Suffering

I posted this as a reflection to my Instagram a year ago. I have migrated to this delightful world called WordPress. This is an excerpt from Thomas Merton’s autobiography Seven Storey Mountain.

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“Indeed, the truth that many people never understand,
until it is too late, is that the more you try to avoid
suffering, the more you suffer, because smaller and
more insignificant things begin to torture you, in
proportion to your fear of being hurt.
The one who does most to avoid suffering is, in the
end, the one who suffers the most: and his suffering
comes to him from things so little and so trivial that
one can say it is no longer objective at all.
It is his own existence, his own being, that is at once
the subject and the source of his pain, and his very
existence and consciousness are his greatest torture.
This is another of the great perversions by which the
devil (Ego) uses our philosophies to turn our whole nature
inside out, and eviscerate all our capacities for good,
turning them against ourselves.”

I feel blessed to have been guided by Grace to endeavor to acknowledge and embrace my discomfort and “suffering” and have emerged on the other side the better for it.

“And now for something completely different” listen and be with whatever arises

 

 

Catalyst

Defined

Noun

A. (chemistry) a substance that initiates or accelerates a chemical reaction without itself being affected

B. something that causes an important event to happen

For purposes of this ramble, I am referring to definition B. I am reflecting on a particular event or series of circumstances that left me without any certainty. I found myself confused, almost distraught. I had believed that what someone had expressed to me was sincere and authentic. I remember specifically experiencing an intuitive thought, that this person is not what they insist they are. I’ll never know for sure as they are so deep into the charade that they believe the tales they’re telling. I knew though I was a goner.

Nothing is what it seems, solid stone turned to quicksand. Everything I reached out to hold, evaporated the moment I touched it. I was experiencing absolute anguish and despair. I had exhausted every natural remedy. I wanted something, anything to make it stop.

I miraculously was compelled by a source not of this earth to turn within. A degree of which had never been explored. By me anyway. Turned the devices off. I sat, lit candles and incense, and experienced absolute silence. Every spare moment of my, “me time”, after the kids went to bed. Was dedicated to delving deeper. I was determined to experience this completely.

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I found unconditional forgiveness, understanding and a love of myself and seemingly everyone I now encounter. I don’t do anything that is not motivated by self-interest. And neither does anybody else. If I can forgive myself for the worst I can be, because I’m human and develop another way to be. So can anybody, given the time and motivating set of circumstances. My catalyst was an encounter with another creature motivated by self-interest. And a lovely creature they are no better or worse than I.

How does that lead to Integrity?

Welcome, if you’ve not been following along on our trip, investigating the spiritual principles behind working the steps found in the 12 Steps, primarily from the book Alcoholics Anonymous

So here we are at Step 5 Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. I am not going to talk here, about how it’s done, or why, or the ways to overcome the inevitable reluctance to performing this step. There is a plethora of writing on those subjects.

I want to relay my experience of how admitting the sheer wretchedness of myself leads to integrity.

Integrity- noun

1. adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.

2. the state of being whole, entire, or undiminished:

3. a sound, unimpaired, or perfect condition.

 

When I first learned that integrity was the principle behind this, I automatically thought #1 here and was confused other than the idea of integrating my entire past, however repulsive, by honest admission.
I have found, though that this step is imperative to arriving at #2 being whole.
Throughout my life, I denied or fought my demons or impaired myself to escape it. In doing so I gave these secrets power, which in turn pushed me to even more erratic insanity. I have to be a member of the human race and society, however painful it is. By sharing my weaknesses and flaws with another, healing my battered character can begin.

The Seeker

I’ve looked under chairs
I’ve looked under tables
I’ve tried to find the key
To fifty million fables

chorus:
They call me The Seeker
I’ve been searching low and high
I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

I asked Bobby Dylan
I asked The Beatles
I asked Timmothy Leary
But he couldn’t help me either

chorus

People tend to hate me
‘Cause I never smile
As I ransack their homes
They want to shake my hand

Focusing on nowhere
Investigating miles
I’m a seeker
I’m a really desperate man

I won’t get to get what I’m after
Till the day I die

I learned how to raise my voice in anger
Yeah, but look at my face, ain’t this a smile?
I’m happy when life’s good
And when it’s bad I cry
I’ve got values but I don’t know how or why

I’m looking for me
You’re looking for you
We’re looking in at each other
And we don’t know what to do

Pete Townsend

The Who

When you can’t look on the bright side, I’ll sit with you in the dark -Alice in Wonderland

This week a theme has been percolating within me since my last post and the one before that. Things that I’ve read, things I have been thinking about, I know that is a dangerous endeavor, given my thinking problem. I have uncovered something that seems universal.  There is no way I can be of any help if I can’t comprehend what you’re even talking about. In addition, good things grow out of compost.

If I am to help anybody find God I must understand the sinner- God Calling

One thing that had been scratching the inside of my skull was one I heard in A.A. meetings and I found it here.

A drunk fell in a hole and couldn’t get out. A businessman went by. The drunk called out for help. The businessman threw him some money and told him, get yourself a ladder. But the drunk could not find a ladder in this hole he was in.

A doctor walked by. The drunk said, “Help, I can’t get out.” The doctor gave him drugs and said, “Take this, it will relieve the pain.” The drunk said thanks, but when the pills ran out, he was still in the hole.

A renowned psychiatrist rode by and heard the drunks cries for help. He stopped and said, “How did you get there? Were you born there? Were you put there by your parents? Tell me about yourself, it will alleviate your sense of loneliness.” So the drunk talked with him for an hour, then the psychiatrist had to leave, but he said he’d be back next week. The drunk thanked him, but he was still in his hole.

A priest came by and the drunk called for help. The priest gave him a Bible and said I’ll say a prayer for you. He got down on his knees and prayed for the drunk, then left. The drunk was very grateful, he read the Bible, but he was still stuck in that hole.

A recovering alcoholic happened to be passing by. The drunk cried out, “Hey, help me, I’m stuck in this hole.” Right away, the recovering alcoholic jumped in the hole with him. The drunk said, “What are you doing? Now we’re both stuck here.” But the recovering alcoholic said, “It’s okay, I’ve been here before, I know how to get out.”

Taking all of that into account, all of which I, wholeheartedly agree with, I am willing and able to get into the foulest putrid muck of the abyss, with you.

It is a place from which I have emerged, but not without someone who has been there. So the cycle continues, a seemingly catastrophic fracture of psyche takes us to unfamiliar territory, where the solid ground on which I once found firm and reliable is now quicksand. All of the survival mechanisms on which I had relied upon have evaporated. The primary reason, I have found was and continues to be my recent discovery of using things, people, activities to make me feel better. That I was maniacally self-centered and demanding that these things continue to do their magic. They inevitably fail, leaving me in nearly unbearable pain. The only things left are find something more satisfying or surrender.

I ask for help from God, and others who have shared their experience with me, elucidating the familiarity with my dilemma. I can sit in that dark place with you and share without fear and grow.