Synopsis: In this presentation, I seek to link the potentially transforming experiences of profound disappointment, with its humiliation, and show this to be a gift, a means for Grace to draw one from ego-identity to identity with the divine Presence, or the move consciously from personal self to universal Self. In this re-union with Self, the humiliated one, having been humbled to be deeply humble, becomes a transforming presence in our world. He or she does this, not by intent, but simply for this challenge to harm and inauthenticity arises from the union of his or her presence with Presence Itself, and as presence-with-Presence interfaces with the world of others. So, this is not another ego-project, or some reasoned attempt to save others from themselves or this world of humans from themselves, or even to please some God. Again, a word I often use applies in this unreasoned action: spontaneous. Here, as elsewhere, a passivity proves to be effective, what appears so subtle as to appear not-happening is a thorough happening.
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The English "disappoint" is from the Old French "to undo the appointment, remove from office." The phantasmic ego, or sense of separate self, appoints itself the ruler of its illusory domain. This leads to suffering, meaning here more than common emotional or physical pain, rather pervasive dissatisfaction, discontent, and useless sentimental hurt. Some persons wake up from this sleep, likely only after much suffering, dissatisfaction, and heartache. Profound disappointment can be a spiritual means to waking up, realizing the small self is not and never has been, cannot be, in control of life. This leads from self to Self, from the particular self to the universal Self, to Spirit. Without much disappointment, the ego will not see itself as what it is, be dethroned from its self-appointment. The ego must fail and fall. And what a glorious fall it is, into Life, into Love before all loves!
Surrender. Or simply stop pretending that you don’t know “how.”
Fail. Fall. The vastness will hold you. Only illusions can disappear.
*Jeff Foster. The Way of Rest: Finding The Courage to Hold Everything in Love.
Enlightenment is the ego's ultimate disappointment.
*Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
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I stood by the Peace River not at-peace at all. A friend, whom I had called to meet me, she stood with me. Wisely, she companioned, providing a safe space to feel and speak without offering canned solutions. Thankfully, neither did she express pity for me.
I had just been informed that my career was over, I did not fit, I was told, within this religious sect anymore, one I had served 12 years. I was in my early 50s. I felt as lost as I had ever felt. What next? I had given life, self, to this path of service, all my education had prepared for this. I had been doing this since age 19, when I was given to serve my first church and in a previous sect, an ultra-conservative one, so I had left due to my progressive beliefs.
Additionally, I was facing losing the house where I lived, so where would I live? I was not from this part of the States, was away from my native home area and returning there was not an option to me. I could not return, I had undergone too much change in the last decades, leaving its religion and morals behind.
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Looking out on the river, there was fear, profound disappointment. Yet, without my knowing it, this was a place~not the river, but the disappointment, the loss, the confusion, the humiliation ...~a good place to hang out in for a time. This was one of those in-between times we could say, yet if we live on the spot, this spot, there is no in-between. Life always is here, now. Eternity humbles Itself to and into here, in one moment, one place. We choose to embrace this now, not bargaining with Life, or God, to get to a better place or better time. Now, this place, is not merely the launching into tomorrow, to another place. Being faithful where we are, fidelity prepares the way and prepares us in the way. When lost, we must embrace being lost, or we cannot truly be found. So, in this space, this timeless time, where arises the deep felt-need for Grace, this felt-need itself is the gift of Grace and evidence we are companioned by Grace.
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I had built my life around the church and serving those in it, as well as a persona of pastor. I had been stripped of that role. I was standing beside the river in a placeless place, uncharted geography. I had never been here. So, how could this place be a good place to hang out for a while? Yet, here I was to moor and rest for a season.
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A few months later, after leaving the three-bedroom house, career, full-time pay and benefits, having lived in an attractive, well-kept middle-to-upper class community, the floor seemed to stare back at me. This floor came after a short stay, provided by some friends, in a small storage room where I was cramped in with my two dogs. Now, this floor of this small room, barely able to walk about in once the single bed was in place. The community around was middle-to-lower class, not well-kept, and the housemates were men in recovery~though I was not in recovery, and I was used to being alone. I did not like this place, this community, or sharing time with these men. I felt disappointed, the same sense of humiliation and lostness felt beside the Peace River. Here, I hung out for two years, working part-time as Senior Chaplain at a nearby jail across that same Peace River. Here, hanging out, I enjoyed my work as much as anytime prior, more than most of my prior work in the church, and I was given the freedom to create spiritual programming fitting my sense of inclusiveness and union of secular and spiritual. This, the church seemed to fear, here it was welcome. As well, I provided more one-on-one spiritual guidance and pastoral counseling than I had done decades in churches. None of this would have been possible had I not been left grieving that day beside a river, having been told I did not fit anymore.
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These memories returned after two matters one day recently. One, waking up in the morning, feeling lost again, wondering what was next, not at-ease, better a sense of ill-at-ease, something not right, out-of-balance, and as though time to move on might have been approaching nearer. And with this a sense of trepidation of the unknown and even how to move toward it or whether to move toward it at all. Again, disappointment. And I came upon a past writing from 15 years prior and on the gift of disappointment, and the word "disappointment" seemed to inject this body with new hope. How is that possible, when we see disappointment as something not good, something to avoid, bad news rather than good news?
I read what I had written those years prior...
Disappointment must be passed through, then there is a beyond the disappointment. "I" must be disappointed again and again, until I sense clearly the futility of this futile attachment to alternating between pleasure and disappointment. There is another Shore, the beyond is Here, but the ego does not see it and trusts it, not until I exhaust my trying to find pleasure and fulfillment in myself. I live in Heaven, for I do not need a heaven. I most am true to being in Love, Love is most free to happen, when I feel no need to give or receive Love. Only on the Shore that is Here is this open secret discovered within oneself, even within the ego~the glory of I-as-I. I write and live, then, not so much to help persons understand something, but to be taken by Grace by Grace, and this simply does not happen by understanding. The secret reveals itself, we could say Love happens most when you stop trying to make Love happen and understanding what that means.
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Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche hints at a profound view of the reality of enlightenment in saying, "Enlightenment is the ego's ultimate disappointment." This means disappointment, with its humiliation, is a gift, a way of disarming the sense of egoic demand on reality, on others, on God, that that outside us please us, which is doomed to failure anyway.
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Why would spiritual awakening be a disappointment? The ego does not get what it wants, or the ego loses what it claimed to have. And, yet, the ego finds its Home thereby in relationship to Soul, or Self~of God, of Goddess, of Love.
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And what about this hanging out in the placeless place of disappointment? Here, we continue our spiritual practice, we keep heart open, we trust Life, we seek to make life-affirming, self-affirming, other-affirming choices. We invite Life to show Itself. We do not push a way through this time, we relax within it in an invitational, prayerful heart-posture. We remain awake to how guidance might arise, but we do not go around straining our eyes to see the signs. We seek to act in response to the inner nudges of Grace. This is the path of gentleness, of compassion toward self. And we remind ourselves we may be right where we are for a purpose yet unfulfilled too~see, again, by Grace you are often where your sense of I did not choose to be, it was chosen to be. So, hanging out there, that is hanging out in Grace gracefully. Gracefully for you are not struggling against being where you are, not where you would choose to be. Yet, you find yourself choosing to be contentedly where you had not chosen to be. You have been humiliated into glad acceptance, from "Why am I here?" or "I don't want to be here!" into a calm "Thy will be done." Then, there is abiding peace.
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And what of this humiliation, or being humbled? Humiliation, we usually see as unwelcome, we see it as being shamed, while humiliation from the perspective of Grace, this is the positive humbling that opens us to Life. The ego, as the sense of I, becomes turned in on itself, having found the world an unsafe place to be. This ego wears armor, and the armor gets thicker over time; this ego, it wants to feel life, to feel love, yet it cannot seem to risk that, it fears being hurt again, it cannot, it seems, be vulnerable. So, this ego puts on the facade of strength, and in seeking to control and manipulate others pushes them away, and pushes Life away. It says, pleadingly and inwardly, "I'm unloved, please love me!", then kicks all lovers and Love away. It is safe, then, again, miserably so, like a love miser, like thirsting beside a stream of clear-running water.
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Spirit is open-hearted, brave, tender, raw, and welcoming the accompaniment of sadness and grief, and disappointment, for these are seen and experienced as expressions of the glory of Life. Spirit does not mind hugging the rose, really hugging it with a big hug, smiling while doing it, knowing that hidden by it is the thorn. Spirit does not mind the bleeding, for the bleeding too is Life.
So, the humiliated one, who has lived the disappointment to his or her marrow, not running away, not even seeking to hide away in his or her God... So, that mild, gentle, unaggressive one of Spirit, not afraid to expose his or her rawness, to be vulnerable, cannot be overcome, though he or she can feel pain like any other person. Why? Such a one, this nonviolent spiritual warrior, embraces all that happens in and as Life. Life enters totally into him or her, deeply and thoroughly in, into the openness created by the prior humiliation. Humiliation and disappointment create a deeper hole, a wider opening to embrace, more bravery to welcome sadness and tenderness.
So, how can that one be overcome, when all is received in Love by Love, adding to his or her joy, even among the hating and hateful, even amid the meanness and mean? ~ Of course, this does not mean lying down and welcoming the world or anyone to abuse you, for the humble are not stupid and humbleness is not self-deprecating, but wise and becoming wiser, and self-affirming.
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And this wisdom, like the humbleness, is cutting. The humble being can cut through pretense without a word being spoken; one look, and the sword of wisdom, being insight, slices into and through the armor, disrobing and exposing naked the truth hidden by the shadows of self-projection. This may happen, the other walking on as nothing happened, not knowing he or she has been seen-into and left naked. The very presence of the humbled being, that presence which is the humbled being, can do this, but not his or her ego. Humiliation has exposed the ego of other and self as a passing movement within timless, non-moving Presence Itself.
So, while we may think the humble, humiliated being is weak, not so, the truly humble are the strong for being opened up by the gift of humiliation and disappointment. See, wisdom cuts through ignorance, aggression, and greed, exposing unmercifully so, yet compassionately, the pride that seeks to spread harm in the delusion of self-strength, which is fearfulness presenting as fighting against, rather than communing with.
Humble beings are both wise and strong, for they have been brave enough to welcome the humiliation, the disappointment, that opens the heart to the world in authentic presence and integrity of action. All is exposed in the presence of the Real, and the Real shows Itself to be Love.
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*Video can be accessed on original site via below upper-left artist-title...