As already said earlier in Advent, this time of year is good for noticing the restlessness of the human heart and the different ways it seeks to satisfy itself. Like other energies, desire passes through the mind-body, frequently in short bursts and is not permanent. Desire is to be understood and we come to see that we can let go of it.
But most hearts say, I want, I want,
I want, I want. My heart
is more duplicitous,
though no twin as I once thought.
It says, I want, I don’t want, I
want, and then a pause.
It forces me to listen,
and at night it is the infra-red
third eye that remains open
while the other two are sleeping
but refuses to say what it has seen.
It is a constant pestering
in my ears, a caught moth, limping drum,
a child’s fist beating
itself against the bedsprings:
I want, I don’t want.
How can one live with such a heart?
Long ago I gave up singing
to it, it will never be satisfied or lulled.
One night I will say to it:
Heart, be still,
and it will.
Margaret Atwood, The Woman Who Could Not Live With Her Faulty Heart
Are we intimate with the whole physical movement of fear? Or do we just label it “fear”, say, “I don’t want to feel this way,” and then try everything possible to get away from it, not to experience it? When fear and anxiety actually come into awareness, there is a precious opportunity to experience the whole thing, to go through it completely from beginning to end without any need for escape.
At the first sign of scary, disagreeable physical thoughts and feelings, why not stop and attend? It’s not impossible! “What is going on right now?” Awareness happens for everyone when there is the interest and readiness to be in touch directly, immediately, without description or explanation or diagnosis. When there is intimate touch with what is happening right here, this moment, without any separation…
Separation is this thinking: “I can’t bear it. It’s too much for me. Too dangerous.” Once this physical-mental resistance is directly discovered, it does not continue. Awareness takes its place. It’s like an exchange of energy…
The significant thing is not what it is that is touched and discovered but that there is no separation in being. Then whatever is touched changes. Whatever is there is not the same anymore when it is unconditionally allowed to be there in the fullness of awareness…
Toni Parker, The Light of Discovery
Many native cultures believe that the heart is the bridge between Father Sky and Mother Earth. For these traditions, the ‘four-chambered heart,’ the source for sustaining emotional and spiritual health, is described as being full, open, clear, and strong. These traditions feel that it is important to check the condition of the four-chambered heart daily, asking: ‘Am I full-hearted, open-hearted, clear-hearted, and strong-hearted?’
Angeles Arrien 1940 – 2014, Cultural anthropologist.
A blanket of light snow this morning.
Life is movement, and continually changing in ways which we cannot anticipate:
Your soul alone has the map of your future,
therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself.
If you do, it will take you where you need to go,
but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.
John O Donohue, Anam Chara
The mind is constantly making judgments about ourselves, others, or how this day is going to be. Better to stick with the moment-to-moment experience, and avoid coming to conclusions before they happen.
Our daily world is commonly held in terms of non-specific generalizations, like its ‘another Monday,’ or, ‘a typical man’, or ,‘I dread meeting Janice, she’s always like this,’ or ‘I’m hopeless.’ In fact ……. any sense of a lasting entity or state of being is an act of generalization. It’s a useful convention, but one that allows the mind’s neuroses and corruptions to be projected onto the here and now.
Ajahn Sucitto, The Low Point
Advent starts today, the period of looking forward to Christmas, but more deeply, it is a good season to look at desire and longing. There is a type of hole at the heart of human subjectivity, which gives rise to a perpetual cause of desire. In traditions, both East and West, it is understood that this desire, this restlessness or emptiness, will never go away. Indeed, it the this emptiness which gives rise to a longing that takes us beyond ourselves. Advertisers try to lure us into the belief that we can make this longing go away, encouraging us to think that once we we get this thing or feeling we will be at rest.
Dear soul, if you were not friends
with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting your net
into it, and waiting so patiently?