Sunday, August 5, 2012

Serenity



We begin again.  Ruth and Julie, thank you so very much for your concern for my endurance!  But I am so well cared for, and am in such a good place, that I really am fine.

I should say too that I only see this one web page, and I do not spend long here daily.  My husband and I take long walks for hours each day, and I see so much beauty.  And we forever share my beloved Conversation.

Leah I see this morning that you asked something more on that post that I want to try to answer briefly.  Had I seen it yesterday I would have included it then in my reply.

Leah says, "Diana wrote: 'I know of my own experience that there are ways of living wholly in the mind. Ways that have given comfort and peace to millions. But I do not want them.'  I am curious about this quote. I believe you are speaking about meditation, but I don't want to assume."

When I read this and your other comments, I feel a strong sense of a very open, generous, and loving heart with very deep convictions.  I'm so grateful you are here.  And I appeal to your generosity to forgive me for having only my experience!

I am so glad you found your way to meditation.  Many of the innermost people I know are serious meditators.   Ruth, for instance, has changed her whole relationship to life and truth through meditation.  

Most compelling of all to me is the evidence of my own experience.  Eight or nine years ago, my husband passed into a period of spontaneous meditation and prayer that altered forever the shape of our life.  I have literally seen miracles worked by meditation. 

But I myself do not meditate.  That is only me.

There is a prayer someone repeated in a question to my husband around the fire once.  I think it is well known.  "God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference."

I think if I had perceived my own suffering as personal, then I would have found my way to meditation.  At least I hope I would.  I have been fortunate to be spared that suffering. 

But thirty years ago I was suffering from the world.  Not from my personal drama, but from the whole state of the worldalmost as much from that which appeared to be good as that which appeared to be bad.  I read somewhere once that monasticism represents "an objection to the whole condition of things."  It was that kind of suffering.

And I had to let myself feel that unhappiness, and stay with it persistently, or I could never have lasted long enough to change the things I could, and did change at last with Innermost House.  I could not depend on courage.  There just was no other way for me. 

It took a long time.  I feel if I had given myself the blessed relief of meditation, I might have mistaken something I had the power to change, for something I was meant to accept with serenity.

17 comments:

  1. Diana, you are so strong and wise. I often see, after the fact, where I have not known my own limits and it usually results in unhealthy actions -- or reactions to events or situations. We should all be so fortunate to know when to 'accept' or to 'change'.

    What I understand from your words is that you changed your lifestyle and Place by living in IH. Has your time with IH changed you?

    What changes (lifestyle, or otherwise) have you made with your most recent move?

    Note to all friends here: please moderate me if I am asking too many questions here. :)

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    1. I'm really glad you are asking questions, Leah, because I can't think of anything more to say at the moment :)

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    2. Leah, I don't think that acceptance and change are mutually exclusive. Generally, when someone says it's important to 'accept what is' it's often misinterpreted to mean that we need to resign ourselves to what is before us. But, in reality, 'accepting what is' has to do with being able to plainly see something 'just as it is' without adding to what is being seen by making evaluative judgments or labeling something and thereby marginalizing it as a fixed idea. 'Accepting what is' does NOT preclude a compassionate and appropriate response--it merely requires that the response arises from an untainted space that is not colored by the guilt and shame of our past or burdened with our imagined anxieties and fears of the future. My own gauge for whether an action on my part is pure or not is to look at my own emotional backdrop as I respond. If there is anger, fear, hostility, resentment, etc., that is propelling my actions, even if I think that I am doing something in the name of a greater good or to champion a noble cause, then I can be sure that I am acting out of a knee-jerk reaction that has been caused by my own past conditioning and unfinished emotional work. If I act from a place of love that is also IMPERSONAL (and this is an important feature for determining if I have a subconscious personalized expectation of reward or validation for being so loving (LOL!)), then I probably don't have a hidden agenda and have most likely stepped out of the "I am the doer" mentality and become merely the pass-through for the appropriate action of the God-force to take place. Often, our reactions to a perceived ill in the world are merely our subconscious need to deflect our own personal pain from the past that may be getting triggered by a current, unrelated event. Staying with the pain until we reach the other shore is vital in defusing the power of our conditioning that causes us to react so that we can appropriately respond to 'what is'.

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  2. Diana wrote: "But thirty years ago I was suffering from the world. Not from my personal drama, but from the whole state of the world—almost as much from that which appeared to be good as that which appeared to be bad. I read somewhere once that monasticism represents "an objection to the whole condition of things." It was that kind of suffering.

    Diana, would you elaborate on "that which appeared to be good"?

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  3. Dear Diana, thank you for your reassurance. I will put my worry to rest now.
    You are so right about what you said about me and meditation. I feel about meditation as strongly as you feel about conversation. It found me and I found it. I feel that my whole life was a preparation for the life situation I am facing now. Meditation has given me so many avenues for coping and has brought me insights, so I have a different perspective about things and events. I am so grateful. I can finally say that I found peace.
    We all have different purposes in this life, and I feel we are guided to fulfill them, and we are given tools to achieve them. Meditation was the final tool I needed to fulfill my life's purpose.
    Ruth

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  4. What you're saying, Diana, about suffering, is sinking deeply into what I've been trying to formulate in thought. That suffering, sometimes, is not a call to acceptance and grace, but a call to change. You said that had you perceived your suffering as personal, you might have sought and found relief in meditation. For me, I was aware that my suffering was personal, but I did not accept it as real, valid; I was ashamed of it, and of myself for thinking it suffering when so many people in the world knew real suffering. In my mind, I had no personal value at all anyway.

    For me, the way out of suffering was to fully acknowledge my experience. From this validation came power as the energy I had used to maintain my denial and viciously suppress my truth was freed; this energy inevitably broke through the logjam and brought about change.

    Gerard Manley Hopkins' poems brought me true consolation during this time. This is "No Worst, There Is None."

    No worst, there is none. Pitched past pitch of grief,
    More pangs will, schooled at forepangs, wilder wring.
    Comforter, where, where is your comforting?
    Mary, mother of us, where is your relief?
    My cries heave, herds-long; huddle in a main, a chief
    Woe, world-sorrow; on an age-old anvil wince and sing —
    Then lull, then leave off. Fury had shrieked ‘No ling-
    ering! Let me be fell: force I must be brief’.

    O the mind, mind has mountains; cliffs of fall
    Frightful, sheer, no-man-fathomed. Hold them cheap
    May who ne’er hung there. Nor does long our small
    Durance deal with that steep or deep. Here! creep,
    Wretch, under a comfort serves in a whirlwind: all
    Life death does end and each day dies with sleep.

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  5. Is there a way to edit a post? I wanted to say that I too found I had to stay with the suffering, no matter how it hurt; the only way out was through. Pen said that her depression became the wellspring of her creativity, and this is true too for me! I have found myself in the space between the dark and the light...

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  6. The state of the world is, and always been somewhat of a mess.
    If I may post a quote here, it is very applicable.
    "Excerpt from a letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to his son Christopher, 10 April 1944 (The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien , edited by Humphrey Carpenter)

    I sometimes feel appalled at the thought of the sum total of human misery all over the world at the present moment: The millions parted, fretting, wasting in unprofitable days - quite apart from torture, pain, death, bereavement, injustice. If anguish were visible, almost the whole of this benighted planet would be enveloped in a dense dark vapour, shrouded from the amazed vision of the heavens! And the products of it all will be mainly evil - historically considered. But the historic version is, of course, not the only one. All things and all deeds have a value in themselves, apart from their "causes" and "effects." No man can estimate what is really happening sub specie aeternitatis*. All we do know, and that to a large extent by direct experience, is that evil labors with vast power and perpetual success - in vain: preparing always the soil for unexpected good to

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  7. sprout in. The last 2 words got cut off .

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  8. I am wondering if we may discuss what happens after one retreats out of the hustle and bustle of the world, removes themselves from a regular work cycle and from the busyness of social interactions. Is the purpose to live the life of a recluse indefinitely? Is that what some of the readers here do or hope to do?

    I understand the need to get away for a period of time, to start over at the beginning. But then what? Does this person ever go back into the world, into a community of people (town, city..), perhaps with a better balance of rest and activity; living a life guided by the soul? Or is it necessary to remain away from the negative influences of regular society?

    Please pardon me if I am making any assumptions or if they come across as judgments. I don't mean to. I truly am just trying to understand. You see, I feel drawn to the country as well but I question if that is just a way for me to escape from dealing with people and having to share space and 'place'. Perhaps introverts like myself have a more difficult time with sharing 'place' and are more sensitive to the suffering around them, so a semi-solitary life is necessary.

    My journey to serenity led me to search for tiny homes and then to this site because of my desire to live simply. I guess I want to know from others, has anyone successfully found contentment and pleasure in living small within a larger, busy community? Must we all retreat to cottages in the woods or could we step out of the darkness and create a new culture of balanced individuals who help promote and create a different type of community?

    Diana, perhaps you would be so kind as to share more about your new living arrangements. I don't ask for specifics like address or pictures... just a little about what aspects are the same as IH and what aspects differ. That would be very helpful.

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  9. What a brilliant question/questions. I too would be interested in what the answers are. I feel for myself there is a kind of flux, or cycle to withdrawing from and involvement in society. The better I pace myself the shorter the cycle is, but I often get it wrong, or things happen outside of my control so I need a longer period away.

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  10. Leah, I often wonder about the same things. My dream would be to find a whole community of people who want to make a fresh start in the world, keeping the best that civilization has to offer (Art and medicine come to mind) while disposing with the rest (Hurtfulness and wastefulness). The writer Chris Hedges might call such a place a monastic enclave.

    I don't have much hope of finding such a place, or even being able to move there if I did, but one can dream. In the mean time, I come to pages like this for help in making the life I have a little better for me and for those around me. Maybe that's the best path anyway.

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  11. Ember is addressing the simple living topic today on her blog:
    kindredofthequietway.blogspot.com
    And the folks at simplelivingforum.net are aspiring to live simply every day-some in the city, others in the country.
    Ruth

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  12. :0) Thanks for mentioning that, friend x

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    1. You are so welcome. I loved your post. Very thought provoking.
      I vist your blog daily for inspiration and learning. Thank you for taking the time to write it.
      Ruth

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  13. Diana, I am very glad to know that you are well cared for. I should have known as much, really. Like Leah, I often face exhaustion after the fact--and I do so even after being admonished to "take it easy". Will I ever learn? Haha.

    I am in a position now of choosing to face and feel my own unhappiness. I also feel it is best for me. In the past, I have been quite a meditator myself but now I find I really do prefer to experience my own pain fully and persistently. You are the first person that I know who has done so and come out the other side of it. Good for you. Good for both of us.

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  14. Fascinating. I must say that I have the exact opposite experience of meditation. For me, there's no need to 'sit still and meditate for hours,' which is often the image attached to it; for me, it's not a way to 'be in the mind or empty it,' but to be present in my BODY and through that feel and know where I am and what's going on. If I didn't meditate regularly, I would be able to escape the reality of my life and my fears, happiness and everything.

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