Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The traveler of love

When we get too close -- to another or to our own unprotected hearts -- we often find ourselves becoming extremely careful. We somehow know we are on the brink of being unbearably exposed, and our addiction to ourselves is on the brink of crumbling into a grace-heap of shattered hopes. Intimacy is terrifying. It’s not so challenging to carry on with our fabulous new meditation or rest contentedly at our prayer altar or open in devotion to the great avatar from afar… but one instant of an utterly exposed intimacy can annihilate our entire egoic structure, and we know it. When all is said and done, all we want is love, but still we find ourselves organizing our lives around feeling certain feelings and not others, having certain conditioned and constructed “powerful” “high” “spiritual” experiences that are better than others, and otherwise frenetically spinning around the ever-enticing call to comfort, safety, certainty, and distance. 

We want a radical intimacy more than anything -- a partner or a situation or a friend or a guru or an experience or a life situation through which we are able to share our deepest truths and our raw open hearts, to finally, once and for all, let go of the exhausting effort to become someone different. But until we deeply embrace our utter aloneness, invite it all the way in as the sweet friend it is, meet it as a beloved guide from beyond, receiving its gifts from the stars, the intimacy we so long for can never be fully embraced. We will always be holding back slightly, not fully able to allow the other to mean *everything*. We will always remain experience-distant, longing painfully for a plunge into the experience-near, driven from within to seek some experience, any experience, other than this one – one where “the body” shakes, where we laugh for hours, where we’re taken over by “bliss,” harps begin to play, angels sing, golden chariots arrive, magical sounds appear, and all of our problems and struggles are removed in one blast of cosmic grace. And then the lone voice of our friend Rumi, as a faint echo: “Any search moves away from the spot where the object of the quest is. Sleep deeply wherever you are on the way. Maybe some traveler will wake you."

So, friends, can we allow ourselves, somehow, to be awoken by the traveler of love, to stay utterly, unbearably close to the other, painfully close to our own experience, as it is? Can we stand still in the raging fires which pull us away from *this* moment, into some new fabulous experience, into some constructed “very high” state of consciousness, where we laugh for hours, transcendent of it all, looking around to ensure that we’re doing it right, finally given a new spiritual identity, finally seen to be the special one (that Mom and Dad somehow couldn’t quite see)? For when we stay very, very, very close, resisting all temptation to hold back just a little, ducking behind our spiritual fantasies and concepts, the apparent reality of separateness is revealed to have never, ever happened. And then, in the end, love is revealed to be a luminous thief, with nothing to give, everything to take, and yet still somehow offering everything, more than we could possibly ever want. Our fear of intimacy, which even our most precious spirituality can help us to stay distant from, melts into unbearable grace, and unspeakable connection, over and over and over again.