For years I’ve been moving towards the exit of our dominant cultural idea of life and of the way that life should be lived. Instead of making a living, I’ve been actually living. I like to say that I’ve been chasing a different carrot.
I am not enlightened by any degree but rather inspired to move forward through the manure that my life has collected since I entered this world. In Meditation in Action by Chogyam Trungpa, he explains that only an examination of one’s manure (baggage) can we begin to move towards an awakened state of mind. Acceptance of everything (the good, the bad and the ugly) is the entrance hall to enlightenment.
In one form or another, I’ve been practicing self-examination for about twenty years.
As a consequence, I am becoming more and more conscious. I’m feeling the world around me for the first time. I’m feeling myself in it and finding I am part of the whole and the entirety of the whole in itself. It’s like trying on new skin; it feels sort of funny and strange.
The liberation I’m living daily is indescribable. I feel as if I’m watching a movie. The manure that comes with such a feeling is that of superiority. It’s like I’ve been let in on some sort of joke or secret while the rest of world is still completely unaware. When in fact, it may be me who is completely unaware and that the world has been waiting for me to see and feel it for the very first time.
The surreal political events of the past year have only enhanced my experience.
The immense suffering of others has brought a clarity of focus to my personal dilemma and to our collective predicament. My personal dilemma is that through the suffering of others, I am gaining an understanding of the larger picture. That is privilege at a very high cost. Our collective predicament is that we have no idea how to end this suffering. I can’t change this and yet I know that feeling guilty for it is an utter waste of time. What seems useful is to continue to embrace the uncomfortableness of it. How it’s useful I’m still examining for further discovery.
Embracing my privilege offers me a clear picture of the personal responsibility necessary to challenge the often cloaked power attached to that privilege. In other words, I can see its insidious nature because I’m not pushing it away, denying it or chalking it up as some liberal conspiracy to make white men feel guilty. Instead I examine it, giving me a better understanding of how best to navigate such an existence in the face of this knowledge.
The manure of our lives is, as Chogyam Trungpa points out, what allows growth.
If we discard it without reflection, then we waste all of the experiences and potential wisdom that will eventually lead to an awakened state of mind, if we’re brave enough to let it happen. My acceptance of what is present has taken me this far but I’ve only scratched the surface. If I can see that our insistence on trying to untie such a mess, with our current set of tools, only makes the knot tighter; then imagine what the acceptance and examination of all of my baggage could do. Possibly I’ll no longer see it as a knot but rather as a circumstance to grow as an individual, adding to our collective growth and understanding.
The entrance to the hall of enlightenment is mapped out within all of us.
We just have to engage it. That process in itself can be miraculous and full of bliss. If we don’t take the opportunity to use this life to explore what’s within us then it seems to me that we are destined to remain on autopilot for the remainder of our time here. Personally and collectively, that unconscious approach has been disastrous and I fully accept it. I accept the shit along with the flowers.
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