Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Shape Shifting

"The truths we have come to understand need to find their visible expression in our lives. It is not enough to be a possessor of wisdom. To believe ourselves to be custodians of truth is to become its opposite, is a direct path to becoming stale, self-righteous, or rigid. Ideas and memories do not hold liberating or healing power. There is no such state as enlightened retirement, where we can live on the bounty of past attainments. Wisdom is alive only as long as it is lived, understanding is liberating only as long as it is applied. A bulging portfolio of spiritual experiences matters little if it does not have the power to sustain us through the inevitable moments of grief, loss, and change. Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched."
- Jack Kornfield

Jack writes a strong truth when he writes: "Knowledge and achievements matter little if we do not yet know how to touch the heart of another and be touched." More commonly, in my opinion, we may know how to touch and be touched (at least something of it) but lack the courage. There are people in my life who openly tell me this business of love is too much for them. Touching the heart of another and being touched is after all a matter of fully opening, of willing to be naked in the face of what comes next when we are close whether it is touching or being touched. There is no avoiding that and it means ignoring the lessons of the suffering of the past in favor of faith in the future. This faith is not so much faith that suffering will not happen again, but that opening one's heart and the nakedness required is worth it.

It can be confusing too. Consider this:

"Everything in life is a question of drawing a line, and you have to decide for yourself where to draw it. You can't draw it for others. You can try, of course, but it doesn't work. People obeying rules laid down by somebody else is not the same thing as respecting life. And if you want to respect life, you have to draw a line."
- John Berger

That is equally true, is it not? It turns out that drawing lines does not contradict the openness required by love, but how shall we achieve that? The first step is to understand the futility of drawing lines in order to protect against suffering. That is not why we draw lines. We draw lines because it is in our nature to do so, not because there is any necessary utility in it.

Here is a light hearted example of what can happen.

Shape Shifting

You asked me to shift
shape with you. You took your flight
and left me with ears
and stronger haunches
than I've ever had before.
I hunkered, hiding
in the grass like hares
often do, seething about
how I would rather
be a bear, dammit!

June 25, 2009 12:52 PM


  1. It's such a hard thing. Jesus. It is such a hard thing, love. The easiest thing through - into you - and such a hard thing to live.

    I think about those that I have loved and hurt. That makes me more wary than being hurt myself. How is it that I, who mean well, who doesn't want anyone to live in pain, has hurt so many? I see their pain and wish them lightness and can not do anything to help them on.

    Yes, I want them to be bears but big smiling gentle bears. Ha! And I very luckily live in new love and bear the weight of my lightness. Isn't that funny~ And I can't help being in love.


  2. It is a point of recognition, my friend. There is a very great need for humility in the face of the evidence. It did not quite work out the way my wife said. She said I was going to be sorry and I am, but not the way she meant it. That I continue to hurt people without any intention to hurt them is a strong measure both of how short I and they fall.

    As I look at my shortcomings the bottom drops out from beneath me and I realize how completely I rely on God's grace, no matter how wise I have begun to feel by my own measure. This is one area that we are so completely interdependent that to speak of my attainments is also to speak of yours. We cannot ascend without each other.

  3. Crap! "The first step is to understand the futility of drawing lines in order to protect against suffering." This is exactly why I think I do it! And yet it never works. The very act of my drawing a line causes pain.

  4. Of course. And if you choose the other defense, withdrawing, then you leave behind holes where the wind whistles through as Paul Simon wrote...Losing love is like a window in your heart. Everything is blown apart, everyone hears the wind blow. The holes may be in you, in your lover, in the world, in all if you are really clumsy at it. You think you are private. We are never private.

  5. ah... yes by drinking the alchemical potion of love, we become a shapeshifter... a transformed trasforming transformable trasformational transformer...


  6. My point exactly, though there is a little more to it...there is both tempering and training before transformable transforming :D

    This is because making real love on the planet is close to the same level of difficulty as playing a fine musical play much easier on a fine instrument than a so-so one, but there is still the training and the effort. And the desire to actually play.

    Oh by the way, honesty takes training and courage too and these are indispensible in love.


The chicken crossed the road. That's poultry in motion.

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