Friday, November 21, 2014

Breaking through the dream of partiality

In speaking recently with a client, I was reminded of the great bias in our culture toward the light and away from the darkness. When we meet with a friend who is depressed, introverted, shut down, or otherwise not beaming and joyful, we become quite convinced, quite quickly, that something has gone wrong. We scramble to put them back together, to remind them of all the gifts in their life, to let them know everything will be better soon. Of course this is natural; we want to help. But much of this activity arises from our own anxiety and discomfort with the darkness, and all that remains unresolved within us. 

It is possible the kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness together, in a way that they can feel that we are fully there with them. Perhaps we need not make effort to remove them from the struggle or insist that they "heal," "transform," be happy or "awaken." Are we willing to love them as they are? Can we be there with them completely—keeping our hearts wide open to their immediate subjective experience—while at the same time allow it to unfold in its own way, in its own time? Perhaps love is asking us to resist the ancient temptation to project our unlived life upon them.

From this perspective, love is the totality. It is whole, raging and alive in the darkness, shining brightly in its own way. Within the confusion, the sadness, the grief, and the existential aloneness is something very real, breaking through the dream of partiality. Something is happening here, but what that is may never conform to the insanity of the mind or confirm to conventional egoic process. And it is sure to never, ever support our cultural and spiritual fantasies of a life of invulnerability. 

As we sink into this intersubjective field with our struggling friend, we can come to discover together how alive our bodies, our psyches, and our present experience truly are. We do not need to change anything, but finally make a commitment to no longer abandon ourselves or our sweet, struggling friend. For the beloved is not only the joy and sweetness, but comes at times as the darkness and the disturbing to reorder our world. Let us hold hands with our friend and embrace the darkness together, finally seeing what it has to say.