Sunday, September 6, 2015

Opening your heart to the jewels hidden in the dark

In speaking recently with a friend, I was reminded of the great bias in our culture toward the light and away from the darkness. When we meet with someone who is depressed, feeling hopeless, empty, or otherwise not beaming and joyful, we can become quickly convinced that something is wrong, that they are ‘broken,’ and that we must act urgently to ‘fix’ them. We scramble to put them back together, to remind them of all the gifts in their life, suggesting that they just ‘focus on the positive,’ letting them know that everything will be better soon, and that it will all turn out okay.

It is so natural to want to help another and to lessen their suffering and pain. There is nothing wrong with this intention and with employing whatever skillful means we have to help, to bring relief. But we might also start to see how aggressive this can be, this insistence that they come out of their immediate experience and into the one we believe they should be in instead. May we tread carefully and see how so much of our ‘fixing’ activity arises out of the abandonment of our own unmetabolized darkness within.

It is possible the kindest thing we can offer our suffering friend is to sit in the darkness with them – holding their hand and staying so close – removing the burden that they change, transform, feel better, or heal in order for us to love them. As we turn to embrace our own unmet sadness, grief, and despair, we remove the projection of our unlived lives from them. We care so much that we will lift the weight from them that they take care of our unresolved anxiety for us.

As we learn to trust and to rest in the wisdom-field of our present, embodied experience, we see that love is a movement of the totality. It is whole, never partial, and is raging and alive even in the darkness, shining brighter than a billion suns. In the core of the darkness, the sadness, the grief, and the despair is something very real, breaking through the dream of partiality. But what this is may never support our cultural and spiritual fantasies of a life of invulnerability.

In the wholeness of what you are, every experience is radically alive and utterly valid, everything is path, and all is the integrative activity of the beloved. She is not only the joy and the sweetness, but at times will arrive raging as the darkness, in order to reorder your world.

May you stay close to your suffering and the suffering of others, careful not to cut it too quickly. Open your heart to the golden, full-spectrum nature of love and the jewels hidden in the dark before you discard them, and finally see what they have to say.