Friday, July 14, 2023

Only That Which Does NOT Change

     This morning, as I was looking over (the original version of) this completed blog, I accidentally lost & was unable to retrieve any of it. How many precious people, relationships, experiences, opportunities & things have we all irretrievably lost?
have remarked that the Divine has a wild sense of humor - hence the saying, "while we humans very seriously make our plans, God laughs." Then there's the popular quip, jokingly attributed to Zen, "shit happens."

     In our energetic youth, we confidently assume that previous generations were incredibly incompetent old fogies; that we'll never be old fogies like them; that we can & will accomplish amazing things; that we're bullet-proof; and somehow manage to assume that we'll never die!
most of us have a lot of maturing to accomplish.

     “You possess only what will not be lost in a shipwreck.” al-Ghazali

    “To undergo shipwreck is to be threatened in a total and primary way. … what has dependably served as shelter and protection and held and carried one where one wanted to go comes apart. What once promised trustworthiness vanishes.
    Sharon Danloz Parks. “Big Questions, Worthy Dreams. Mentoring Young Adults in their Search for Meaning, Purpose, and Faith.” John Wiley & Sons, 2000.  EXCEPTIONALLY VALUABLE for those dealing with young adults

    “If I look back over the path I’ve traveled, I see many moments in which, while thinking myself completely free, I was only deluding myself. Looking more closely at my interest in the spiritual life, the main thing I discover is an immense fear of suffering. In the beginning I was a bit like a shipwreck survivor trying to get hold of a life preserver. Over the course of time, this mainly self-centered motivation has become more diffuse, and I am beginning to open myself toward others.” Alexandre Jollien
    Matthieu Ricard, Christophe Andre, Alexandre Jollien. “In Search of Wisdom. A Monk, a Philosopher, and a Psychiatrist on What Matters Most.” Sounds True, 2018. CONTAINS A LOT OF WISDOM

    “In almost every spiritual prototype we have to go through hell on our way to pure awareness, indistinguishable from unconditional love, the Pure Land of our illuminated nature. For some, that process of awakening and ‘enlightening’ is the experience the Taoists call ‘self ablaze.’” Stephen Levine

    “For all of us there comes a time when oars fail, when there is nothing left to do but surrender to the great unknown.” Noelle Oxenhandler 

    “An interesting way to practice dying is by opening to illness. Each time you get a cold or the flu use it as an opportunity to soften around the unpleasant and investigate how resistance turns pain into suffering, the unpleasant into the unbearable. Notice how discomfort attracts grief. Watch the shadows gather in the aching body. Hear them mutter in complaint and self-pity.
    Stephen Levine, “A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as if it Were Your Last.” Harmony, 2009. POWERFUL

    "When interactions that are unpleasantly charged are not experienced completely in the moment, they are not metabolized. They leave a ghost, a remnant suffering that haunts the cellar of our own mind. That remnant suffering sinks into the subconscious and distorts our subsequent responses."
    Shinzen Young. “The Science of Enlightenment. How Meditation Works.” Sounds True, 2016. DEEP WISDOM

    Awakening arises in times of vulnerability and awkwardness between, before, and after where prior identities are canceled and anything is possible and nothing certain.” Lin Jensen

more of life - including inevitable shipwrecks - we allow ourselves to fully experience & integrate, the more realistic we become about our actual level of control over the material world - which progressively diminishes as we age - the quieter our ego becomes, and the more consistently & continuously we embody the peace & joy of the Divine within, which "surpasses all human understanding" (ie makes no sense at all from the usual left brain / fearfully-controlling materialist perspective).

Suezan Aikins - "Iris Moon" - Japanese woodblock


1 comment:

  1. John, I love this post. So clear about the difference between learning "theory" and letting life (all of it) be your teacher . MBSR was where I learned to open my body to everything, requiring learning how to soften and be with "the unwanted", and to practice self compassion in those moments. MBSR was really the skill training that opened the dharma gate in my life. I'm so darn grateful.