{ 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.


this wild and precious life

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

– Mary Oliver

 

Kano Motonobu - Zen Patriarch Xiangyen Zhixian Sweeping with a Broom

 

after decades of wondering what I’d be
when I grew up,
what I’d do when I found my ‘real’ work,
what I’d contribute to life that might be of worth,
I tossed the questions to the stars
and gave up

is this typical I wonder?
a symptom of seniorhood?
or does it eventually occur to everyone
that while life is unbearably precious
and untameably wild
it isn’t yours or mine nor ever was

so with hair gone silver and eyes a-twinkle,
I whisper to the beloved poet:
this wild and precious life was never mine to map;
it always had its own agenda, dancing itself
across infinite webs of thought and feeling,
back to its own vibrant womb

and the role it gave itself as miriam
was that of sweeper of the space,
one who clears the mind-droppings, ensuring
no concealment of that fierce Grace
shining, shining through the world’s sorrow and joy
(and the sweeper’s too)

 

And what will Life do I wonder, with its one wild and precious You?

 


Image: Kano Motonobu –  Zen Patriarch Xiangyen Zhixian Sweeping with a Broom (detail)
Muromachi period 1336-1868.  Ink and color on paper.


 

choice happens

257

There’s much ado about ‘conscious choice’ – how we must apply it to our lives to achieve everything from prosperity to enlightenment – how it’s needed to change world events – how it will assist in earth’s transformation or salvation.  A huge and profitable industry constellates around this fairytale assumption.

The assumption of a chooser entity with powers of volition is largely non-negotiable. But if you’ve done your homework – dug deeply into research on ‘personal’ volition (Benjamin Libet et al) – sat silently on cushion (thought-tracking) – embraced ‘n’ (now-this-here) with every belief-free breath, then you’ll know the wonder of it:

Choice happens.
And measurable ticktocks of time later
responsibility is claimed by a subsequent thought
called dear wee me.

~

just who is this ‘no one’?

24

no one here to believe or to not believe
no one here to have free-will or to not have free-will
no one here to choose or to not choose
no one here to care or to not care
no one here to surrender or to not surrender
no one here to witness or to not witness
no one here to be humble or to not be humble

but don’t be mistaken dear one
dis-identification isn’t the end of the story:

eradication is

~