When I was a young man, I liked ideas and books quite a lot, and I still read a great deal. But each time I come back from a long hermitage retreat, I have no desire to read a book for the next few weeks or even months. For a while I know there is nothing in any book that is going to be better, more truthful, or more solid than what I have just experienced on the cellular, heart, and soul level.
If you asked me what it is I know, I would be hard pressed to tell you. All I know is that there is a deep “okayness” to life—despite all the contradictions—which has become even more evident in the silence. Even when much is terrible, seemingly contradictory, unjust, and inconsistent, somehow sadness and joy are able to coexist at the same time. The negative value of things no longer cancels out the positive, nor does the positive deny the negative.
Whatever your personal calling or your delivery system for the world, it must proceed from a foundational “yes” to life. Your necessary “no” to injustice and all forms of un-love will actually become even clearer and more urgent in the silence, but now your work has a chance of being pure healing instead of impure anger and agenda. You can feel the difference in people who are working for causes; so many works of social justice have been undone by people who do all the fighting from their small or angry selves.
If your prayer goes deep, your whole view of the world will change from fear and reaction to deep and positive connection—because you don’t live inside a fragile and encapsulated self anymore. In meditation, you are moving from ego consciousness to soul awareness, from being driven by negative motivations to being drawn from a positive source within.
Through a consistent practice of contemplative prayer you will find yourself thinking much more in terms of both/and rather than either/or. This is what enables mystics and saints to forgive, to let go of hurts, to be compassionate, and even to love their enemies.
Adapted from Richard Rohr, Dancing Standing Still: Healing the World from a Place of Prayer
SEED QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION: How do you relate to the deep "okayness" to life despite all the contradictions? Can you share a personal story of a time you were able to shift from being driven by negative motivations to being drawn from a positive source within? What helps you remain aware of the choice between pure healing and impure anger and agenda?
I am often concerned over the human tendancy to think of prayer as something you do when you lack something, and feel a need to ask our Maker for it. My response is to suggest the opportunity to think of prayer as being as much an act of dialogue where the other party is listening but not necessarily speaking (either really or metaphorically). This opens up the action to that of thanks, and admission of failures as well as petitioning for yet to be received blessings or awards. And as often as not, the blessing comes in the internal growth that arises from within as we mentally verbalsize the truths we have been denying. And Truth is alwys positive even though it may be revealing what we find unwelcome.
Say yes to life takes courage from a place of acceptance that the universe is just right. My own experience is that even when I am not living presently and maybe caught up in a story of not enough that I can come back quickly to the realisation that all is OK that even the negative feelings I may have been experiencing were there as a lesson for me. Thanks for sharing the beautiful writing.
I have found that I can be both happy and in a negative mood at the same time. AND is better than or. It seems like a contradiction but on a higher level it is not. AND resolves so many problems. The opposites exist together on a higher level. Black and white thinking is the cause of so much unnecessary trouble. I resolve to stay happy AND there are many difficulties in the world.
This is also true about basic situations in life. Getting fired from a job might seem "bad," but it could also lead to an even better, more fulfilling job. Likewise, being rich might seem "good," but it can also lead to cravings for more and so create a lack of contentment. There is a positive and negative element to everything. That is life. That is the Tao.
I love the image of the horse and rider- the horse as our own will and action in the world...What creates the impetus for movement? Where does it come from? When we begin to be present and witness, it gets interesting. Do we get pulled or do we engage wholeheartedly, willingly, even into difficult situations...I like this idea very much and the image of the happy horse and rider is very cheering- (even if it is riding into the sun and the feathers attached with wax get melted off a la Icarus- at least we are together, joyful and embracing our expereince!
The passage basically distincts between the power of a rear wheel driven push and the front wheel driven pull of an automobile in an analogy.When we are pushed we normally are driven in a world of unknown as mentioned in the passage but the power of pull is a state of pre awareness we are drawn into.The author has truly pointed out the strength of silence through discovery of an okayness amidst the contradictions.The glass appears half full and the fear of emptiness dissapears.The consciousness blossoms into pure positive state of mind.
To me, it is an especially beautiful DharmaComic this week -- thank you, Leah, for sharing. The reading really speaks to me though it will take some time to sink in,. Still, I wanted to express my appreciation right now.
Life is a mixed bag, full of contradictions and dialectics that we live in the midst of and deal with. That's life. I certainly can be negative, and have become more positive as I have become more compassionate through realizing that we are one, we are in this together, and everyone has problems and struggles. The positive source within me is life itself, my knowing that growth in life is inexorable, and my gratitude for the miracle of being alive and my being part of it all. Negativity and anger are just plain not necessary, and are harmful. I've come to be more positive oriented, focused on what is, and focused on doing something constructive rather than focused on what isn't and what is wrong and tearing things down. For me, being positive is healing and I believe more healing for others around me.
To divide the reality into either/ or perpetuates the stance of me against you.This kind of stance breaks relationships on all levels and results in the so-called "Holy Wars" that have been wedged for thousands of years. As long our perspective and actions are derived form the either/or stance, the cycle of misery, suffering and destruction is going to continue.
The wisdom traditions have shown a different way of relating to the dichotomous view of thinking, feeling and behaving.Contemplative prayer and meditation offer a way of thinking more in terms of both/and rather than either /or. Such a shift of our perspective happens not just by intellectual explorations but by experiencing the teaching on a cellular, heart and soul level. As the author puts it," In meditation, you are moving from ego consciousness to soul consciousness, from being driven by negative motivations to being drawn from a positive source within." This source within us is a deep "okayness" or "Yes" to life. When we take time out, to go within and be silent, we mindfully observe the whole inner landscape, contradictions become more clear, sadness and joy coexist peacefully. Forgiving and letting go of hurt clears the inner sky and creates pure healing energy.
Recently, I had an in- depth exploration with my friend who felt deeply hurt, upset and angry by my behavior in a group setting. She felt ignored, left out, and deeply hurt as I was relating to my other friends. It was a new group for her and she felt isolated. I invited her to talk it out with me. Instead of judging her and defending my behavior, I maintained my attentive empathic silence. That made me see her agony very clearly. When she became calm, she understood my behavior more clearly. We both felt sadness. This was a healing experience and it made our friendship deeper and stronger. Compassion and mindful awareness of oneself and the other make our relationships genuine and deep.
May we relate to intra-personal and interpersonal joy and sadness, emotional ups and downs honestly and compassionately!
Jagdish P Dave