{ 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.


stalking the numinous niche

This confession was originally posted on my blog this unlit light in 2011.  Recently I’ve been reminded about the little cache of my writing that quietly rests over on that blog and it’s been suggested that I share some snippets here for readers.  I figured that when the time was ripe to do so, I’d get a prompt.

It came a few days ago, over lunch with a couple of dear friends.  We were talking about the way humans seem compelled to “find their tribe.”  To join forces with those of like mind, to feel a sense of belonging and validation.  I had to admit that I’d never found a tribe or group that didn’t end up either disappointing me, or spitting me out for disappointing them.  If I had a tribe it would be in the league of the Rank Outsiders, the Solo Fliers, the Holy Rejects.

The conversation got me reminiscing about my mid-life preoccupation with finding where I fit.  It wasn’t so much about finding a tribe as finding my so-called niche.  It went on for the first half of my life and only disappeared (taking the need for company with it) when the split between the niche-less one and her experience zipped itself up. It had a lot to do with acknowledging what she loved to do (play with colour, texture, visual language), because in that encounter she unfailingly disappeared into the unknowable: into her numinous niche.

I have no idea how it happened. Love has a mind of its own; it slowly seeped out of the studio and into the everyday encounter with all-that-shows up.  The niche I had imagined to be my ‘place’ was none other than this numinous now.

 


 

Lawrence Carroll, Untitled, 2015

 

My Niche is The Unknowable – April 22, 2011

About thirty years ago I confessed to a kindly iridologist that I felt I had failed to find my ‘niche’ in life.  He peered into my bright blue eye-maps and remarked that it was strange, because everything he could read there indicated that I was a highly capable person who could find a niche in many avenues of expertise.

It worried me, that feeling of being niche-less.  I was in awe of those who seemed, from a young age, to know exactly what they wished to do in the world and set about achieving it.  And it wasn’t helped by those who knew the potential here and kept asking when I was going to fully explore (exploit?) it.  I was in my mid 40s and still wondering what I would be when I grew up.

I had all the right tools: a reasonably sane brain, a good education, some skills as an educator as well as in the area of art and design, but my life-path seemed like a meandering groping from one neti-neti to the next.

I tried being a teacher, a broadcaster, a fashion designer, a wife, a lover, a wandering yogini, a ‘professional’ artist.  All those niches ultimately failed to fit. The role that held the most promise was that of the artist, but the funny thing was that whenever the flow of genuine creating was going on in the studio, I wasn’t there.  I mean, ‘artist-me’ was AWOL.  In its place there was a spacious, ownerless activity unrelated to all my small ideas of what should be happening.  And the moment the ‘artist-me’ tried to examine this mysterious activity it would vaporize.  It was ungraspable and unknowable.

Later I would find a philosophy that made sense of this mystery – it is spoken about by sages and artists alike as the movement of pure nondual Awareness. But back then it was a total enigma to me; it put the fire under a lifetime’s exploration of creativity. And it eventually delivered me to the niche I had given up any hope of finding.

My niche turned out to be that ineffable intimate Awareness itself.  And the amazing thing is that it always had been!  It had been my preoccupation for decades, yet I had failed to recognize that it was a valid contender for the niche stakes.  I had conceptualised the niche-notion, irrevocably keeping it at arm’s length and ensuring the survival of a niche-less seeker trapped in time.  Truly, I can be quite slow

When the penny dropped, a lifetime’s worth of seemingly incoherent bits of ridiculousness fell into place.  I fell about laughing like a lunatic.  The absurdity and awesomeness of it!  The beauty and simplicity and grace of it!

Like … landing on a bed of rose petals … sinking into their silken perfume … resting, at last … knowing that this simple at-one-ment always runs below the surface of experience, ALL experience … knowing that you never have to leave … even if it were possible!

– miriam louisa
(With minor editing to accomodate a further seven years’ worth of lightbulb moments.)


Artwork: Lawrence Carroll Untitled, 2015
Artificial flowers, pigment, stain, housepaint, dust
7,5 x 218 x 185 cm


the ultimate conundrum

 

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893

Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893
(OMG – another think coming!)

 

Contemplating the savage wisdom of one of my major mindshifters

 

If you can forget it or remember it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can experience it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can know it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can be it, it is not you therefore discard it.

 

… I find myself scribbling some lines that say pretty much the same thing, but employ some of the more common jargon spinning around the contemporary seeker’s scene:

If you can surrender to it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can invite it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can activate it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can practice it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can lean into it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can rest in it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can embody it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can point to it, it is not you therefore discard it.

If you can master it, it is not you therefore discard it.

 

If you think you can discard anything,

you’ve got another think coming.

 


 

It cannot be invited; it is quietly present when you are absent.

 


The opening words are from Nisargadatta Maharaj. I have heard that when the realised teacher sees the efforts of the student towards their ’emptying’, they are filled with delight. Niz was not known for his patience with fools; would my application of some of the common lingo that shows up in the spiritual circus these days get his nod? Thank god it doesn’t matter.

The final words are not a quote, but my paraphrasing of the way my teacher Jiddu Krishnamurti would address the ultimate conundrum.


The image needs no introduction: Edvard Munch, The Scream, 1893 – I am solely responsible for the sub-title, “OMG, another think coming!”


For those who might not be familiar with colloquial English usage:
“Another think coming” is the original form of the colloquial phrase aimed at someone who has a mistaken view. It comes from the old comical expression, “If that’s what you think, you’ve got another think coming.”


 

there’s no closet mystic here

a friend who knew me as a child
tells me I was  – in spite of a tendency for promiscuity
and contrariness – always a closet mystic

he’s wrong, you know

I’ve never shared the mystic’s striving for union
with the One

I simply wanted to know whether the notion of One
was true, and if so, to prove it to myself
for myself by myself

I walked the neti-neti highway from horizon to horizon
until I fell off the edge of the world
and into the heart of here, where
‘I’ was the only eye and ear and all the senses shouted:
t h u s!

there’s no mystic here striving for union
with the One

this is what’s here, my old friend:
an unknowable, yet inescapable
cosmic narcissist, naked and guileless
playing with itself
– its One and only self –
in every conceivable form and fashion

(did I mention a tendency
towards promiscuity?)

~

r e s t . r e l a x . r e l e a s e

277

Dull sky draped over grey and textured sea.
A couple of early fishing boats buzzing about stalking their prey.
Palm fronds quiet, enjoying a rare rest on this storm-pregnant dawn.

 
Do you favor the ‘neti-neti’ (not-this, not-this) path or are you inclined towards the ‘yes-yes’ (yes to everything) approach to Truth?

I found out that it makes no difference what path one ‘signs up’ for or what one practices. Once the source of all your utterances is given space, silent unknowable knowingness is laid bare.

And IT couldn’t care less what path you take, or how diligent your practice might be; IT is utterly unaffected.
 

Rest.  Relax.  Release.

Returning to suchness is peace.

Ahhhhhh …

~