The Guest House

 

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice.
meet them at the door laughing and invite them in.

Be grateful for whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

– Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks

Rumi: The Guest House

 
The Guest House
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

~ Rumi ~

Lookin’ good for Jesus

 

looking_good2.jpg

I thought this was cute. Why not look good for Jesus?

Seems that it would be part of any comprehensive and integral approach 😉

looking_good1.jpg

And it is always interesting to explore where I find the genuine truth in this, for myself. Where do I find the genuine truth in looking good for Jesus?

For me, it has to do with inviting guests.

Any content of awareness is a guest, so if we take a visit by Jesus to happen within content of awareness, we can invite it in.

We can do certain (second person) practices, find receptivity of the three centers, and more. We can invite Jesus in as alive presence in its many forms such just alive presence, or its aspect of luminosity, or infinite love, or wisdom, or the fiery heart quality I find when I do Christian practices, or for others, maybe as a vision or a voice, or something else. Or just the good old taste of an open heart at our human level.

And if we take Jesus, or Christ, or the combination, to be a noticing of what we are (that which experiences happens within, to and as), then that is also something that can be invited in. We can prepare the situation, as best as we can. And that guest may come as well, or not.

So by inviting in Jesus as any or all of these guests, we want to look our best. We want to look good for Jesus, inviting him in for a visit.

Of course, Jesus, as anything else, lives his own life, on his own schedule. And that is also part of the game.

Ragged guests

 

Sometimes the guests that come through are pretty ragged… (Guests here meaning any content of experience, including emotions, reactivity, wounds, etc.) And if we try to push them away, ignore them, call the police, pretend they are not there, or end up wailing or running frantically around with them, they stay ragged.

The other option is to be with them in an heartfelt way, to allow whatever comes up from them, listen to it, feel into it, and even love it. That is how people in our life often can heal, and that is often how these guests can heal as well.

Again, nothing new here. We know it from our own life… seeing it in the world of humans and other beings, and the inner world of emotions, reactivity, wounds, and so on. At our human level, the outer and the inner mirror each other.

We can explore it quite simply in this way… just being with what comes up, in an heartfelt way. And we can also explore it more in detail through for instance voice dialog or the Big Mind process. Listening to disowned voices, the ones that are hurt in different ways, allowing them as they are, not needing them to change, not using them as something to manipulate or as a gateway into something else. Being interested in who they are, their history, being receptive to them, respecting them as they are, seeing and allowing them, feeling into what they say, and even loving them as they are. Even shifting into Big Heart and embracing them from Big Heart.

In terms of the three centers, there is receptivity at the head center (seeing), belly center (feeling, felt-sense), and heart center (love)… in short, a heartfelt seeing.

When we resist them (identify with the resistance), we not only rehearse the (apparent) split between I and Other but the guests also stay as they are, in misery, coming back later wanting to be let in.

Compassion includes guests in any form and shape, whether they show up in flesh and blood or in the form of emotions, reactivity, frustration, grief, sadness, anger, irritability, restlessness, wanting to be somewhere else.

Guest practice: gratitude, impermanence and disidentification

 

During our solo practice day, I spent an hour or so (in between the choiceless awareness practice) on a guest practice that has surfaced for me… one of those practices that arises and do themselves, or in this case wants to be done more actively by me.

There is a seeing of any phenomena, of all content, as guests. Living their own life, coming and going on their own, following their own schedule.

First, as a parade of things in my life, past and present. Friends, family, relationships, situations, this human self, this body, this personality with its particular likes and dislikes. They are all temporary guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own schedule. So I thank each one for visiting my life, and send them on.

Then, the larger whole… the culture, civilization, humanity, animal life, ecosystem, the earth, this solar system, this galaxy, this universe, the whole world of form… all temporary guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own. Thanking each one, and sending them on.

Then, experiences and states… the initial awakening, bliss, joy, energy, clarity, memories of happiness in childhood, memories of dread from childhood, dullness, times of fear, times of sadness, times of feeling on and off track, insights, clarifications, confusion… specific times and experiences… all guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own, following their own schedule. Thanks to each one, and sending it on.

(Exactly how this is done can be polished up… maybe first past and present people, relationships, things, and situations… then thoughts, insights, stories, personality, the likes and dislikes of the personality, this body, and this human self… then the larger world of art, music, buildings, places, culture, civilization, ecosystems, earth, solar system, galaxy, universe… all the time keeping it specific, bringing attention to specific people, relationships, and so on.)

And then, as I go about my daily life, noticing particular situations and experiences… seeing how they are all guests, living their own life. Thanking them, and sending them on.

I find it to be a very helpful practice in several different ways…

Gratitude, for anything and everything in my life, including those things the personality is not particularly fond of.

Impermanence, seeing how all content comes and goes, as temporary guests. The leaving is inherent in the arriving.

Disidentification, seeing how all content… all situations, experiences, thoughts, personality, even this human self… live their own life, coming and going on their own, following their own schedule. They do not belong to “me”, and there is not even any “me” left that they can belong to. It all gets swallowed up as what comes and goes, living its own life.

Job’s suffering

 

Book of Job, illustration by William Blake

I have just picked up The Book of Job, translated and with an introduction by Stephen Mitchell. Before I get too far into it, I want to explore what comes up for me around the topic of suffering now:

  • Life happens. Everything is living its own life, and comes and goes in our lives as guests. This is true for the physical world, and also for our experiences. Even our experiences… everything we may take as ourselves such as our thoughts, choices, impulses, actions… even all of those are guests, living their own life, coming and going on their own, and on their own time.
  • An experience of suffering comes from the clash between life + a belief. Life is one way and it should be another way, according to my stories about it, so there is a sense of something being off. If the clash is mild, there is stress, and if the clash is stronger, there is suffering.
  • Suffering can be seen as an invitation
    • To deepen into who and what we are. To deepen into our shared humanity, to allow edges to round off, to see that we are all in this together, we are all in the same boat, to find in myself what I see in others and recognize in others what I know from myself, specifically, to recognize the suffering of others as my own, allowing for a receptive heart which invites action.
    • To allow and be with our experiences, as they are… allowing the resistance to them to fall away, seeing that it is the resistance, or rather the identification with this resistance, that creates the experience of suffering.
    • To see what is already more true for us. To investigate our beliefs, see if they are true, what happens when I hold onto it and if it wasn’t there, and explore the truths in all of its reversals. And seeing that the truths of its reversals, all together, is what is already more true for us, and also reveals the inherent neutrality of the situation.
  • And then finally, to find a genuine appreciation for what is, as it is…. not as an invitation for anything, not as something that will get us something else, not as something to manipulate… but for its own sake. To appreciate, and even love, what is, as it is. As life… as God expressing and experiencing itself.

In alchemy, this is also the three phases from nigredo (the misery) through albedo (working through, clarification, differentiation) to rubedo (the fruits of the work), and then back to nigredo again to explore a new facet of it.

Struggling with guests: seeing them as stepping stones and tools only

 

To continue the guests analogy, and combine it with my experiences with the group yesterday…

We can see experiences as guests, coming and going on their own, living their own life.

And we can explore how we relate to these guests.

The ultimate hospitality is that of Ground, which already and always allows any experience. It is the nature of awareness to allow any content, and it already and always does that. There is no way for it to do anything else. Awareness inherently allows any guests, and their coming and going on their own time.

But when this host takes itself to be a guest, it forgets about itself as the ultimate host. There is now a sense of a separate I, an I with an Other, and there is inevitably a struggle with some or all of the guests, in different ways and with different intensities. We try to invite some and discourage others. When they arrive, we try to encourage some to stay and others to leave.

And we can also try to manipulate guests in different ways.

We can see them as stepping stones to something else, a tool for achieving a particular goal, something to transform into something else, something to transcend, something to dress up to make appear as different than what it is. In short, we don’t appreciate them for what they are, as they are. We want them to be different, or to be a tool for us to achieve something.

In our external life, manipulating guests this way seems cynical and even neurotic. And it is no less cynical and neurotic when we relate to our experiences this way.

It is all being caught up in manipulating what is, being caught up in the apparent solidity of I and Other, of seeing as solid the wanting of things to be different.

A simple example is suffering (life + a belief that it shouldn’t be that way). We can try to discourage it from entering. When it is there, we try to ignore it or make it go away. Or, if we see ourselves as a little more sophisticated (although we are not really), we can try to manipulate it in different ways. We can use it to develop compassion, to find peace with it, to allow beliefs and identities to fall away, to deepen into our humanity. We may not (overtly) try to make it go away, but we may also not be quite happy with it as it is. There is still a lack of appreciation for it as it is, for its own sake.

That appreciation for it as it is, for its own sake, comes when Ground notices itself as Ground. There is a recognition that this appreciation for any guest, for any content of experience independent of its particulars, is already and always there. It is only clouded up by the surface drama sometimes, created by a mistaken identification and a sense of I and Other.

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