*Brian Wilcox. 'The Way Leads Through'. Flickr
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A continuance of dialogues with a sage who did not see himself as a sage, but others did; from Brian K. Wilcox. "Meetings with an Anonymous Sage."
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The sage was posed a question by the gathering, regarding a matter of comfort and discomfort in the presence of Presence, following from a previous sharing time when that matter was presented without clarification. One follower asked...
You remarked recently that being in the Light is always safe, but not always comforting. I thought that Presence is always comforting, and we are to meditate partly for comfort. Many of us take on a spiritual path for we are seeking inner peace.
What is your question?
How can the path be safe and discomforting at the same time? Why would we want to follow a path if we are going to suffer even more, when we adopted a wisdom way to escape suffering?
Well, that is a question and a question. So, the answer is Love and Love. Certainly, Jesus is regarded as a being of Love, yet he spoke, in the Gospel of Luke, "I've come to set the world ablaze. And Oh! how I wish it were already aflame!"
I am confused, seems love would only want to comfort us, not disturb us. Why would Jesus act like that?
What passes as Love might want to rescue us immediately from suffering; Love Itself seeks a more patient, prolonged path, not seeking a quick, surface relief. Love seeks not simply relief of symptoms, Love is a healer first and foremost. Some have spoken spiritually of the difference between a cure and healing, healing being a deeper, more whole transformation. In the Gospel we see that Jesus being Jesus lights the fire; that is, Light meeting darkness ignites the realm of suffering, or what Buddhists call samsara, even more, with more intensity. Love does that: by bringing darkness to light, darkness is exposed and the darkness of darkness is seen more clearly, now unveiled from where it was hiding. Yet, that is the sole hope for the transformation of darkness.
But safe and discomforting...
Yes, the path is of radical, but simple, trust. You trust or not that Wisdom is seeking your good, your well-being; religious or not, faith is essential. You sometimes trust in the midst of discomfort that the path seems to have brought you. You might wonder why you chose a path, if you were going to hurt like so. And walking a path may, yes, appear to bring more suffering into your life. This is only for the suffering already present is exposed to the Light, or Love, for the Light and Love are the same. So, really, before the intentional path of transformation, you were futilely attempting to escape suffering, like trying to outrun your own feet. You adopted the path to escape the suffering. Yet, there is no escape either way, there is living the life of suffering or encountering the suffering that already is so healing can take place. On the path you must face the suffering arising from the exposure of your brokenness to the Wholeness of the Light. When this occurs, you can try to run again, or you can welcome the pain. In welcoming, peace arises.
So, the discomfort is healing?
The discomfort is the healing taking place. We could compare this to a relationship of two lovers. Two persons meet, say they fall in love. They think it will be all bliss. Before long, the very Love that made it possible for them to fall in love becomes the crucible for each to undergo healing, or transformation. They can blame each other; this only intensifies the suffering. Yet, if the two agree to work together and not resist the suffering, not see the crucible as the enemy to themselves or the relationship, but see it as the means to healing of themselves and, so, a deepening of the relationship, then they will each suffer less, for the intensity of suffering decreases with the release of resistance to the crucible. Grace is like that.
Do we ever evolve beyond this suffering on the path?
Some say "Yes." I no longer agree with the idea of an idealistic perfection, as though there are persons that in a body transcend humanness with its suffering. Yet, the suffering shifts. And we could say some persons transcend suffering, not by being free of suffering, but through a total acceptance of it.
How does the shift you refer to occur?
By releasing the resistance to suffering, not attaching either to suffering or not-suffering. Suffering becomes seen as part of the path, rightfully belonging along with pleasure. One can even enter an experience where one feels so much pleasure, at such a subtle level, that one feels suffering in the body, for the body is not acclimated to that degree of bliss. In higher Buddhist teaching, one begins to affirm, through experience, that samsara, or the wheel of life, with suffering, or dukkha, is the same as nirvana. Some could relate to this by saying, "Heaven is hell, hell is heaven." So, we receive a way of being that transcends both heaven and hell, or samsara and nirvana, by including them as one, not by excluding either.
Why not just choose heaven or nirvana?
For it will not work; what is wise works, makes any situation workable. If you choose heaven, you are unchoosing hell, if you choose nirvana, you are unchoosing samsara; yet, each is for the other is. So, clinging to one side, you choose, even intensify, the other side. You cannot integrate duality by choosing one side of the duality.
What do you mean?
In clinging to heaven, you increase the repressed energy of hell. In pursuing nirvana, you keep creating samsara.
What is the result of accepting both?
Love is the cause and the result.
Again, that word, but I remain confused.
Love is beyond opposites, yet is the energy within duality to integrate, so transcend, duality. What the heart longs for is Love, and Love is beyond either suffering or not-suffering, discomfort or comfort. Love integrates through totally embracing. Love is the Embrace. We see this in the story of Jesus on the cross. Know this, for sure, the person never integrates, for the person cannot integrate. The sense of person is a locale for suffering, for disharmony. Only Love integrates, for Love is Harmony Itself.
What is this like, this place of integration?
No one can say. We only know when we are there. We have all been there, but we move back into creating suffering. Never underestimate the extent to which the self is committed to perpetuate the suffering it claims to wish not to have. Yet, regarding your question, possibly our word equanimity applies well, possibly.
So, a final question. How do I get there, to this place beyond the opposites you speak of?
You do not get there. Absolutely, you are already there. Relatively, you are not, for you, seeing yourself as a person of alternating states of suffering and pleasure, resists where you are. Your very complication of the path evidences a resistance to Love. You have been socialized to be intolerable of Love, all of us, to some degree have. As to how you get there, my adopting your belief in getting there, you get there by Grace. Then, you find you had no where to get to. And you yourself, as you see yourself, think yourself to be, will never get there; that you believe yourself to be is the product of the confusion of samsara, hell. You arrive at this peace, Love, that is beyond all opposites, yet while not denying the relative display of opposites by the death of that you are not. Grace wants to kill that you are not, we could say, that who you are will be set free from the delusion that keeps you divided in body and mind, so in disharmony.
And what do you mean by the death of what we are not?
Let us take this up again, later. We can explore more, if anyone wishes, this idea of the death of who you are not. For now, remember I have said the whole path is surrender, surrender, surrender, ... And know, there is no place safer than in the embrace of Love. There, in deep pleasure or profound suffering, you are home, you can relax. Thank you! and Peace!
*Brian Wilcox. 'Welcoming Sky'. Flickr
(C)Brian K. Wilcox, 2019