{ 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.


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.”