Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Grace of Exhaustion


The Grace of Exhaustion

Heart of Tenderness

Jul 11, 2018

Living in Love beyond Beliefs

We Share One Life, We Are One Life

The gray envelope

We invent ourselves that we might know who we are and what we are to be. But the consistency we seek in these inventions canít be maintained against the fabulous inconsistency of actuality. Sensing this, we clutch at cherished constants ever more urgently. The builder of the house of ego can never rest, for he is ever at work to control outcome and limit alternatives. His structure makes its appeal to our longing for the familiar and the safe, but in the end, he delivers only diminishment. I am weary of maintenance.

*Lin Jensen. Bad Dog!: A Memoir of Love, Beauty, and Redemption in Dark Places.

Coming back upon Jensen's words, "I am weary of maintenance," I was gladdened to revisit the "Ah ha!" felt at that first reading. Why the relief? Why would one feel joy in the very acknowledgment of failure to arrange my life ~ as though one could have a my life ~ in one little, neat package ~ safe and sound, as many say? Why the pleasant feeling at such failure to do so?

* * *

Exhaustion... lit., "being drained out".

* * *

I feel, this day, the day of this writing,
the closeness of exhaustion,
like sweat hugging the skin.
I feel like a bucket, drinking glass, cup, cloud
drained and being drained out.
I slowly feel into this, beyond its apparently threatening borders
ignoring the caution 'beware! entering enemy territory'
ignoring the ominous sense 'keep out'
ignoring the promise 'intruders will be prosecuted'
and approach and allow myself to be approached, and see
no signs, no foe, only friend.
I am here, open-hearted, thankful for this nearness.
I have crossed this border many times, you too, and possibly
you too are with me here now:
if so, welcome, thankful to share this blessed space with you.
We can
relax together
smile together
cry together
trust together
feel what is asking to be felt together
and receive here the joy of being reminded
Life is for us, not against us,
Grace welcomes us and our vulnerability as the soil
in which It plants the seeds of Its immaculate Love.
Grace leads us here, so we can become more compassionate and caring
for others who find themselves here also.
Here, there is nothing to fear,
we need be nothing or become something,
we can be weak and find that in that weakness
is, also, strength.

* * *

I have found that without an effort that weakens and exhausts us, we will not wake up spiritually. And, to wake up, we must aspire to wake up. We may not call it wake up, however. Words are not priority. If we engage in spirituality or religion to please 'God,' be more peaceful, help the world, enjoy the sharing with others, anything other than wake up as first priority, all the good we enjoy will serve to sedate us more, providing a religionized or spiritualized opiate to deaden us to conscious, alive, intimate communion with Life. Spirituality can lead to life, or death, we choose, and the goods of faith can be as deadly to the spirit as any goods anywhere.

* * *

I have failed to keep it all safe and sound
~ I tried, really tried ~
and some would say my life has been more failure than success.
I say, possibly that is true of everyone, while
some of us are awake enough, courageous enough, in love enough,
to admit that.
Possibly, having kissed the darkness,
I can make love with the light.
Could it be that the conjugal bliss of life, here, now, is
when in intercourse with darkness and light, always, as one grace?
For one moment, just one moment,
is it possible to feel it all, all,
in this one moment without any attempt to
judge it, flee it, fix it,
simply welcome it as friend ~
which is, make love with life-as-a-gift?
In Love,
failure no more.
In Grace,
we find the courage to be broken open
to be one with everyone and everything and our own selves
and this holy and miraculous gift we call life.

* * *

The story keeps returning over these last months, read long ago. Here, the spiritual teacher keeps guiding the disciple regarding spiritual enlightenment. The teacher teaches how simple is this awakening. He keeps saying, "Let go. Just let go!" The disciple keeps trying and trying and trying. The teacher keeps encouraging to no effect. Finally, the teacher tells the disciple to get a sack, fill it with dirt, put it on his back, and climb the nearby mountain with it. The disciple is informed not to take the bag from his back, not until climbing to the top. The disciple does as his teacher instructs, though many times he longs to drop the bag of dirt, his back aching so heavy upon him it becomes. At the top, he collapses, the bag falls to his side, and so exhausted he is no obstruction veils his heart and sight from the beauty all around him. He gazes in wonderment, feeling the glory all about and above, even the aliveness of the Earth upon which his wearied body rests. After a time, he rushes back down the mountain to tell his teacher what has happened. On informing the teacher, the latter replies, smiling, "I know, I know, you now see what before you were too strong to see."

* * *

spiritual practice
never leads to
anything such as
rather you eventually find yourself
exhausted with the effort
broken open by the trying to
weakened by the futile searching to get it right
then letting go happens naturally
seeing, knowing, feeling
only what one can receive
as gift, as a grace
you will have visits to this place many times
until you finally realize this is
never anywhere else but here
or maybe you will never choose to stay
in the amazing Grace place
still life will be happening only here
and will welcome you back
again and again
as though you never left

* * *

When contemplating this writing beforehand, a spontaneous image of a window exploding arose to mind. The window collapsed through from the pressure of wind blowing against it. There arises, in any breaking in or out, a breaking point, when mutual pressure cannot be sustained. One may sense it coming, yet one can find no point to call the breaking point. One only knows the breaking point in the breaking. The breaking point is the release point. Struggle ceases. This is it. Battle over. No one decides, it just happens naturally when it happens.

Yes, we are not a window. We seem to have a volition, a will, windows do not have. We seemingly can extend our resistance to Life and even risk our emotional or physical wellness, or both, by mere choice and beyond what is that point of exhausted surrender. We simply, out of fear, refuse to yield up our illusory sense of control. We seem capable of fighting against Grace endlessly, and to our harm. Maybe, we all do this, to some extent. We try to maintain life as we wish it to be, then, we break open ~ a moment of virgin Possibility!

In theistic terms, this is like saying,
"In the efforting to please God, I am farther from God."
This is why Zen Buddhists have a saying,
"If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him."
Jesus really meant it, saying,
"To find yourself, you must lose yourself."
"To live, you must die."
Maintaining the faith, the path, is not what
the faith, the path, is about.
Maintenance leads from Life, not toward Life.
Maintenance, however, can exhaust the 'I," thankfully,
offering the blessing of being broken open so we can
receive the being-broken-open
as a glorious gift, not a deleterious disaster.

* * *

when exhausted with our efforts, frustrated, depleted, maybe depressed,
we can invite this as a friend
can feel the
sense of being drained out
can relax into this, knowing there is
no one way we should or should not feel
being spiritual, righteous, holy, enlightened ... is
not a particular feeling or beyond being fully, fallibly human
releasing self-criticism and pushing for a resolution
we relax and welcome the relief of allowing
letting go to happen as naturally as opening and closing the eyelids
we know, we feel, in some way we cannot put into words
we are safe and opening to another grace
by Grace to live more surrendered
so more intimate
with Life
with Love
with compassion toward everyone, everything, ourselves.

* * *

I find in these seasons of exhaustion, feeling drained of life to live fully, whether a moment, a day, a month, months, or years, the gift of tenderness. Both the darkness and light can open us to feel tenderly, teaches us, thereby, to love beyond where we loved before. In the words of Dzigar Kongtrul, in Training in Tenderness: Buddhist Teachings on Tsewa, "The only way forward is for people to bind themselves closer together than ever before. The glue that will bind us has to be our common tenderness of heart."

Being exhausted with maintaining my life,
with resisting the call of Life
to venture into unknown vistas,
I surrender, once more, by Love to love,
with a single Love, a tender affection,
and to see a beauty of Life
more truly than ever before;
and I pray to live grateful for It always
and never to forget the sacredness of the gifts along the way.
I find more courage, thankfully, to cease the struggle
to maintain a version of life, and to, thereby,
live life as a grace-filled flow of intimacy
gifted to everyone, to be shared with everyone.
Exhausted, I rest here again,
for new vigor to arise again,
grateful this repose,
a sheep reposing in the plush pastures of the Good Shepherd,
an adoring lover resting in the arms of the Beloved,
a humbled worshiper, heart-open upon the altar of Grace.


*All material, unless another source is cited, is authored by the presenter of Lotus of Heart, Brian Kenneth Wilcox, Florida USA. Use of the material is permitted; Brian only requests that credit be given and to be notified at 77ahavah77@gmail.com .

*Brian's book, An Ache for Union, is available through major booksellers.

*Move cursor over pictures for photographer and title.

The Sacred in Me bows
to the Sacred in You


Lotus of the Heart > Path of Spirit > Grace of Exhaustion

©Brian Wilcox 2019