Divine Will

Recently, Amma Ilowan and Father Mukanda Dawe talked about the shadow side of Divine Will.  They have always taught that Divine Will is Love, Joy, Peace, Life, and Life.  This sharing was not an implication that Divine Spirit has a shadow side, it’s pointing to the fact that we, as humans, are capable of creating a mess even from a Divine gift.

Love-and-compassion-are-necessities-not-luxuries.-Without-them-humanity-cannot-survive.Every being, human and otherwise, desires to experience love, happiness, peace/safety, and abundant life.  Humans also want to understand- to be enlightened- for the reasons and meanings of life events.  When we can’t surrender to Divine Will or find love, joy, peace, and abundant, enthusiastic life we could easily fall into shadow.


The shadow of love is a desire for power.  This is the power to have people behave in ways we approve, the ability to get our needs met from those around us when we want it and as we want it.  It’s the power of demands, threats, and punishing those who displease us.  This shadow creates domestic violence, a 1 in 2 divorce rate, and child abuse.  That is a very dark shadow.  But manipulation through anger, silence, and pouting is a common shadow of thwarted love.

The shadow of joy is competition and comparison.  When we are constantly comparing what we have, what we know, how we look, where we live, and how much we have with those around us we tend to be either miserable or puffed up.  Neither state is a space of joy.  One of the worst things we can do to ourselves is to strive for perfection.  Nothing is ever perfect for long.   Seasons come and go as do beauty and strength.  Striving and competing will only leave us feeling unworthy or depressed rather than joyful and happy to be alive.

The shadow of peace is a belief in possessions.  If we have enough money, if we have enough property, if we have another car, a new apartment, a new outfit, we will stop being nervous, stressed, and frightened of the future.  The emphasis on things is all around us, so how could we ever find the calm serenity of peace?

The shadow of light is the prestige of knowing.  Light means understanding and wisdom.  It doesn’t mean knowing the facts or the trivia about every little thing and making sure everyone else recognizes that we are the holder of knowledge they don’t have.  This is also the shadow of religions which turns to doctrines and dogma as the Way, rather than encouraging people to find Divine Presence within their hearts.  Divine Presence calls for us to respond with kindness, generosity, and compassion to all beings.  Doctrine and Dogma tends to quotes to justify intolerance.

The shadow of life is death.  This is all the ways we harm ourselves through an excess of food, drugs, sex, exercise, work, etc.  Life is for living.  Life is for enjoyment.  Life is for sharing love.  Life is found in supportive relationships. Whatever prevents us from a celebration of all life creates the destruction of life.  We see this in the devastation of the environment, the abuse of animals for profit, the warehousing of people, the hatred for the homeless or dispossessed refugees.

049-letitshine-1440x900-BWhen we understand Divine Will as love, joy, peace, life, and light our path is clear.  This doesn’t mean it’s easy or simple to follow, it’s just clear.  Love is possible when it’s awake in our hearts. When love is awake in in our hearts, we are close to Divine Presence.  Joy is possible only when it’s awake and filling us with possibilities. When we see possibilities, we have hope.  Peace is possible when we are content with what is happening now.  When we have peace, we are filled with kindness and generosity.

When we love another it’s because we are aware of the beloved’s presence in our thoughts, our hearts, and our lives.  We make them important: what they do, say, think, and dream.  When I realize that I’m finding fault with people around me I also realize I’m feeling irritated, frustrated, or just plain cranky.  But when I appreciate others, suddenly they are wonderful and I feel touched, cheerful, and loving.  Funny how that works.

The other day I was sitting on the porch worrying that the monastery wasn’t safe because we didn’t own Tract C.  Then I thought, Shayshoshewa, you haven’t owned Tract C for the last 27 years and you’ve been fine.  Why are you unsafe now?  I didn’t have a good answer to that question, but I felt better because, nothing had really changed.  Suddenly, I was at peace.

We live in a sea of conditioning.
Somewhere in that sea there is an Island.
On that island there is a Temple.
On the altar is a gift.
That gift is the key to unlocking Divine Presence within our soul.
With Divine Presence life knows no boundaries.
Without boundaries we are filled with love, joy, and peace.



Three Questions

27C6BC6800000578-3046897-The_number_of_schoolgirls_at_risk_of_emotional_problems_has_rise-a-4_1429525696475There are three questions a spiritual seeker must ask themselves.  The first is: Who do I say that I am?  The answer would seem evident until we look deeper.  Most of us have created our personality, our character as a response to those around us.  This includes roles such as: mother, father, brother, sister, partner, spouse, daughter, son, boss, teacher, healer, etc.  Each role comes with a set of requirements, obligations, and expected behaviors so we often mold ourselves into what is expected growing eventually to feel that the role is who we are.

Another way we develop our personality or characteristic responses are what happens in life. Life has a way of presenting us with obstacles, challenges, disabilities, limitations, and crisis situations of one kind and another.  In each of these we are likely to respond in the way we were trained to respond.  This training may be of a formal kind, such as the crisis management training given to firefighters, police, medical or military personnel.  However, most of us will respond to crisis from examples given to us early in life by the adults around us.  We are also influenced by the movies we have seen, books that we read or had read to us, or other storytelling forms that give us a template of heroic (or not) responses to life’s vicissitudes.

When we enter a path of spirit or a search for Truth we have to examine the question of who am I not only based on our past conditioned responses or schooled reactions but from a spirit-centered core of understanding.  Hence, the question Who Do You Say That You Are?

In an attempt to be spiritual, we might respond by saying we are unconditional love, that we have buddha nature, or christ consciousness, that we are an avatar of divine spirit, an enlightened being, a goddess, a god, or that we respond from a place of no self.  All of those answers are well and good until we come to the second and third questions necessary for embodying what is termed, True Self.

The second question is: What do you want?  The third is: What are you willing to do to get it?

130922-130551If we have truly defined who we say that we are, what does that self want?  The answer is simple enough- to be unconditional love, to be a Buddha or a Christ, a bodhisattva, a saint, filled with compassion, etc.  In other words to be what we say that we are in a way that is obvious to everyone, a way that needs no announcements, flyers, or business cards.   And then, if we are wise, we remember there is no destination and we will never arrive at the end.  So, the journey of spirit is deciding who we wish to be and being that person to the best of our ability. This means we will remain part of an evolutionary unfoldment responding to life with as much grace as possible.  If we are bit evolving we have reached entropy, true death, and the annihilation soul.

What is your concept of evolving what you want and what are you willing to do to get it?

galaxy_universe-normalIn the world’s mind of power, prestige, and possessions the answer to this question is obvious.  There is nothing that stands in the way of attaining those things, not children, not the earth, not the creatures, not the destruction of the environment, nothing matters except having more, and more, and more for the self, the company, the government, the corporation.

What is a spiritual person willing to do in order to be more compassionate, more generous, to live in loving kindness, and assuage the suffering of those we see in pain and anguish?  Everything that is asked by Divine Spirit, and to hold nothing back.  True Self sees life as it is, sees the suffering as it is, does not need to protect the heart with pat phrases such as: it’s all for the good, it must be his/her karma, or it’s all an illusion anyway.  No!  A person who is evolving lives in such a way that life can take no offense.

A being of spirit realizes it doesn’t take strength to give up and accept the shackles of circumstances, thinking this is what is meant by surrender to the will of The Divine.  It’s easy to shrug, or give silent consent to events that make us feel helpless; it’s easy to sell out and remain comfortable. It takes strength and courage to affirm and live the highest, noblest directive of our Soul.  Hence, we must continually ask ourselves three questions:  Who do I say that I am?  What do I want?  What am I willing to do to get it?


Life is structured around wholeness and unity. We see this in the natural world where nature attempts to integrate all things, even trash, into the environment.  Given a long enough time plants will take over and break down structures that serve no purpose in the wholeness of life.  Therefore, a fundamental concern for unity needs to be a part of each individual consciousness.  Humans have propensity to fragment or separate mentally, emotionally, and often physically.

careWe need to know that, no matter how vast and impersonal the world is around us, however hard the stretch of road being travelled, we are not alone but the object of someone’s concern and caring.  The need to be cared for is essential to human life and to psychic and spiritual health and well-being.  When this need is not met, we are thrown into conflict.  This conflict might be within ourselves or with our family, community, or partner.

When the need to be cared for is dishonored, threatened, or undermined we cannot experience our self as whole, and instead may become deeply fragmented and splintered.  The inner conflict expresses itself in many ways from profound mental disturbance to the complete projection on others of the hate and violence. Behind hostility, hate, and antisocial behavior our hunger persists- the ache to be cared for, for oneself alone.

Even one person, whole and filled with compassion, can penetrate deeply into the life of another.  This ability to remain kind, compassionate, and caring makes it possible for a healing to take place in the life of another.  The harshness is gentled out of a personality at war with itself.

violenceViolence (physical, emotional, or verbal) is what makes it possible for one person to impose their will on another.  It is an imperious demand to force another to honor one’s need to be cared for as that person wants to be cared for.  This is the root of domestic violence and societal violence someone’s need is not being met in the way they want it to be met and that individual is willing use violence if necessary.  As long as people react with fear their lives can be controlled by those willing to impose their will through violence.  It’s important in the etiquette of violence that fear be centered around someone’s ability to remain alive, have well-being, and preserve the well-being their loved ones.

There is often an ingrained conflict between our positive and creative inclination toward community, and our positive and destructive inclination toward conquest (my will, my way.)  In our relationships with each other there is often much that alienates, that is distasteful.  This is seen as ground to refrain from kindness, compassion, and generosity toward that individual.  It’s curious how we often feel that another must demonstrate their worthiness before we are willing to offer loving kindness.  Even though we want to be accepted as we are, but at the same time we want the other person to win the right to our acceptance and love.




We Invoke the Sensual Wild

The dictionary and thesaurus define sensual as self-indulgent, sexual, animal, and carnal.  All of these qualities are taboo, frowned upon, and preached against in families, schools, and religious institutions.  So why are we invoking the sensual wild?

   Sensual has to do with the five senses, with the body-mind rather than the intellectual mind.  Therefore, the sensation and feeling nature of the body is considered unspiritual.  The gift of physicality is often said to be a punishment for wrongdoing in a past life, Adam and Eve’s sin, or something necessary to being alive but a hindrance for anyone seeking a relationship with the Creator.  So, if having a body is somehow gross and worldly why would Creator, the Divine Spirit of All Life, have given humans such a disadvantage?  After all, we could have remained disembodied spirits like angels.  But Divine Spirit gave humans an animal body, for our special friend, in order to enjoy the beauty and wonder of the natural world.  And because we have an animal body-friend we have a desire to procreate and experience the pleasures of sexual union.  But we also love to eat, move, sleep, and in other words, to do what the animals do.

ancienttravel  Ancient people gave thanks to Creator for life in a body and celebrated the seasons of that life from birth to childhood, to youth, to maturity, to old age and death.  They understood that if a thing was made by the Creator it must be good and sacred.

   Humans, despite our much-vaunted technology, cannot create life.  We cannot create trees, grass, stones, animals, ourselves, or any other totally natural phenomena.  We have learned to use what already exists in new and interesting ways and are still inventing and experimenting.  But many, if not most, of humankind, attempts to play god resulted in a mess.  Genetic modification without thought to the consequences comes to mind, species destruction, environmental damage, poison water, and climate change are all the result of human arrogance.

   Somewhere, back in time, about three thousand years ago, humans began to develop religious theories and ideals that negated tens of thousands of years of belief that all life was valuable and sacred.  Sensuality became licentious, lewd, and lustful.  Ceremonies celebrating procreation and fertility were deemed unspiritual and swinish.  Monogamy became God’s law so that men could be sure who had fathered their children.  Animals, land, the fruit of trees, and the grasses of the fields became property and were no longer sacred gifts of the Creator.  Sexual sharing became a commodity, and women, it was decided, needed to be controlled.  And after a while, women thought so too. download

   As we try to remember that all life is sacred and develop a desire to invoke the sensual wild we can begin by meditating with the five senses.  Our dharma recommends that we attempt to block out four of our senses as we practice with one of them.  Focusing on each of these gifts one at a time allows us to develop appreciation for our body and the experience each sense provides us.

Tasting our food brings gratitude for the many textures and flavors of those foods.  Truly listening to the sounds of the natural world, not just the noises we make, helps us hear the song of the Earth.  Taking the time to observe objects, movement, and color develops awareness and awakeness.  Paying attention to the textures of things and the sensations of cool, smooth, rough, hot, hard, and soft allows a sense of stillness and discernment normally missing in our busy lives.

   As we allow ourselves to explore our soft or hard animal body we begin to remember what the ancestors long ago understood.  The Earth changes and we change not only in our body but our emotions and thoughts, it is this ability to observe and totally experience those changes that allows us to open to the wild within.

An Earth Mother Story

 In the beginning, there was spirit, and out of the womb of that spirit, came the goddess Earth.  Formed by an ancient image, she was rounded with beautiful curves and luscious peaks.  She knew only of herself in that time and her beauty was a song to the stars that kept her company.  As she matured into maidenhood, she began to dream a dream.  She dreamed of being a loving and nurturing world full of different and vastly interesting beings capable of relationship with her.  To love and be loved in return was her ideal.  There was no thought to the danger involved in this dream, only the burning desire to fulfil her gift to the universe.  As she continued to dream this dream, she wove an intricate web of her desires and beauty which she cast out into the stars.  The web was indeed provocative, as the moonlight glimmered upon the silken strands, sending light vibrations into every corner of the universe.

After many moons of casting the web and waiting, one night as she was almost asleep and about to give up her dream as hopeless, a slight movement on the outer rim of the web brought Earth to a wide-awake alertness.   She began to feel the energy of a being hovering close to her, and oh, she found that quite exciting.

1293014_10201971184391363_1360457286_o Each night, for many moons, this being came to the edge of the web to court the beautiful Earth.  She knew him as Sky and his freedom and life-giving air was exactly what she needed to make her dream happen.  They became one and together created a perfect place for children to inhabit.

Earth transformed into a Mother and gathered around her other spirits to help with her children.  Water spirit to quench their thirst, fire spirit to transform and heal, stone spirit to inspire and support them, wind spirit to bring change and breath.

 Then, the birth began.  Energy exploded everywhere – the finned ones were born in the water, the winged ones were born in the air, the creepy crawlies reveled in the grasses, in dark caves, and holes in the ground.  The animals roamed the mountains, valleys, deserts, and swamps.  Finally, Earth and Sky created humans to assist all their little brothers and sisters to flourish.

 Constantly changing to meet the needs of all her children she freely gave of her resources.  The human children rejoiced in being alive and held ceremonies to thank and help their Mother Earth and Father Sky.

But, as the ages passed, the humans became more and more sophisticated, or so they thought.  They scorned the old ceremonies of thanksgiving and fertility.  They forgot their place in the balance of all life.  In their zest for discovering civilization, they forgot their Mother and Father.

 But they were not forgotten nor were they judged for their errors.  Instead, the blessed union between Earth and Sky gathered with the spirits of water and fire.  They began to cleanse and transform creation.  Earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, floods, and fire brought balance to creation and maybe such signs would help to awaken the humans that something was wrong.download (1)

Earth and Sky sent prayers out to the universe on behalf of all their children to draw assistance into the spinning maelstrom of violence, war, and destruction the human beings were foistering on all life on Earth.  Masters from far and wide began to answer the call and to start the dreaming backwards.  Stories of the beginning of the relationship of Earth and Sky began to be told.  Stories of the human people’s responsibility to hold the gift of life sacred began to sprout everywhere.  Some humans began to listen and their hearts awakened to the old ceremonies of thanksgiving and fertility.  They began to remember the planet as Mother Earth and the atmosphere as Father Sky.  But will enough humans awaken?  Will it be too late?


Troubled Times

thubfireWhen troubled times come upon us and emotions, and stories spin out of control, it’s time to remember that spiritual awakening is not for the faint of heart.  We often imagine that enlightenment or awakening spiritually will be filled with bliss, peace, and a deep sense of connection with the Oneness.  And that does happen.  But more commonly awakening is like a clock alarm when one is deeply asleep, a jarring, harsh reality that upsets our life and makes us wish we’d never set the stupid clock in the first place.

This is a troubling, upsetting, and distressing time in our nation and the world when harsh and strident voices demonize those around them with far-flung accusations splattering even the bystanders.  Many tend to imagine the worse and act from inner darkness instead of compassion and understanding.  But it is in times like these where we are given the opportunity to face the enemy within ourselves.  Will, we meet that moment with openness and a fearless heart or slide into fear, imagining the worst and assigning blame thereby closing our hearts and our minds to the suffering around us?

What if we were to focus on cultivating a community of kinship, compassion, and kindness so strong that Divine Spirit might recognize it?

Can we dream something different than the examples we see in world news?
Let us imagine a circle of compassion with no one standing outside it.
Let us stand with the poor, the powerless, and those without a voice.
Let us stand with the easily despised and the readily left out.
Let us stand with the disposable so the day will come when we stop throwing people away.
Let us stand with the demonized so the demonizing will stop, for demonizing is always based in untruth and a fear-based imagination.

Love-and-compassion-are-necessities-not-luxuries.-Without-them-humanity-cannot-survive.Suffering will only be alleviated by a community of people determined to show tenderness with each other. If we resolve to take our next steps in love, forgiveness, and compassion, it is inevitable that we will finally discover true freedom from the hell voices of the world and our minds’.


Makers and Creators of Beauty


Everyone is born with a fire within, a divine imperative, to create something to leave behind as a statement that we have been here.  Even though that fire is intrinsic, it’s often hidden until something sets it alight.  That something might be a pain, loss, an experience that leaves its mark, or an inspiration, an act of kindness or falling in love.   Our creative fire is ignited by rubbing up against things of the world.

the-blossoming-of-creative-fire-white-flower-and-flameI’ve often contemplated the story about the Jewish children in concentration camps during the holocaust drawing birds, trees, and butterflies on the walls of their prison; and how the human spirit seeks to restore itself to hope in the midst of destruction.  We reach for a future that will be bright and beautiful even when the facts refuse to support our dream of a positive outcome.  But one of the paradoxes of human existence is our ability to either illuminate our spiritual nature or obscure it in the name of reality.

It was the creative fire of love that imagined the Taj Mahal, the creative fire of wonder that created preservation of exquisite places of the natural world in parks and preserves, and it was the fire of anger and fear that also produced the atom bomb and weapons of mass destruction.  Always, sometimes even daily, we have a choice of using our inner fire to warm, preserve, and enhance life or encompass our own destruction and that of others through despair, isolation, self-rejection, violence, and even suicide.

Perhaps, the lesson in the above statement is a call to study and gain skills in how we think and what we think about, how we talk and the effect it has on those around us, and equally important is the creation of actions that result in beauty rather than destruction.

The energies that require the use of creative fire are often left to chance through a learn by mistakes approach to living.  Yet, they are the very stuff of a thriving life- how to live with respect for all life on Earth, how to make and keep a lasting commitments in a loving relationships, how to raise loving, generous, and kind children, how to show respect for our elders, and how to make a meaningful contribution to the communities in which we belong. 6.-compassion

As I was growing up, I tried to make a note of all the energies the adults around me shared with one another, with my siblings and myself, especially the ones that hurt physically and emotionally.  It was my absolute intention to not be like my mother, my father, and other authority figures whose anger spilt over onto everyone around them.  And yet, I yelled at my children and attempted to control my significant relationships by making myself indispensable and necessary while denying my own needs.

So now, I’ve reached the age of seventy-two having dissolved two marriages and pissed off several people who have disappeared from my life.  All I wanted was to be a maker and shaper of beauty in the world, and so I attempted to ignite the fire of creation by rubbing against others instead of igniting my inner divine fire by trusting the Indwelling Presence of the Divine Spirit.  I’ve also learned that finding The Presence within is a journey that everyone must take in order to fulfil the demand and the promise of being a creator and maker of beauty in the world.

Almost all spiritual pathways have given directions on how not to destroy ourselves and others with the creative fire.  One of these is called the golden rule, and there is some form of this statement in most sacred texts.  Do and give to others only what you are willing to receive yourself. 

Another common statement that puts a safety net of stones around that inner burning is- Love God with your whole heart and mind, and all others as God loves you.  However, even with these two lofty and exalted admonitions, humans keep rubbing ourselves against the world, the expectations of the world, and the expectations of what we want, where we want to be, and how we want others to see us.  Sadly, despite all the obstacles and disappointments we still expect these imaginings to come true.

Perhaps, part of our stubbornness in this regard comes from a belief from the western world that we have an inalienable right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  The reality of life, however, is that sometimes we are going to thrive and sometimes we are going to be wounded or wound others.  This is difficult to accept.

Does it mean that I must embrace the parts of me that yelled at my kids, failed at my marriages, and pissed off people I cared about?  Yes, actually, that is exactly what it means.  Embracing all that has happened, all that I have felt, seen, heard, and participated in allows me to see my life as an act of creation, a work in progress, as it were.  That is an old cliché, but it is true.

When I’m cutting out pieces for a quilt and sewing them together it’s always my intention that it will come out perfect, smooth, and without blemish.  Somehow, there is always seems to be a piece of two that don’t want to lay flat or don’t turn out exactly square.  The same happens with beadwork, there’s always a bead of the wrong colour or size that doesn’t fit the pattern but finds its way into the work somehow.  I don’t always have the patience to take things apart and fix the problem, so I adopted the Japanese idea that imperfect things are beautiful.

downloadI read recently that James Thurber once sat by his window watching a bulldozer clear a field of elm trees to build an asylum intended for those driven insane by the cutting down of elm trees.  It’s irrational to be guilty, shrivelled, and to cut ourselves down because we have been burned by the creative fires of life and that we were not who we wanted to be, where we wanted to be, and who others expected us to be.  Creation cannot happen without mistakes.  Life cannot happen without wounding.

The most important skill we can develop as we continue to make and create beauty or inadvertent ugliness is to remember that nothing can change as long as we are still rehearsing the history that brought us to where we are today.  Life happened.  Our mistakes and successes are a part of ourselves.

However, we are not yet ashes buried with the ancestors, therefore, let the past be past.  Plan a new image of self, gather the creative fire, the colours, the brushes, wisdom, and courage.  From that place, we can be excited about what we will create next!


Going Into The Dark

Darkness is defined as the absence of light, something that is difficult to understand, a state of ignorance, and something secret or sinister.  Truth is defined, by the dictionary, as factual, or clear and visible, as well as something individuals choose to believe. Faith communities often speak of the dark as something evil and light as the most desirable quality to cultivate and yet it’s only through a willingness to explore what is dark or hidden within ourselves that we are able to shine a light of truth on the state of our consciousness and attain some form of enlightenment

ignorance_quoteIt appears that no one ever believes they are choosing something out of ignorance or a misinterpretation of reality.  We don’t have to look far to discover humanities willingness to pronounce as undesirable, ignorant, and evil people who are perceived as a hindrance to comfort, security, and prosperity.   Currently, immigrants are being targeted as are Muslims, single mothers, and the poor or elderly.  When one is truly spiritual it is easy to see through all the rhetoric and ask, who will profit from this persecution?  Of course, darkness is always obvious when it belongs to someone else. Darkness is defined as the absence of light, something that is difficult to understand, a state of ignorance, and something secret or sinister.  Truth is defined, by the dictionary, as factual, or clear and visible, as well as something individuals choose to believe. Faith communities often speak of the dark as something evil and light as the most desirable quality to cultivate and yet it’s only through a willingness to explore what is dark or hidden within ourselves that we are able to shine a light of truth on the state of our consciousness and attain some form of enlightenment.

Spirit invites us to discover our ancient darkness or  ignorance that has continuously caused suffering for ourselves and those around us.  This exploration is impossible without a spiritual director or teacher.  If it were possible to enlighten our own ignorance we would all be ascended by now.  However, the gift of shining  light on delusions is about as popular as turning sticks into snakes.  Inevitably, the student thus enlightened becomes enraged and defensive often turning on the teacher with accusations and resentment.  My advice is- don’t ask if you don’t really want to know.

GalaticAlignEyeThere is a line in the vow of the bodhisattvas that states- delusions are inexhaustible, I vow to end them.  Delusions are caused by expectations of self and others.  I’m not suggesting that we have no expectations of self or other, only that we become aware they are a major tripping point on the road of spirit.  If someone says, I am enlightened- we can be sure that person is delusional.  Even the Buddha did not say he was enlightened he said he was awake, which meant he was practicing awareness of his attachments and expectations in order to free himself from them.  Only through constant vigilance can we disrupt our focus on what we expect, deserve, and demand from self and others.  Note the attitude and ask- is it fair of me to have this expectation of another?  And- how can I meet my own need without imposing it on others?

Not all expectations are bad or even undesirable.  This is why we learn table manners as a child, discover the magic of please and thank you, train our pets to deposit their bowel movements in an appropriate place, and end abusive relationships.  Here are some expectations that are guaranteed to cause suffering – wanting others to give us comfort, acceptance, and anything we else we want without our having to say anything.  And, if we do state our need there is an expectation that it is the other person’s responsibility to give it to us.  All of this is delusional thinking a result of ignorance and living in the dark.

Having a session with a spiritual director or teacher can be a challenging opportunity.  While part of us wants to be free from delusion, there is often a greater part that prefers to remain ignorant or to be reassured that we really don’t have much to work on so we don’t need to worry about it.  Amma Ilowan told us once that the mantra for the path of enlightenment is- Oh, Shit! Here is a poem/story gifted to Amma some years ago by a seeker.

A Day in the Dark

On a day such as this my life might be destroyed.
I am not worthy of being in the presence of a Master!
Bitterness courses through my every thought and burns my mind.
Time is passing-
But when will it open?
I am frightened!
I am petrified!
I am anxious- and I do fear what seed I have sown and their harvests to come!
This does not sound like discovery to me- but desolation!
Perhaps it is transformation?
Perhaps it is my evolution?
But to be immersed in such darkness and despair seems cruel and heartless.
True love is creation-
I have said so many discouraging times of late!
Thought creates- and I have thought so many unloving things of late!
Where has the holiness- that I so fervently aspire for gone?
Why do I find myself falling away from the ladder of prayer?
Where has my soul been slipping to?
Why does my love and light flicker- and in the most important of times?
Why does Spirit seem to fade away when I am most in need?
Why am I so afraid?
Why have I chosen to act in anger instead of from my sadness or my love?
The Sword of my Soul has almost become fully tempered
and shall soon undergo the refreshing submersion into the waters of Spirit-
Yet the fires still flame with such climactic degrees-
It seems impossible to focus on the process in its complete stage!
Is this not the dross that initiation burns from my soul?
Will I ever feel I’ve arrived at the warmth of spring again?

My own ancient darkness is fear.  Fear of being abandoned , fear of becoming homeless, fear of failing, fear of disapproval, and fear of trusting others too much and various terrors that come up at odd times.  And, while I’ve experienced some of these energies in my life…most are pure imaginings like a child panicking over shadows in the night.  I believe my ancient darkness arises from the expectation that these things could happen and I must do everything in my power to prevent them from manifesting.  If I have a plan for the worst case scenario I will be able to survive it.  That was my motto for years.

So, I have been advised to simply notice the fear, breathe, and stop making strategies to deal with imaginings.  Once, he told me that my people didn’t know that I loved them, which was devastating to hear since I thought I was serving to the very best of my ability.  After being angry for a few days, thinking people were complaining about me to the Masters, I decided to accept what he said and change my behavior so people would understand that I loved and cared about them.  First, I had to notice what behaviors gave a wrong impression so I watched sangha members who were considered loving and kind individuals.  What did they do?  What body language did they use?  What did they say?  Mostly, it turned out to be a matter of eye contact, fully facing the person I was talking to, and not multi-tasking while speaking to them.  Getting out of the dark into the light required acceptance and accountability and a willingness to be enlightened rather than defensive and resentful that everyone didn’t already think I was an amazing being.

to-make-the-darkness-consciousWilling to go into the dark is entering a time when we don’t know the result and sometimes when the result is known it is nothing we want or desire to experience- and yet, there it is.  To find the light of truth we must be willing to realize, even if it is on faith, that Divine Spirit is with us, as us, and will not abandon us in our grief, pain, or fear.  This doesn’t mean we will have that fear removed, the grief taken away, or the pain eased, it only means we trust we are not alone in those times.  We rely on the relationship we have created with the Dharma, the Sangha, and the Masters to find our courage, strength, and the fortitude to make it through the dark.  In challenging times we have the capability of ignoring or chasing Divine Spirit from our hearts, minds, and lives.  If we do this we sink even deeper into the dark night of our soul.  Ultimately, we cannot find the light without each other and though we may stumble and fall- surrendering to Divine Grace will see us through into the light of wisdom and love.