“Real fearlessness is the product of tenderness. It comes from letting the world tickle your heart, your raw and beautiful heart. You are willing to open up, without resistance or shyness, and face the world. You are willing to share your heart with others.”
― Chögyam Trungpa
I even let slip in some settings that I've directly experienced the Presence of God! This, of course, can get me in trouble -- even (or maybe especially) in some of the Buddhist circles I travel in where Emptiness or Shunyata are bandied about.
Over the years I've learned to be a a bit more discrete about yakking about these experiences, though.
I try not to mention these moments of Being There -- or, more correctly, just Being -- where it is likely to lead to an embarrassed silence, furtive glances toward the nearest exit -- or, possibly, somebody dialing 911! And, although I say that lightly, in all seriousness this has been an unfortunate reality for some folks in a society that doesn't understand such things. I was usually able to travel under the radar. I was lucky. Even when I was homeless on the streets, I was able to stay out of jail or the psych ward.
Looking back, I guess I've always been a bit touched.
Then, like many of the folks who came of age in the cultural revolution of the 60's and 70's, those childhood perceptions were reinforced again and again -- with and without the assistance of various ingested substances. It was just like Jesus, Buddha -- and the Beatles -- proclaimed. All we need is Love. That was the bottom line of the Real Deal.
Yet, in the day to day reality of my life, I discovered that actually being a loving person wasn't all that easy. Blinded by the subconscious scars of a traumatic childhood and a deeply wounded ego, immersed in the energies of a neurotic society, I continued to roller-coaster through relationships and jobs. I made a lot of mistakes. Much of the time I could be a real jerk, failing miserably to help others, or even free myself from the suffering caused my the habitual mind states of a clueless, materialistic, society.
Tonglen Practice, like the Lojong Teachings from which it arises, turns what our highly individualistic and competitive society sees as"common sense" on its head. Rather than racing ahead in a continuous effort to strengthen and fortify our egos with possessions, status and power (or even enlightenment) we turn things around. We choose to slow down, to feel. We allow our hearts to be touched by the entire gamut of human emotions.
In Tonglen Practice we learn how to cultivate a deep, gentle kindness toward our own experience and that of others. Opening our hearts to feel fully what we are usually regarded as the negative emotional energies of the human condition, connecting with our aspiration to relieve the suffering involved in those energies, we breath in deeply and slowly. This is where the healing begins. In opening our own hearts as we breath in, we open to the unconditional openness of shunyata, the One Love. This is where the healing happens.
Yet simple doesn't mean easy.
Yet, through Tonglen, as with the Lojong Teachings in general, I've come to see for myself, that as my heartfelt aspiration to heal expands beyond the narrow limits of my own individual concerns to embrace the joys and suffering of others, something shifts. There, I connect with my Heart of Hearts. There, the infinite oneness of our interconnected being, the One Love, heals.
The Real Deal
Over the past decade and a half of working gently and persistently with Tonglen, I've come to see clearly that my own human heart and the boundless and limitless expanse of the One Love are inseparable. If this is true for me, I believe it is true for others.