Enlightening the Passions – Day 19 (Dark Waves)

Providence has hidden a charm in difficult undertakings which is appreciated only by those who dare to grapple with them. — Anne-Sophie Swetchine; The Writings of Madame Swetchine

The day has only just begun and Madam J. dropped by much more forcefully than she did yesterday. Only now, given the right circumstance for this investigation, I could uncover again the deep, and in a way soft sadness that’s underneath Madam J’s trappings. I don’t know where this somewhat paralyzing feeling comes from. It is connected with a feeling of being forlorn and seems to want to be beyond consolation.
Do I need to go through this again and again and again?
I would so much love to be in my generous heart, and in my sadness I also know, that this cannot be ‘done’. I remember the change I wrote about yesterday, and keep reminding myself of it. And looking out of my window across the street to the houses on the other side of the street I know that behind those windows there are all kinds of people with a multitude of feelings, some maybe even with the type of sad feelings I’m having. All of us are casted in roles and a play that we have both chosen and not chosen, moved or at least effected by the feelings that go with that. And then I think if I should choose a very different course than the one I’m taking now, “Would that make a real difference?”

Reflecting on my life and its different periods, full of all kinds of searches and journeys towards change, toward exploration, towards an enlightened life. And I see now that I’ve always moved, even in the times that were very much enlightened, with my general feeling. Never mind the period of my life, there were always irritating, challenging and even desperate times. Surely there seems to be an overall movement into more encompassing levels of being with and in this world we all share, but that doesn’t seem to effect the feelings other than allowing me to feel more intensely, more fine-grained and more unrestrictedly.
“No salvation from feeling,” I think. But then, would I want to be in a place where there are no feelings at all? No bodies that are prerequisite to feeling? (Not that I remember how it was without a body, but I seem to be convinced that feeling needs a warm-blooded vessel, at least the kind that I’m looking at now – including the extatic and blissfull ones.)
Thinking of the people that I’ve hung out with more or less intensely that are deemed to be ‘enlightened’, they also where feeling everything, and, come to think of it, some were quite unconscious about what they were feeling and how it influenced their behavior. Actually in their teaching and in what they expressed it was clear that they regarded themselves as having transcended this. But from where I stand now I would say that transcending this is not an option. From my perspective, enlightenment as I’ve seen it manifested is just the most sophisticated denial of the fires of the living available for us.

So would I exchange what I’m going through in this situation for another one? If I could pick and choose from the shelves of destiny like it were a super-market, yes certainly, I would. Real life is different though, and there is – apart from miracles that are just that, miraculous – real limits to what is possible.
I’ve chosen to not do the classical things, separate, create pressure, sulk, etc. But even if I would go, there would always be “negative feelings” and the challenge that comes with that. So really, the only true choice is between being fully alive with feeling and opening up to unforeseen possibilities that come out of the feelings themselves…

When the larger waves of sadness crash on me, what I said above doesn’t come to mind, that’s obvious of course. What comes to mind is headlines and scenes that reinforce me feeling sad. And “unrestricting myelf”, being with my feeling, also means to simply not take the easy ways out what most of these headlines and scenes offer – “Close down”, “Create more distance”, “Get angry and take revenge”, “At least change the topic”, etc.. So sadness remains, even if I really have no idea where it comes from, what it does mean beyond the obvious phrases that can be used in such a situation – and which actually are used by some friends if I don’t stop them from consoling me, offering help, advise or righteous anger.
The sadness makes me tired, is incapacitating me. So in the course of the day a slight tinge of anger, a kind of “leave me alone!” vibration, has helped to keep me going, though. If I were to boldly exaggerate I’d say that the sadness makes me want to lie down and fade away whereas the anger channels enough energy to me to keep on going.

In all of this there is also the notion that even though ‘challenging’ feelings might be specific to the state I’m in, feelings of bliss are also state-specific – they come, for instance, in times when my whole soul expands to embrace all existence and non-spacetime as well. So feelings are state-specific, and the states to which these feelings belong exist independent of the developmental level I’m generally on. They can be likened to parts of our body that remain more or less the same, regardless of our development: Just as a hand so is the pain of a baby the same hand and pain that an old, wise man might feel, and the joy of a little kid is the same a wise old lady feels.
If this is more than a notion and holds true – and right now I can’t remember situations in my own life where it hasn’t – then as much as inner growth and maturation is beautiful, the basic challenges remain, at least if one goes for being “aware and feelingly presenct;” this being shorthand for the continual practice of ‘unrestricting’ myself, reality-dialoging my hunches, ideas and yes also what the feelings tell me. By reality-dialoging I mean, if a person is involved asking them, if this or that feeling is correct,  or telling them what touches or moves my heart right now. Even if that is in itself something that makes me feel “ashamed to ask”.


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)

Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)

Enlightening the Passions – Day 2

Once there is the resolve to move in a certain direction out of a basic understanding that this is “the call of my destiny”, things are more easy, even if from another point of view they might be hard.

Last night I was reading about suffering from a Buddhist point of view – suffering’s nature, origin, cessation and the path leading to the cessation – and it occurred to me that the thinking behind this both in the East and the West. and certainly the search to free oneself from the suffering that is thought to be caused by desire and attachment, is maybe a bit mistaken – or at least I used to be.
Suffering seems at first sight to be a feeling, and it is uncomfortable – sometimes it is somehow uncomfortable and at other times almost unbearable; almost because if indeed it is unbearable I’d loose all consciousness or drop dead aor I’d stop bearing it immediately. But what I keep finding as I put some light on my uncomfortable feelings is that they are not at all what suffering is; it’s the stories I tell myself, and eventually others, about the causes or “reasons for being” of these feelings – suffering is a story, the feeling is… well, (most) uncomfortable.
The same goes for desire and attachment (both basically have the same ‘signature’, only the one seems to be more agentive than the other); when now I inspect my desires as they make their appearance in the field of my awareness – it is the story that I tell myself about the feeling: “This is a desire for that,” that turns the feeling into ‘desire’. Embracing what is called desire, and somewhat stripping away the need to do something about it, actually experiencing it like I would a piece of art that I do not necessarily understand, it turns out to be quite ok to have, it’s actually interesting to be with.
Now I don’t know if I would say the same thing if much stronger desires arise… if it happens within the next days that I conduct this experiment, I’ll report it here. Promise.

Another thing I’ve noticed yesterday night and today so far (when writing this) is the amazing amount of small irritations that dance their (mostly little) dance in many situations. And being irritated seems to not only be triggered by not getting what I want in those moments but by remarks, small gestures, almost ‘nothings’. And, it’s an interesting feeling, really. It seems to manifest bodily somewhere in the lower throat area and consist of little needly bubbles (hmm, I just made those words up to indicate something I’ve never tried to paint in words before).
An interesting aspect of this I’ve noticed in a team meeting around noon is that simply noticing and ‘yessing’ the basic irritation feeling it doesn’t play out in the conversation or discussion anymore. Patience, something I’ve cherished over the years being an impatient person – or so I thought -, patience isn’t needed at all because the irritation doesn’t cause anything, it doesn’t flow into behavior or words or even concepts. One could say it’s there as the waves on a lake, just rippling away…
In my morning’s contemplation my awareness drifted into close inspection and then embrace of one of my Top Seven (or so) uncomfortable feelings that has a major novel as accompanying story. 🙂 It’s name not being important enough to mention in this context here… (which is an amazing discovery in itself, as this experiemnt is about shedding light on the feelings in their very essence, not in how they play out as story in life; a story that is malleable whereas the feeling itself seems not to be so malleable, but simply very present.)
I circled it and found that when the feeling and I really touch I almost don’t breathe anymore. This feeling takes my breath away / I stop to breathe “spontaneously” when this feeling appears on the horizon. In the safe bounds of my morning’s contemplation I can embrace it, trace it’s signature in my body and mind, and can quite easily be with it. This is when I invoke a feeling…

… but when during dinner this evening I was confronted with enough trigger for my anger to appear and at the same time being basically powerless – I got angry, legitimately so my mind tells me, and at the same time knowing that I couldn’t do anything to change the situation (damn if I shout, damn if I don’t, damned if I run away etc.), powerless anger (“ohnm�chte Wut”, in German) – confronted with this… I had to leave the room, “and now embrace this!” I thought to myself.
Actually I didn’t – I was just about to say I couldn’t, but that’s not correct; the feeling became so powerful� very, very fast. So all I could do was leave the room and breathe very deeply a couple of times until it subsided enough so I could be with it – and still can be with the residues of the feeling.

Looking forward to continue this experiment, actually. A deep value seems to unfold in real time experience…


Starting up the experiment
Day 2
Day 3
Day 4 (Powerlessness)
Day 5
Day 6 (Jealousy)
Day 7 (Guilt & Jealousy)
Day 8
Day 9 (Shame)
Day 10 (Interlude)
Day 11 (Under Pressure)
Day 12
Day 13 (Clear Delight)


Day 14
Day 15 & 16
Day 17
Day 18
Day 19 (Dark Waves)
Day 20 (Time Out)
Day 21 (Splash)
Day 22 (Understanding)
Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)
Day 24 (Vulnerable)
Day 25
Day 26 (The Presence of The Past)
Ending the Experiment – Day 27 (Intentional Vulnerability)