{ pure gold }

 
     

It must have been more than 50 years ago.

I was a newbie meditator and yogini when my teacher threw this curved ball:

“Pray for disappointment.
Disappointment is the highest teacher.”

Gulp.  I thought I was signing up for Transcendence 101, not some advanced course in self-mortification.  Please explain, I asked, and she did:

Disappointment will unpick your stories.

It will shatter your certitudes.

It will strip you of hope.

It will lead you to the other side of the assumptions you unknowingly live by. 

(It will be a huge shock to realise that the only free and true choice you can ever make is to stop, shut up, listen and open.)

If you can live with its inevitability, it will deliver you to unbreakable peace and equanimity.  You will understand the real meaning of trust and you will make impermanence your touchstone.  

No fatalism or nihilism involved – no ‘isms’ whatsoever.  
No ideology, therapy or frantic god-bothering required.

 

{ pure gold }

 

Well, as it happened, she was right.

Did I ever offer up a prayer of invitation to disappointment?  
Not that I recall, but I’ve always been a bit contrary, and I was definitely curious.

Everyone was hunting for the enlightenment cookie via his or her own tendencies and patterns – I guess I was too.  In hindsight it’s clear that my fierce wild-maned Cincinnati yoga teacher (who was managing my return to mobility after having my right leg leg severed in an accident) was introducing me to the Via Negativa,
to the ancient Vedic Neti Neti inquiry.

And so far as the gods of disappointment were concerned,
my ingenuous curiosity was enough to catch their attention.  

Off I went, from one knee-grazer to the next.

Sometimes they served up the prompt in the midst of the mishap, accident, heartache, bust-up, betrayal, rejection.  Sometimes it would show up in the aftermath.  But it never failed to arrive, scribbled in gold on the back of an increasingly tattered calling card:

 

What knows this,

ceaselessly, inescapably, 

while remaining entirely unaffected?

 

a h h h h h . . .

s y s t e m – r e s t o r e

 

{ pure gold }

 

I bow before disappointment’s wild grace.

 

Speaking personally, mls.


Notes:

Sometimes a poem calls forth an image; sometimes an image elicits a poem.  I’ve been keeping company with this Kintsugi sculpture by Billie Bond for a while, waiting to see if words might line themselves up in response to its powerful eloquence.  What showed up surprised me.  While I have been blessed with untold good fortune, generosity and joy in my life, I confess that it was the unspeakably harrowing experiences that opened up intimacy with the entire field of experience.  So I’m posting this in case it matches the shape of a wound that needs loving attention.  We all have them. And we are the world.

From September 18, 2013: a love letter to disappointment

Sculpture:
Billie Bond, Kintsugi Head 1, 2014
H32 W22 D15
Black stoneware, resin, epoxy, gold leaf
Unique
http://www.billiebondart.com/kintsugi-sculpture.html

Kintsugi – “golden joinery” also known as Kintsukuroi – “golden repair”, is the ancient Japanese art of repairing broken ceramics with lacquer mixed with powdered gold.  As a philosophy it sees beauty in imperfection; it treats breakage and repair as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.


15 thoughts on “{ pure gold }

    1. I almost wrote in the Notes that this post was “for arr, whose enthusiasm prompted me to resume posting on my blogs after a long hiatus”

      Then I felt too shy…

      Thank you my dear friend Anandaji
      _/|\_

  1. Thank you for that. I smiled when I read it. Perhaps because I am 76 and know the wisdom you write. Maybe a new book? – “Fastest way to awakening – disappointment”. Don’t expect to make much money though 🙂

    1. Michael – I’m 76 too! Perhaps it takes scores of orbits of the sun for the obvious to become … well, obvious! I’m happy that my scribbles made you smile.

      And you made me smile with the spectre of a book revealing the secret short-cut to awakening… what profit-driven publisher would pick that up!?!

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Dennis.

      I’m glad you felt that soft ‘yes’ … isn’t that what an artist (of any kind) is hoping to elicit?

      Hoping all’s well in Christchurch…
      🙂

  2. People often laugh when I reflect that the key to happiness is lowered expectations, a variation on what you more eloquently write here. Indeed, disappointment of some kind is a near-constant companion, and an invitation to reconsider the expectation not met. We seem to be ever wanting, needing, hoping.
    Thanks so much for this wonderful reflection.

    1. Everything pumped into us by mainstream culture promotes the illusion of entitlement to fulfilment of our every want and need, eh? It’s what drives the economy. That, and the ‘purchasable’ protection from impermanence via expensive insurance cover.

      Years ago I remember a teacher saying to me, “No expectations; no disappointments.” As though avoiding disappointment was the goal, rather than exploring the understanding of its dynamics.

      “We seem to be ever wanting, needing, hoping.” Oh that’s so true – those words are stand-ins for the illusory ‘me’ character. Remove them and … ?
      Peace.

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, dear wise Cate.

  3. How very propitious and awesome that I just happened to find your post today, through another blog… It is definitely what I needed to “hear” this morning, as all my *ideas* of how life “should” be are being shattered. Now, I see that as a good thing, but still… Maybe at almost 71 I am *finally* “seeing” the wisdom of disappointment.

    My husband reminded me this morning, as I lamented my disappointments: “Existence is just existence. It doesn’t have expectations about *how* it should be. Existence just exists.” And then I came to my computer and found your lovely post!


    Christine/aka Mystic Meandering

    1. I’m relieved – and delighted – that you were (finally) able to post your beautiful comment here, dear Christine! It makes me wonder how many other would-be responders have been thwarted because of default WP settings. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to fix that.

      Perhaps disappointment’s wild grace only becomes evident with age – we are so programmed to expect satisfaction, to feel entitled to the fulfilment of our fantasies. With the years traveled, we can’t help but notice what your husband has wisely observed – “existence is just existence”. It’s our relationship with that primal flow of life that matters… is it contracted and fearful or open and curious?

      Sending smiles and love,
      ml ❤

  4. So full of wisdom, tenacious beauty, precious metal and soul-resonating depths; and the richness of getting to know you. Thank you Miriam.

    1. Stephen – how amazing that you found your way here, to my quiet cubbyhole of confessions, reflections and assorted waffle. I am deeply honoured! Your feedback is hugely appreciated, given the richness and wisdom you share at your oasis, Grow Mercy.
      I want to include a link here, in case readers don’t know of your beautiful blog:
      http://growmercy.org

      In this growing friendship…
      _/|\_

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