February 2008 Archives

On trust, love and vulnerability

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During this journey I have been on with Sadananda and his love for another woman, I have had to delve deeply into the essence of trust. What is the relationship between trust, love and vulnerability?

There is the naïveté of trust, the childlike belief that this specific person will never harm us, never cause us pain.  A trust like this ignores the basic reality of anitya, anatta and dukha—every compounded entity is impermanent, inherently empty of true existence, and will eventually give rise to pain simply by changing.  If in no other way, the ones will love will one day die and leave us bereft.

Then there is the trust we place in our dream or fantasy of happily ever after. This fantasy is a powerful imagination that our needs for love, safety, connection, security, stability, and so on can and will be met only in this specific way, with this specific person. We narrow our sense of true vision into the tunnel-vision of this fantasy and are devastated when our dream turns out to be an illusion. In my work as an Ayurvedic practitioner and spiritual guide, I have seen the immense disappointment people suffer when their dream of family falls apart.

Once our naïveté of trust is shipwrecked on the rocks of emptiness and impermanence, once the dream of happily ever after reveals itself as a nightmare, we can easily swing into distrust and self-protection. We decide to trust only ourselves and seek ways to close the chinks in our armour to make ourselves invulnerable. Yet at this point we become our own worst enemies because we deny our need for connection. We are so determined not to let others cause us misery that we become the authors of our own misery and isolation.  Simon and Garfunkel sum this one up:

“If I never loved I never would have cried…
I am a rock,
I am an island.
And a rock feels no pain;
And an island never cries.”

 

In the depth of my own experience of pain, loss and immense disappointment, a light of what is fundamentally trustworthy and true shines in the darkness. That light is bodhichitta—awakened heart. Bodhichitta shows me that true love is not a contract, not a deal and not a bargain. It is not about, “I love you so you have to love me,”or “I do these things for you, you have to keep your side of the bargain.”  True love is not a peace treaty, and does not depend upon our loved one’s ability not to cause us pain. True love is absolutely unconditional and is not involved in any way with treaties or contracts. Trust arises in me today as trust in my own basis goodness and trust in the basic goodness of those I love. Although their actions may give rise to a transitory experience of pain, basic goodness resides within them as an urge for my welfare and the welfare of all beings. Placing my trust in this deeper level, the Buddha nature level, I remain open and vulnerable. I am not a rock or an island; I am a tender, fully alive human heart. To love is to be vulnerable. Choosing tenderness, choosing vulnerability, I choose to live and to love. The beauty of this love which has shed naïveté and illusions is incomparable. Instead of saying, “I love you, so you aren’t allowed to hurt me,”   I can truly say, “Having been hurt by your actions, I finally know what it is to love you unconditionally. Thank you for this gift I would never have received without your actions and the sorrow they generated.” 

 

Here’s a doha I wrote that catches some of this flavour.

 

On the thin ice of concepts

 I walked the shining lake of knowledge.

Summer came, melting the ice.

I drowned

And walk on water.

Freeedom from Change

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One of the names of Divine Mother in Lalita Sahasranama is “om nirvikaryai namaha: salutations to Her who is the unchanging basis of all change.” It appears that at this time in life I am being called upon to actualise this aspect of Ma’s potency.

The more profound the inner stillness in which I reside, the more rapidly seem to fly the changes all around. In terms of the major life changes, the features of this transition are ever shifting and changing in themselves. And change is in the air at the ashram too. Yesterday alone, a resident who was due to move in on the first of this month suddenly decided not to move in after all…a resident who was slated to move out decided he couldn’t bear to leave… and the ever supportive Rivkah, ashram manager and personal assistant to Ma, handed in her resignation in order to focus on her massage practice. The illusion of permanence has, it seems, no breathing space here at Alandi Ashram.

Last week in Ayurvedic Fundamentals class we were studying Shad Darshan (Philosopy). As I read from the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali to the students, I came to sutra 16 in the first chapter. “Supreme freedom is that complete liberation from the world of change which comes from knowing the unbounded Self.”  Words read before, intellectually known before, pondered before suddenly took the form of a thunderbolt launching from the page and striking me in the heart. “O my God,” I gasped, “this is it! This is the truth! I am actually going through this right now…but I didn’t have the words.”

 Indeed, this is the true, absolute brahmacharya, this is the genuine sannyas, to renounce the world of change effortlessly and spontaneously, through knowing the unbounded One without a second. I feel and know the human woman within my being and give voice to her feelings, concerns and vulnerabilities, yet she is no longer I, because the focus of being has shifted to paramatman, the Supreme Self.  And, yes, it is bewildering at times to be on the journey to changeless being, because from one perspective this can appear to be a massive change. I am no longer the one I thought I was. om nirvikaryai namaha!

 

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