It’s not uncommon for people who have been dedicated practitioners of meditation or other inner disciplines to reach a stage of feeling that they have reached an impasse, or that their expectations have not been met and they don’t know the way forward any more. Their original motivation has worn out….Here is one such:
Re. My whole life feels like it's floating about me--the choices I've made, the decisions, and all that has not worked out as I would have expected.
A wise person once said to me: "If there's nothing to do, do nothing". I've borne this in mind always, but yet periodically try to make things happen. Like the embers of a fire flaring up when handfuls of leaves are flung into it, the flames die, the leaves are gone, and why look for more leaves?
L. They were your choices, and there was a root --they are not isolated or separate, but all connected at a certain level of being. That's the crucial thing--they belong together, the choices of your life; they represent a level of self-ness, even if you can’t stay there anymore.
Somewhere there is a core--the root or seed from which all the actions of a life, all the choices, stem and manifest in patterns-- superficial patterns, associated patterns which seem important or necessary at the time, but later, looking back, can turn into regrets when the full consequences are seen. You can't see the consequences when you're in the pattern.
That core, though. What is it for you? To keep asking this question leaves no space for depression or swimming about in the flood. You must find your answer, not anyone else’s answer.
All genuine teachings combine into the same signposts: eg. no personal history (all those choices irrelevant). The languages differ, but the message is always the same from different angles. Together, this is very persuasive that an answer is possible!
The illusory 'I' , which has no continuing existence, makes patterns like gigantic snow-flakes, desperately maintained in the winter of our separation --separation from the heart's core – when the embers are too low to melt the tracings of all those connections and choices.
Re. Way back, a little child, I think I was aware of embers. They've always been there, and were fed by various loads of leaves at different times, and I really expected at some point everything to fuse naturally into a superb and lasting creation! Ha! But now, the matter at hand is that I've never found out where the embers came from, or what maintained them--it's clearly not the leaves, especially as the leaves have run out for me!
L. So you have the question for your New Year. Take this question away when you go next week and ask the sea and the wind (and rain!). You know there's a tiny, square 11th century chapel high on the cliffs on a windswept headland near where a female hermit apparently once lived. Perhaps you should ask her.
May it be a year full of blessings for you and all your family. (Blessing: to consecrate, make holy, from O.E blētsian, blēdsian to consecrate, orig with blood: blōdisōian, blōd blood)
Re. Thank you for the wish of a year consecrated and made holy. The words you wrote in the bracket brought the much used 'blessings to you' out of a sleepy soup that I often hear them in! A year made holy...a consecrated year....Quite a thought!
I became aware of my embers and what might sustain them through direct experience of the embers in you. I navigate by those embers. When I look at the story of my life and the strange fraught relationships and crazy decisions I have made, it seems like a badly written novel. But when I am in direct contact with the embers, there is love and gratitude, and it all makes strangely sense, not on a cognitive level, but at the core, and the only question to answer becomes what is it that maintains the embers, and what is this something asking of me now? Maybe it is a great creative project, and maybe it's much simpler.
Your words resonated particularly strongly with me as I have been fighting for my embers this holiday as well, feeling the snow getting deeper, the inertia of habits, the density of stories and undigested family fields shutting down my perception and making my thinking concrete. The world becomes concrete and symbolic space collapses. My story feels concrete and not fluid, and can be carved up into bits that don't seem to fit together. I'm not longing for more leaves, but for breath, for tending of the embers and for the fire of the heart or of the spirit.
It reminds me of something you once said in a meditation weekend; 'what comes from the heart touches the heart'.
There is fire in the earth in my experience. A different kind of light that blazes up from the Ground of Being and opens up to non-conceptual space and luminous darkness when met. My metaphoric thinking might well be suffering from the Christmas denseness....but I do think there is fire in the Ground, and that the embers are not just resting on top of the ground with no roots to deeper heat.
L. Embers in the underworld....hmm...the thought came of a roman central heating system, with the heat from the embers underneath ducting warmth through all the rooms of the house.
Maybe flames are not necessary....except to create more embers....?