Dancing in the Tao

Lowering the masks

Just read David’s post over at Raptitude, and sharing the comment I made there, here. Start with his thoughts (then mine will make more sense):

http://www.raptitude.com/2015/11/dont-worry-everybody-else-is-crazy-too/      images

Very insightful post!! More than just private though, I would say that we are 89% unknown to ourselves beneath the tip of that iceberg … and that, as social beings, we are far more context-dependent than we recognize or credential.

89%: (Playing with these numbers as toys to explore something we really can’t quantify :) The 1% we know as ourselves is really only comprised of ‘the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves.’ We collect these stories from a very small sample of our experiences, most often giving greater weight to the ones that are traumatic. Thus, ‘who-we-know-ourselves-to-be’ is a very skewed picture that gives rise to feelings of shame (because we must have gotten something wrong to have gotten traumatized in the first place) and vulnerability (not knowing what we got wrong, we’re at constant risk of getting traumatized again). What we need to be able to see, together, with and for each other, is exactly what David is pointing out here: This is our shared story, and we can help one another. When we begin to lower our masks with each other, revealing our shared vulnerability, the whole world changes. Literally. In an instant. Because the 89% of oursElves that we’re not aware of is comprised of vast potentials for intelligence and rescue and unity that we can’t activate by ourselves. Since this is a (direly necessary!) growth edge for us humans, there aren’t a lot of us yet who feel ready … because being vulnerable does run the risk of re-traumatization, and it takes no small amount of strength and trust to step out. But we can do this. We can re-cognize our shared story; we can come to see that we’re all vulnerable and traumatized and we need one another to heal ourselves and our world.

Because, context-dependent: We do not exist in isolation, as much as it can feel like we do at times. Who we experience ourselves to be in any moment depends on countless, perhaps infinite influences and connectivities of that unique moment, only the tiniest sliver of which we have any awareness of at all. In a very real and practical sense, we arise in response to the moment. So, in the current environment, where we’re all playing off each other’s masks, we exist in a fictional universe … everyone pretending to something they’re not … and we’re stuck ‘responding’ from mask to mask. We’re not condemned to this, though, it’s just what we’re ‘agreeing to do right now.’ In actuality, our potentials for true response-ability exceed our wildest fictions and myths and religious stories and sciences. When we drop our masks at last (and it’ll get contagious once we get started!), we can begin supporting one another in truly responding to the real universe with and for each other, and for this incredible living mystery we call Earth.

O, and I’m not at all suggesting everybody suddenly gets vulnerable with everybody … but that we deepen our closest relationships and begin building small groups of deeper relation, where we can discover and explore who we truly are.

Following Desire

Yesterday, I felt strong and clear. Today, after surviving another battering of thought/feeling waves that swept away both strength and clarity, I find I’m once again clear, but not as strong.

I feel like I’m out on a storming ocean in a small vessel. One moment, a great wall of water rises up, encircling me, closing in, and that’s what reality looks like: My imminent demise. Then, suddenly, lifted on a swell, I can see to the horizon in every direction; reality now looks vast and chartable, if only apparently calm in the distance. My best practice, my only practice at these stormy moments, is to keep myself in the boat, my hand on the tiller. After a lifetime of going where the current took me (asking no more of life, or of myself, than whatever showed up), I have a direction at last. It may prove a figment of imagination, but it’s a destination nonetheless – and it’s about time I tried to get somewhere.

I am following my heart’s desire. For better or for worse, I’m all in. I’m laughing as I write this, because there are no guarantees. In fact, if you’re laying down money the best odds, by far, are against me.  Yet, I persist. Despite a beguiling kaleidoscope of shifting thoughts and emotions about it all, I have a steady desire; and even though the object of my desire may remain forever out of my grasp, my dogged pursuit is calling forth the best of me, and I’m learning mad skills.

One of the most useful new skills: I’m learning to hold my thoughts and feelings more lightly in my mind. After some time of paying attention, I can see how changeable and insubstantial they are, arising and subsiding on their own tides, in response to whatever shows up around me, or perhaps what I ate most recently. I’ve found I can have back-to-back thoughts that completely oppose one another, cancel each other out; yet both are accompanied by supporting, corresponding emotions that lend to each opposing thought an apparent weight and truth. Which of this shifting phantasmagoria should I follow? Oops, too late. They’re both gone … replaced by a third, fourth, hundred-and-fifth, on and on. A kaleidoscope makes a lousy compass.

Desire is a slightly less faulty compass, both because it arises from a deeper place within us and because it endures the buffeting of thoughts and emotions. Whatever you may think or feel about your desire, it keeps coming back. But desire is an intensely problematic compass. First, as noted, there are no guarantees. To co-opt Lord Krishna’s words to Arjuna: You’re entitled to your desires, but not the fruits of your desires. Desire can focus and motivate us, but it makes no promises. We may never get the job, the person, the house, the dream … and, if you’re going to use desire as a compass, you have to accept this going in, or make your peace with it as quickly as you can. Otherwise, you suffer. Well, and this is the second point: you’re going to suffer anyway. As the Buddha said, The root of suffering is desire. And the greater your desire, the greater the suffering. No doubt. Best, probably, to move right along … if you can. Uncurl the fingers of your heart and release whatever it is you wanted back to Life.

But! But! But! you say. I know. Whatever you may think and feel about your desire, it can be a pesky, persistent thing. Let go though you might, there it is again. Like an adorable, aggravating puppy. So my goal, at present, is to keep the focusing, motivating force of my desire alive and leaping in my heart, while accepting that this is all I am entitled to. Wish me luck.


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