I think it would be useful to examine these words. I have been quite preoccupied with them both in recent times.
At the level of feeling/emotions they represent, in my thesis, the two prime emotional forms arising out of Emptiness, at the emotional level. All other emotions are a step-down from one or the other.
They are the great, relative, opposites in feeling. I say relative as, being forms they have no inherent tangibility but are reactions, at the feeling level of being, to stimuli. “When the conditions are this, that arises and when the conditions are that, this arises.” There is a relationship or relativity between what is going on and our constructed sensory mechanisms. A joint-practice, let us say. It is possible, in stillness to watch this play.
They, the emotions, do not exist, at any absolute level. This statement may, absolutely, be true; however, it is not useful to me at my relative, me, level, other than as a concept. It is only rarely an experience.
This piece that I am writing, must therefore, remain at the relative, level, as must all explanations of concept. It is hard to get hold of but all statements about the Absolute, are conceptual.
In some of us, our feeling reactivity to situations, whether those stimuli be internal or external, is fairly well in awareness. For others of us there is a dark mystery that can even overwhelm us to the point of our apparently drowning in an ocean of reactivity.
As with all opposites, when Fear is paramount, Love is less revealed and vice versa.
I perceive Love and Fear as being a unit, as it were, like Light and Dark; when one is more evident then the other is less so. When one is fully present the other is out of awareness! This, last, has been a very powerful thought. Nothing dies these emotions remain part of the human experience.
There does not, I suggest, have to be an object. If we can cultivate Love, we are not getting rid of Fear, we cannot do that, but, in proportion to our ability to cultivate Love, by bringing our awareness to it-to its revelation-we are diminishing our awareness, our attachment, to Fear. Love then, does not have to be projected on to someone or something, it is now the ground from which we manifest all feeling and the base from which we may teach. Whenever we come from the core or base, it is like being in what athletes might call the “zone” .There is only what is without any particular, obvious, separate, cause. We can let the work do the work; the body perform its very best or, in the case of teaching just listen to the teaching that comes out, Perhaps one can say, the teaching speaks and I just hear what is coming out; there is, in that moment, however long it lasts, no “me” that needs to construct something (It has, in this moment, occurred to me that the same paradigm operates everywhere, in all aspects of our life, not just in the field of feelings-perhaps that is another story?).
I have come to say that we manifest feeling, rather than feeling manifests in us, as I believe the forms feelings take to be a reflection or expression, of our, undigested, life experience, rather than something given. We are victims in the sense that we are not aware of that but allow ourselves to be largely re-active, to a stored and unreleased collection of emotional experiences which are no longer happening.!
Is this definition of suffering, because that is what it really is, difficult from the Christian view-point? (The Christian view point is multi-faceted as is the Buddhist view-point. They are both many leveled and I extend this suggestion to all religions). I am not sure that it needs be difficult; ‘do you not know that your body is the temple of the indwelling Holy Spirit?’ 1 Corinthians 6. (I have italicised know to resonate with to be aware.) St Teresa of Avila states quite firmly that the prime study needs to be of ourselves.
In the same way that I suggested that Love and Fear do not have to be projected but known in their essence, so I further suggest that gnosis, does not have to be projected but reveals itself from the Holy Spirit which is in-dwelling.
I have often used the word revelation. Revelation does not occur in busyness. In busyness, space is too crowded with experience for there to be room for expansion of awareness.
Emptiness is rare but a cultivation of non-attachment to what arises in the play of mind serves well to keep under-nourished the dance of form, energised as it is by attention. Stillness is not a doing, it is a state of inattention to the dance. We should be better served, perhaps, if we were to combine fuller awareness of our emotions, they need to be heard, with less feeding of them through trying to get rid of them with the analytic re-ification of some psychotherapeutic models.
“And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:7. What does passing all understanding mean if not outside, not subject to, the intellect?
Perhaps this quote resonates with, “Nirvana is beyond extremes;” one of the Four Seals, as they are called, which define a Buddhist. Beyond extremes means, in this case, not subject to definition by the intellect; or “passing all understanding”. “ .If we penetrate the nature of reality, it is also possible to achieve that cessation within our minds and as the fourth seal states, such a cessation or liberation is true peace.” The Dalai Lama.
I submit that the Christian and the Buddhist standpoint are so similar in that revelation arises out of Spirit/Emptiness, in both cases indefinable, and takes form in the relative me. The relative me is that in which God lives but is not God. Other than at the Absolute level, which I cannot comprehend, or I should have reduced the Absolute to a concept, an object!
You are all Buddhas! Wake to that!
(see Intermezzo 7: WAKE UP Submitte by Jo Feat)
I would much rather rest in peace than bliss, which is reactive. Peace, you could say, is proactive. I like that concept very much.
Somehow, this small offering came out of a quote by Jacob Needleman, of Anthony Bloom (Metropolitan Anthony), reported in “Lost Christianity.”
Anthony says “In prayer one is vulnerable, not enthusiastic. And then these rituals have such force. They hit you like a locomotive. You must be not enthusiastic or rejecting-but only open. This is the whole aim of asceticism; to become open” I read this and thought of “let the work do the work” and realised, once again, that we are all actually one, the rest is dogma…and wept for joy.
Is Peace then, the peace that passeth all understanding, the substrate of both Love and Fear? I experience that it is but I do not know how to turn it on!
It is; just that, when all else is surrendered and the struggling to understand is relinquished.
This article is beautifully illustrated in a feedback I have received in the last couple of days from Nicola Davies (printed with permission) and which is printed as a response to Intermezzo 6 “Entering The Circle- The Great Womb Space” but I repeat it here in this Context;
Wow Mike That has just about summed up my week in France last week. The strong resistance to going there, the bewilderment and utter confusion I have felt for months now. I felt like a caged animal a lot of the time last week, restless but very energised (I only slept 2 or 3 hours max each night) and also there was a deep sense of mistrust towards my captors. I often looked to the hill behind where sit you and had such a longing to run up the hill into the woods at the top – I felt wild ,full of mischief and playfulness and there was a deep longing to be free. It was extremely difficult for me to come to France. The resistance was enormous but something got me there. A week before the course I had been walking in the woods with my dogs and I had suddenly stopped with a thunderbolt realisation that there was nothing I could do anymore, I simply had to let go and that was that – it wasn’t up for negotiation.That was what I did every morning in the boat at the Mill, I just asked for help to give me the courage to be with whatever came up and to stop running from it. On the Thursday something shifted and I guess sunk to a new level or became embodied. A little more trust came, the possibility that it is ok to be here ( I mean be alive here ) and a huge sense of relief. After Embodiment 2 i felt so angry with you Mike (for 3months in fact) and I was disillusioned with you and the work and that was extremely uncomfortable. I don’t know what got me to France but something knew I had to go and I’m very pleased I did. My heart has been hurting so much the last few months and i told you I had been having palpitations and it had felt like I had a vice crushing my chest – it had prevented me from running, something I have always done. This morning I went for a long run, but it was different, my chest felt free and also I felt I wasn’t running out of anger I was running for the joy of running, because I could , because i was free to do so— and it felt wonderful. As usual I can’t find the words. The timing of this piece is perfect.
Thank you Mike. With lots of love from Nicola
All of us in the group felt much moved by the shining serenity of Nicola on the last day. The work had done the work and we had all been blessed. Michael, one of our number voiced it as follows; I think the most satisfying aspect of the three-part course, was the radiant peace emanating from Nicola at the end of the week.
At the journey’s end,
Freed of sorrow
Liberated in all ways,
Released from all bonds,
No fever exists.”
As I begin to relate to it, the journey is into awareness, in the present, not a linear progress through this conceptual life. The sorrow is attachment to the insubstantial. Freedom is in presence, not reactivity, the bonds are undigested life experience and the fever is intellectual striving.
Love and Fear come together and get heightened around the subject of death. I wrote this at the beginning of 2007 following one of my sporadic brushes with that change of state – some of you have read this before – but I offer it again as an experience ( possibly ) of an alternative way of looking:
The stone, the trees, the gently falling hills.
The water, gathered in the folds, to serve the long-quiet Mill.
A place to rest, or sit, it matters not.
I contemplate the source, set in the chalk-white down
From which the water flows;
Cold from the earth but soon to warm;
Enlivened by the mighty sun, which, like a heart,
Quickens the rise and fall of breath.
Fire, earth and water, dance
and take this fragile, mortal form a while;
‘till comes the in-breath and tired of this ancient sport,
this separation from the source,
the parts unwind and lifted by the sun, borne by the wind,
fall again into the infinitude of the Mother.
“Look, there’s a rainbow!”
MB Jan 07