{ 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.


dear disappointment

 
Well hello there Disappointment! You’ve been on my mind of late. I’ve been reflecting on how your gracious appearances in my life were usually both misunderstood and unappreciated. And I reckon I owe you an apology. It’s a bit late coming, but since you are surely impervious to expectation I doubt that will bother you too much.

This morning these words lined up unbidden. They made me smile; I thought you might like to read them.
 

Echoes from Emptiness - Johannes Vermeer: A Lady Writing, detail

 

dear disappointment

 

your thumping Grace opened up
a view without a viewer
a life without an agenda
a heart at home in its hallowed holiness

 

your diamond-edged scalpel
shaved clean the fluff and fantasy
called “me-myself-mine”
excising my every erudite question
leaving no trace –

 

not even a shadow of ‘understanding’
survives

 

nothing
a phantom could claim as ‘I am’
or even I am not

 

you turned me towards your ruthless kindness
revealing every betrayal and abuse
every heart-break and aching longing
to be an instant portal
to the eye-popping Knowing
that is unknowable

 

beyond, so utterly beyond,
where every word is empty, hollow, meaningless
untrue
and all there is to do is giggle
at this glorious ever-unfurling
suchness

 

are you not the supreme guide and guru?
is there a faster track to seamless intimacy
with the everyday world of multiplicity?
could there be a greater blessing than your quiet interest
in our stumblings towards the light?

 

take me!
oh have me so completely
that true vulnerability is birthed

 

yours

 

truly

 

. . .


Image: Johannes Vermeer: A Lady Writing, detail.

Source – Artmight.com


snakes and ladders and heaven and hell

263

The backyard Butcherbird was first up this morning.  It was still quite dark when the trills of its morning overture sounded outside the sanctuary.  Now he (or is it she?) is standing on the bird-bath.  It’s the young one, so probably it has yet to learn that Willy Wagtail bathes first.  There will be scolding, for sure.

Blessed rain has fallen over the holiday weekend: heaven for the locals with their parched gardens, hell for the holiday-makers in their sodden tents.

There’s not one thing in the world of phenomena that isn’t potentially either heaven or hell.  Once things are split up into me and not-me, good and bad, right or wrong, the Game begins.

It reminds me of the ‘Snakes and Ladders’ dice game we played as kids.  Back then there was the innocent thrill of whether chance would see one gobbled by a snake or saved by a ladder on the way to the finishing point.  The adult version sees us clambering up the ladders chasing pleasure and being gobbled by disappointment when life doesn’t oblige; perhaps we should rename the board, and call it The Grace Game …

~

the pointer called passion

179

Whatever you are drawn to do from a sense of inner compulsion, from a sense that may seem irrational or even foolhardy, is precisely what will take you towards the truth of yourself.  It will be your unique version of ‘the finger pointing to the moon.’

The great Life lesson is always the same, always the apperception of what one actually is, via understanding of what one is not.

The events that unfold as you follow the compulsions may turn out to be fortuitous or they may seem to be awful mistakes.  Very often regrets are involved.  But don’t be fooled:  disappointment is the greatest teacher of all.

My passion has always been to create.  What creating taught me was that I-as-artist didn’t exist, which sounds devastating for the ego.  And it was.  But it simultaneously revealed the non-personal truth of the vastness and glory of the life I had, in ignorance, called ‘mine.’

Creativity, if it’s genuine, will always flow from the unknowable and the immeasurable.  If I know what I’m doing I’m not engaged in creativity.  I’m simply rearranging the known.

~