(Editor’s Note: This article was originally written in response to an email message received by Nancy. Of course, all personal references have been removed.)
There is an interesting sentence in your message that you may be unaware of having written, but which indicates to me that you are doing just fine in this transition. In the sentence you write that the process has driven you “to the edge of sanity”.
I believe you meant to write “to the edge of insanity”, not “to the edge of sanity”! I suppose that is what may be called a Freudian slip ’ and you actually expressed where you truly are. That is, you are more sane today than you were before, and you can thank yourself (and your guru) for bringing you to this point. Sanity is the capacity to look reality in the face, understand it, and walk away from it with more understanding and truth. In this sense, sanity is maturing or maturity. Clearly, you have done this through your shift of focus from the outer into the inner. The shift to the inner is the destiny for all of us, eventually; but it is a scary shift and a profound one, frequently creating enormous emotional upheaval, but all in the pursuit of sanity and clear thinking. You are well on your way toward that.
Just remember that you cannot see in any outer teacher ‘or anyone or anything else’ what is not already within you. This applies to both the good and the bad, of course, but focus on the good, because in this case, the good is the direction you wish to go, and that is why you “found” a teacher with all those good attributes which were, and already are, within you. It is adjusting and learning to understand that you were and are considerably more than anybody in this culture has told you, taught, or allowed you to know. It is the unraveling of all that conditioning and programming that you are doing to discover that diamond that you always were. And that can be sometimes difficult, but oftentimes exhilarating..
In particular, with your reference to sanity (or insanity, as the case may be), there ARE indeed moments when the mind is so confused, so angry, so up against the wall, due to the process of spiritual seeking, that it will try to create confusion and havoc in its effort to remain the guiding principal in your own life. It is a devious master, and will try all kinds of tricks to remain on top, particularly in the spiritual process, because the entire point of the spiritual process is the ultimate defeat of the mind and its games ’ so obviously, it is going to fight hard. Combine this with the loss of an authority figure, and you have a real mix of chaos in the mind and the emotions. The loss of an authority figure recalls our childlike helplessness and dependence upon parents to solve our problems of living. It is therefore not surprising that all those childlike emotions will resurface and torture us whenever there is a similar loss, even when we are adults. I have found that the resolution of this discomfortis not so much in rationally understanding what happened in the loss of an authority figure, but in understanding that we are, at that time, reliving a childlike experience, and that, perhaps, the problem lies in our own hearts, and our unwillingness and sometimes inability to simply grow up, mature, and accept the pain and loss which growing up implies. I cannot tell you how many people I know, including myself, who have resisted knowledge, maturity, and peace and happiness, not because of the apparent reasons, but because of unwillingness to mature, and to accept the responsibility which maturity entails, not to mention the failure to accept that life has both bad and good times. Only mature adults recognize that human life as separate beings is both good times and bad times. It is our effort to avoid that realization that keeps us infantile and dependent on authority other than our own.
At the same time, the inner authority to which I refer here is not the small, separative, ego-centric authority of an individual human being. It is the light, logic, and understanding that is within the heart, those moments of certitude and possibility, the more quiet, less intellectual, inner voice that directs us when we cease distracting ourselves with our mind’s desires and willfulness. It is surrender of the small self to the larger, greater universe of Godliness, holiness, and love that resides within each of us, indeed, which IS each of us. It is that authority that we all have, and are, but have been conditioned to believe we are not. It seems to me that this is the authority that you have turned to as a result of your past loss of your faith in your teacher. This is a good thing if you are growing up, or in another paradigm, if you are “building your soul”, which it sounds to me as though you are. Don’t be hard on yourself, this is a new way of being, and it takes a little time to get accustomed to it.
A Zen Buddhist insists that the natural mind, or the mind of man behaving as it naturally was built to behave, is a simple matter of simply being in the moment, now, aware of life without recourse to conceptualizing or categorizing that moment of being. If this is true, which I believe it is, then life is really a simple matter of living life thoroughly and enjoyably. If one enters into the play of life with this attitude, and nothing other, no value judgments, no dos and don’ts, then life does indeed unfold in a gracious and pleasing manner, whether good things or bad things happen along the way. Thus, it is not that we must simplify our life, but that our life IS simple, (or it was designed to BE simple), and the expression of that life through us is equally simple if allowed to express itself naturally without interference.
Then one finds that life truly is simple, there is nothing complicated about it. The only complications are those made up by us, in our mind’s efforts to dominate our being, and thus, our enjoyment, of living.
If you observe a baby, it lives only to survive; it seeks warmth, comfort and protection in order to maintain that survival. The most astonishing thing about this apparently “cold, and calculated” effort to survive, is that a baby is the most endearing and most lovable of creatures. Perhaps the lesson here is that life is most meaningful and full when we behave as we are destined to behave, without explaining or justifying that behavior, without recourse to cultural approval or authoritarian controls. (Of course, lest this be taken to imply total chaotic narcissism, keep in mind that a baby does not consider itself as separate from its world, but relating to and within it, indeed, an extension of it.)
And where love enters here is within the RESPONSE to that baby-like behavior; the love is not considered, or created, but is simply part of being in relationship to a baby, and also, part of resonating with baby beingness. In other words, the relationship part of life is the love part of being alive. So we have two simple facts in life; survival, and relationship. If approached with naked forthrightness, it is not hard nor difficult to combine the two, and in that combination, love thrives, on all levels of being, and in all worlds.
What you do is of little significance; but it is very important that you do it.
most important discoveries will provide answers to questions
that we do not yet know how to ask and will concern objects we have not yet imagined.
beginning there was nothing. God said, “Let there be light!”
And there was light.
There was still nothing, but you could see it a whole lot better.