Outrageous Openness.... (Katha Upanishads - Week 8)
~ By Adele.
It is okay to feel broken and wounded sometimes. It really is. Your pain, sadness, discomfort, confusion and anger are not signs of your “spiritual weakness”; they are important and precious parts of you that just long to be held. Can we hold these inevitable feelings as unique invitations not to turn our back on our experience? Not to try and ‘think’ ourselves out of feeling something? Our beauty lies in our willingness to keep saying ‘yes’ to letting all experience flood in; not just the good parts, the “spiritual” parts and the happy, positive feelings, but to all feelings, to feel them all fully, at last. To stop trying to “fix” whatever is happening, or telling someone to “look at the bright side”, but to instead accept that invitation to break away a part of our boundaries, in order to leave us bigger. What a huge relief it is to know that whatever we are feeling, it’s not ‘wrong’. There’s nothing wrong with you, in fact you’re so completely perfectly imperfect as you are. I write like this not to you, but in speaking to myself. I hope in reminding myself, it may remind you too.
“If you’re looking to experience the Eternal, stand where you are and open the doors”
If we want more life, if we yearn for our experience of life to expand, we must expand our capacity to feel. The way to feel more aliveness is to dive totally into our ‘right now’ experience, whatever that may be. If you’re feeling grumpy…Are you going to fight with your grumpy experience? Or are you able to work with it? Can we relax into resentment, patiently be with pain and stay with sorrow because we want more LIFE? We have become so accustomed to running from experiences and feelings we don’t like, we don’t even have a structure to deal with them when they do inevitably win!
But each time we do choose to open to whatever experience that we are having, we start to break down our boundaries, to open to a deeper place of stillness. We call this “dynamic stillness”, which is still but also very, very much ALIVE. And each time we dip into this dynamic stillness through expanding our openness to the whole thing, a chunk of our fear slips away with it. We start to become a little cooler with change. On top of this, allowing ourselves to open to it all means our level of compassion for others grows. How can we ever relate to another’s pain when we run away from our own? We can only experience each other to the degree that we are open to the experience of one another. If we think we have “better things to experience”, we miss what’s in front of us, which is always, always the perfect experience to be had.
We’re all just humans breaking out of our cocoons, through perpetual openings to life. And it’s really cool because we’re not supposed to get it ‘right’ all the time. Sometimes you’re supposed to lose it, sometimes you’re supposed to want to kill inanimate objects. But the more and more we open to those experiences, there starts to become somebody ‘at home’ within us that watches these things happen. Something separate that has agreed to co-operate with that experience, with life. And the more we can experience, the more we can expand to the eternal. If we say “no” to the experiences we don’t like, we cut ourselves short. We only get to try half of the cake. It is very difficult to go through life saying, “Oh I want to experience life, but only THESE parts, that suit me, thank you”. (Again, I write to myself, to the Adele that does this!)
Tonight we explore two beautiful analogies. For me personally, analogies have the power to put something into such a way that direct explanation could never do. It is the simplicity of analogies like this which clicks within my heart because it feels like it suddenly becomes so…obvious. Sometimes a huge “ahhhh” of wonder runs through me, but rather than feeling like a new piece of information has just rocked my world, it feels more like a reminding – a coming home to something I already knew. I hope that you also know this feeling.
The first one is simple, straightforward and beautiful, from another Upanishad. It uses a piece of gold to describe your infinite vastness. You can imagine a fixed piece of gold jewellery, perhaps a gold necklace. Then you can imagine that this gold necklace is taken over heat, which causes it to melt. And once it melts, it becomes malleable, right? We can shape it into a ring, or a few rings, or maybe even into a little golden Harry Potter wand (If you want). But whatever form or shape it takes, it is still essentially gold at its core.
This gold is like you. You are made out of the one energy that grows the flowers and gives birth to galaxies. The same one which runs through all of life and everyone around you, just manifesting itself in different forms. Essentially all from the one same source. It is all life, it is all you.
The second analogy is one that allows us to experience a taste of our vastness and our connection to all that is. It describes the waves in the ocean, and how each wave is a unique expression of the ocean. The waves aren’t separate from the ocean, they are the ocean. Every wave is connected to the whole of the ocean, it has the ocean underneath it and within it, doesn’t it? Has anyone ever seen a wave “going solo”? An escaped wave, making its way down the high street? Saying, “I’m an independent wave and I don’t need the ocean!”
When we look at the ocean, we already know this. It is obvious to us that the waves are part of the ocean, and the ocean is the waves. We are like these waves, and we are connected to and part of this great ocean called life. Beneath us, within us, never separating from us. And this ocean is the whole of life, all of it is life – the good, the bad and the ugly.
When we decide to close down, to say “no” to any experience, we draw a little line through our wave and try and declare separateness. Leaving us feeling totally disconnected from our love, our pain, our joy, our sorrow, from that which connects us to every single other wave. This little line is an activity we call the “ego”. It’s just an activity that happens, there’s no judgement about it, and it’s not “us”. But it feels like we cut ourselves off from life. Of course we don’t, and we can’t, but we’re not flowing with life when we do it, we’re fighting with it instead. How weird would it be if we saw a wave declaring war with the ocean?
This is what this little line does. This desperate attempt to separate from the ocean is what causes wars, what causes suffering, what causes misery. But the more we choose to drop through this line by opening, we become more permeable, and more connected to the infinite ocean of life and to all other waves. The most powerful thing we can do for another person is to see their ‘oceanness’. To see their connectedness to all that is and to also to you, no matter how contracted they are – how built up their line of separation is right now. Instead of waves making opinions about other waves; “Oh this ones too small, this ones too big, this one’s not doing what I want it to do”. The ocean knows that all the waves are part of itself.
And just as we become into the form of a wave in an ocean, the wave must go back – it eventually recedes back into the infinity of the ocean. So is anything ever really lost? Or does it just simply join back into the whole? Perhaps the fear of death is the biggest brainwashing of them all. Maybe death is just another experience to open to and we will also pop out of that experience too into a bigger life.
I don’t normally make these blogs personal, but today I’ll add my 2piece if it’s accepted. I’ve recently come to recognise that if I just continuously try to ask myself to open in difficult times, it feels almost like there is a shield being removed from my heart. That sounds like it would be a blissful beautiful happy feeling, but it’s different than that. I have tried before to force my feelings and experiences into something that they’re not, I’ve tried to smile away pain and avoid fear. A deeper part of me knew that I was denying myself life and that those feelings were a valid invitation to go into them. I start to feel closed and I can feel that in my heart. This cuts me off from life and from those waves around me. When I feel this now, I try to avoid the urge to run away and I softly ask myself “open”, “open”…”open”. Each time I do this it feels it opens a bit more space in there, a bit more room to hold everything, more understanding to truly feel the people around me. It’s not an excited, happy, everything’s great feeling, but a more down-to-earth sense of deep ‘okayness’, which brings a different, more concrete feeling of happiness.
Just like our experiences, thoughts, feelings and sensations, the waves rise and fall continuously without our control. Waves of life dancing in the vast ocean of who we are. None of the waves of life can harm me, detract from me or add to me. Whatever wave appears, the ocean holds the deepest acceptance for it. They already hold their home in what they are. And what we are is vast enough to hold it all.