My dreams are shattered by your rationalism.
But at least I can see clearly now.
Your arguments damp my fire like water cannons.
But thankfully you hold me back from burning out.
Your honesty cripples my self-worth.
But finally my masks are falling.
You cracked my heart like a walnut.
But ‘There is a crack in everything and this is how the light gets in,’ right?
Now I’m shining like a 300 watt light bulb.
Can you see it?
Okay – as this is a writing experiment I’m going to be brave today on “Day Two” of my “Writing Transformation Challenge”. Straight out of my notes from this morning:
How to do the work? How to look at life with compassion and fearlessness?
It means to look at ALL situations as part of THE enlightenment (process). More precisely: All situations ARE enlightenment.
The transformation takes place if we use all situations.
It doesn’t matter if the water is hot or cold. It doesn’t matter if we sleep alone or in a room with 20 people. It doesn’t matter if we call anything material our own or not.
The transformation takes place as soon as we are no longer afraid to lose it all.
Uncomfortable situations are our means of transport in order to accept / embody our non-being / detachment. But for this we have to give up our comfort.
We have to lose our necessities, our desires, our pride. Because all these things are trivial. They are rooted in our ego. And our ego keeps us trapped.
As long as we are wanting to ‘receive’ we only feed our ego. Why? Because this is the wrong focus.
We receive nothing before we are connecting with the warmth of compassion, the warmth of unconditional love, because this is compassion. We receive when we give. And I mean really give – without expecting any reward.
When we are able to shine our light even though we just went through the deepest emotional pain, this is when we reached unconditional love.
We are able to shine our light when all the masks are falling. If we are unmasking all the lies we are telling ourselves.
As long as we are looking for protection we cling to our desires and we are closing ourselves off from compassion – the true source of energy.
Of course I’m writing this all from the perspective of a westerner. I have in fact nothing to worry about. But exactly because of this I have to be willing to give it all up. It is my obligation to go further, because other people can’t. They are born into oppression, poverty or starvation.
Compassion for all beings includes compassion for our own selves.
You may ask: But how can I be compassionate with myself?! If this is your question (as it is mine) you are still a victim to the wrong ideals. You didn’t take the time to find what nourishes you.
You are still ‘not there’. You haven’t opened the door yet. The real door is still closed and you are hoping for ‘release’ from the external.
This release doesn’t come as long as you are lying to yourself. As long as you chase and rush and hustle you get blinded by superficiality.
I chose the path. I saw too much. I felt too much. I can’t ‘go back’.
This is why I reply ‘I really don’t know’ when somebody asks me ‘What do you want?’.
I’m not doing this ‘for fun’. I’m not running away.
What I know is that this is not about me.
It’s about us.
Getting in touch with our fears is something we are forced to. We are facing loss, illness and physical pain. From the moment we are born we are used to suffering.
The secret is to re-discover the compassion that connects and comforts us all – behind the pain.
The pain is only one side of the coin. The other is compassion.
‘To free ourselves from all fear we must touch the ground of our being and train ourselves to look directly into the light of compassion.’, says Thich Nhat Hanh.
The real question is not: How to overcome the pain, but how to find compassion beyond the pain?
I’m desiring the non-desirable.
I’m wanting the non-wantable.
By desiring desirelessness I’m getting more trapped in the entanglements of my own mind.
By willing to un-control I’m debilitating my power.
My senses are numb and my heart is tight from all the wanting and needing.
The day-to-day struggle: ‘Am I finding release today?’ becomes the biggest burden.
Can I disrupt my will with the tools I discovered? Or will I keep winding myself in my own misery instead of welcoming the mystery of life (with open arms)?
I can control my mind, but I can’t control life. I understand this but I lack the humility to embody it. I can cope with life but I can’t rule it.
By trying to ‘understand’ it ALL I’m blocking my connection.
I still think I’m freeing myself, but I entomb myself in the depths of my skull.
Detachment is as far away as on day one.
But you know what?
I’m not going to give up. I will keep asking. I will keep suffering until I finally find rel(ease).
Yes – I’m learning to relax.
Yes, I’m finding trust and comfort within my own self.
I will love myself and everything around me in the most humble way – like a child loves her mother and a mother loves her child.
The devotion to the essence. – This is not a mission, this is my real life purpose.
I will stick to the places where the magic happens.
I will pour myself out there until there is nothing left inside of me.
“Life is difficult.” This is the first sentence of M. Scott Peck’s book “The road less travelled: A New Psychology of Love, Traditional Values and Spiritual Growth” – for me one of the most comprehensive (and comprehensible) classics on the ‘spiritual book shelf’. I really don’t know how to rephrase this sentence. Life is filled with loneliness, misunderstandings, expectations, fear, failure and despair. This is reality. But somehow ‘society’ / us / our ‘cultural storytellers’ want to tell us something else.
We Whitewash Our Pain
Happiness became a business. Society wants to see us smile. As a result we expect to be happy all the time. And if we are not happy? We are trying to find a remedy – instantly. And how are we supposedly ‘curing’ ourselves from stress and dis-ease? How do we ‘get over’ fatigue, grief and misery? We go to retreats. We consume goods and substances. We fill our bodies but we don’t nourish our souls. We survive but we don’t sustain.
Instead of learning to integrate our unpleasant feelings we build barriers that disconnect us from our pain. Where we are meant to find connection we are closing ourselves off. Instead of facing the lessons of life we are finding comfort in distraction.
Inner emptiness, a loss of the ability of self-care, addiction and diseases are caused by this lack of connection.
Acknowledge The Pain (And Embrace The Fear)
If we want to connect with ourselves we need to connect with our pain. Or with the words of John Green (“The fault in our stars”): “Pain demands to be felt”. We don’t have to travel into former lives or visit the anacondas in the rainforest of the Amazonas to get a glimpse of what is going on with our pain.
If we want to connect with ourselves we need to connect with our pain.
So, how can we deal with suffering in our life? How can we ‘humanize’ the pain demon? How do we embrace the fear?
The first step is to look into the mirror with all honesty. Firstly we have to admit that something is wrong.
Initially we don’t know much about our pain. All we feel is emptiness / a lack of purpose or motivation. Some sort of unwillingness or this huge hole we fall into every Sunday. Or a real physical pain. It can be an infection, a backache or an autoimmune disease. It can be anxiety, depression or paranoia. It can be an unbearable feeling in our chest that makes us unable to feel joy or to make a decision. It can be an enduring conflict with a family member or our partner. It can be any feeling of unease that reappears in certain situations or lasts for a period long enough to restrain our life.
Instead of running away from it – instead of distracting ourselves with scrolling through instagram or escaping into a phone call with our friends, going to a party, taking drugs, rushing to work, we need to take a moment to acknowledge the pain.
Questions Are Our Tools
What do you feel?
A subtle fear of pain leaves us in a state of faint. How do we get out of this state of powerlessness?
Through the years I was looking into my pain a little deeper. I asked myself questions: “Where is the pain coming from?” “Why do I envy others?” “Why am I aggressive sometimes?” “Why do I have issues with my health?” “Why do I complain so much?” “Why do I feel empty / a lack of motivation / a lack of trust?”
I had no immediate answers to these questions, but all of a sudden I spotlighted some corners of my psyche that had never seen the light before.
At the beginning this was overwhelming. All these fears behind this pain seemed to be threatening. I preferred to keep a safe distance. But as the feeling of pain kept recurring I dared to step closer and say “hi”.
Our Fears Are Like Watchdogs
All of a sudden these big fears looked less life-threatening. As soon as I came closer the demons turned into cute dogs. I understood: Our fears are like watchdogs. They look scary from the distance, but in reality they are our friends. Incredibly grateful they are waving their tale when we finally pay attention to them.
I understood that these feelings wanted to tell me something. More than that – they wanted to show me a direction. What I didn’t know at the beginning was that these watchdogs are my guides, my mentors. They show me the changes to make and the way to go.
All the time I was so occupied with ‘avoiding the pain’ that I preferred to give away my control. Fears dominated my thoughts. What I had to do instead was taking the time to get attuned with my fears. I needed to learn the language of these watchdogs in order to gain a relationship with them.
By integrating these fears into my life I’ve started to take responsibility for my thoughts and actions. I learnt to take care of these dogs. After a while we were able to comfort each other and to withstand the hardships of life – together.
Feeling the pain opens up the opportunity to get in touch with our unconsciousness. We get to know our deep rooted fears. And through these fears we learn about our real desires.
What’s there? The fear of being alone. The fear of failure. The fear of decision making. The fear of making the wrong decision. The fear of choosing the wrong path in life. The fear of getting married to the wrong partner. The fear of getting hurt. The fear of hurting somebody. The fear of giving birth. The fear of missing out. The fear of not fitting in. The fear of not having friends. The fear of commitment. The fear of taking full responsibility for every action, every decision. The fear of the fear. The fear of life?
What Do You Like About Your Suffering?
When we catch a greater look at our pain we identify the fears behind it. But before we are able to walk our watchdogs we need to accept discomfort as part of the process. At the beginning we are distrustful, because we don’t speak the same language. We might only wave at our fears from the distance and duck back down. We might cling to our suffering instead of facing the fear.
Suffering has always a reason. It is something that can keep us alive, something that can accommodate us in a weird way. We get used to it. What do you like about your suffering? If you are not willing to end it, you are might be not suffering ‘enough’?
Pain is necessary in order to find new solutions. If you are not happy with a situation and you suffer so much that you can’t handle the situation anymore you need to change something. Pain is a medium of transformation – if you are willing to break the barriers.
If you accept the challenge, if you deal with it you might emerge strong-minded and more self-aware from a negative experience.
It’s not about overcoming your fear. It’s about feeling it and transforming it into positive action.
Nobody Said It Was Easy
“Those things that hurt, instruct.”Benjamin Franklin
A therapist, your friends, books or even conversations with random strangers can light you the way. But you have to walk it yourself. The secret is to have patience and persistence. Of course you need to be strong and nobody said it is easy. Nope, life is difficult.
We can read many books. We can pray, trust and believe. But we must walk. We must greet our challenges, we must get to know our demons personally and grow together.
There is no shortcut to enlightenment. There are all these crossroads. We have to choose one. Even if we get lost at times – deep inside we know the way.
Like a monstrous burden anxiety suspends me from aliveness.
Sensory input turns into an impenetrable nebula. I can’t distinguish between me and the rest.
A painful transformation disrupts my being. My existence morphs into vacuum.
This time I don’t resist. I sit and breathe. There is only black. I stare into the nothingness.
Is this the beginning or the end?
A void is clearing my chest. The fated moment of surrender has arrived.
Something cracks with a bubbly sound. The next level is here. Subconsciousness ruptures into recognition. Presence reciprocates.
I thought I won’t make it. I thought opium would be the only tranquilizer for my perturbed brain.
But life has other plans. Effortlessly I’m peeling off the old layer. Experience updated its metaphysics.
Life had started again with a new sort of darkness.