Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Full Contact

The emergency continues as I look around from this little perspective. In other words, something unknown is emerging, and people are waking up grumpy from a disturbed sleep. Somehow, that blue pill just isn't working so well, anymore.

Yes, I know it hurts and it's scary and things feel out of control. But it is only the parameters of a nightmare that you are feeling. Persistent shutting down of an organism--avoiding, denying, medicating, distracting, doing anything not to feel (or trying to feel something false)--brings on a sense of the terrible.

Someone told me recently that, in his experience, a majority of people either don't know at all what they are feeling, or can't "figure it out" unless the feeling is a primal response. I see that, too. Many say that they "don't know what to feel", as if there is some properly named emotion matching any given experience. They say this as if feeling is too hard, too painful, too time-consuming, like benching four hundred pounds or eating your spinach or cleaning the garbage cans. As if feeling, the verb, is something in which we need to be schooled, rather than the natural flow of Reality.

In fact, we do know what it is that we feel.

Depression is avoiding full contact with oneself, not giving the psyche permission to take a dip in the stream of experience. Doom and gloom and negativity are excellent distractions from what is real. So is the more obvious chasing of a sensational high, an altered state or an ideology. A gun-toting nationalist with a bunker in the backyard knows what's right, just like a vegetarian meditating on world peace, a scientist measuring coral loss off the coast of Australia, or a public official manipulating perception. We all know what's right, and how to stay firmly on the banks we establish. As a result, what is real and full often slides right under the radar. This is the waking nightmare of loss we find ourselves in conflict with--the same circumstance which every great sage has seen in beautifully tragic, multidimensional detail, beginning in the local self.

So what is full contact?

It involves our tenderness coming face-to-face with our brutality. Not in a general, detached or sanitized sense, but in the deeply messy, individual you and me. Not through the mediation of religion, philosophy, doctor-patient relationship, income level or summer vacation. All of these circumstances are like the roping-off and decorating of the space where a legendary duel is rumored to take place...and where the contenders somehow never show up.

This, right here, is the venue. This, right now, is it. Inside of you is a character that fully understands the profound implications of causing the slightest harm to anything--who believes in intimate connection, in nurturing and peaceful resolution, in making love and not war. An educated, empathic caregiver, a retreat leader, a respecter of dolphin and human and spider rights.

And in the opposite corner of you is a detached killer. Oh, yes. One who knows the reality of the dregs of society, being a seasoned veteran of what people are capable of when they feel threatened--who would never admit to feeling threatened, but fully allows a righteous anger. This is a person who believes there are lines meant to be drawn and defended at all cost, who knows that a show of strength is what really gets attention, who stares unflinchingly at the images of the polar bear dispatching a seal pup on the Discovery channel.

I suppose some would say these are extreme examples...I think they're fairly moderate, actually. We are incredibly attached to our visions of ourselves, and also so detached that blindness is a normal state.

In the typical "safe distance" of an observer, what we see as we attend this fight is the aggressive person chasing the passive person around--a persecutor doing the chasing and a victim doing the running. Occasionally, the bully gets tired and the pacifist makes a cunning and outwardly non-violent leap for the throat. But, from this angle, the rounds are endless. Somehow, it always becomes a draw.

Let's say we are sick of this (I am!). Let's say we have a nagging hunch that this state of affairs is not expressive of our potential, and we become more interested in living to the deepest and highest dimensions of ourselves. Instinctively, we know this involves more than being a spectator to our fruitless battles. It involves something other than gear and armor and defensive/offensive strategies, or just causes and rights and Utopian dreams or spiritual sacrifice.

Let's step into the ring.
No, we aren't the wise referee (sorry!). Let's get really close to the contenders...closer...hey, that might be sweat and blood and tears...but stay with me. Get between them. Do not, under any circumstances, duck. Feel the insane force of a balled-up fist coming at you like a train. And feel the sucking vacuum of fear that pulls it along. Feel the rage at the sniveling, weak and sickeningly unrealistic victim, while feeling the terror of yet another seemingly senseless attack on a species, a planet, yourself.

Feel all this at the same time. That sensation is your heart opening to the reality of being. Now stay there, between. Be that.

If you can take the risk and find the courage, something truly unexpected happens...a paradox in which the hardened, merciless warrior walks away from an insult, or a die-hard pacifist brings a quick end to the life of a hopelessly suffering animal.

An intelligence and sight can emerge, without the need for intense crisis. The "right" behavior isn't something to be believed in--it's something that one feels, from a deep and undeniable place. It is not clothed in rationality or emotion, good versus evil or any other dichotomy. It has no flag or icon. It carries no experience, and yet is the capacity for any. If it turns one way, you sense the brilliant white flower of surrender. The next moment shows the deep, black roots of death. Neither view is the correct one. Both, however, are "right".

From a position in which we fully admit and feel all of our terrible fragility and incredible strength comes the necessary trust and faith in this moment to both show us what is real, and to "choose" the appropriate action (or non-action). The truth is, we know what's good for us and what isn't; we know what love actually is, as opposed to what we wish it could be. We are both warriors and poets, trembling and resentful in the face of loves we can't get away from because we fear them.

We are a love so vast that it only recognizes itself in the midst of full, unadulterated and ungloved contact. It grows out of itself and becomes flesh, form and substance so that it can define and demolish its own being. What used to be a fight becomes a dance, a ritual, a season, a birth, an expression, a motion. Time. Space. Recognition.

It is only fully understood when I am willing to stop confining myself to merely promoting the conflict, or recording it, or training for it, or betting on it--and I actually become both the one I most favor and most detest. In that moment, everything meets the senses and "makes sense".

It doesn't always hurt, you know. Bliss is the same side. :)

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