It has been a bad time all around. Border wars, incarcerated children, terrorist attacks, dank corruption – the usual painful crap that serves as current affairs these days. I feel a deep pain in my chest and in my belly, as if a sharp object has found its way in – but really, it’s the pain of an open heart – I have been trying to keep it open despite the urge to simply shut down and go about my life as if nothing else exists.
I am atoms that are gently joined to form molecules that gather into a loose form that I call my ‘self.’ There is a song from the Upanishads that tells me all that I am Not. Not the intricacies of my thoughts, not the sound of my singing, not the gross body and not the ethereal body either. Not sin nor the opposite of sin – do we have a word for that in English? Not the scriptures. Not the food I eat nor the hunger I feel for the food. Not my caste or my creed, neither friend nor foe – you get the picture. The end of that passage says that I am, in fact, formless, deedless, without character, able to neither die nor live in the sense that we know it. I am eternal, free, boundless – what we would call god. What we might know as Love.
The Buddhists do a similar “not this nor that” thing. The Sufis go right to the heart of it – Allah Hoon, they sing – I am god. Imagine singing that and believing it. (Wondering if the Muslims gunned down yesterday in Christchurch were saying the words? Allah Hoon, blessed be.)
Underneath skin and bones? Underneath the gunk that is my trauma-scarred psyche? The unbearable radiance of the goddess. Truth, Consciousness, Bliss.
When we hear the word ‘trauma,’ we think of abuse. Violence, sexual violence, the stuff that causes soldier-like PTSD. Or death – losing a loved relative such as a parent or child. Stan Grof adds to this repertoire with the ‘trauma of omission’ – not receiving what we need – love, attention, recognition, especially at a young age. He also adds the trauma of birth – pushing through the birth canal, almost dying, suffocating, being over stimulated, cord wrapped around the neck and such. The list of traumas is so long that I begin to wonder what doesn’t fit into it. And then I think – it isn’t so simple as the things that are done to us that hurt us and the missing out of certain important core experiences. It’s more pervasive that that, more universal.
Being human is a form of trauma for the soul – spirit – whatever you want to call it. Experiencing complete separation from whatever it left in order to be ‘born’ here – this deep loneliness synonymous with humanness – this forgetting of connection with what lies beyond – this is trauma enough without adding gunshots or forced oral sex.
I have forgotten my connections and am set adrift in a hostile world where everyone is as I am – afraid, confused, angry, grieving. There is no one who knows how this should go, no one to tell me which way to turn. It’s difficult to love these others because I am so very without my own love. I am told that I will feel love if I love them, but it seems impossible to reach out, when I am so cut off myself. It is as if my arms are severed at the elbow and the stumps are laughably, painfully ineffective at getting me what I want.
Out of this confusion, I am to make my way to what my heart desires. Asking what that is seems so risky that I would rather shut down the question and go through the motions of being alive. Money helps – it gives me the feeling of being someone and being safe. Food helps my body to feel as if it is the only need. Alcohol brings relief. Religion is the perfect lie that doesn’t take away the pain but helps me to blame it on various people and ideas.
One day, if I am lucky, the thought arrives: There is Light. If I am even luckier, and if I am willing to spend my life wondering about that Light, I find out that it is inside myself. That’s when the work really begins.
What a game it all is. As if the One thinks – can I hide my light in the darkest darkness, and will it find me if I wait long enough? I remember reading a fairy tale in which the ‘prince’ changes himself into a starfish and hides himself in the ‘princess’s’ hair. So she searches everywhere for him, and he is right in her hair all the while. I need to remember that the darkest darkness is in my own heart, contained in my own psyche, filling my own mind. Then I can stop moving – stop looking, stop trying, stop wishing, stop longing.
The first reaction to stillness is pain and grief – for so many things. Wasted time. Wasted love. Decades of cursing this life and world. Lifetimes of loneliness. I know what to do with this – the Holotropic way – breathe into it and make it bigger. Trust that this pain is right and that it will heal me. It all but kills.
We have given the One many names (and many pronouns). The Ancients dealt with pain, loneliness, confusion, rage, fear… by chanting these names. This singing of names is not a beseeching for favors, it is a way to remember the names because we are prone to forgetting. It is a way of bringing the sounds into the chest and the lungs and the mind of the singer and the listener. Once, as I chanted the divine’s names, my mind began to wander. It was hard to keep track of the Sanskrit verses, and I wanted to come to the end of the song and be done. How many names does this bitch HAVE, I wondered. Then the nouns began to flow in parallel to my song – grass. trees. sand. throat. words. stones. rain. beach. river. home. food. feather. wonder. grief. gravel. mayhem. bullets. song. table. cloud. baby. zipper. face. nose. heart. cells. mitochondria. gravel. green. tongue. breath. laughter. medicine. rose. Made me crazy.
Another massacre somewhere and the hate in each of us get stimulated by our grief and despair. We see evil in the face of the shooter and we are quick to heap shit on this face in the attempt to proclaim our own innocence. That very separation that I have been trying to overcome is what I now want most of all. I cannot be associated with this level of hatred and confusion. It is not me. I say it loud and clear so that everyone can hear it, so that I can be sure of it. Get thee behind me, Satan! But it’s no go, for there is no ‘behind.’ – As another song says, the One is behind, in front, and beside – her light is the darkness, her love is the evil, her smile is the sound of a gunshot. It brings up my food to think of this – nowhere to hide, no one to blame. Only myself to come back to, to decipher, to connect to, to transform.
Can’t have it both ways. If I am not separate, then I need to own it All – hold it All. What I call the Light and the Darkness may not even be what I call them. Maybe even those two are only One.
Every morning I look in the mirror
force myself to say
this is the face of the goddess
would you like to cover up that wrinkle?
Every blog post I write is the same. What else is there to say?