From "Seeking Answers" to "Living the Mystery Beyond the Questions"
From meditation and then Coffee Time with Pat – 12/17/13
I have always considered myself a spiritual seeker and was comfortable describing myself as such. In the past few weeks (or months, or years), however, things have been shifting – likely due to now having listened to 22 of the 24 hours of Adyashanti’s 2013 holy week silent retreat on Jesus Christ (titled Jesus – The Teachings of a Revolutionary Mystic) as well as having participated in another intense 3-day Pathwork graduate program at Sevenoaks led by Erena Bramos and of course my ongoing sessions with Moira Shaw and reading the Pathwork lectures on a deeper devotional level, a level below thought and concepts (open to see Devotional Version of a few Pathwork Lectures).
What has this shift been about? As I sat in meditation I noticed that I am moving away from being a seeker for answers to living the Mystery beyond the questions.
How do I make this distinction? Here is what I associate with seeking for answers: being anxious about not understanding the truth, feeling insecure in my ignorance, being mostly in my intellectual domain, feeling lost, threatened by the thought of being wrong, grasping at insights wherever they show up, becoming weary or even hopeless, and so on. On the other hand what I saw in Living the Mystery beyond the questions that life poses were things like: becoming comfortable in not knowing – recognizing that Mystery cannot be comprehended by my brain, experiencing an enlivening curiosity as I enter the Mystery, relaxed, not threatened by being wrong, adoration of the Mystery beyond knowing, existential freedom, and the like. So seeking answers and living the Mystery are two very different energies. And yet they are both part of the All and so are not so different at all – and this paradox is also part of the Mystery. All of this seems beyond words, and of course is beyond what words can adequately describe.
Pat joined me for coffee, and I enthusiastically shared what was arising in me. Pat: This is tricky business, using your mind well in this discernment yet without thinking you are using your mind. Gary: I feel I am more in the mode of living the Mystery than seeking answers. Pat: And I would agree – I very much see you this way these days. Seeking seems like it is externally focused – feeling that you are missing something and looking for it outside yourself. On the other hand living the Mystery seems like following your longing from within. Gary: And of course Jesus said the Kingdom of God is within us and not “out there” someplace. (Luke 17:20-21: Once, on being asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God would come, Jesus replied, “The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.”) This suggests a “NOW” Kingdom of God in our midst, or the KJV would say, “The Kingdom of God is within you.” The operative words here are “is” (vs. will be in the future — a heaven after we die) and “within” (not outside ourselves).
I would associate contraction and self-focused/self-centered with seeking (seeking for something to fill me, feeling that something inside is missing) whereas I would associate expansion and being “other-focused” in a spirit of compassion with living the Mystery. Pat: Perhaps seeking is for the small “s” self and living the Mystery from within is for the big “S” Self.
Gary: Erena shared a quote from Adyashanti that fits here: This is not a battle against the mind. Eventually the mind realizes that it just wants to be in adoration of a truth and a wisdom that it simply cannot contain.
Pat: What are the spiritual practices that Adyashanti recommends? Gary: I think he would see our coffee time as a practice, and of course your twice-daily meditation practices from AIP. I think he would also see our practices as including our work with Sage and Anthony, your reading so much Buddhist writing and my working with the Pathwork lectures. I think he would consider the time I spend writing my blog and developing my devotional format of the lectures as practice, as well as my participation in Erena’s graduate program and my helper sessions with Moira. Also my biweekly 90-minute phone discussions with Jenny my Pathwork buddy and the three-day intensives I have with Jenny and Mary as part of my practice. All of this supports us and constitutes our practice I would say.
Pat: I would like to read you a few paragraphs from a Buddhist book I am reading: The Seven-Point Mind Training by B. Alan Wallace. (open quote she read to me). Gary: I think I really get what this Buddhist training is pointing to in this practice. It seems like this Buddhist mind-training process could be called, in Pathwork terms, imprinting the soul substance. What he explains is that our practices are intended to help us not to grasp at concepts and ideas with our mind but rather live in our process of unfolding. Pat: This reminds me of communion – allowing our souls to be imprinted. This is what Jesus was able to do. Gary: And yet Jesus was not there not 100% of the time. He was fully incarnated in a merely and utterly human body with all the limitations that that brings — all part of the Mystery of Jesus Christ. …Another thought: We are the River of Life, not just in the River of Life.
Pat: During my spiritual group call Sunday one of the participants talked about fully engaging in a two-year training program in Somatic Experiencing. I simply do not feel a need for more training just so I can offer another modality of service. Gary: I agree. Yet we have a need to contribute and serve and sometimes in the past this has led me to compulsive training. This “being of service” reminds me of an article from Sunday’s New York Times. It spoke of happiness coming from being of service to others. I could immediately feel a wave of guilt in that I realized that so much of my life has been self-focused and not a life of service to others.
Yet I ask myself, “What service am I called to offer?” I’ve learned so many modalities of service in my life and yet have used none of them in offering a sustained useful service to others that went anywhere. Something more fundamental is missing here it seems. Could it be that our life from living this place of Mystery is our service rather than our service being teaching something or counseling or doing energy work? Pat: Perhaps our living is our teaching and our presence brings the healing the world needs.
Pat: But is helpful to be conscious about this matter of service, to look out and see how to be of service. At our ages we entertain the reality that death comes. We do not do this in a morbid way, but we are experiencing the aging of our bodies and have seen the aging and dying of those who have gone before us. Gary: We are in our so-called wisdom years, but not in a conventional sense of being “smart” or “informed.” For example, I am not drawn to activities that allege to improve my memory or analytical skills – or develop capability in still another modality of service. Certainly these have been important capacities in my life up until now and I do not want to do stupid things that might impair my mental functioning in the future. But I feel I am more in a stage of “aging well” and accepting my limitations that are part of being in this human body rather than fighting to extend my life by any and all means possible. I do not want to miss my experience of dying by fighting against it or denying it or numb myself out to it. There is something freeing for me in this way of framing my death.
For me death and dying are part of the Mystery, as are birth, life and living. So accepting and pondering death is not, as you say, morbid, but rather freeing. To me this is part of where we started: Over our lifetime we move from Seeking Answers to the questions of life to simply living the Mystery beyond the questions that may arise in our living and dying process. We do not formally “teach” from this place but rather allow ourselves to be seen from this place, as honestly as we can, from our state of being utterly and merely human.
To put your and my deaths in perspective, we currently have 7.2 Billion people living on the planet, and of this number 100 die every minute. (For completeness, 250 are born every minute, meaning the population of the planet is growing at a rate of 150 people per minute.) With 100 people dying every minute, my own death is put into perspective: I dare not think I am too “important” on the global scale of things (or I could go to the Cosmic scale of things if I really want to experience my insignificance on a larger scale). Your and my deaths seem “so important” to us at times, and yet why all the fuss? Can we just accept it all – birth and life and death – as the Earth-experiences for which we incarnated here? All of this is part of the Mystery, and with this Mystery all we can do is stand in awe and adoration — and LIVE it.
Shared in love, Gary