Bare bones -- returning to Self

In my slow digestion of Pema Chodron's "When Things Fall Apart", I find myself coming across her wisdom in moments that I really need to receive it, though sometimes met with apprehension, it's an invitation to go deeper, even if my inner self is, sometimes, in denial about what it may find.

I have been contemplating this one passage, this one chapter really, that she speaks about Hopelessness...

"For those who want something to hold on to, life is even more inconvenient.  From this point of view, theism is an addiction.  We are addicted to hope -- hope that the doubt and mystery will go away.  ... As long as we are addicted to hope, we feel that we can tone our experience down or liven it up or change it somehow, and we continue to suffer a lot."

Upon reading this passage it immediately triggered me.  Denial, sure, anger, indeed, but a sadness of truth that I hadn't expected.  Addicted to hope?  Really?  When something is wrong, when we're in pain, don't we try to lift ourselves up, even those around us, with notions that there is hope, that there is something better, something that will change this moment from "bad" to "good"?  I sensed that my denial and anger over this notion was because I realized that it wasn't so much that I didn't believe this passage, but that I was shocked to see how I have been clinging to hope.

She speaks about the first Noble Truth, and how when we're suffering it doesn't mean that there is something, actually, wrong.  A wild notion: suffering does not equate with something being wrong.  I suppose this is where our judgment comes into play.   

"Hope and fear come from feeling that we lack something; they come from a sense of poverty.  We can't simply relax with ourselves.  We hold on to hope, and hope robs us of the present moment."

Hope robs us of the present moment.  I literally had to put the book down when I read this.  In my own clinging to hope, I've become addicted to standing outside of myself, disconnected and numb, all so whatever suffering I was experience would go away.  Though it's clear that if it's not processed through it never simply "goes away", it simply builds, and returns, and oftentimes we are overwhelmed by this pain... and we return to hope.

This reminds me of days and weeks (and months and years!) of training with Kamala about the Four Forces, about language, about how each word has its own meaning, sure, but there is both a functional and discordant energy that surrounds each word.  In thinking of "hope", it's, naturally, a good word, right?  What's so 'wrong' with hope?  That's the problem.  Thinking of it in terms of "right" and "wrong".  It's a word.  It's an action.  It's a feeling.  It is... neutral.  It's powerful because we give power to it.  So when she speaks about the renunciation of hope, it's not that attaining "hopelessness" is bad, it's simply a return to form, a return to the bare bones, to the beginning of the beginning, without escapism...

I've sat with this notion of hopelessness for about a month now -- seeing my role in the past of sharing that addiction with others.  Sure, I've held space for someone's suffering and trauma, but somewhere in that space there is this leakage of hope, of attaching the cord of clinging thoughts to someone else, so they, in turn, can feed the addiction, numb themselves instead of being present, I mean FULLY present in their bones, and then spreading it to someone else.

I like hope.  I love hope.  I cling to it.  I nurture it.  It nurtures me.  This isn't about the negating aspects of creating a world full of hopelessness -- it's about me understanding my addiction, my clinging, to something outside of myself when suffering comes.  It's about an awakening into myself that hope, in its pure form, is great, but when I use it to not feel what I am experiencing, even for a moment, then it's pure illusion.  I've spent enough time in that reality...

My spiritual mother and I have been digesting these aspects together.  It never surprises me that when I am processing through something, she is also processing through something very similar.  Here we were just the other day, a couple of hours into a conversation on the phone about hopelessness, addiction, honoring form... and we hit the same road block: in Buddhism we're taught about non-clinging, about getting to the core of being nothing (no-thing), and yet in Paganism we're embracing that we are all One in the Universe -- we are everything; we're the cup, we're the trees, we're the wind, we're the trash, we're everything... so we're centered in this reality of being nothing and everything, all in one, without hope... needless to say we had a good laugh...

The clinging, the attachment, coming back to Chodron's quote about how life is more inconvenient when we have things we are holding on to.  I awakened to something important in my pattern of life: when in the darkness of my depression (which visited me last month for a few weeks) I am without hope.  I am in the dark, I am in the suffering, and I am in the pain.  I don't cling to hope (generally) to escape it, I spend much of the beginning portions sitting in it, returning to the bare bones, and yet when I see that thread of light, I jump to it, cling as though it's the last breath I'll ever take, and the work of returning to Self has vanished in place of numbness and fear... fear that I will allow myself to be swallowed in the shadows, fear that I have always been in the shadows, and this, the Light, is the true illusion.  We tell ourselves stories when we're in pain.  Sometimes I'm a better storyteller when suffering that when in the light... a complete judgment, and others may not agree with that statement, yet this is the character that chooses that truth in that moment.

Hopeful... hopeless... I sense that all I need right now is to burn some white sage and be in the center of my bare bones, returning to Self...

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