The Unknowable but Essential Letting Go
I am stubborn and stupid. Really, I am. And I don’t think it’s detrimental to take a look at oneself from time-to-time, within a certain context, and call it like it is. If anything, I think it’s a valuable exercise. A sadhana or spiritual practice of sorts. Forget that bullshit ‘positive thinking’ crap. We all have been sold a bill of goods – to be clever or the smartest person in the room – and we’ve subscribed to this very American philosophy in such a way that it permeates all aspects of our lives – that we should know all things (within reason) or that we should be able to understand things – or figure-out things in short order. When faced with tremendous difficulty or challenge, the “fight or flight” response has been replaced with the “figure it out” or “understand it better” response. A somewhat evolutionary step perhaps? At least that’s been my experience and my response to my particular world and day-to-day life. To “figure it out and learn from it – and do better the next time” is an unwritten mandate and operating system. The only problem is that this is completely at-odds with Great Mystery and spiritual practice – which impresses upon the individual the concept that not everything is knowable – that not everything can be understood – that faith in large part – requires of us to trust that Great Spirit is in control – and that we are most certainly not.
Let me be very clear on this: inserting our identity (figuring shit out) into miraculousness (Great Spirit) is foolish. Try not to do it. I try not to do this and fail miserably (re-read the first line of this post). By my asserting my self-will, I am asserting ego. To do this in the context of psycho-spiritual practice (e.g. La Medicina) is problematic. It’s the duality / non-duality thing again. You cannot take ego (mind / duality) into Spirit (non-duality), it has no place there, and if anything it will cause you more suffering. Surrendering the ego self is tremendously difficult for me – when I find that my identity – which I thought was somewhat softened and flexible – is in fact fairly rigid in certain, fundamental, problematic (unhealthy) ways.
I’ve sat with The Medicine a few times since last I’ve written a post. The words just wouldn’t come. Suffering has come, but the words just wouldn’t. I’ve found a great, supportive community (and teachers / healers) that help me navigate the challenging regions of my heart and mind – and help me better understand that I am not in control – and that’s OK. The great difficulty I find with La Madre and La Medicina is that I still try to control it – that I still try to figure it out – and I still try to be the “smartest person in the room” – and that’s just stubborn and stupid (and foolish). I’m beginning to understand that which my brilliant teacher / therapist (Richard Bachrach) said, “”This is who I am” is a dangerous statement.” That we can have such a strong sense of who we are (I certainly do) and the requisite, grand stories behind this identity – that we’ll wield it like a club – often to our detriment. I do this in ceremony, with La Madre / La Medicina – and I pay for it. If there’s an ass-kicking to be had, I stubbornly go back for seconds (and thirds). Gung-ho!
In addition to being stubborn and stupid – I am one strong MoFo and I identify (Ishvara Pranidhana) with a very strong MoFo (MFWIC!), HANUMAN. And I leverage (too often) this energy and HIS assistance in ceremony as a means to hang onto my identity (I Serve!). And although this identity (archetype) is one of service (HANUMAN is the Great Servant of R-A-M), it’s my own particular and unique trap as it were – my own conceptual construct that solidifies my self-described identity and keeps me from growing and “letting go.” Letting go in this case is a metaphor for healing – radical healing. And radical healing is simply peace…
“Someone once asked me, “Why do you always insist on taking the hard road?”
I replied, “Why do you assume I see two roads?”
One of the most startling things I’ve learned of late was something Richard told me, “The most narcissistic guy in the room can be the one that hates himself” and it floored me. I realize that I’ve spent years – YEARS – hating myself and had become so enamoured with that self-loathing – and the story that supports it - that it’s most certainly narcissistic. My only solace was my idea of service, but when this service is expressed and imbued with the shadow aspects of ourselves (the ‘caretaker’ in my example), the result is yet another, insidious trap along the path.
So, how do we effectively deal with these highly complex (and deeply ingrained) unhealthy aspects of ourselves? These false and unhealthy identities? The ones we don’t even recognize, or worse, feel ARE healthy? Where do we find help and support to release them? I myself have found life-saving support and understanding from my great teachers such as Richard Bachrach, Abdi Assadi, Janice Zwail, Barbara Verrochi & Kristin Leigh, Lefty (Jai Hanuman-ji!), and the (underground) community I’ve found with La Madre / La Medicina. Without these great, estimable teachers, healers, and allies, I would be lost.
The letting go of the unhealthy aspects of ourselves – particularly the unhealthy aspects that we’ve come to hold so dear (our identities) and will fight to protect – is absolutely crucial to our coming-into wholeness. And this letting-go can be completely unknowable (unfathomable) – meaning we can’t begin to imagine the depth from which we must pull these things up from out of ourselves to release. The last time I sat with La Medicina, I violently purged – the first time I’ve purged since having travelled to Peru in 2011. It felt as if I was exorcising some great, ancient, deep, deep, pains and traumas (I was), that were inextricably connected to the current set of pains and traumas in my life. I don’t know what I let go of, but I do know that whatever it was, it HAD to go – and I was holding onto them for dear life – and La Madre / La Medicina would have none of that... Whatever it was, it was no longer serving me –if it had EVER served me.
“I don’t understand!
I don’t understand!
I don’t understand!
All things are connected. What I let go of that night was intrinsically part of the things I have to let go of in my current day-to-day life. These are often extremely difficult, but even more important, they can be unknowable to us – and we must strive to release that which does not serve us – even when we don’t know what it is. These things make up who we think we are (!!!) and we will often fight to the death (literally and figuratively) to keep them – even when it’s best for us to let them go – to say good-bye. This takes tremendous courage and faith. And it takes help. You must find those that can help you and I am very lucky that I have. I couldn’t let go of these things by myself, it would be impossible – I had to have help. You will too.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu.
May all the beings, in all the worlds, be happy.