{ 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.


how a few moments of empty-mind spiked with questions of the unanswerable kind can deliver you to your effulgent nothingness

Edgar Degas, Woman, Seen from Behind, Drying Her Hair, c.1905 - 1910

 

I take off my clothes,

lift them to my face,

inhale the fragrance of my skin.

By what alchemy was that unique odour created?

  

I soak in the bath,

submerged to my chin.

Wetness, warmth: what registers these sensations

yet never gets wet?

  

I towel-dry my mop of silver hair.

I marvel that it grows, it falls out;

more grows, automatically.

Can I spin one thread of hair?

  

I trim a toenail.

How does this perfect toe-guard

know how to grow?

Is there a how-to manual for nails (and hair and cells)?

  

My scissors slip.

I watch my bright blood slowly seep,

congeal, clot (or not).

Can I control a clot?

  

I listen to the ambient sounds of my environment.

By what miracle can I hear

the kettle boiling urgently,

and those rowdy Kookaburras?

  

I make coffee and slowly savour the flavour,

asking myself,

(eyes shut)

Where exactly is ‘taste’ located?

  

Then, uninvited, the mother of all questions shows up:

Where’s my world viewed from?

I gaze undistractedly

at my coffee cup.

  

I can’t find a point of perspective.

So then I try to find a viewer.

Can I find a fixed point,

a “me”?

  

Almost 75 years of wondering, checking for myself,

what can I report?

Well, as the saying goes:  All the lights are on but

no one’s home.

  

I imagined myself into existence,

only to find I am unfindable.

What I find is inescapable space.

Space that’s unimagined, and unarguably aware.

  

Space – ceaselessly birthing

all experience in, and as, time,

including this tricky two-step called

BE-ing.

  

Aware space, dancing

as every sensation, feeling, thought,

every belief – questioned or not,

every thing and every no-thing too.

  

And I, hobbled and hollow-boned,

know its fancy footwork as my own.

  

  

Don’t you just love the way a few moments

of empty-mind

spiked with questions of the unanswerable kind

can deliver you to your effulgent nothingness?

 

– with a deep bow, ml


Art – Edgar Degas, Woman Seen from Behind, Drying her Hair c. 1905 – 1910.
Public Domain.