and strong man,
I sought God in my bed,
and found him reflected in the eyes of the one who entered me.

His hands follow the curves of my breasts,
and prayers escape the lips which feast at the temple altar.
Prayers of Life lived, journeys traveled,
burning and purifying.
All of who I was, now ash,
who I am becoming
forged in the white-hot fire of this Love.

All I ever wanted to be,
alone and in love with her,
to cherish deeply
this person I had ignored.

"the gift you gave was me"
said the god to the goddess.
"the gift you gave was me"
she replied.