I feel that for a few weeks now I've had a gradual, sustained opening of the heart. It is because I asked for it, I think, but it is not of my own doing. Certainly the culmination was Homecoming 2015 this past weekend, where I explicitly made the opening of the heart the project. I had many there to teach me, perhaps greatest of all Jim McCarty's meditation and the example of his life.
What I've realized is that it is the recognition of the heart opening that has been most profound for me. I'm not simply transforming, but I'm reflecting and feeling the transformation in a way I haven't often been able to in the past. It's awful hard to accept any credit for it, but it does seem like a matter of timing and circumstance. I believe that reading Stephen Tyman's "A Fool's Phenomenology" has been a great help, as it has, either or both, (A) given my mind the tools to identity what's going on within, (B) occupied my mind enough to let something more subtle and deep through. Either way, I couldn't be more grateful.
It occurs to me that the occasion of transformation is something that is really only noticed in its essence in retrospect. For a very long time I have felt hampered, held back, unable to sincerely commit to a spiritual path. I'm most grateful for an authentic mode of this experience, but from whence comes this authenticity? It's as if a driveshaft, so long out of alignment, skipping along the transmission, hitting and missing, has suddenly aligned. Is it possible to see these obstacles as not simply preventing the experience I seek but also building up to it, chipping away the driveshaft into a workable mechanism?
Much of this centers on the release of self-judgment, a more relaxed and faithful praxis in my personal life. I've been dieting and exercising, and for a perfectionist this is a recipe for giving up. But I've been so much more successful by letting myself fail, forget, and stumble, and simple working on picking up the practice again. There's no way to describe why this occurs now rather than before. It must be some sort of change of perspective, some unfathomable unblocking that has allowed the potential to find its kinetic.
Marijuana has also been a factor. I've seen it as something I enjoy but cannot use without implicitly rejecting a spiritual path. And the experience of Homecoming, where I abstained, has shown me that it was never about the pot. It's been about a long process of learning how to, so to speak, grow new senses.
Pot makes people lazy, forgetful, selfish, paranoid, etc. The list goes on. It has not had a completely positive effect on my life. Within me it engenders an inwardness that I never really recognized as positive, and in many ways was not (it didn't help me connect with others, if anything it prevented it). However, one sense in which it was useful to this process within which I now write is a sense of self in a more visceral and direct mode, a way of paying attention to one's inner state. Pot helped me gain an interior experience that helped me recognize when more authentic inner change was at work. My point is not to recommend marijuana; it's to show how we truly do not understand how life works in its patterns and cycles. And lately I've felt a strong, natural desire to discontinue its use, which feels not good or bad but simply appropriate, in the way snowfall in Februrary is.
Much of the utility of the meditative, contemplative, reflective life is in the cultivation of this interiority, so that there is a workable apparatus of consciousness and study that need not rely on the outer world being in perfect order. In fact, the metaphor of alignment in the drive shaft example I described earlier is something I thought about today with respect to pot and other elements which have often stuck me as impediments to a more aware life. I was thinking today that perhaps it is the programming of the higher self to purposely hold back certain aspects of one's growth to let others catch up, so that forward motion can occur as a concert of many aspects of self.
Imagine a bunch of planes that need to fly in formation. Before the order is given, they may be flying on different vectors; this is easily corrected. They might be going different speeds--again, easily corrected. But some might need to slow down to let others catch up is an unavoidable necessity if one wants all of them to fly in unison. If we impede ourselves, limit and hold ourselves back, perhaps it is not a matter of doing wrong. Perhaps it is setting the stage for the true blossoming. The best we can do is to patiently wait for the alignment of the stars within. That which is not needed truly does fall away, but in its own time, for its own reasons.