All of our growth is clearly an expanding beyond our small selves into the spaciousness of the Beloved. When we are moving gently and without force toward our edge, toward the fire, hell transforms to heaven- letting go of the pain into something greater. Letting it all float in the Beloved means not changing or getting rid of anything- no resistance- simply meeting the old in a brand new way. Cradling our pain in the arms of the Beloved. But we are so addicted to our suffering we will fight to the death to protect it. Fear (actually a sign of growth at the edge) demands we withdraw to safe territory, old strategies, old pain, a familiar hell. But in relationship, growth insists we let go and expand into the unknown. Hell is the absence of the Beloved. Everything in form, including concepts of formlessness, casts a shadow. Even the idea of heaven can produce a hell of resistance to what seems otherwise. The idea of the Beloved can be hell if it creates judgment of self and other. But it is heaven as a direct experience. If we come to imagine that the heart must always be open in order to know heaven, we’ll never be able to look the Beloved in the eye. It is quite extraordinary to come to that place where we are able to open our heart even to our heart being closed. Big surprise, big mind has room for it all. Big surprise, mercy and awareness convert hell, our holdings, into heaven, the birthright of our heart. To open the heart in hell is to embrace small mind with big mind. To see that what we hold to cramps and atrophies us. That what we hold to leaves rope burns as it is pulled beyond our grasp. That holding to ourselves as the content of the mind is hell. That opening to ourselves as a process of consciousness is heavenly. To open the heart in hell is to open even to our resistance with a mercy and awareness, a kindness, a compassion, that reminds us of the Beloved…..Stephen Lavine
these heavy-handed readings can feel daunting and distant as we navigate our own deep pit of experience….but if we really pause for a moment, we see how the world goes ’round….how the natural laws call us to pay great heed to how we take care of one another….how we perceive the daunting suffering engulfing us, and how that really can translate into a rich foundation of possibility…..this re-formation of the warrior in us is our inescapable authenticity meeting us throughout our lives….
In the books by Carlos Castaneda, Don Juan speaks of the necessity for a man or woman of knowledge to live like a warrior. The image of being a warrior resonates deeply with the experiences of meditation. A warrior takes everything in life to be a challenge, responding fully to what happens without complaint or regret. What usually matters most to people is affirmation or certainty in the eyes of others; what matters most to a warrior is impeccability in one’s own eyes. Impeccability means living with precision and a totality of attention. What we’re doing in coming to an understanding of ourselves is the noblest thing that can be done. It is the eradication from the mind of greed, of hatred, of delusion; establishing in ourselves wisdom and loving compassion. It’s difficult and rare and requires great impeccability. It means cultivating qualities of mind which bring about totality and wakefulness in every moment. The book Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse, describes very beautifully the emergence of a warrior in a context quite different than that of Carlos and Don Juan. Siddhartha said that his training had left him with three powers: he could think, he could wait, he could fast. The ability to think in this sense means clarity. Not getting caught up in the whirlings of the mind, staying clear and balanced in their flow. Waiting means not being driven to action by our desires. Fasting means simplicity. We can experiment with this letting go in our lives through generosity, through ourselves in basic moral restraint, through practicing giving up the things which bind us. Intuitions then come out of the silent mind whereas imagination is conceptual. This insight and imagination come from the development of a silence of mind in which a clear vision, a clear seeing, can happen. It takes courage to sit with pain, without avoiding or masking it. It takes courage to probe and discover the deepest elements of the mind and body. It takes courage to face and confront the basic and inherent insecurity of this mind-body process. Siddhartha could think and wait and fast……Joseph Goldstein
How you respond to tragedy and suffering is one true measure of your strength. You need to see those moments as moments of growth. You need to look upon them as gifts to help you reclaim what is important in your life. The question you must ask yourself is not if you will heal, but how. Grief and pain have their own duration, and when they begin to pass, you must take care to guide the shape of the new being you are to become. Take care to find your own true strength. Nurture it. Share it with those around you. Let it become a light for those who are living in darkness. Like love, tragedy and suffering make you more a part of the human family. They are the fire that burns you pure……Kent Nerburn