Wednesday, 18 August 2010

On "unbearable" feelings

Sitting with the very lovely Pamela this evening in satsang, I wondered what it was that I had to bring that I wanted to share.  For a long time there was nothing, so I simply enjoyed others' sharings and felt myself gently melting and softening.

Then, as if from nowhere, something did arise. It didn't feel like quite the heart of the matter, but yet it was touching and it arose in response to something that someone else had shared, so I trusted my instincts and shared it anyway.  As my teacher Adam says "there's no need to go digging - always play the top card" - and this was on top.  (Of course by playing the top card, the next card in the deck is automatically revealed...).

What I shared was around "problems" - that the thought that there is a problem with what is happening in life is often very seductive, reasonable and convincing.  And it often appears scary or difficult to challenge it.

To turn around, look the "problem" and the thought in the face - to call its bluff and ask, kindly, "is there really a problem here?" often seems a bit tricky.

Experience tells me that every time I've had (what feels like) the courage to turn around and ask the question "is there really a problem here?", the Wizard of Oz's curtain is pulled back to reveal that there never was a problem, just a state of affairs that I was scared to embrace - usually some feelings that I just didn't want to feel.  And actually it was quite possible to feel the feelings, and everything melted into ease and love, often joy and bliss.

And noticing that quite often the courage to turn around and face the "problem" doesn't arise - that I simply seek a distraction from it, from engaging with reality, from feeling the feelings.

And allowing that to be OK too.  Perhaps even welcoming that.

There's something here about compassion.

Pamela offered Papaji's observation that many of us are in tune with clear-seeing, but are a bit behind with compassion.  He spoke of an aeroplane or a bird with the wing of clear-seeing unfurled but the wing of compassion not aloft.  He pointed out that in order to fly effectively over the landscape (especially in turbulent weather) both wings need to be out.  With only one wing out we will end up flying in circles!  I found this funny and very touching.  And of course in that moment there was compassion - for myself and for all of us.

And then bubbling up inside me I felt what was currently challenging for me in life - what I really wanted to share that evening.

It's around feeling the very strong feelings and sensations that often arise in my body.  I suspect that they may be left over from unresolved "stuff" dating back to childhood, but that's just a guess - I don't know it to be true.  What I do know is that the sensations are seriously intense, contain lots of energy and are very firey.

I know that like all feelings they only want to be felt.

And yet...

And yet they sometimes feel "unbearable".

Or that's the thought that arises, combined with an unwillingness or seeming inability to engage with them.

Pamela's usual observation is that everything that comes to us, comes to us as the infinite in order to know its true nature (which is love).

It's as if love has wrapped itself up in a form and has forgotten itself and then presents itself back to us in order to come home.

All it wants is for us to sit with it with an open heart.

And this feels true to me.

And yet...

And yet the feelings sometimes feel like they are too much.

It feels like...

It feels like there is a problem here!

Yet I know that there aren't really any problems.

So I knew that there was something screwy going on here.  Some confusion on my part.

I came to the humbling point of realising that I could do with a little help with unravelling it.

So I offered it to Pamela and we batted it around together.

Her being with me and it was very helpful.

The words that follow are the words I wrote on the tube coming home, being a synthesis of what arose between us and what followed after...


There is no need to bear "unbearable feelings".

They do not need to be bourne.

No one needs to carry them - to hold their "weight".

They just want to be met in presence.


And yet...they are so intense and fiery.

The fear is that the fire will burn me up.

The longing is that the fire will burn me up.


The fear and the longing are so close.
I rub my hands together as I say this - a millimetre apart - as if making fire!  Perhaps this is what teachers call the heat of practice...


What if I just let the feelings have me...and trust?

Trust that nothing essential can be burned away,

And only that which is not essential will be consumed.

Trust life and love.


It's not about mastering compassion.

It's about letting compassion master us.

It's absolute humility.

Allowing myself to be touched and be torched.

Set alight and burned clean.

Over and over.


Just because.

For love.


With thanks to Pamela