With infinite compassion, meditate on You.

I don't mean meditate on your "Self" with a capital S. I mean meditate on the heap of loose threads, rough edges, unforgivable shortcomings, and awkward body parts that you keep trying to reject as you "progress on the spiritual path." I mean all that haunts you, all that you wish you could leave in the past, like Marley's ghost...

Perhaps your religion taught you to repress or cast out your sins. Perhaps the New Age puritans taught you to transcend your "lower" self and reach a "higher" plane.  Perhaps the Non-Dualists taught you to repeat, "I am not this body," the most arrogant claim an embodied awareness can make!

And it takes quite an effort, doesn't it, to believe this anti-body anti-matter propaganda? Perhaps this effort has left you weary, weary and ashamed of your constant failure to live "up" to your higher Self. For you are all too human, aren't you?

Yes, and this very humanity, this very mess you keep trying to throw away, may be your salvation...

Old voices told you your body was the wrong color, the wrong shape, with too many blemishes and wrinkles, and too soft. And your mind is even worse! Too angry, too proud, too jealous, too opinionated, too full of lustful images. And so you tried to purge not only your body but your mind: to still it, and separate its true "consciousness" from its thoughts.

Yet all this effort to rise against gravity, all this struggling to look like the blond in the yoga journal on the beach, balancing her free-range grass-fed organic torso on one thumb, is actually killing your spirit. This competition to be the most enlightened kid on the block is starving you. The slavish work of self-improvement, purification, and "oneness," your very "path to God," is what exhausts you!

So what can you do? Collapse.

Collapse and throw all that you ever renounced into the garbage heap of broken vows. Then throw the one who vows and renounces into the heap too. Because this pile of rubbish, this "massa perditionis" as Augustine called it, is the only true offering that God accepts... It is You.

Toss your body on the heap with all its farts and tears. Pour them like an oblation. Heap on your anger and lust as well, and don't forget to throw your "spiritual techniques" on the pile. Yes, "religious practices" must go into the garbage right along with bad habits. Don't you begin to see that your very strategy for rising above the garbage is part of the garbage?

Christ was crucified at Golgotha. It was the Jerusalem city dump. That is where he offered himself to God.

We all have permission to collapse into a rubbish pile and call it "Me." So please fall. Fall down into your authenticity. Surrender your sagging skin, your belly, your aching joints, your moldering brain, to gravity. Then throw in the thrower.

You have always been fighting the pull of darkness: now give in to Her. Surely, friend, you begin to see that gravity is a form of prayer, a wave of yearning from the Mother below, who draws you to her breast.

When you have collapsed and relinquished every effort to rise "above," when you simply rest in the tangled compost of all you despised about yourself, let it solidify. Admire its complete ruin. Say what Jesus said on the cross: "it is finished." Do nothing at all to change any lost or fallen atom. For the outcast heap of your failed efforts is You, and it glows with uniqueness. It is the perfect You that no other human or angel could possibly be.

When you have finished making your mess, bow down to it. Surrender to your garbage heap and be free: is this not the only "path" to liberation?

Now you can become still, because there is no more struggle or search. And as you become still, you will effortlessly expand. Expanding, you will not experience the heap of You, but the space around it. A trash heap exists in space. The trash heap is the blessing that centers your awareness, so that awareness can become the space around the center too. You could not even be aware of space if it were not the space of your awareness...

Become still from striving, and you awaken to who You are. You see that the space around You has also awakened. This space was here before You were born; it will be here after You die. Free awakened space bathes all creatures in its stillness, and that stillness is compassion.

Compassion is simply the nature of awakened space. Compassion is the stillness that lets things be as they are.

Enfold the heap of all that You have despised and rejected with your own open-endedness, your starlit night of possibility. This is a mystery too wonderful for most of us to grasp right now. So we ease into it by sensing the space of compassion as an Other...

Perhaps this space around us is the Christ, the Mother of God, the Buddha, or our own personal Guru. Whatever form of divine intimacy feels nearest your heart, let that one encompass You, seeping into all your rejected fragments, your darkest corners of shame, your jagged shadows. Now look at your tangle of debris through the Other's eyes, the eyes of Love. And very quietly, with the whisper that is really the sound of your own breath, hear what Love tells you...

Listen deeply. Does Love judge You? Does love pity You? Not at all, for pity, like judgment, creates distance through condescension, and Love wants only to be near.

Does Love feel sorry for you? Not at all, because sorrow is not Love's nature, nor is it yours.

Love speaks tenderly but with a smile, for Love wants you finally to see the humor, the lightness of your situation: how your very effort to rise upward brought you down, how your very ascension became a Fall into this mess of tattered remnants, into this wonder of no-way-out, into acceptance, and the fire of self-revelation.

Look now! Are You not enveloped in the vast luminous breath of Love that is somehow also You? Does each particle of You not sparkle with the beauty of aliveness, just as it is? Are You, in all your heaped rejection, not smouldering with Grace?

Only this is what flowers.

No comments: