MINDFULNESS DIALOGUE LIVING buy dapoxetine australia

My hope is to build on the 21 Day Program by continuing the conversation. The 21 sessions are archived and will be the foundation for the conversation which will take the form of a Blog

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Yesterday all day I felt really bad, but couldn’t put my finger on anything that was different from previous days since all this virus anxiety started. I did try my usual things, like meditating, walking, talking about it, even baking. But nothing would move what felt like a dark cloud hanging over my head. Those close to me noticed of course because I tend to be generally positive about life, even and perhaps especially in the face of challenges. This morning, though, the cloud had lifted enough to allow me to explore what had happened to create this and – hopefully – understand what it was that caused it to move away.

Obviously I am not unique in this experience. I am sure, in fact, that all of us have been going through comparable things: emotions that are either new or certainly of a different order of magnitude than our usual reactive responses to the challenges we face. For, our present situation is clearly unprecedented.

I think the point that feels most important for me here, and which perhaps was the source of my ‘dark cloud’ is the realization that this truly is a pan-demic: it is impacting the entire world, or certainly the human species. And it is this fact that brings – for me anyway – the concept of existential angst to a new level. For this threat implies the possibility of species death. In other words, there is no way round this one with the usual thinking that always saw me through in the past: thinking like, this is the result of rash (human) behavior so we will pay a price for this, but we will find a cure, and in the end we all learn from it. Of course, I still hope that this is the case.

But species death seemed to toll another bell – ask not for whom the bell tolls – not just for me this time, but for all of us. This is TS Eliot’s Hollow Men:

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but with a whimper.

But, rather than succumb to the urge to lament further and revel, almost, in our misery, let me turn to what pulled away the dark cloud.

Perhaps it began during the night, in my dreams, which is where many things seem to begin for me. Perhaps, an email from a colleague expressing appreciation for the reflection I offered in the 21 Day program on ‘the way of unknowing’ inspired me to listen to my own words again. What happened though as I reflected on Wendell Barry’s words about the real work starting when we reach the place where we don’t know what to do, and his suggestion that the ‘impeded stream is the one that sings,’ allowed me to suspend the usual thinking and attempts to know and made room for something else to happen. At first, perhaps, nothing more than a longing of a new order. In other words, not simply a longing for a cure or a fix or a solution in the normal sense, in the sense of returning to what we’d had before. Rather a longing that reached beyond anything I could imagine. So, that’s where I went and spent time: longing with a different kind of energy that I might describe more in terms of awe and letting go. It suggested – this longing – stepping out of the world that had been the framework and context for everything up till now.

It was then, I think, that I realized that the pain I’d been feeling – the deep existential anxiety – was caused by the absolute death of the world I still clung to, despite all my protestations and prayers that suggested the contrary. This was a deep tearing away, a frightful burning away, an awful falling away of the world I had long – and rightly – criticized but which had still provided a framework of meaning for me at an immediate level. This was the world of separateness and struggle in the face of annihilating death that still held me bound. Now this world was proving to be less and less stable, even less and less real.

It was then I realized that what I had been experiencing was panic. For panic comes when the old solutions and the old meaning simply melt before your very eyes and you find yourself staring into the darkness. Panic like this will have one of two outcomes: One is disintegration and death as things fall apart because the center can no longer hold, and:

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, the blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere the ceremony of innocence is drowned;

The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity.

How real the words of Yeats sound today.

Panic like this, however, is also the source of a painful awakening and a frightening freedom: a freeing of my soul – my deepest self – from all the vain and foolish pretenses of the superficial knowing of the world that has shaped and formed me for so long; even as I have proclaimed other things, including a larger reality in all the many forms of utopia, nirvana, heaven, God. I remembered the words of DH Lawrence I had quoted in one of the Mindfulness Dialogue reflections: ‘things will happen to us so that we do not know ourselves.’ There is a real price for freedom and awakening, in other words, which is the loss of everything: meaning, purpose, identity. In that place, we no longer know who we are. This is the free fall toward the center of our being: to a place of emptiness; what TS Eliot describes as ‘a condition of complete simplicity (costing not less than everything)’.

But in that freeing, there is a moment of nothingness – of ultimate not-knowing – where the panic gives way to something else: an awakening, a deeper understanding of what you thought you already knew, a revelation:

Surely some revelation is at hand…

For me it was an awakening to the simple fact that death is not the enemy. Rather death is part of life; and not the other way around. Life is the essential reality: death is part of its unfolding and becoming; it is the breathing out to make room for the breathing in; it is letting go and falling in order to fly. Death is the pre-condition for new life.

In other words, the (re)solution of our present challenge is not simply survival; and certainly not survival in the sense of hunkering down in order to return to the old way. For it was the old way of living that brought us to our present impasse. Rather the only solution is new life through death that will take many forms, including physical death for many of us, all of which will involve the letting go of illusions, forgetting ourselves on purpose, and joining in the great dance. Simply surviving in fact, feels like another kind of death: a hell of continuing disintegration. What we need is to learn to integrate death – the breathing out and the letting go of every moment – as a different kind of life: a heaven of infinite becoming.

This is what is happening to us now. But we are not there yet as the news describes all too vividly everyday.

And what rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

No need to panic though. This is simply life – the life that lives (and loves) us – unfolding in ways that transcend our capacity to understand.

One thought on “Blog”

  1. Your words ring clear and true, Danny – as always! Thank you for this beautiful – and comforting – reflection at this confusing time., and thank you for the poetry citations that are ever wonderfully woven throughout…Certainly we all feel some level of “existential panic” threatening to take us over each day – so many unknowns… I have to start over every morning to pry fear’s icy,terrifying fingers away from my brain – and this is even before I’ve watched any news updates! (which I’m seriously limiting each day). As you say, this is indeed “simply Life” which loves us, but it also “lives” us in so many ways where we have absolutely no control. However we do have so many other amazing new ways thru the Internet to stay connected to each other & to the world and this is making such a difference while quarantining. Two weeks ago, I had no idea what Zoom was nor how to use it; now I Zoom with family & friends all the time! And also, the humor and jokes that fly around the planet at warp speed make me laugh out loud at least 1/day. It makes me think of Dylan Thomas & that idea about the “force that through the green fuse drives the flower drives my life” is very much at work in these dark times – driving all kinds of new life and re-ordered structures. Anyway that’s what I’m praying for this Easter Season! Deep peace and Resurrection Blessings to all!

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