The mystery does not get clearer by repeating the question,
Nor is bought with going to amazing places.
Until you have kept your eyes and your wanting
still for fifty years,
you don’t begin to cross over from confusion.
aversions, illusions, discomforts, and ambivalence all call us into our shadows….when we descend to witness our own cycles, we honor our genuine experience…..we re-enter life, ascend and renew, rebuild and find clarity…self-confident and more gracious…..
Why must we go down and in? Because as we do so, we will meet the darkness that we carry within ourselves- the ultimate source of the shadows that we project onto other people. If we do not understand that the enemy is within, we will find a thousand ways of making someone ‘out there’ into the enemy, becoming leaders who oppress rather than liberate others. But, says Annie Dillard, if we ride those monsters all the way down, we break through to something precious- to ‘the unified field, our complex and inexplicable caring for each other,’ to the community we share beneath the broken surface of our lives. Good leadership comes from people who have penetrated their own inner darkness and arrived at the place where we are at one with one another, people who can lead the rest of us to a place of ‘hidden wholeness’ because they have been there and know the way. Why would anyone want to embark on the daunting inner journey about which Dillard writes? Because there is no way out of one’s inner life, so one had better get into it. On the inward and downward spiritual journey, the only way out is in and through…….Parker Palmer
Years ago, I read an interview with the Dalai Lama. The interviewer was surprised to hear the Dalai Lama say that he regretted that he had not been present at his brother’s death. The interviewer, assuming probably correctly that the Dalai Lama has a pretty continuous sense of an infinite presence within and around him, assumed incorrectly that this awareness of the essential nature of all reality would shield him from any pain caused by being a human being who loves not just humanity but particular humans. The Dalai Lama is a human being, and a human being is a wholeness that is both this essence and an individual self with a history and passing thoughts and feelings- an ego. When we know our wholeness, when we are consciously aware of both ego and essence, we feel the pain of loss in our lives not as crippling devastation that makes us want to give up on life itself, but as human sadness that we know will change with time, as all feelings do. The Dalai Lama had not been crippled with guilt or agony over the circumstances of his brother’s death, but he could acknowledge and be with his sense of loss, his sadness. Awareness of the essence of what we are does not take us away from our feelings, but it can give us a perspective that makes it easier to be with these feelings without identifying exclusively with, suffering painfully over, or acting upon them…..Oriah Mountain Dreamer