From the moment I noticed that jhana/samadhi had re-arisen in me — some time in late 1995 — two competing realizations appeared:
Any ambitions for worldly success that I may have carried into the 90’s rapidly disappeared.
A simultaneous and overwhelming sense of peace and contentment accompanied me throughout each day.
An ongoing orientation process began. I was somehow able to keep this job or that job, to show up on time, do some work, and keep from crashing cars or getting ticketed for erratic driving.
I could not account for the fact that, somehow, I had a roof over my head, clothes to wear, food to eat — the universe kept the flow going, despite my nearly total lack of participation. To this day, I am amazed that I’ve not only been sustained in this body, but that I’ve been comfortable, healthy and — much of the time — happy.
Some time in the late 90’s, I cut back to half time at work.
My landlord — a successful and nearly-retired lawyer — called me into his office and said, “The only difference between me and you is, you’re content with your life. I’m not.”
I wore his words like a parka wrapped against the Chinook Winds of life.
On February 1, 2005 I posted a daily meditation and dhamma study schedule on the refrigerator door and proclaimed myself a jhana yogi.
The dharma of a yogi was for me — you can have the world, I’m finished with it.
I’ve walked through the Dark Night and emerged on the other side.
* * *
Well… okay, I may have been finished with the world… but the world was definitely not finished with me….
There was no resurrection of ambition.
I did not spit on the ground, shave my face and climb onto the corporate ladder.
I kept up my meditation practice.
I did “yogi” things every day, like a good Cub Scout striving to evolve into a Webalo.
As relinquishment settled in, however, and the future blotted out, an unaccounted series of afflictions, setbacks and difficulties crept into the cave of my life.
My mother died after a long period of suffering — cancer, radiation, chemo… rinse, repeat….
I turned 40.
“Being a writer” fell away.
I turned 45.
I quit the half-time job.
I lacked enthusiasm for “vocation.”
“There IS something wrong with me,” I thought.
Finally, “I hate myself and the world would be better off without me.”
* * *
The world, in keeping this body/mind organism alive and kicking, insists that I “get it”:
To the extent that I judge and condemn myself, I will draw the exact mirror of judgment and condemnation back to me — so I need to look closely at my projections of guilt, rage and helplessness.
To the extent that I recognize what’s “out there” as just another “me,” and I regard what’s “out there” as worthy of absolute, unconditional love and forgiveness — to this extent, I can wake up from this strange and confusing dream.
Which brings us to the purpose of this message.
Come to find out, the work only begins at “tune in, drop out, turn on”.
There may be a honeymoon period, but sooner or later we’ll be confronted by our scary monsters.
We’re going to be tested.
We’re going to fail.
When we pick ourselves up from off the ground, we will quickly come up against the same, though slightly-altered test.
We’re going to fail even more miserably than before.
We’re going to bang our heads against interminable tests, usually without knowing they’re a test — we’ll be too busy screaming and tearing at our flesh.
The test will become the teacher.
* * *
For me, a point arrived at which I realized that I can’t do this alone.
I can’t get out of this hole.
I’m drowning in torpor.
* * *
It was there, in the torpor, that I finally knew I’d reached 51 % love — more than half — just enough to get unstuck.
At about 57%, I started to jog instead of walk.
At 62% I wrote a blog essay.
At 69% I created a mind map and wrote some letters.
At 72%, I’m getting that the only “control” I have is in choosing to love — and to make subsequent choices with this love in mind, as much as I can.
This is a Big Relief.
Because if all I have to do is remember how much I love and appreciate you, I can drop the rest of it and know that I’ll be more than compensated for performing this one simple task.
* * *
Make it a swan dive from the Acapulco Cliffs.
The more we kick and scream, the harder we fall.
There’s no rushing it, but there’s also no holding it back.
As my Disc Golf teacher John tells me, “Stop trying so hard.”
Which is to say, keep it simple, get yourself out of the way.
Let something beautiful happen.