Sunday, October 19, 2014

Stay close to your burning

I've received a number of messages lately asking me what I mean by the term "burning" that is talked about so often here; many of you are having experiences you describe as a "burning," pointing to an actual sensation in the heart or more archetypically to a movement of wholeness, integration, or cohesion that is arising within you. Like many of the words used here, it is not the concept that is so important but the very alive embodied experience they are pointing to, which is often occurring outside the conceptual altogether.

For me, burning is the activity of the beloved as (he or) she enters into your heart. For some this experience can produce profound longing, for others an achy tenderness, and for still others hopelessness and despair. For some, it opens them to a certain causeless kind of joy, presence, or awe, where they become astonished at the magical display of the unfolding of their experience, exactly as it is.

For those who are deeply attuned to this movement, it can appear as an actual substance itself, a sort of nectar or drop given by the beloved in order to burn away everything we thought we knew about ourselves, about others, about life, about love, about intimacy, about "spirituality." It is this substance that has come as a harbinger of integration, to end one world so that another can begin. It is the activity of a certain sort of re-wiring or re-orienting, dissolving the known so that the creativity of the unknown can emerge. This emerging is of course none other than the movement of love in the world of time and space.

It can be tempting to turn from this sort of burning – to conclude that its mere presence is clear and convincing evidence of a primordial sort of problem, of a cosmic-level mistake, that one has failed (this time as a spiritual person), or that one is not loved or lovable exactly as one is. In any event, that something wrong has happened, is happening, and must be fixed, changed, corrected, shifted, transformed, or healed, often urgently so. As a result, we can very naturally come to believe that the goal of the path of the heart is to remove or lessen the burning, to replace one somatic or emotional experience with another (more spiritual one), to disembody from our sacred experience as it arises in the here and now, and split off from the dark richness within and the jewels that can be found there.

But as we learn to stay with and tolerate the burning, and even to befriend, open our hearts to, and meet it with kindness and loving awareness, we might discover that it is not what we thought. It is not nearly as solid, continuous, and problematic as it appeared. It is a very unique, though often disturbing, energy that is occurring totally outside our interpretations and narratives around it. As we call off the war with it and commit to fully participating in it – no longer abandoning or orphaning it out into the cold – it may reveal itself as wisdom, as grace itself, albeit a grace the mind cannot quite understand or find ground for.  

Over some time we may come to see the burning as a sacred friend, though at times a wrathful one, an old unmet part of us, not come to harm us but to show us something important about the nature of love. And see that it is not an obstacle on our path, but is the very path itself. As we stay with it, we can allow it to purify our connection with our own hearts and with beings everywhere, so that we can attune fully to them and help them in any way we can.

Art by John Adamski – Red walk