Sometimes Musings articles drop in whole cloth. This was not one of those times!
Sometimes there is a suggestion of a place to start and the thread of the narrative unfolds easily. This was not one of those times!
All that was offered this time was a verse that has been cycling in and out of awareness…
For your separation from God,
Is the hardest work
There have been many attempts to parse this verse into an article, but each sitting down to write has been thwarted by blankness. Attention scans awareness and there are no words, just a mental construction that isn’t sufficiently alive to unfold into a paragraph. And so the last day of the month arrives without an article in sight.
One sits hopefully, staring at a blank page and a blinking cursor, trusting that something will happen. And at around 5.00 p.m. on a Saturday afternoon, it does. Fingers begin to tap out the process of feeling summoned by a verse but stymied by blankness. As the words appear on the page, a glimmer of insight follows: Don’t write about the verse. The verse is a finger pointing to the moon. Follow the finger. Perhaps, this Musings can be a report on a treasure hunt, a documentation of the breadcrumbs along the path of revelation. Just focus on the next clue….
A confession at this point: This article has been shaped for coherence, but it does reflect the process of its unfolding. A jumble of quotes surfaced as a result of a random search. This Musings evolved from jotting down what each quote suggested within the context of the original verse.
Our roads and journeys of love are always lived through beautiful humiliations, through disappointments, and through forms of imprisonment: of our own or another's strange behavior or simply subject to the seasonality of the world.
— David Whyte
The longing to experience Unconditional Love drives us to seek relationship. We’re deeply conditioned to believe that the love of the idealized “other” will somehow fill an existential void within. But the other, however idealized and loved, is still other. We look to our loved ones for an experience of union through a constancy of affection, reflection, understanding and compassion. On occasion, we experience the perfect fulfillment of our longings, but more often than not interaction with another is a collision of differences rather than a reinforcement of one-ness. These experiences of disconnection often leave us wondering whether it is possible to feel completely loved, whether the reason we don’t feel loved is because we’re unlovable, whether the purity of love deeply felt can ever be expressed through language and action, without distortion.
Everything that irritates us about others can lead us to an understanding of ourselves.
— Carl Jung
The you who you think you are does not exist.
— Alan Watts
Love is the refusal to separate, to make distinctions.
— Nisargadutta Maharaj
Friction always exists at interfaces. When we attempt to relate to the “other,” and experience the disconnect of dissonance, it is easy to misinterpret the turbulence of impact and recoil as a failure of loving.
The barrier to connection in a difficult interaction isn’t between “me and other” as we’re led to believe. The barrier is a signal that we are disconnected from our authentic being and not attending to the love that we are. The movement to feeling whole, complete and one-with is a movement into Presence. It’s a shift in interiority, from connecting via the personality to calibrating to our own heart wisdom. From center, it is possible to encounter conditioning in another human being, but the collision can be weathered in the compassion that comprehends the anguish of being disconnected from Being.
In every interaction that produces suffering, we can see an aspect or edge of “me.” The shape of “what I am not” is thrown into sharp relief when the “other” triggers “my” conditioning. In this way, every encounter that ruptures the continuity of one-ness of Center serves as a call to redirect the attention to the heart, to move back into the Love that doesn’t make distinctions.
Marriage is not a simple love affair, it’s an ordeal, and the ordeal is the sacrifice of ego to a relationship in which two have become one.
— Joseph Campbell
You are awareness. Awareness is another name for you. Since you are awareness there is no need to attain or cultivate it. All that you have to do is to give up being aware of other things, that is, of the not-Self. If one gives up being aware of them then pure awareness alone remains, and that is the Self.
— Ramana Maharshi
Marriage as defined by the above quotes is an accurate metaphor for the spiritual journey. In the intensity of the crucible of awakening, the dualistic orientation of separation yields to the wholeness of non-separation. The personality structures forged to survive childhood, which fractured one-ness into two—me and you, us and them, ego and Life—are re-contextualized into an All-ness within which multiplicity of form is a manifestation of the same one-ness. Through surrender of the ego, we arrive at the mystical union we’ve been seeking with the other, through the realization that we are what we seek.
Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.
— Thomas Merton
The object of your practice should first of all be yourself. Your love for the other, your ability to love another person, depends on your ability to love yourself.
— Thich Nhat Hanh
In this practice, we are encouraged to develop a Recording and Listening practice. The companionship of the Mentor is instrumental in dissolving the illusion of “separation from God.” In the constancy of the Mentor’s affection, we find the perfect communion we longed for with the “other.” Finding ourselves to be both lovable and beloved dissolves the ego identification that is self-hating and prepares us for the movement of coming face to face with, and recognizing ourselves as, That Thou Art.
And so to come back to the verse that began this exploration…. Perhaps there was nothing to say about it since what needed to be said is already so beautifully articulated. Here are the Guide’s words from Trying to Be Human:
It is very hard to give up the belief that at the end of the rainbow there will be somebody with their arms open for us.
At the end of the rainbow there will be somebody—somebody you never imagined. The person at the end of the rainbow is yourself, and the experience you seek exists within your own heart and nowhere else. What you seek is the deepest part of yourself, which you have felt separate from and longed for and will finally come home to. It is what causes you to seek the truth and peace and love that in your heart you have always known is possible.
It is not my experience that in spiritual practice we give up ourselves. It is a process of finding ourselves. Not the small, fearful, isolated, constricted mass of conditioned suffering—it is true that we are required to give that up. But it is replaced by who you really are, your true nature, which is freedom and bliss and joy.
It is an incredibly good trade.