Thursday, October 29, 2009

Risking disapproval

In spite of (or perhaps because of?) the amount of time I dedicate to my meditation practice and to reading, studying, and writing about spirituality, I still seem to be rather painfully far from enlightenment -- particularly in three areas.

1. I am still fearful, and have trouble remaining calm and centered when life gets scary, messy, or confusing -- and even when the possibility arises that it might get that way.

2. I am not nearly as compassionate with others as I ought to be.

3. I am not nearly as compassionate or trusting with myself as I ought to be.

Number three has obviously been raising its head lately as I struggle after the fact to organize what turns out to have been a rather messy summer. And it came up again this morning, because I read this in Chogyam Trungpa's Shambhala: the Sacred Path of the Warrior.

"You have to completely conquer the feeling that there is something fundamentally wrong with your human nature and that therefore you need discipline to correct your behavior. As long as you feel that discipline comes from outside, there is still a lingering feeling that something is lacking in you. So letting go is connected with letting go of any vestiges of doubt or hesitation or embarrassment about being you as you are. You have to relax with yourself in order to fully realize that discipline is simply the expression of your basic goodness. You have to appreciate yourself, respect yourself, and let go of your doubt and embarrassment so that you can proclaim your goodness and basic sanity for the benefit of others."

I read this and felt like crying, because it felt like he was speaking directly to one of the most wounded parts of me. Yes, I am mostly a good person, but I often suspect it's because I'm terrified I'll be caught and punished if I do anything wrong. Yes, I am a faithful person, but I sometimes wonder if it's because some part of me still worries God will rain vengeance on me if I am not. And though I understand intellectually that God is loving, and lives within me as well as outside of me, some part of me still thinks of God as an angry father, waiting for me to make a fatal misstep -- which contributes to a lack of confidence that is embarrassing, given my age and expertise.

This issue has been bumping up to the surface a lot lately, which is probably a good thing; it's always good to befriend those wounded bits that bump around inside us -- especially when they have a way of disabling or derailing us. I suspect it's partly coming up because it may finally be safe for it to do so, as I develop more and more skills for ministering to those hidden parts of me. But it's also because I'm stepping out into new arenas, trying new things, putting myself on the line in occasionally public ways, which is always stressful.

So to honor that adventuresome spirit in me, I will share this image which I created yesterday. I was cleaning out my photo files (you'll see another similar image off to the left, which will go with today's poem) and there were images which had some fun ingredients but lacked interesting composition, so I began to play. I'm not going to claim this is great art, but I'm going to at least honor the creative impulse by putting it out there. And I invite you to do the same. Try something new; take a risk; explore. And then share the results with a friend -- and learn to trust that your impulses may not be either bad or great -- they might just be, well, you, exploring. And THAT'S OKAY!


Maureen said...


You might enjoy the visual meditations at There are meditations for being present, authentic, inclusive, and responsible.

Also, have you heard Jacob Needleman, author and philosophy professor at San Francisco State? Here's where you can find clips from his talks:

Kimberly Mason said...

Wow we are SO on the same page! I have been focusing on being okay with just being who I am and realizing that God made us the way he made us for a reason...keep leading me along this path (or whatever path you are taking) I enjoy taking walks with you!

Joyce Wycoff said...

Diane ... love the image and the thoughts ... does this mean I can now eat chocolate without discipline? ;-)
You are always an inspiration.

Unknown said...

That's a beautiful quote. It's also a lovely image. XO