29 August 2008

When the student is ready...

Saturday 30th August 2008
Living back with my son (he’s 26) is both confronting and enlightening. This young man seeks out and exposes everything about me that is superficial. His insight and honesty is truly frightening, but he can be devastatingly cruel – just the other night he told me I have no personality because I have no opinions, which made me question the last 10 years of psychological and spiritual hard work I’ve done trying to tame my ego and reverse its habit of judging and forming ego-building opinions.

Nik engages me in this confrontational dialogue because he wants me to look at myself more honestly and relate with complete transparency. He needs to connect with someone on a deeply human level – and right now I’m the only person in his life. He needs me to be fully present, honest and real, because that’s how he is. So I get challenged for my Gemini indifference, my equanimity, my serene disposition, my non-commitment to anything. He wants me to CARE.

Last week, in one of my obsessive clean–out-my-life episodes, I threw out about 20 folders full of yoga notes and all my personal journals – five exercise books stuffed full of past thoughts and insights, one journal dating back to 1996. Nik found them in the outside bin and retrieved them, absolutely aghast at my callous desire to trash all memories and hold on to nothing. He got stuck into me about how precious the past is and how we shouldn’t throw it away. I disagreed – my argument being that the past is gone and it has contributed to what we are in the present. The present is all that matters. But somehow Nik won the debate (as he always does because I have no real attachment to any opinions) and I spent the next hour reading my old journals and remembering how I got to where I am today, which tragically is not very far from where I was in 1996.
Our rather intense discussion culminated when he read a few random lines from one of my journals and remarked how it sounded like I was writing for an audience and not for myself.
There and then I confessed to having a yoga blog, and that was like waving a red rag to a bull (side note to the audience: Nik’s a Taurus)
I was accused of selling out, of writing advertising copy about my life and publishing it on the internet to strangers. Why would I do this, he demanded?
After some desperately deep self-questioning I couldn’t answer him with any integrity. He was right. I felt shallow.
Forced to investigate my true motivation for writing a yoga journal I discovered it wasn't always authentic...more often than not, I have been writing with an audience in mind. Yes writing a blog is all about sharing experiences and forming invisible links with like minded people, and sometimes it's even just for the joy of writing, but to be brutally honest it's just another opportunity for our clever egos to assert their position on centre stage.

So from now on I’m not writing a yoga blog for yoga people - this writing will be for my own personal therapy, sometimes to record the journey, sometimes to express the ineffable and sometimes just to get the heavy load off my heart.
(Which reminds me of that sweet advice "dance as if nobody's watching...etc")
Could it be that my son is actually the teacher I've been waiting for?


greenfrog said...

Identity is complicated.

I'm increasingly coming to think that ego is less something that goes away with deeper spiritual practice than it is something that becomes translucent. The person and the personality remain, but the light shines through them both, like a stained glass window.

Also, it seems to me that honesty doesn't need to be brutal, though sometimes I want it to be.

nobodhi said...

Hi, thanks for your comment...yes I agree our ego is not something to get rid of...and translucent is a really apt desription of what we should be aiming for because the work is to SEE THROUGH the construct of our ego and to relinquish our identification with it.
I've had some really useful dialogues (with myself!) lately about the clear difference between psychological work (observing habitual thought patterns such as our ego identification and working to become fully conscious of them) and spiritual work (connecting to Divine essence so the light shines through)- and where these two areas overlap and support each other etc. It's all part of the difficult and fascinating journey back to our source.

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