Monday, April 10, 2006

Heart-Pouring

A couple years ago, during bhakti meditations on the Goddess, I had some profound experiences which resulted in me crumpling over and breaking down into sobs. After that point, I felt my heart open - literally, physically, felt an energy of connectedness pour from my heart. I didn't achieve any type of absorption; I certainly hadn't entered the subtle realm, as Wilber has described it in his journeys. I just felt more...open. More free. More loving and accepting. It was a physical presence that swirled around in my chest and exploded out to all of my extremities, causing me to radiate hope to the four quarters.

Several days after that experience, I lost the feeling. The connectedness was gone. I wept to the Goddess that it might return, but to no avail. I felt stuck. Lost. Abandoned. My spiritual practice waned, and I didn't return to it in a dedicated fashion until recently.

After about four months of dedicated meditation practice, however, that feeling has returned. I feel whole and connected again, suffused with the energy of boundless love. I feel like doing nothing but acting for the good of all, bringing others to the realization of this tremendous joy, this limitless heart-pouring that drinks in life and yields tears and laughter in return.

The meditation and the calming of my mind have certainly helped. While walking around during the day, I feel that it's easier to recapture some of the peace and tranquility I sometimes manage to achieve during shamatha. This time, however, it's different. Deeper. More profound. Still not a subtle-realm experience, but definitely stronger, less shakeable.

I feel that's because it's based, not just on devotion to the Mother Goddess, but on the cultivation of bodhicitta. It is part of the Goddess - part of the compassionate unfolding of this matrix of existence - but it transcends even her. The work I've been doing in developing relative bodhicitta, practicing tonglen, equalizing and exchanging self and other - it has done wonders in purifying my motivation.

This is the great gift that Tibetan Buddhism has brought to my spiritual practice. It is the gift given to me by the masters of this particular tradition. The emphasis on motivation - a weekly subject of HH Jigdal Dagchen Rinpoche's Sunday teachings during Chenrezi - has done wonders in helping sift the selfishness out of my practice. Before, I was meditating solely for the benefit of my personal connection with the Goddess, and for personal glory. Now, I sit for the benefit of all beings. This is a lesson I hadn't learned prior to my spiritual breakdown; it took my life crashing down around my head for me to open my heart and soul to these teachings.

It is because of their teachings that I ask in any personal conflict, "What can I do or say at this moment to bring this person true happiness?" It is because of their insights that I work diligently with my reactivity. It is because of their example that my spiritual practice has been renewed, and I have found a greater sense of purpose.

It's not about me. It's not about any one of us. It's about all of us - we who are in truth one without a second, the Original Face behind the myriad of masks we've donned since beginningless time.

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