an essential authenticity

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Things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.~Pema Chodron

it’s all here…..the beauty of the soul depths, the misery of the muck……how can we trust that we are held?

In the monastery Ajahn Chah would point us back to rest in the pure knowing, consciousness itself.  Sometimes he would notice that we were caught up in a state of worry or anger or doubt or sorrow.  He would smile with amusement and urge us to inquire, Who is doubting?  Who is angry?  Can you rest in the consciousness that is aware of these states?  Sometimes he would instruct us to sit at the side of a person who was dying, to be particularly aware of the mysterious moment when consciousness leaves and a person full of life turns into a lifeless corpse.  Sometimes he would say, “If you are lost in the forest, that is not really being lost.  You are really lost if you forget who you are.”

This knowing or pure consciousness is called by many names, all of which point to our timeless essence. Ajahn Chah and the forest monks of Thailand speak of it as the Original Mind or the One Who Knows. In Tibetan Buddhism it is referred to as Rigpa, silent and intelligent. In Zen it is called the mind ground or mind essence. The Hindu non-dual tradition speaks of this as the timeless witness. While these teachings may sound abstract, they are quite practical. To understand them we can simply notice the two distinct dimensions to our life, the ever-changing flow of experiences, and that which knows the experiences.~Jack Kornfield

soul attunement

In the 3rd century, Plotinus, the great philosopher of the soul, described the making of the soul as the work of a sculptor. “He cuts away here, he smoothes there, he makes this line lighter, this other purer, until a lovely face has grown upon his work.” Still, this isn’t house construction, a close but different metaphor. Writers on the soul often quote John Keats, “Call the world, if you please, ‘the vale of soul-making,.” He goes on to say the the pains and troubles we encounter make our souls. ‘The word is “make,” rather than journey or discover. It’s in the spirit of Keats to say that our souls are constructed, like a house being built. Piece by piece, nail by nail, the structure of our being goes up and makes a space in which our lives can play out and find meaning. You can allow yourself to be built, to take care during those tender times, to be idle for awhile so the crew can do its work. When I hear a dream of construction, I’m envious and pleased. It may feel to the dreamer like a precarious period in life, but it is also full of promise and the occasion for hope.~Thomas Moore

4 thoughts on “an essential authenticity

  1. Love the part about only being lost if you don’t know who you are. Someone with a ministry in nursing homes tells the story of a woman with Alzheimer’s saying to the caregiver helping her get ready for sleep,
    “Oh dear, I’ve forgotten who I am again.” Then pointing to a picture of Jesus on her wall and saying, “That’s all right, he knows who I am.”

  2. Also like the “soul making” description of our experiences of suffering. This week I heard a man from Haiti speak about growing up without food to eat many days and losing some of his 11 siblings to starvation. Yet he says things like, there are no glorious experiences without awful experiences.” He quotes Paul, “All things work for good for those who love the lord.” And even after incredible suffering and finally finding security and purpose as a teacher in the U.S, he returned to Haiti after the earthquake to rebuild a church and a school in his old neighborhood.
    Reading his book and meeting him, I was amazed at the depth and strength of his faith in spite of all this.
    I realized that our American, and probably most of the Western world’s, culture tells us that no one should suffer and in some ways also says that no one should die. And once we buy into that, his kind of faith is almost impossible..

    • yes, once we buy into that, we get trapped in victimization…..to be with service and offering our broken hearts, we remain connected to one another……a deep reminder that healing is not about curing……may you know deep soul tending Eileen…..

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