Another title I thought of for this post was:
The 'heavy' consequences of REALLY seeing impermanence. & Loss: Even the prettiest garden contains the shadow of death.
This is about mustering the courage to embark on hoped-for dreams when your perception of impermanence improves so that you 'feel' (?) 'all seasons in one day', (for want of a better word). Basically 'feeling', the beginning, middle and end from the off! Bleh! Not nice! Very sad! It calls for a whole new level of dealing with loss! Very difficult to explain. More like just an sustained knowledge of the heaviness that exists 'down the road'. The other thing that is difficult, is staying joyful about life, having a better view of impermanence, ie the eventual end of all things. Not easy! Yeh, I know it sounds a bit weird, but I'll explain it better as I go along..
What's the gateway to emotional healing? (For me anyhow)
Being 'open' to (REALLY painful) disappointment.
Ruin, death, endings, failure, impermanence, losing the love you have always wanted or craved. Knowing there will be an end to ALL things you cherish. BEING OK WITH THAT. BEING WILLING TO FEEL, WHAT THAT WILL FEEL LIKE, WHEN THAT ENDING COMES AROUND. Knowing you will eventually encounter this thing, even under the most IDEAL circumstances.
'Old age, sickness and death' as they say in the Buddhist monasteries..
Not deciding to hate the world or be bitter because THERE WILL BE AN END.
This is what the Buddhists call the 'challenge of the human realm'. This is something I am 'working' on at the moment.
I don't know why my soul craves infinite security. Why I want to hold on to 'good things' forever. Its crazy! Nothing lasts.
I hardly dare hope or dream or want, because I can 'see' the impermanence of ALL that I want. Its like I can see 'all seasons in one day' or something. It's heavy. But its real.
Its like when you see those fast forward pictures of a bowl of fruit. There is a beginning, a middle and an end. I like seeing the bowl of fruit when it is plump and ripe. I feel a bit sad when it is all grey mush. But that is how life is. I accept it, but I do not like it.
I have a background of death and loss, so I have always found it easy to anticipate those things, but this is different. The only way I can describe it as 'all seasons in one day' or something. It's only something that has developed in the last 2 years or so. Its REALLY heavy! But I'm glad I can 'see' it, whatever that means. I would describe it as a feeling more than anything. I have no desire to know exactly when things will happen. This is more a general overview of impermanence, experienced in a feeling way.
The practical reality is that I suppose I am coming to terms for the first time, not with the fear of death and loss, because that's an old 'tape', but of the NORMAL EVENTUAL LOSS OF ALL THINGS, good and bad, even in the VERY BEST HOPED FOR CIRCUMSTANCES.
In the past I would think of loss and endings as something that happened 'when things went WRONG'. Now things are going 'right' for me, and it has just dawned on me that ENDINGS WILL STILL OCCUR, even though everything is 'right' and I could ask for nothing more'. It's weird.
Before, when there was crisis after crisis, I 'dreamed' that a time would come when I would 'reach dry land', find a 'safe place', where I would be safe from the ravages of painful or cruel circumstances. I never knew that the pain of loss WOULD STILL HAPPEN, in fact it would feel WORSE, because you would TRULY be losing something of GREAT value, should my life and the circumstances change for the better.
It REALLY hurts when you have something valuable and you KNOW the limits of being human. That you will invariably do things you think are INCREDIBLY STUPID (in hindsight of course!) That you will hurt the ones you love, that you will fail MANY people, who you could have helped. That there will be SO MANY FLAWS AND MISTAKES that you CANNOT TAKE BACK, and that hurt other people.
Personally, I don't mind hurting people that were never very nice to begin with!, but I HATE that I cannot prevent myself from doing things that hurt people I admire.
I know there will come a time, when I can wear this 'truth' joyfully and happily 'like a loose garment', because I have seen it done by accomplished monastics. And I have 'digested big chunks of truth about myself' on MANY occasions already. Like when I first realized I was an alcoholic! I didn't like that much either at first!
This is all just about coming to terms with the unflattering limits of being a TERRIBLY FALLIBLE human, and the eventual loss of even the most wonderful and ideal circumstances. Like I say, I've seen this done by wiser people than myself, so I know it is possible. But it is an UNCOMFORTABLE TRUTH. Its like breaking in a new pair of shoes, Eventually, the shoes will feel ok.
There is a grieving process that occurs when you 'see' reality and are forced to let go of an old 'fantasy'. It breaks your heart. And I have NO intention of being numb, so I will feel EVERYTHING.
My NEW 'truth' is:
Even when you have the most wonderful life, loss and decay ARE PART OF THAT PICTURE. So are the REAL hurts you inflict, knowingly or unknowingly, along the way. There is NOTHING you can do about this to make it 'less'. It will hurt. A LOT. When the time comes and the truth is revealed to you.
Choosing to enter into a 'good' life RESPONSIBLY, means ACCEPTING that and not 'taking it personally' or blaming or hating life for having 'failed' you when these things DO occur. There IS no 'ideal' set of circumstances that will protect you from this loss.
My 'punctured fantasy' is:
'If something really great came along. It would last forever, because it would be so 'good', it would be 'nice'. Not 'real'.
There would be less pain, because it 'worked' so well. Grief and loss, would be like an 'old chapter' you had left behind. It would be a safe refuge.'
The reason I need to learn this is:
Having experienced dealing with death, threat of death, and painful rejections growing up, I am VERY frightened of ANOTHER 'bereavement' or loss. My 'protection' is to stay emotionally 'at arms length' because I fear I will not 'survive' ANOTHER loss. It will be 'the straw that breaks the camels back'. Loss feels (for me) like annihilation. So I 'stay out'. Uninvolved.
Unfortunately I cannot FULLY participate in life if I am afraid to risk the disappointment of wanting something more than ANYTHING and at some point later losing that thing.
So in order to FULLY FUNCTION emotionally, I have to accept the reality of loss and risk the pain of disappointment. Even though it is VERY !!!! UNCOMFORTABLE. (That's why the monks say one of the most VALUABLE things you can develop in your practice is PATIENT ENDURANCE.)
The solution? (in terms of practical action)
I need to not be afraid to want something with all my heart, knowing I may NEVER 'have' it.
I need to not 'hold back' for fear of being hurt or disappointed.
I need to not be afraid of the feelings that accompany eventual loss of ALL things.
I need to resist the urge to protect myself emotionally with a wall of 'impartiality' or 'reasonableness'
I need to not hide behind 'serenity' as a way of disguising emotional un-involvement.
I need to not remain unaffected, indifferent or cut off from my feelings and call it being 'accepting' or 'serene'.
I need to understand that loss has a NATURAL and RIGHTFUL place in the very healthiest and best possible lives. And that the grieving process is NOT LESS heartbreaking because it is is experienced in a wonderful set of circumstances. I CANNOT realistically 'escape' this feeling, even when I do a LOT right.
I need to stop equating loss with 'failure', and a 'sick' life. Loss belongs to EVERY walk of life. The sick, and the incredibly healthy.
I need to not be afraid of hoping, and having those hopes dashed. I have to be willing to endure the pain of having my hopes crushed.
In the buddhist wheel of life, this is called 'finding your REAL refuge. There is NO refuge in worldly things. All is impermanent. The only permanence is in what sumedho calls the 'deathless realm'. The gates to the deathless'.
The 'answer' is non attachment to worldly things and taking refuge in 'the deathless'. I kind of thought I was doing that already, but the more I cherish my life, the more tough this reality becomes. It tears at my heartstrings, but I think this is healthy. To care for the things in your life and mourn their passing.
Basically loss IS A PART OF LIFE. It is not just something that happens when you are on a path of self destruction using alcohol and negative thinking. It is JUST AS REAL and has a RIGHTFUL PLACE in even the most blissful of circumstances. Even the prettiest garden holds the shadow of death. That is how it is supposed to be. This is what I am coming to terms with now.
Here Is a passage that I have been thinking about a lot lately, which I think sums up what I think I am in the process of learning. Its from a passage about the Buddhist wheel of life' on this webpage
Characterized by:- Desire; Freedom of choice; Dissatisfaction.
"I don't want this, 1 want that".
In the Human Realm there is the constant attempt to maximise pleasure and minimise pain. But we find that no pleasure can be made permanent, and the unpleasant cannot always be avoided. We vacillate between the four pairs of opposites - gain & loss, fame & disgrace, praise & ridicule, elation & sorrow. This vacillation can lead to frustration which in turn may raise the question, "What is there that will truly satisfy?" It is this which motivates the religious quest. And so this realm is considered to be the best one for religious training. The Buddha in this Realm appears as a Monk to show beings the possibility of the religious path, the way of non-attachment.
Consider: Pursuit of the pleasurable, avoidance of the unpleasant; The ups and downs of our ordinary daily lives; No sooner is the desired thing gained than it begins to be scorned; The life of the monk;
Anyway I post this because I like finding identification, and I think It is a useful picture to those that are planning on doing some heavy step 11 practice later on, because It gives you an idea of the emotional condition one can find oneself in at a later stage in recovery, WHEN YOU ARE REMAINING 'OPEN' TO NEW AND UNCOMPROMISING TRUTHS. We are ALL a work in progress. This particular 'lesson' is a very uncomfortable one for ME because of my background of loss and disappointment. We all have slightly different backgrounds so this may not apply to you at all. But I just thought I'd put it out there in case anyone sees something they didn't already see.
Also I could never really explain this properly in a meeting, and I benefit from explaining my inner processes to others. This blog is a better platform for sharing this type of information than a meeting. I LOVE explaining my 'inner work' to others as it helps me clarify what I am learning. It ALL helps!
By the way if you are new, this 'heavy' stuff is OK. It will not make me drink because I choose to stay in FIT SPIRITUAL CONDITION. So do not be concerned, or think I cannot handle this. I CAN. It's just it's an uncomfortable !! stage of growth. That's all. Like discovering you are an alcoholic, but different.
Ok That's it! Hey, now you know why I NEED to stay in good humor! This is just one of many 'themes' I am 'processing' at the moment. I have plenty others! Hahaaa. Jeez. If you didn't know me you would think I was a miserable cow! I can assure you I am not!. Right I'm off. Have a FABULOUS weekend! The weather is truly GLORIOUS over here!
- An Irish Friend of Bill
- I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.
Saturday, March 03, 2007
REALLY accepting that there is NO immunity to profound and heartbreaking LOSS, even when everything is 'right'.
Posted by An Irish Friend of Bill
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I am so self centered! I'm sure this post was for me...thank you. I will refer to it many times on my path.
One of my most favorite sayings is from Buddah....Life is suffering! That about sums it up in a nutshell. We were meant to experience pain so that we may know joy. This is a great post, thanks for sharing!
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