Faith

March 16, 2017

“The gladness in your heart won’t catch you when you fall. It makes for an inspiring day, a beautiful day, but it sleeps at night and in the dark you must find something else to rely upon. The gladness in your heart is made of sunshine; it is made of things easy and free, made of all the small gladnesses the world offers you, made of the sunniness and the brightness of life, made in the day. And it is not that that joy has fled you when night comes and the pain sets in, it’s not that it is gone; but it is resting awhile, latent, in its potential, withdrawn into the quiet recesses of your open heart. That kind of gladness is not a crutch, not an aid able to see you through your difficult moments; it is not meant to be wisdom, it is not meant to buoy you through the pain. And so, when you are in pain, when it is dark all around you, do not ask, “Where has my joy gone? Why am I without my gladness?” Ask instead, “What is here now? What will see me through this place? What is it that visits me when I am so low and the world so bleak?” Certainly your inner guidance is there, its voice like all the patience you can’t muster for yourself, its kindness the kindness of things already understood. But you have, too, your own resources, those firm places inside yourself that cradle you when you cannot stand on your own. And these are not places of wisdom, or understanding, for, in that pain, in that darkness, confusion is your natural state. And they are not places of soothing reassurance, some way you might tell yourself that all is well, because it is very clear to you that it is not. And so, what gives firmness to your own self-support? What enables you to hold your own hand through the dark night? It is courage, sometimes, that special aspect of will that enables us to persevere because we are braver than we think we are. But I would say that the ground, the very foundation of your own ability to cradle yourself in such dark and painful times is faith, that it is faith that gives resolve to your own self-support, faith that carries you and that loves you as yourself in a way that only that can. Faith is the way you say to yourself that things are not all right and that they do not need to be, that pain is here and it is consuming you and you do not need to be preserved. Faith holds so firm to the notion of universal harmlessness that there is no chaos, no confusion, no catastrophe and no pain which can ever really hurt you, ever damage you in any meaningful way at all. And, in faith, you can be held in this notion yourself, cradled in this very understanding, alive on the exquisite edge of this vulnerability and open to all the possibilities that vulnerability brings. Faith is the firmness in your own mind which makes you sane when you want to be otherwise, and it is the sweet depth of certainty where everything else has none at all. And it is yours if you will have it. It is not the responsibility of your guidance to lend it to you, not the prerogative of your teachers or guides to inspire it in you; it is yours and yours alone—your choice and your blessing. Go forth in faith, and whether or not you have gladness, you are held aloft, you are cradled, you are well. Go forth in faith and there is nothing you cannot bear. Nothing that has been and nothing that will ever be can disturb or destroy you. Have faith and you have your sanity back, you have your touchstone, you have your ground. Have faith and you have everything you need.”

Shadows

September 24, 2015

“The long shadows that follow you mark only the passage of time. These are not haunts come to find you, not your enemies stalking you, not the judgment sent to collect its due. These shadows that seem always to be at your heels are only the effect of the light as it passes through its season, as it shines all around you but cannot reach that sliver of the past that you yourself are blocking. These shadows are nothing but the intersection of time and light. If you were not there, there would be no shadow at all; and if there were no time, the light would not have an angle, a position, it would be everywhere all at once. And so, form and time combine to make us feel haunted, and that which seems ever behind us, ever obscured as we struggle towards the sun—that seems to us a burden and a danger, a way the past clings to us, even a past we can but so dimly recall. It is the nature of these things that they are dim and half-hidden, but it needn’t be the case that they are frightening. You cannot face your shadow head-on like a confrontation, like a battle; it cannot be won that way. You must allow yourself to feel that there is a darkness, an uncertainty at your back, and you must will that vulnerable, blind side of you open to allow the darkness its entrance. You cannot fortify yourself against that which is only a projection of yourself; you must let it come into you so there is not so much difference anymore between the lit world that you set your eyes on and the shadow behind you that you never see. And you may notice, when you stop steeling yourself against your own shadow, that the light is, in fact, everywhere, that the apparency of light-less-ness is just like the apparency of time itself—an illusion that creates other illusions when it is believed. We are not really haunted except by our own projections which, when cast in time and space, seem very dangerous indeed. But, in truth, we are only light ourselves, and when light itself makes a shadow, the shadow must be lit as well.”

Shadow

January 27, 2014

“…It is the sun that creates your shadow.  It is the pure light of everything aligned with the simple fact of form that shows itself as shadow, and we become from the one pure light a thing that can be both light and dark, both this and that, the miracle of God made manifest as the many even inside the single one that is you yourself….”

This metaphor opened the day at the Demystifying Your Shadow retreat in Ojai last weekend, and I was moved both by its clarity and its implicit forgiveness.  Later in the talk, there was this further encouragement to live, truly, in our own uncompromised wholeness:

“…We long to be what we imagine holiness to be like, but in that longing, if we can be very honest with ourselves, is the seed of the understanding that we are all things—we are death and we are growth, we are hatred and we are love, we are being and we are not.  We must become all that we are latently, all that resides in us in that seed form, and we must long ever deeper for that true, full becoming that forgets and denies no aspect of ourselves, that avoids and resists nothing that we find within us.  We have shadow because we have light.  We have shadow because we have form.  That is our perfect, holy constitution…”