When Life is Disrupted, What Then?

“God disturbs us toward our destiny
By hard events
And by freedom’s now urgent voice
Which explode and confirm who we are.”
- Norman Hirsh

I recently learned of a big change in my work life. A friend had shoulder surgery. Another prepares for dialysis several times a week for the rest of her life.

“God disturbs us toward our destiny.”

How can we move freely through the disruption?

We know, of course, that we are change and we are also resistance to change. We humans gave up clinging and swinging through tree branches for clinging and swinging through stories, for expressing the dream within the dream.

Waking in the wee hours, the swirl of confusion, sadness, blame or self-justification – and all the other 52 flavors – gains momentum, and the inner voice cries out, “I am not that story! I am this other one!”

Returning to the hara point, again and again, my will is not sufficient to let go.

David Rynick at This Truth Never Fails expresses it well:

“In the abstract, I have a great philosophical preference for surrender.  Given my estimate of the relative power of my self-will versus the power of the universe, the only sensible thing to do is to say YES to whatever arises.  But this clarity of thought and belief is not always enough, actually is never enough, when things turn desperate.  Just because I want to or think I should, I can’t will myself to surrender.  Consciously choosing to surrender does not actually loosen the grip of my opinion about how things should be.  The intention to surrender is not the same thing as surrendering.”

Yet the “mysterious pivot,” as Katagiri Roshi used to call it, somehow (sometimes) wondrously appears, and I don’t have to be or do anything other than fully step into and express this dream in a dream. Notions of self power and other power are dissolved by the elixir of grace, the quiet settling of sweet dew.

Reaching out for the hand of God (or Avalokiteśvara if you prefer), the hand of God suddenly appears as a kind, warm surrender.

Really not so bad after all.

Restraining the Nevertheless Deluded One: Vine of Obstacles Turns Two
Zenshin Tim Buckley Dies: One Heartbeat, Ten Thousand Buddhas
Practicing Through Snow and Cold (or Whatever Afflictions May Visit)
BTW, We Have to Remove Your Feet: Being Mortal, Waking Up, and Dying Together
  • phil martin

    Thank you for these beautiful and graceful words.

    It’s always interesting to me which words and teachings stick with us. One thing Katagiri-roshi said that went deep into my heart was, “When you can just throw yourself into Buddha’s world, you find that it supports you, like the water in the ocean.” And yet I struggle over and over again to put those words into action, instead flailing like the drowning man, pulling myself farther under the waves.

    A friend of mine is a recovered alcoholic . (alcoholics are fond of sayings like this, which describe the specific mindset of an alcoholic. For myself, I believe addiction is just a more extreme form of clinging, so all that goes with it is just a more extreme version of being human.) He tells the joke, “How can you tell when an alcoholic has let go of something?…By the claw marks covering it.”

    Like David Rynick says, in theory I know what the sensible thing to do is. Standing on top of the 100 foot pole, I should just take that first step, or to listen to Katagiri’s words and make it a swan dive. I’d like to be able to fly, but I’ll settle for Buzz Lightyear’s description: “This isn’t flying. This is falling with style!”

  • http://JustThis(bigour.blogspot.com) Alan

    Sounds a bit like prevenient grace…something that goes before…always present…a matter of realizing it…

  • http://theconsciousprocess.wordpress.com/ Bob
  • http://www.spirituelewinkelfairia.nl/ Pete

    Thank you for this nice article. It’s so very easy to be non-attached to our own circumstances, in theory that is. But then when life actually throws us these obstacles it turns out to be very hard…