This last week has brought a metamorphosis. I have been meditating for a minimum of two hours a day for the last two years. I have used pain as the meditation bell that calls me inwards to integrate. And during a meditation last week, I broke through a kind of consciousness veil, after which my perspective can never remain the same. In this meditation, my heart was shown polarity and unity to the degree that it could finally differentiate between the two enough to be fully aware of the polarity present within myself.
Tears started rolling down my face as I emotionally approached the precipice of a brand new choice. I saw that in every interaction, we are presented with the choice to be right and justified or to love and be loved. Never before have I understood to the core of every cell in my body that you cannot have both. In the moment you make yourself right, you must instantly create the other to be wrong. In the moment you decide you are justified, you instantly decide the other is unjustified. This causes the inevitable separation inherent in polarity. You repel the other away from you. This is the opposite of love. Love draws two together as one. Suddenly, all my relationships flashed before my eyes. I had to witness all the ways that I was caring more about being right or justified than love. It was as if the ego, which seeks survival through superiority was exposed to the light of consciousness and it brought me to my knees.
In an instant, I cared nothing for the things that once seemed so important. I felt my pride wilt out from underneath me and I felt like I was falling through space and time. I heard my own voice speaking to me loudly… it was saying “Even when you are justified, even when you are right, you are alone in the second you choose to defend your rightness or justify yourself. You are right and justified but you are alone.” And at that very moment, in the realization that I could not choose both, I palpably felt the division between experiences I’ve had with people and the meaning that I assigned to those experiences. The space between the two grew wide enough to be a canyon. Again, all my relationships flashed before my eyes. I saw how it was me and not them that had added the painful meaning to those experiences, even as a tiny child in my crib. A flood of shame came over me, followed by a flood of freedom. The shame of realizing that the whole course of my life could have been different without the meaning I assigned to experiences in my life. The freedom of realizing that if I added the meaning, I could just as easily take it away and by doing so, reduce the level of pain I held about them. I felt the weight of every unresolved relationship in my life pull on me simultaneously. Like an anchor, it held me in a space that felt like drowning. The pain of it screamed at me through the language of sensation, begging for closure and completion.
It takes nothing at all for us to assume a painful meaning about an experience. For me, one of the first times this happened I was two years old. I threw myself on the floor of the cabin whining because I didn’t want to go on a walk. My mother exasperatedly looked at me with a look of disgust and said, “Why are you being so mean, why can’t you just be nice?” Exactly like so many mothers would in that scenario. But that was the moment. I remember it with as much clarity as yesterday. At that moment, I added the meaning “I am bad, there is something wrong with me” to the experience. I immediately went outside and started trying to perform tricks for approval. This was the beginning of my life long attempt to compensate for the fact that I felt I didn’t have virtue (goodness), with excellence… being the best at whatever I did.
I had blamed my mother during all the years and events that followed for giving me the message that I had no virtue (innate goodness) when in fact that was not her meaning…it was mine. The same went for my father. From early experiences, I had inferred that I was insignificant to him. This too was not his meaning. It was mine. I felt sick to my stomach. The question dawned on me “what if I was wrong, what if I have been loved all along?” Perhaps that sense of being unloved was not because of their direct actions, but because of what I made those actions mean. At that moment in the meditation, inspiration came over me and my eyes popped open. I was compelled forth to action. I made a vow through my tears to take responsibility for my part of every relationship in my life. Now that I was aware of the weight of lack of resolution, which was preventing me from being present and preventing me from moving forward, I made a commitment to get complete with every person in my life… Starting with my parents.
The very next day, I got in the car and drove 5 hours to my parent’s house in the desert wilderness. Starting with my mother, I took them aside individually where we could be alone. I could see in their faces for the first time, a fear of being hurt by me. This shocked me because I have always seen myself as the victim of them and not the other way around. We have been engaged in a war over rightness, domination, justification and goodness for years now. A war that lead to us not talking for nearly two years. It was painful to recognize that this war had left them bracing themselves for the latest installment of emotional pain. I could see the place where defensiveness between us usually resides. I refused to contribute energy to it this time. And I had the first genuinely authentic conversation of my life with each of my parents.
I set them free of the blame for the meaning that I had in fact added to the experiences in my life. I listened as I allowed them to set the record straight of their actual meaning. I told them I was done being right, that I don’t care who is right and who is wrong anymore. I told them that I don’t need them to know every detail of what happened to me when I was young (always a source of contention). I then explained why their experience of my childhood was so different than my experience of my childhood, based on the meaning I assigned to our relationship early on in life. I allowed them to see that our perceptions did not need to invalidate each other anymore. I apologized for pushing them away. I was crying while talking. And in truth, the spontaneous readiness to lie to rest our polarity for once and for all, made it so I did not care what their reactions would be. I no longer needed receptivity from them. I had come there to set myself free and to set them free. I told them I want to have a relationship with them without the filters of my implied meaning. I told them that if I ever feel myself adding painful meaning to something they say or do, I will tell them I am doing that and thus allow them to clarify their actual meaning immediately. I told them I love them and want to feel like they want me and that I belong.
I am fairly convinced based on their emotional reaction and loving responses that both of them were in utter disbelief. They both reacted as if the weight of the world had been taken from their shoulders. And I felt a genuine sense of virtue in myself that I had never felt before, like an inner pearl inside the oyster of my heart. The reconciliation came out of left field and I know it will take some time to sink in that I’m not just going to take it all back at some point in the near future. But I did what cannot be forced… I reached a realization that allowed me to genuinely let go. And for a brief second, I noticed myself think, “Perhaps if my parents actually did love and want me, I might just be lovable now!” An idea that was absolutely unreachable in it’s preposterousness to me before that day.
The sandstone walls of the giant mesas surrounding the house held the moment of reconciliation and completion, creating a kind of container for the exaltation of the moment. The experience was epic in its fusion of both strength and softness. And then a synchronicity occurred. I walked into the kitchen after hugging my father post conversation, the hatchet officially buried between both my parents, and a song came on the radio. Tears came to my eyes. I was in utter disbelief. It was Lichen, by Aphex Twin. A song I had played on repeat while attempting to commit suicide at 18 years old. I had come full circle. The universe was speaking loudly “it is complete”. I felt no ache in my heart that night for the first time in so many years I cannot even remember. And it was the day before my 31st birthday. A day I will never forget as long as I live. A day I saw I had the choice to be closed or to be open. And I chose to open.
Let the wanderer and the questioner arrive at a crossroads,
which offers both rising and descending.
Both opening and closing.
Like a lotus, these crossroads represent the present moment.
Like a lotus, they represent the truth
that in your very hand is found the power
to open or to close in every moment.
Let the sweet perfume of the answer tempt you forward
all the days of your life.
Not for the answer’s sake, but for the road it takes you down.
Let the lotus tell you that the sound of your footsteps
is not that of movement forward
but rather of opening outwards,
to envelop the world.
There is no destination.
There never was.
Not in this world or any world that you could ever hope to come across
Will you ever find a being… enlightened.
Only a moment to moment expression of enlightened thoughts and actions,
Which if strung together by time, form a life time of enlightened activity.
And it is this, that we call… enlightenment.
The state that is not an “end state” at all.
Enlightenment is just a different view of the very same crossroads
which we will meet with every moment of our lives…Forever
On this eternal, unfolding road we have been taken down
by our own questioning.
There is only a vow to awaken each moment.
A vow to keep the seed of awakening alive in the present,
And with each present moment as it passes,
a vow to open ourselves like the lotus and envelop the world.