Friday, August 17, 2012

A Handful of Dust

I am so glad you decided to come, Gale.  I cannot be glad for your frightening situation, but I'm glad you're here.  I wish you well.

Jen, you are woman of few words!  Celeste, how are you?  I am delighted to see you.

These days of late summer have a feeling in them, full of change.  I feel it in the evening most of all.  For the first time in three months there is just a hint of chill in the warm summer air.  It all happens so slowly here.

I have been thinking about what it can mean in the world to be "around the fire."  I have always turned toward the long succession of fires my husband and I have lived around.  But I think it is different in the world.

It was Al again who wrote, "Unguarded openness sounds terrifying. To expose and share our deepest fears, insecurities, pain, hopes and dreams seems so risky, if not dangerous. Those around us are always judging us, manipulating us, examining us and making demands on us. I can understand why it would be hard for many, and impossible for others, to sit around the fire." 

Yes, I think that is right.  It sounds terrifying and it is.  I have seen self-confident, worldly adults sit on the floor and cry at the prospect of it.  

People sometimes approach the fire a little proud of their fearlessness.  That can be difficult to get past too.  It is as though the fear in them were turned inside out. 

I have never been able to make sense of the world.  It all seems inside out and upside down to me.  But then I know I seem all inside out to the world!

In the Conversation we seek to make sense of what does not make sense.  Every Conversation is a journey through strange lands, a homeleaving and a homeseeking.  We seek through silence, but very much through words as well.  We seek through feeling, but also through reason.

I always approach a formal gathering of the Conversation literally trembling.  To be around the fire is to sit in a terrifying openness.  But it is more terrible at the door.  Once truly inside there is a strange alert peace there.  I have known it a thousand times.

Who can say what fearlessness really is?  "I will show you fear in a handful of dust," I have heard my husband quote to a guest.  I have heard him say, from where we now stand in the world, an honest fear is the beginning of wisdom.

Here I am in the world.  It is different here.  In the world I face confusions I didn't face in Innermost House.  

I am trying to grow accustomed to a world of even little responsibilities.  Yesterday I found myself crying over trying to figure out how to pay bills.  There's always something.

Maybe it is wise to fear sometimes.  Maybe it is a beginning.   I have to make a beginning.

I am still growing accustomed to the eastern seasons I find so beautiful.  I still blink a little at the summer light.  I am going slowly to keep hold of the halflight of the woods.  I am feeling my way in a world where so long a space stands between light and darkness.

What am I saying?  If you come to the Conversation without fear, you probably are not there.  And if you cannot go into the place of fear, then you have missed an opportunity.  

Perhaps it is so for me in the world.  This is where I belong at this time of my life.  I am a little afraid.  There are responsibilities now I didn't anticipate.  But I don't want to miss this opportunity.


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  2. Diana, I see what you mean about the small fears that are part and parcel of being in the world. It's as though while love may be the bedrock upon which our beings rest, this bedrock is covered by different types of soil that are the many faces of fear. There are as many ways to experience fear as there are things in the universe with which we interact. Fear is the underlying force of everything our egos resist and our resistance/fear can manifest in many different ways: anger, criticism, impatience, manipulation, bossiness, self-absorption, stubbornness, pride, cruelty, desperation, depression, self-denigration, insecurity etc. Fear is also the byproduct of living in linear time--fear can based both upon past conditioning and memory, as well as be self-created by imagining perceived dangers in the future. Fear can be even more elemental as in the fear of the survival of our bodies with which we have become identified. I think the key word here is 'identified'. Fear arises naturally as part of the human condition of living with an ego that believes in self and other; the real question is whether we identify with that fear as being who we are. Do we get lost in our fear, however it manifests, or can we hold fast to our center of calm spaciousness and witness it as merely another passing phenomenon in the field of our neutral awareness?

  3. There was a period in my life four years ago, where I was very unhappy on the path that I was on. However to everyone else, family, friends, and neighbors, I seemed a success.

    I ended up taking my own path to the shock of the others. It has not been easy and is still not fully resolved/realized. In that I mean, I do not enjoy the simple securities of a paycheck from someone else and I have not fully acheived my other path yet.

    But what I want to tell, is how I made the decision to take the path.

    In 2008, I found a series of quotations over a few days, that I strung together as something that resembled to me a very loose propositional-logic style proof in my head. It allowed me not to conquer fear, but to be able to abide it and pull the trigger on taking the unusual path.

    Here are the quotes. Take what you may from them.

    1.“The secret of happiness is freedom. The secret of freedom is courage.” Thucydides

    2. “We took risks. We knew we took them. Things have come out against us. We have no cause for complaint.” Robert Frost

    3. “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” Albert Camus

    4. “Whatever you do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius and power and magic in it.” Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

    5. “You can do anything in this world if you are prepared to take the consequences.” William Somerset Maugham

    6. “When everything seems to be going against you, remember that the airplane takes off against the wind, not with it.” Henry Ford

    7. “If you are not willing to risk the unusual, you will have to settle for the ordinary.” Jim Rohn

    8. “Luck is believing you're lucky.” Tennessee Williams

    1. I love quote #5. Personal responsibility and practicality are qualities I find myself exploring lately. Quote #7 sounds to me like there is a judgment call against the ordinary. The issue is not WHAT we do/risk but rather HOW we do it that uplifts the ordinary into the realm of the unusual.

  4. Dear Diana, our fears change as our situations change, although I believe that there are also core fears. For me, the watchword has been "Feel the fear but do it anyway."

    Best wishes,

  5. Welcome to the modern world, Diana. If you think paying bills is annoying, just wait until your hard drive blows up. Just kidding...sort of.

    Thank you for this glimpse of Michael and the conversation. Both are such an important part of why we come here, and yet both are still a bit of a mystery. Some of us may be seeking a simpler life, others my hope for inner peace. Some may have no idea what we're looking for, but know we need something. Thank you for helping us in our searches, and good luck with yours.

    As you move about, you may be grappling with something I often wonder about: How important is a place like Innermost House to having a rich inner life and deep conversations, and how much - once we learn how - can these be enjoyed no matter where we are? Can time substitute for place? Some set aside sacred places, others set aside sacred time. I think taking a sabbath from this crazy world is in some ways like going to beautiful place.

  6. With regards to our current conversation on fear, this quote appeared in my email on Saturday night which I thought was quite apropo. It's by J. Krishnamurti:
    "The mind that would really understand what is true, the real - the extraordinary state of mind that comprehends that thing called truth - must have, psychologically, no fear of any kind. A mind which would really understand, take a journey into the most extraordinary thing called reality and go deeply into it where there is no measure, no time, no illusion, no imagination - must be completely free from fear. And, therefore, such a mind is always living, neither in the past nor in the future. A mind that is aware of all the things that are connected with fear is not concerned with the past but, as the past arises, it deals with it, not as a steppingstone to the future. Therefore, such a mind is living in the active present and, therefore, comprehends every movement of thought, feeling, fear, as it arises. There is a great deal to learn: there is no end to learning; therefore, there is no despair, no anxiety. This you must have completely in your blood so that you are never caught in the things that have been done or that will be done in the future, so that you are never held in time as thought. It is only the mind that has emptied itself of all this fear that is empty. Then, in that emptiness, it can understand that which is supreme and nameless." - Collected Works, Vol. XIV,94

    1. And here is another quote about fear, also by Krishnamurti (I saw this one in my email inbox this morning!):
      "Humility implies total destruction - not of outward, social things, but complete destruction of the center, of oneself, of one's own ideas, experiences, knowledge, traditions - completely emptying the mind of everything that it has known. Therefore, such a mind is no longer thinking in terms of change. A MIND THAT IS NO LONGER CONCERNED WITH CHANGE HAS NO FEAR AND IS THEREFORE FREE. (capitalization is mine) Then it is no longer trying to change itself into another pattern, no longer exposing itself to further experiences, no longer asking and demanding, because such a mind is free; therefore, it can be quiet, still. And then, perhaps, that which is nameless can come into being. So, humility is essential, but not of the artificial, cultivated kind. You see, one must be without capacity, without gift; one must be as nothing, inwardly. And, I think that if one sees this without trying to learn how to be as nothing, then the seeing is the experiencing of it and then, perchance, the other thing can come into being. - Collected Works, Vol. XII,200

    2. Here's one from Thich Nhat Hanh:
      "Fear is born from our concepts regarding life, death, being, and nonbeing. If we are able to get rid of all these concepts by touching the reality within ourselves, then nonfear will be there and the greatest relief will become possible."

      ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

  7. Your post ends with:
    "Maybe it is wise to fear sometimes. Maybe it is a beginning. I have to make a beginning.

    I am still growing accustomed to the eastern seasons I find so beautiful. I still blink a little at the summer light. I am going slowly to keep hold of the halflight of the woods. I am feeling my way in a world where so long a space stands between light and darkness.

    What am I saying? If you come to the Conversation without fear, you probably are not there. And if you cannot go into the place of fear, then you have missed an opportunity.

    Perhaps it is so for me in the world. This is where I belong at this time of my life. I am a little afraid. There are responsibilities now I didn't anticipate. But I don't want to miss this opportunity."

    It made me think of TRUST. Trust as a path to help face the fear. Trust in the process and possibility of the moment, that it is here to teach instead of impune. Trust that there is strength when strength is called for and that there will be gentleness when it is called for as well. Maybe these come more and more easily when there is less and less grasping and that is part of the lesson. IH helps remind me that each moment is full of opportunity and beginning and that in order not to miss it, one must make a choice in each moment. In order to continue it one needs the fearless honesty that has often been trained out of us, but is always just under the surface ready and waiting if we are willing to call on it.

    Thanks for this.


  8. So wonderful and surprising to see a quote from J. Krishnamurti. His words are lucid and when I read them I feel a calmness that I feel when I read this blog. It is the feeling of being in the presence of sanity and truth in a confusing and confused world. It's rare and precious to me.

    "But it is more terrible at the door. Once truly inside there is a strange alert peace there." Yes - this.

  9. Diana - God bless you as you find the way that is right for you in the struggles, surprises and unfamiliarities of the new. xxx


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