Days when the lightness in our heart can lift us to the skies
Days when it’s so heavy that the weight threatens to sink us to the core of the earth where we’d gladly lose ourselves in that molten hell
Days when the sun shines and lights our way
Days when the sunshine hurts our eyes and makes us wish we were invisible
Days of love and joy
Days of suffering and pain
We have very little control over the events of our days and sometimes simple things can trigger either incredible happiness or intense sorrow.
What we can control is how we deal with those events. The more aware I am of this and the more I practice mindfulness and meditation the more awake I become and the more better my days are. But its not a cure, it’s a practice. A practice that never ends.
I hope you have a more better day too but if this turns out to be one of “those” days then remember; we all have them. They pass.
I often talk about “Now” as being the only time we ever have without really addressing the bigger question: How much time do we really have?
That question can be answered in two ways:
Our true Self, the consciousness that resides within these temporary vessels, comes from the Source and returns to it after our time in this form is complete and while whatever happens after that is open for debate it is seldom argued that the Source, The Universe, God, whatever name you choose to call it, is timeless. Infinite. So we too are also infinite.
At least for a time.
Yet, it can not be denied that we, here, now, in our physical form, live in a space of linear time. We are born. We exist for a while. We return to the infinite. Time exists only in that brief existence between birth and death and the time we have is incredibly short.
While in this form we experience a physical reality. We touch, taste, see, smell, think, feel. We age. We laugh. We cry. We love. We experience pain and joy and suffering and gain and loss and, eventually, ultimately, we experience death.
When I look at myself in the mirror I can see the passage of time. The laugh lines and crows feet. The greying. The scars that serve as reminders of who I have been and the things I have done. The man I am becoming day by day. Minute by minute. Second by second.
That man I see is no more “Me” than the boy I saw at ten exploring the world. Or the young man on his own in his teens and twenties finding his way, losing himself, struggling to become. Or the self critical man in his thirties hardened by experience. Or the finally awakened man in his forties.
When I close my eyes I can see that I am all of those previous versions of myself.
And none of them.
I am more, and I am made more by my experiences. All of them.
Like I said, however, this time is short. Too short. Too short to experience all the things I want to experience. Too short to “get over” the negative things that have happened. Too short to learn all the things I want to learn. To laugh as much as I want.
It is long enough to experience amazing things. To learn from all my experiences. To laugh joyfully. To love deeply.
But only if I keep my intentions alive and maintain a balance.
I will never laugh enough if I don’t seek out the company of those who bring me joy or do the things that make me happy. I will never learn enough if I am not constantly aware of how limited my time here is and how important it is to always be learning. I will never love deep enough if I keep the people I love at arms length or withdraw or set myself to fail or if I never truly love myself.
The balance is found in how I live and the best use of my time here, Now, is to live as fully and fearlessly as I can.
Today is the Autumn Equinox. Day and night are of equal length for a few days and then the days will become shorter.
It is the time of harvest. When we reap what we have sown and labored so hard to produce. It is a time of harmony and balance. When everything is exactly as it is supposed to be.
Seeing that balance isn’t always easy so I’m going to refer to the Oxford Dictionary to help:
bal·ance [ˈbaləns] NOUN
1. an even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain
upright and steady:
"slipping in the mud but keeping their balance" ·
synonyms: stability · equilibrium · steadiness · footing
I appreciate the example they provide, “slipping in the mud but keeping their balance”. I can relate to that. It defines balance as tenuous yet firm. Precarious and cautionary but upright and steady.
Balance doesn’t mean sure footed. In fact, I am most likely to be seeking better footing when balance is even, but slip and slide aside, I remain upright.
Tonight I celebrate that balance and while I do it while physically alone, I do it forging ahead with plans to join my Beloved.
The past and future are even tonight and beginning tomorrow the days grow shorter and each shortened day brings me closer to her.
Whether you call this day Mabon, The Second Harvest, Wine Harvest, Feast of Avalon, Winter Finding, or, my personal favorite, Cornucopia, I wish that this Autumn Equinox finds you in harmony and balance with all that you do and that your own harvest is as rich as my own.
after a lifetime of drifting
on this empty sea
carried by winds
past welcoming shores
and island oasis
where the promise of life
this tiny tattered raft
cursed home for far too long
tossed on waves
of my own making
that crash and pound
threatening to upset
the tenuous balance
of need and desire
by faith in a wisdom
greater than my own
now settles to calmer seas
fanned by a wind
of Divine intervention
to keep steady course
by tenacious degrees
to beach upon the paradisaical coast
of an island named
where the oceans turbulent breath
settles to an intimate whisper
the waves dance tenderly
on halcyon shores
lit by fires of passion
and the sun shimmers
on rippled depths
teaming with life
I set my foot on stable ground
the path revealed in a touch
advance to a berth
with solid foundations
of care and compassion
from the tempest of my past
I enter with calm chaos
this new home
by the hearth
in the glow of Eros
true love stands
I step into her embrace
my mind is set to ease
my soul finds connection
my heart beats again
and I know
“Craving and desire are the cause of all unhappiness.”
– Gautama Buddha
The Buddha taught us that desire is one of the root causes of suffering.
Yet the universe seems to have designed us for exactly that purpose with the intention of forcing us to alleviate or even eliminate the suffering only through connections to, and service of, others.
I understand the concept of desire being the root of suffering, but I am not convinced that the suffering caused by desire—at least when it comes to love—is always an unwanted thing.
Some time ago, I fell in love with someone I had known as a friend for five years prior. One day, after several weeks of very intense and intimate conversations, our relationship changed, those magic words were spoken, and I once again found myself in that unhappy state of desire.
It came with all the trimming; self-doubt, self-pity, fear, you name it. A suffering so pure that the Buddha himself might have pointed at me and said, “There, you see? That is what desire will get you.” As he shrugged his shoulders and strolled off to meditate under his bodhi tree.
The woman who professed her love to me, and captured a permanent place in my heart and soul, is the epitome of everything that I find most attractive in a woman—physically, intellectually, and spiritually. This is not an opinion based on that rosy view of fresh love which blinds, distorts, and softens, I have always felt this way about her.
I desired this woman in ways I am unable to describe; I still do, but we can not be together. Not now. Maybe not ever. This does not mean I love her any less.
There are many good reasons why we cannot be together, and maybe I will talk about them sometime, but for now, I just want to share that my desire caused considerable pain and suffering.
Yet, I chose to embrace that desire, not of her, or that which cannot be, but my desire to be loved by her, which I have not felt in many years, because something else came along with it that made me question everything I had learned not only about desire but about love as well.
I was loving deeper, truer, and more fully than I had ever loved before. Words that I had used with what I thought was full understanding, words like “unconditional” and “non-attachment,” took on new meaning. Meaning so clear and expansive that it made my prior understanding—an understanding gained through years of study and introspection and experience—like that of an infant.
I needed to know why, so I began the process of understanding with this one simple question: Is the desire to be loved a bad thing?
According to Llewelyn Vaughan-Lee of The Golden Sufi Center, the answer to that question is no. The Sufi mystic says that the feminine quality of desire, a part of Self that is largely ignored in our society, creates an imbalance both in Self and in society.
“Like everything that is created, love has a dual nature, positive and negative, masculine and feminine. The masculine side of love is “I love you.” Love’s feminine quality is, “I am waiting for you; I am longing for you.” For the mystic it is the feminine side of love, the longing, the cup waiting to be filled, that takes us back to God. Longing is a highly dynamic state and yet at the same time, it is a state of receptivity. Because our culture has for so long rejected the feminine we have lost touch with the potency of longing. Many people feel this pain of the heart and do not know its value; they do not know that it is their innermost connection to love.” ~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee
We are all familiar with the concept of yin and yang, those opposing parts of Self, masculine and feminine, that make us whole. When viewed in this way, yin represents the desire to be loved, while yang represents the action to love. Two halves of a whole. One cannot exist without the other—not fully.
To love I must also desire to be loved because desire is the driving force behind loving, and to be loved I must also know how to love.
It can be summed up in the words of Ibn ‘Arabi, who said, “Oh Lord, nourish me not with love but with the desire for love.”
To which I might add: Sustain me with love but nourish me with desire.
The Buddha is right, desire is causing me suffering, but it has also opened my heart, my mind, and my eyes to the fact that desire can be a path to a higher love.
Does this knowledge somehow diminish the suffering? No. In fact, the pain is made all the more severe by my understanding—but is worth every iota because of what it teaches me, and the depth of love which it has amplified and released.
So I surrender to love and to the universe who designed us this way and I accept the pain of desire because through that desire I have learned to love more fully.
It does raise another question, however: What happens if that desire is fulfilled?
Perhaps Rumi already knew the answer to this question when he said,