…and so the battle between darkness and light ensued. Having been somewhat dumbstruck by my previous experience on The Path, I didn’t write again for almost a week. How curious! I seem to stumble across a way to access quite powerful insights, in a way that is more effortless and enjoyable than ever, and I suddenly appear to be resisting it with all my might. In fact, I got so busy taking care of everything and everyone else that two days later I hit a wall of extreme exhaustion. I wasn’t ill. I wasn’t sad. I was exhausted.
The more people asked for help the more I became a jittery mess. I couldn’t operate the computer. I daren’t drive. I couldn’t even prepare a meal. With each request I became increasingly hot and itchy and irritated (simmering rage trying to surface, physically, as itchy skin) The source of my rising anger, it seems, was the overwhelm I felt about being asked to help when I had nothing left to give, and the heat the guilt I felt at having to say no. It felt shamefully apparent at that point that I was the one needing help.
By the following morning it was clear I needed to be quiet and I needed to be still and so I lay on the sofa and barely moved for the next twelve hours. At times I considered watching television to entertain myself, but sensed only more irritation. Occasionally I thought about having a snack, but knew nothing would satiate me. I watched as guilty thoughts drifted in and out of my mind regarding all the jobs that were not getting done. The idea of writing - ordinarily a source of joy - simply added to the overwhelm. As I lay there I noticed tension in my shoulders, fists and jaw arise alongside the thoughts. Each time I let it all go with a long, deep breath and a return to stillness.
Who needs a Hollywood blockbuster movie when so much drama prevails within!
And so, the first part of this blog began with the observation that the more intensely I experience light and love the more present darkness and fear seem to be. It may have felt like the darkness was out there, a fearsome opponent (as the movies, a lifetime of conditioning, and the powers that govern us would have us believe), but the truth is it’s all within. We’re not up against life - we’re up against ourselves. Our humanness. The inner battle taking place between our fear and our power is the nature of the human experience - dual-ity. It is this contrast, the extremes, the full spectrum of life experience that fuels our growth, our awareness. Urging us to remember that what is lovingly holding this dualistic experience, is Wholeness, and what we are is Divine. Perhaps, then, it’s not so much about conquering our fear as listening to its message. What it has to teach us about ourselves. How, in that moment, we are allowing fear to block a more joyful experience. It seems it’s not about resisting, avoiding or pushing away fear, but befriending it. Gently, slowly, one fear at a time. Since what is welcomed in no longer has any power over us.
It reminds me of the eleventh century Tibetan Buddhist, Milarepa, an incredibly stubborn and determined man who lived alone in caves for years on end. The story goes, he returned one day to his cave having collected some firewood only to find it filled with demons. They were reading his books, cooking his food, and sleeping in his bed. They had completely taken over. He knew the teaching of nonduality between self and other but he couldn't figure out how to get these guys out of his cave. Even though he had a sense they were a projection of his own mind, the unwanted parts of himself. Whatever method he tried, nothing happened. They wouldn't budge! He got angry, they laughed. Exhausted, he finally he gave up and just sat on the floor saying I'm not going away and it looks like you're not either, so let's just live here together. At which point, all the demons left except for one particularly vicious one. Milarepa didn't know what to do but surrender. Putting his head in the mouth of the demon he said just eat me up if you want to. With that, the final demon left. The moral of the story being: when resistance is gone, so are the demons.
To be continued...
Trained in a depth, buddhist-based psychotherapy, using everyday outer world experiences to develop inner wisdom, one day at a time.