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Chiaroscuro

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Jun. 24th, 2012 | 10:47 am

"The mystic usually reaches the trascendent realization of a 'unitive state' of consciousness, beyond duality and the ordinary space-time framework of present-day human existence, by an intense chiaroscuro of feelings in which instensely dark, torturing periods precede (and at times also follow) moments of ecstatic illumination and bliss. He or she experiences to the utmost the great dramas of transcendent and absolute love, and lives in their most extreme forms the alternating emotions to which total union and seemingly irrevocable separation (or deep-seated guilt) give rise. In the unitive state, the mystic feels that all is included, all is one; yet the fundamental experience at the root of all experience--change--is denied. In timelessness all processes are invalidated, illusory. Only the greatest mystics reach beyond repudiating existence and realize that nirvana and samsara are but two aspects of an ineffable reality in which potentiality and actuality interact." (Rudhyar, Beyond Individualism, pp. 46-47)

This passage reminded me of the maelstrom of feelings that I went through at various points in my spiritual search. Of these, the one that is still most fascinating is the one that began when X came to visit my home for the first time. Rather than my going to a specific place with the conscious intention of seeking out a potentially potent spiritual experience, in this case one of the most potent experiences of non-ordinary states of consciousness was triggered simply by an ordinary person (not a designated spiritual teacher) walking into my home. Once the experience had been triggered, it took on a life of its own--in "waves"--over a period of days.

I know that one of my hopes at that time was to try to establish, or develop, or substantiate, or ground the experience interpersonally through exploring a friendship with this person. What I'm beginning to consider now is that experiences of this kind may be essentially impersonal in nature. This may be why one is so often profoundly disappointed when one tries to substantiate or develop them interpersonally. As compelling as these experiences may be initially, it may be that they can never truly form the basis for a relationship, a friendship, or even a functional student-teacher relationship. There may be moments of awe associated with these experiences--like watching a whale breaching the ocean--but a whale is not a household pet. Unless one wishes to become a professional whale watcher--or to captain a boat that brings others out to whale watch--this is not generally a career option. Similarly, unless one wishes to become a professional devotee, decisions eventually need to be made in order to get one's life back in order after such an experience (since, of their nature, such experiences are momentarily disruptive).

Ultimately, I think it's necessary to decide whether one wants to live in interpersonal relationship or to deny relationship in favor of the "superiority" of the kind of "yogic intimacy" to which the young woman in the Adi Da video referred. There was a time when I felt that the "energy" I experienced at satsang was superior to what I experienced with my partner, with non-devotee friends, with family, etc. Following my mother's death, however, and witnessing the irrevocability of my father's loss of his life partner, led me gradually to reconsider how I had been spending my time. I know it makes a difference to my partner if we spend a quiet evening at home, particularly after we have both been working on academics or around the house, rather than his being alone (or being with friends without me) as I run all over the state looking for inspiration and spiritual fellowship.

The bottom line for me is that there is something fundamentally impersonal about social relationships that are based on supposed shared spiritual affinity. After a while, the social groups, and many of the individuals within them, come to feel stagnant. That, regrettably, seems to be a sign that it is time to leave, or at least to distance oneself enough in order to reconsider one's priorities.


Om Kreem Kalyai Namaha,

okm


  

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