Peace, Neutrality & Clarity

Selfie on my 60th birthday
Selfie on my 60th birthday

When you’re at peace you experience a „roundness“ in the way you are, there is no conflict with anything that arises even if it is tension. Everything that meanders through inner space can form, reform, transform in whichever way it pleases. That may be because peace comes with great clarity, allowing you to be with whatever happens to be and, if you focus, to see clearly what you focus on without disturbing you peace.

Of the many ways that we hope to arrive at this peace I’ll be looking at attachment/detachment for a moment. A very common conviction about these matters is that detachment will bring the peace I talk about. Detachment can create clarity, but it’s clarity without peace. You clearly can see or see more clearly what you’ve detached from; it has become an object for you (to see an object or to see something objectively suggests that it is independent of you, the subject seeing it). But strangely enough this way of seeing things and matters does not bring peace: it brings neutrality at best. But peace is not and never will be neutral. Peace has an important feeling quality without which it is not peace but equilibrium, maybe, or equipoise. So detachment, or its modern version of “transcend and include”, will give you neutrality – which you may need to get some of the conflicts and tensions above board so that you can work them out and make them operational, meaning that now whatever these conflicts and tensions embodied works for you and that now you find your peace with them.

Being at peace with what is and becomes, and what fades as well, may be a touchstone for participatory lucidity. In participatory lucidity your clarity has not been manufactured or made up but is arrived at through participatory processing of all the confusion and chaos in you and between you and everyone present to you. Your clarity is peaceful and participatory instead of neutral and detached.

Enlightening the Passions – Day 23 (Fear & Imagination)

Angels can fly because they take themselves so lightly. — G.K. Chesterton

I think I finally know what the basic vibration of jealousy is: It’s fear, the fear of separation of the one you love most. It’s an utterly irrational fear fed by the demon of distrust, a mind that can easily imagine bleak futures, and – if it’s not pure paranoia because there is no other lover – supporting circumstances. So maybe saying that it’s utterly irrational is not true, since there is a significant connection to reality. It is this fear, this jealousy, that has me confess that for an important part I must declare the experiment a failure. I do not want to allow this fear to “be my guest”. And maybe my resistance, my focus and awareness that went into “being with it” has made it as big as it is now. It’s now easy for me, almost autonomously, to imagine all kinds of disastrous futures in which everything failed and I’m all on my own again. It is somehow much harder, to find the trust to imagine a bright future.

You could say that imagining anything is the real disease, imagining a future even worse. But wouldn’t you then also say that hope is the real disease? Because hope imagines a future, or is the manifestation of the faith in a bright future. Is despair – hope reversed – that comes from images of a bleak, pain-filled future the consequence of a hope gone sour? Maybe so. What I do know is that I cannot stop my imagination from imagining, just as much as I cannot stop my heart from feeling hope or despair, fear or joy, love and beauty. So what can stop me from replacing the images of 2 hells – the fork of choices that I’m facing – with 2 possible bright futures, where both options let me become a more loving, beautiful, joyful, authentic, rich and deep human?

I now see, and it is late at night and I got up to write my blog for this day, I now see that on top of the practice of “unrestricted feeling” I have to practice also “imagining light and bright futures” with all the people that are also in my “despairing visions”.
I now also see how big a part my imagination played in co-creating the utterly challenging situation I find myself in. Never mind how real the base of my imaginations, more and more it served in an escalation of catastrophic feeling. So much so that opening up intimately became more and more difficult. The only possibility in such a situation being the forking of the way, the choice between 2 hells.

Should I respect my limits that have become apparent in a situation that I feel I have been forced into? Even if I have co-created it by imagining 2 hells where I could imagine 2 brighter futures, it feels right to do so. The basic question is, “What are the minimum needs, what are – right or wrong – the basic conditions that are needed so that a much deeper level of relationship is a realistic possibility? And what, if anything, can I do or not do to lift my bit of the weight that needs shifting?”

I’ve, feebly but truly, started to imagine a brighter future instead of 2 hells tonight. At first glance its clear that accompanying the fear of separation is the fear of imagining that as beautiful, for I might make it happen that way, and then (imagining that as bright) I might not have enough energy to not totally break down if it becomes real. And there is the fear of imagining a bright future for the relationship because it might hurt so much more if it doesn’t get a real chance.

Yesterday, for some time, quite some time, I was full of hope – today despair, which I’m responsible for myself by inviting it in around noon letting my fears move me to ask questions that reflected distrust and fear and fueled visions of a dark future. So it’s about time I invite trust, and beauty and brightness to come and visit this guesthouse more frequently!

Addendum: I find that if I set myself out to use my imagination in this way, I can. And the brightest future I can imagine is the one where I say, “I’m so thankful, happy and once more: thankful for you to have gone into the depth of intimate living with me and that we mastered all the challenges on our path together to have this rich, true and peacefully satisfying life.”
I will carry this image into my sleep now…


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 21 (Splash)

Any kind of expectation creates a problem. We should accept, but not expect. Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it. The immediate benefit is that your mind is always peaceful. — Sri Swami Satchidananda

I’ve started to have a quote with these posts every day for some time now, and previously I selected them because they somehow fitted with what went on that day. But I chose this one today because it so beautifully illustrates the way I used to avoid the more challenging feelings in my breast, belly and guts.

Whatever comes, accept it.” What a nice statement, you’d say, wouldn’t you? But what, if a lot of life is about what we cannot, and maybe even should not accept? For instance, violence against ourselves and others, should we accept that?
What this injunction leads to is a superficial acceptance. Especially in the should and shouldn’t context it entices one  to produce what could be called “strategic acceptance”, an acceptance that feels like ‘real thing’ – doing what we should be doing according to wise men – but we didn’t, because in the ‘real thing’ you accept whatever, period. And the quote also suggests, that by mere acceptance the things we don’t like go away faster.
But have you ever experienced being in a difficult space, like feeling deep sadness maybe or even desperation, and someone tried to console you with the fact that this also is just passing by, “Whatever comes, accept it. Whatever goes, accept it.” Has anybody ever gained a peaceful heart by such admonishment?
If so, I’ve never met him or her.

Peaceful mind, yes, no problem – when I was still so mental that I still believed that I could control what I felt by means of my mind, gaining ‘peace of mind’ was easily possible; I meditatively fade the difficulties out by re-loading the understanding that they are impermanent, following that I’m reaching out for and then owning the “great spaciousness” that is ever-present inside; by really going into and believing that everything is impermanent, that it is intrinsically empty and void of substantial meaning… by remembering the “Buddha Space” and “dropping everything”, I certainly and reliably arrive at: a peaceful mind.

Yet, that is not a peace I value anymore – it’s mental peace; a tricky peace because it has no real base in life.
Because there is a peace of the heart that rests within the dynamics of life, which self-manifests seemingly spontaneously at times. I guess peace of heart is also a state of consciousness, which means it can be experienced on every level of development. I hope that there is a developmental level of which this wholesome peace that I’ve now had a few close encounters with is an intrinsic part. Thinking that this level might actually exist inspires me right now, when I’m in sore need of an inspiration like that.

These last 48 hours have been increasingly difficult for me, starting out very much in anguish about my relationship’s situation, passing through an hour or two of incredible, miraculous peace – a peace of heart and of intersubjective flowing. Only to end in a leaden time, a feeling atmosphere that makes cold autumn-rain a nice experience in comparison.
It’s the uncertainty, coupled with the impossibility to do or say anything that helps – a stew of utter powerlessness with a sniff of self-loathing that increased some over the day. Aaarrrgh! Self-loathing is about as awful as it can get; remembering when there were similar pain-filled situations in my life I am reminded of suicidal thoughts that have indeed been present in my life at periods of great despair.
Self-loathing is a tightening ring of iron around my belly just below the navel. And it is a great companion of my “I’m-not-good-(enough)” feeling, that I know so incredibly well. I’m pretty perfect when it comes to pulling myself down. That’s one game I’m hard to beat 🙂

Maybe all of this needs to be experienced and acknowledged to come to places where peace of heart is part of the landscape. From a deep valley in one jump to the top – one moment you’re pretty desperate, there is nothing left to do or not do to bend reality to your wishes, you’ve surrendered: There’s been two kinds of hell offered to you and you chose the apparently less hellish one and accepted it. Out of the blue sky the situation changes; the whole outlooks turns from bleak black & white into full color as life/hope returns.
This truly is amazing: After a long time trying to accept a situation you finally decide, “My soul as a whole does not want to bear this any longer, I go willingly into this other potential hell, and either the situation bends or I break – and now truly I’m willing to break, if life so decides.”
To come to this place is an alchemical journey and excruciating: refining and transmuting lead into gold has always been very, very risky business… and it is an ongoing process, but the first nuggets will always be the most beautiful ones, because, after all, they come as a complete surprise.

So the quote I started this day with is both true and superficial, true in that acceptance is beautiful – if you can do it with your whole heart. Wether we should or shouldn’t expect anything, is not very relevant to real life, as its processes by their very nature will strip you again and again of all hope and with that of expectation. And what comes then, from a space that is bigger than us, encompassing our space, is unexpectated, maybe even unwanted… but possibly something that will enlarge our heart, gut, mind, and spirit.


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)