Maybe Even This One

Dear Scott, A few months ago my daughter died of complications of AIDS. She suffered a great deal both spiritually and physically during her last illness. She knew she was dying and was so sad to leave her husband and children. I miss her so much, and feel heavy with her loss every day.

To me, the universe has often seemed mindless, heartless, random, and cold; a morass of changing energy that vomits us into existence and then sucks us back into its maw with no awareness of the suffering its relentless processes cause. How do you reach the conclusion that

Awareness is everywhere Truth is everywhere

Love is everywhere?

Ignorance is also everywhere; so are deception and hate. Nothing is good or bad. Love and hate are concepts that help us manipulate our physical environment as best we can to prolong our own survival. The universe gives equal time to Jesus and Hitler, to the Buddha and Charles Manson. It doesn’t seem to have the capacity to care.

I’m sorry for your sorrow. I know from my own experience how much it hurts to watch someone you love so deeply suffer so terribly. And then to lose them into the seeming finality of death. I know very well the heavy ache of that lead weight in the heart. If you are open, however, the intensity of your anguish can be the door to freedom. When we are so strongly and exclusively identified with not only our physical and mental sensations, but what we imagine to be our bodies, it may seem so very hard to notice that in clinging to our views and stories about ourselves, the world, life, death, and the universe, we are clinging to hell itself. Hell is familiar terrain, predictable and fortified by the collective opinions of many others. Misery loves company, but it is still hell, and it is still delusional.

The invitation of truth, that is, the process of clear observation without vested identity or interest and honest reflection without prior assumption, is to stop pretending we “know” anything. We don’t really, do we? It’s hip to be cynical – among scientists, intellectuals, adolescents, the media, and so many others, is it not? So we adopt variations on the theme: the universe should care, but clearly it doesn’t, and proceed to use that as a defense against life itself. But it doesn’t work, so maybe we try to whitewash the wretchedness of conventional cynicism with some version of New Age or positive thinking technique or another. But that doesn’t work either, because various kinds of pain, fear, frustration, and what we imagine to be “reality” keep on poking holes in it. So, for many, some kind of resignation or even nihilism sets in.

But the process of truth is much more demanding than that. It doesn’t settle for the pretense of dualistic arguments, of positive vs. negative, optimism vs. pessimism, good vs. bad, nor the numbing effects of apathy. If we are truly interested in what we are and how it is, we can’t assume anything. Our stories, optimistic or cynical, about ourselves, how we should be, and our stories about life, about the universe, and how it should be, are misleading and distracting, no matter how subtle. If we are interested in truth, we have to stop lying to ourselves.

If you stubbornly refuse to deceive yourself in even the slightest way, regardless of what anyone else in the world thinks, if you refuse to pretend you know anything about yourself or the universe, about life itself, then one sweet day, you will notice something very tender and delicate at the core of your being. It is where all affection and compassion come from, and if you stop resisting or blocking it with prior opinions or beliefs, negative or positive, it will reveal itself everywhere. It is not restricted to bodies, to any particular time or place, and when you discover it, you will realize that it’s always been there. If you are so bold and so honest and so courageous as to give yourself to it, completely, you will realize it is what you have been all along, and everything will make perfect sense. One sweet day… perhaps even this one, if you’re ready. It’s up to you.

-Your own Self-
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