20 September 2008
A few warm days have heralded the beginning of spring.
I must have fallen asleep through winter – how easily it happens - I forgot that the seasons come and go, as all things do, and that winter doesn’t last forever.
This sudden burst of warmth in the air promises new life. Inhaling the spring air is euphoric. It seems to contain a whiff of magic essence, a natural anti-depressant that all my little peptides are responding to – hope, promise, fresh beginnings, sweetness and joy…
I sit on the brink of this new season of life, excited by its possibilities.
And I’ve decided to get a bicycle.
“To continue practice through severe difficulties we must have patience, persistence, and courage. Why? Because our usual mode of living – one of seeking happiness, battling to fulfill desires, struggling to avoid mental and physical pain – is always undermined by determined practice. We learn in our guts, not just in our brain, that a life of joy is not in seeking happiness, but in experiencing and simply BEING the circumstances of our life as they are.”
Charlotte Joko Beck from Everyday Zen
Practice is not so much what I do on the yoga mat, it is the continual noticing of how I respond to every situation, every person and every thing that I encounter (including what I encounter on the mat). But it is not enough for me to simply be a witness and self-correct when I notice myself copping-out or falling into a habitual response, it is not enough to just bring full awareness to the present. Practice is now about BEING PRESENCE ITSELF.
To actually BE PRESENCE is impossible to explain to anyone who hasn’t experienced it. This kind of presence is so alive it instantly recognises and burns up what is false. It is pure, unforgiving and powerful.
To enter fully INTO PRESENCE, brings with it an incredible surge of power. When I'm in that zone my entire being hums with a high electrical voltage that is the actual burning mechanism of transformation, and the energy of my surrounding space is equally charged.
My son Nik, who has no spiritual practice, is teaching me about this. His social skills are zero because he has a gift of seeing straight through people’s facades and is not willing to compromise on the truth. To talk with him is to risk being cut open and exposed.
From me he demands complete presence and vulnerability because that’s the only space in which two people can honestly communicate. But my conditioning often blocks his attempts to relate honestly with me.
Nik has to quite systematically and persistently cut through my layers of conditioning and resistance exposing how thick they are before he can get to the real person underneath. Only then does he reach the tender spot and I suddenly WAKE UP to him, fully in the present.
It’s raw and brutal and honest and the most beautiful place on earth.
A few nights ago, he spent 4 hours talking about the nightmare in which he lives, eventually breaking open my heart until tears flooded my eyes. He got me there - I was alive and feeling not only his pain, but all of humanity’s pain, the pain that every single person spends their entire life avoiding.
“Attention is the cutting, burning sword, and our practice is to use that sword as much as we can. None of us is very willing to use it; but when we do – even for a few minutes – some cutting and burning takes place.” Charlotte Joko Beck
So more and more I want to be in and live from this place of honest presence, not just when I’m with my son, but with other people in my life. Unfortunately it means I am less willing to accept unconscious behaviour, so like Nik, the last of my social skills are rapidly disappearing.