Respond to Life

I just had an interesting revelation about now.

To respond to life means to respond to now. 

This is what it means to take responsibility for my own life. 

For some reason I always projected responsibility outwards to some point in the future.

This caused distress in my life, because it enforces constant worry about the future. 

How will I take responsibility for my life?

What does this question actually mean?!

There is no right answer.


The moment to respond to life is now.

What can I do now? 

Everything else is projection. 

And by projecting some potential outcome into the future I’m giving away control.

And this is what I suffer from every so often….

For the past couple of days I’ve been pondering the question: “How am I in control of my life?”
The answer is: By being present! That’s it.

It is so simple. And it is such a relief….

I realized it on my walk this morning. I have neglected these walks, but this morning I understood how much it helps me to arrive. 

If I don’t arrive I will never be able to take responsibility. The phrase “taking responsibility” is actually misleading, because I can’t take responsibility. 

I can only respond to life. Now.

 

Embodied Darkness

The winds of change are blowing strong these days…

It’s a good time to, finally, share another moment with you.

Slowly I’m swallowing my own medicine. I find wisdom in pain.

“Nobody’s wise who doesn’t know darkness.”

This quote by Hermann Hesse has been hanging on my wall for a couple of years now.

Only now, I understood its fundamental meaning:

I don’t overcome darkness.
I embody it.

This is basically what I have been practicing with this blog. And what I have been recovering over and over again:
Pain wants to tell me something. It is here for me and not against me.

I’m doing integration work.

I find wisdom in pain – and not despite the pain.

I integrate what is – and not what’s supposed to be.

This is called tantra in the widest sense.

I expand by integrating what is there.

What I integrate has been a part of me ever since – a part that I neglected for the longest time. A dark part.

A dark part of my psyche, of my physical body or of my emotional body that I would prefer to hide.

Instead of facing it I tend to set goals, aim higher, dig for more…

“The dark days will be over, if….,” for a very long time I fell for this hedonistic idea.

They are not. They never will be. Because there is always the next step, the next goal, the next thread that fills my heart and head with worry if I let it.

The dark days will never be over, because “the suffering is endless” to say it with the words of Viktor Frankl, author of the fundamental work “Man’s search for meaning”.

Frankl himself a Auschwitz-survivor describes the psychological states of KZ-inmates, which build the fundation for his psychological discipline called logotherapy.

This book translates the wisdom of suffering in a way that is so touching, so precise and so vital – I think every person in the world should read it.

What’s so special about it?

Psychologist and KZ-survivor Frankl transcends misery into hope and retrieves life energy, the life force – ‘the mystical’ that is all around and within us….

‘From mysery to mystery’ – Frankl uncovers the truth of life hidden in a disastrous part of history that we prefer not to think of.

The example of Frankl might be extreme, but the wisdom to be found in this book is applicable to all of our lives:

The earlier we accept that suffering is a part of our lives the more lightness we will find.

What most of us close our eyes from: Our pain is here to teach us something. (I wrote about pain so many times on this blog.)

There is an energy stored in suffering. And that energy wants to be transformed into acts of courage, hope and strong belief in life.

And that is roughly what Frankl describes as the motors of survival, even under devastating circumstances like enduring a concentration camp.

Nothing will ever be solved completely.
There is always some hidden grief. Some deep sadness or collective trauma that is stored in our cells, tissue or memory.

What we can do is: Meet ourselves and the ones around us with compassion.

This is how we befriend darkness and find purpose.

 

The Headless Buddha or “Meeting Myself With Compassion”

For about two weeks I’ve been trying to make sense of it: The Headless Buddha.

…It was one of those moments when I was caught up in a spiral of self-doubt and self-flaggelation, when I re-discovered my heart. 

In despair I was challenging the youtube-oracle. 

I discovered a talk on “The trance of unworthiness” by Tara Brach, a teacher I really value for her compassionate pursuit:

“We can only meet ourselves with compassion,” she concludes the human striving for liberation. 

Finally, I’m swallowing the medicine.

Suddenly I’m placing one hand on my heart and one on my belly.

I’m holding myself. 

This is when I understand: 

My mind deteriorates my self-esteem.

My mind strangles myself with reproaches.

Meeting myself with compassion – that’s the least I can do!

It is that simple.

And so I am lying there on the couch. One hand on my heart and one on my belly. My eyes filled with tears of relief.

I breathe and I cry.

That’s all it takes.

I remember the teachings of yoga I had received.

I let my body do the work. 

A couple of moments later: All anxiety vanished.

I find myself going for a short walk.

What happened next still blows my mind:

I’m walking slowly towards the nearby park, contemplating the Buddhist teachings of impermanence –  “anicca, anicca, anicca…,” echoing in my head…

When I gaze towards the bushes, suddenly, I see a headless Buddha standing there right at the framing of the sidewalk!

It is one of those decorative candle bearers a lot of people have standing in their bathroom or on the wardrobe.

Its head is accurately positioned where the candle is supposed to shine. 

Immediately the omnipresent quote: “If you meet the Buddha, kill him!,” comes to my mind.

What does this quote, apparently firstly stated by Linji Yixuan, signifies?

Back home I immediately start researching:

“Killing the buddha” asserts ‘to quiet all concepts’ – about Buddhism, spirituality and ‘the path’ in general.

It’s about finding the teacher within.

It implies the actualization of emptiness by self-observation and unbiased contemplation. 

The next thing I read is the word Kenshō, which is widely translated as “seeing one’s true nature”. Accordingly to Wikipedia it is often used interchangeably with the word satori, which signifies ‘comprehension’ or ‘understanding’.

It is often being mistaken for ‘enlightenment’, but this is not what it is. It is one step on the path, one realization of the non-personal nature of our lives….

I remember the moment on the couch earlier. The moment of surrender that lifted a weight off my shoulder and my chest. 

It was the moment when I finally understood that this body is solely a vessel. It’s a precious vessel, because it maneuvers me through my physical experience here on earth.

My mind keeps me in chains, while my body sets me free.

There is so much more to say about that! There are so many terminologies and symbolism to study, but for now that’s all I’m able to share here – my personal encounter with the headless Buddha.

 

The Flame

I can see it now clearly unfolding.

My life’s story.
My trajectory.

The old voices have faded.

This morning I rediscovered the flame that is burning inside of me.

Calm and beautifully, undisturbed.

It burnt all the way through.

The soft power of the flame is relentless.

I knew it deep down inside.

There is something “more”…

There is a force beyond my perception.

As the conditions get worse, severe weather is impeding the sight, evil forces are dragging my will….

A fundamental strength establishes and executes.

Sudden revelations are the result.

A physical destruction of patterns and control.

This morning it was there: The flame.

Burning and nurturing my wild self.