Monday, December 20, 2010

Winter Solstice: Going into darkness / coming into light

Now at Winter Solstice darkness will last for more than 14 hours in Rochester, NY. Although it will get colder before warmth returns, the days immediately begin to have more and more light. The writings below echo various facets of our experience of going into darkness in order to emerge into the light.

…because then something new can start
When we are on the way to going deeper,
deeper than we have been going, we meet many obstacles.
Many of us let the obstacles defeat our going deeper.
We lose interest. We get discouraged.
The experience of awakening is not always agreeable.
When one feels more, one feels more in all ways.
One cannot choose what one feels.

So that could be that we become much more conscious
of certain things that we have till now
simply swallowed, or shut off.
For such recognition we should be very grateful,
because then something new can start. 

    — Charlotte Selver, from “Every Moment is a Moment”

Believe what you understand
With a strong sense of self there is great insecurity…. I was never really shaped by parents that taught me certain things. I didn’t know the rules. I think in a sense that helped me. I didn’t know that you weren’t supposed to do certain things or say certain things.

So, if you feel like there’s something you understand, you have to have the confidence to believe that—and say it, act upon it—whatever it is, do it: make that film when people say you can’t. Or who’s going to be interested in that? You feel it, you see it, you can understand it, you say it, you make it happen.

You know, I really believe imagination and perception create reality. The outside mirrors what is within you.
        — Barbra Streisand, from “Inside the Actor’s Studio”

Surrounded by tigers: I’d stop pretending
Some year ago a young friend of mine, six years old at the time, walked up to me and said the following: “Pretend you are surrounded by a thousand hungry tigers. What would you do?”

I gave it some thought, imagining the scary scenario and feeling more and more tense. Would I pray? Probably not. Would I run? One doesn’t outrun tigers. Anxiety began to take hold as I saw in my mind’s eye the tigers closing in. I said to my young friend, “Wow, I don’t know what I would do. What would you do?”

And he replied, “I’d stop pretending.”

Catherine Ingram. “Passionate Presence”
This is the joke-and-punch-line version of becoming aware that you’ve been holding—and habitually functioning from within—an old context (or belief) that has out lived its usefulness. It has become obsolete. When our awareness of it is acute enough, the old learnings just fall apart and drop away… and we’re no longer constrained by them—we “stop pretending.”

There is Only This
When the great Chinese Zen master Ta-mei was dying, his students asked him for a final helpful word. “When it comes, don't try to avoid it; when it goes, don't run after it,” he said. Just then, a squirrel chattered on the roof. “There is only this, there is nothing else,” said Ta-mei, and then he died.

Can we conceive of what this is? Can this be enough for us? Is there another reality more real or more wonderful than this?”
        — Francis Dojun Cook, from “How to Raise an Ox”

It always comes as a relief—my shoulders drop an inch, breathing becomes more at ease, facial and scalp muscles let go a little—when I get to “There is no possible escape from here and now. None. This is it.” Acceptance just happens. Of course I, again, get caught up with what I want less of, or what I want more of. And still it—“a squirrel chattering on the roof”—always comes as a relief.

Going and Coming
Go to a funeral
as to a wedding:
marry the loss.
Go to a coming
as to a going:
          — Marie Ponsat, from “Easy Poems”

Cook, Francis Dojun (2002), “How to Raise an Ox: Zen Practice as Taught in Master Dogen’s Shobogenzo”, Wisdom Publications, Boston.

Ingram, Catherine (2003). “Passionate Presence: Experiencing the Seven Qualities of Awakened Awareness.” p127. Gotham Books, a division of Penguin Group, Inc.

Ponsat, Marie (2009). “Easy Poems.” Alfred A. Knopf.

Selver, Charlotte (2004). “Every Moment is a Moment.” Sensory Awareness Foundation.

Streisand, Barbra (2009), from a video interview, “Inside the Actors Studio, 2006.” Actors Studio, Inc.

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