Joy in the World

My calling is to manifest joy. That is a Truth about myself that I know. It fits my experience. What does it mean?

I have chronic depression, with little energy to tackle tasks (most of it channelled in this blog). Depression is not a matter of sadness but of motivation. I know I should, for example, clean my house, because it would be more hygienic and pleasanter to live in. At some level I might say I want to clean it; and yet I don’t, for weeks. I am not sure I can distinguish energy and motivation. Depression is different from anhedonia, the inability to experience pleasure, which I do not have. I bit into a ripe pear this morning, and felt delight.

Joy may be linked to the state of being aware in the present moment. I find that a heightened state, which gives me pleasure. There is the monkey-mind, ruminating all sorts of old stuff, mostly fantasy rather than reality, and I drop out of that into Presence.

Joy is linked to positivity, to seeing possibilities and opportunities, movement, growth. Denial, the refusal to face uncomfortable truths, is anathema to it, because you never succeed in denying, you are always aware of the Problem on some level. Bracketing can be useful- I know the unpleasant Fact exists, and I will deal with it later but must deal with this first. Avoidance, picking anything to deal with rather than the Problem, is harmful.

There is joy in action towards a goal. “There is no ‘try’,” as Yoda said, that’s avoidance too, faking an attempt at doing something because you don’t believe you can achieve it. Joy in action is linked to exhilaration in movement.

Humanity is being, doing, knowing, and there is joy in our simple existence. It is filled with possibilities.

My niece, when she was a toddler, at one time had a practice of going up to her significant adults and saying “I love you”. “I love you, Uncle Stephen,” she would say to me, and I was at a loss how to respond. Eventually I said “That is what you are for”. That is the child’s value. Love will grow into action in time. Only love is real. She grew up, perceptive, with compassion and a strong sense of integrity. Now her daughter is three, and my nephew reports she too is very smart, loving and generous. They played a game together where you throw beanbags at targets, and when he missed she put his beanbag where the target was. Competition is all very well, but that was the common goal.

If my calling is manifesting joy, is this unique to me? Possibly stronger in me than in others. It is my fundamental nature. Someone ministered that our certainties are stripped away, and insofar as they come from outside us, from the culture, our certainties about ourselves may need to be (though it is possible that somewhere there is someone who is “normal”). Humans have different gifts.

I said in my revelation that my calling is manifesting joy, and communicating it. If I am simply myself, that may bring joy to others. If something makes me joyful and I show that others may see the delightfulness of that thing.

This is something I want to grow into, this year. The revelation is like a gift. I will explore it more deeply, and come to know it. I end with Edwin Muir’s description of a wise man, not elsewhere on line, from Collected Poems p288:

I think the shrewdest sweetest man
I ever saw, modest and yet a king
among his harvests, with a harvester’s eye
that had forgotten to wonder why
at this or that, knowing his natural span,
and spoke of evil as “the other thing”,
Judging a virtue as he judged the weather
Endured, accepted all, the equal brother
Of men and chance, the good and the bad day.

That is something to aspire to.

Manifesting joy

My essence is joy, and my calling is to manifest joy in the world, and communicate it.

That was my revelation at a Zoom group, where we share deeply. I am on four such groups, and it is the great blessing of 2020 for me. On Tuesday 22d, the question was, “What is your testimony?” “Let your life speak,” say British Quakers. What value or purpose has my life? My work, at the moment, is self-discovery, and I talked of phoning seven Samaritans. I took twenty minutes, saying things I could not have said last year, and my voice did not shake. When God is with us, I say things which surprise me, and I ended saying something like, “God’s leading for me is to bring more joy into the world &… I’m working on it”. It touched a Friend’s heart, and she wanted to know exactly what I had said.

On Wednesday, I felt and communicated darkness. There was the long drawn out teasing around whether there would be an EU-UK trade agreement. There were chaotic queues of lorries in Kent, with the ports barred because of the new, more infectious Covid variant, and the supermarkets were airfreighting fresh veg. There was Liz Truss’s scheme to inflame prejudice against trans people. Possibly I was most affected by the darkness of the day, with constant rain. At Pendle Hill worship I asked prayers for England under these threats, and expressed my misery.

I shared there, and was consoled that it is not personal, but it feels personal. Truss incites attacks on trans people, and the Tory damage from Brexit and their incompetent response to covid may affect me personally. A woman who worships there sent me a Christmas present of cash, saying “We wanted you to know that you are loved”. That warmed me.

Manifesting joy does not mean suppressing uncomfortable feelings. I think it means accepting the hard feelings, processing and digesting them, and the news at the start of this week was hard to stomach. I am doing my best against the causes of my fear, and still have reason to fear. Dealing with the uncomfortable feelings is something about unflinching truthfulness, facing the darkness and death, always acknowledging the light and life. The full range of blessing and horror in the world, and the breadth of my reactions to it, are hard to hold all at once. I am working on it. I will die, and always there will be light and love, and when all is gone it will be beautiful because it will have been. Dante went through Hell to get to Heaven.

“Underneath it all, you are a joyful, playful child.” That compliment speaks to me, raises deep echoes in me. There is joy and playfulness at the heart of my nature, and I want it to shine through, because it will bless others. It is my vocation. The work, now, is unpicking my history and internal conflicts. More and more the truth of my joy will shine, and the darkness will not overcome it. I said communicating joy was my vocation, on Jamie’s Lovely Gathering, and someone said “You definitely did that!”

One thinks of a vocation as the basis of a career, and I do not see how that could be, now. So where this “vocation” might lead me is unclear. Yet I am certain of it, and I will work on it. I think of the infectious giggles of the Dalai Lama or Desmond Tutu, and see joy can be spiritual. With Quakers on Sunday 27th I repeated to myself, “My calling is to manifest and communicate joy,” and it felt like acceptance and recognition, solidifying as I worshipped.

Honesty

I introduced myself in a 12 step programme way. My name is Clare, and I am-

The purpose is to strip back the ego. It may affect what others think of me, but for me, what I think of me is far more important. Of course, that’s just weird and wrong to me, like everything else about me is, but this is the sense of it. Keeping my expressed emotion on an even keel is important to me because that stops others noticing me. I don’t want to be seen. This is an inherited trait.

I don’t want people to think of me at all. If they do, that’s a fail. So, suppressing my feeling is success. So, what I think and feel about myself is far more important to me than what others do.

And, I am angry about this. Anger is my underlying, everlasting emotion. And, taking oestrogen and especially progesterone made my emotions more volatile. It all makes keeping emotions level difficult, and I am paralysed with the effort.

At the Pendle Hill worship sharing on nonviolence on Wednesday 2d, I said my difficulty is my sense of my own worthlessness. Ruth, a spiritual director, had not realised that self-rejection, violence to self, is a root of violence directed at others. Self-love is the foundation of nonviolence. She proposed this mantra:

I love myself unconditionally
I forgive myself unconditionally
I feel myself loving myself unconditionally
I feel myself forgiving myself unconditionally

My self-improvement side thought I should practise listening. Attempting that, I wrote,

The more I see of each of us, the richer my experience is.
The more of each that can be present, the more powerful we are.

Then there was the Friday group where A invited me, then said everyone should introduce themselves. He is A, who has a life which seems in that moment to me to be so much better than my own. So I went all twelve-step. I have chosen this life. My voice barely shook as I said it. That was the end of the introductions.

This is for my good. The working theory is that it suppresses the ego and puts me more in direct contact with reality.

Ministry at Pendle Hill seemed important. I wrote,

Is it possible to be a self- undefined and unaffected by others? No.
Could there be a boundary I could make, around those parts which will maim me to be redefined?

People said,

Trouble means that you are alive
To live with hope is to live on the divine bank account
Living with winter and summer, sickness and health- the meaning is in accepting it all

I could barely hear a woman, and heard her as saying, in a baleful way,

… You think that you folks in the north with all of your wealth are somehow protected from human pain?

But others had difficulty hearing, and someone explained that as people in poor countries thinking we in the North are protected.

Then there was this Atlantic article, on measuring α by adding a single photon, with a laser, to caesium or rubidium atoms to put them in a state of quantum superposition, and measuring their velocity. This involves calculating gravity at the precise point where the experiment takes place, to eleven or more significant figures, and may confirm or refute the Standard Model of elementary particles. I find this amazing and beautiful, but the comment of Saïda Guellati-Khélifa, leader of the team in Paris doing the work, struck me most: “You have to be rigorous, passionate, and honest with yourself”.

On Sunday 6th I cycled to Aldi. As the shadow moved, putting the grass in sunlight, the frost on it began to turn, but was pure white in the shade. I have been thinking of that Anna Akhmatova poem. Why then do we not despair? Because I have not been paying enough attention? I read the Observer editorial on Keira Bell, a harsh anti-trans polemic, which hurt and frightened me.

With these stimuli, I looked at my Friends’ zoom-faces. The intense concentration on some, cogitating, putting the pieces together. The beautiful loving smile of another. I feel my pain, give thanks for the beauty of my Friends, and of the world- and feel intense joy. I would like the joy to leak out and infect others. I would like to minister on this, but it seems for me alone at the moment.

That joy and darkness- to contain it all at once! I want my dishonesty to make me feel better about myself and fool others, but it doesn’t, not really. Through me the gale of life blows high, so- let it fill my sails!

---

On Tuesday 8th, I had a fight with my inner persecutor, which denies anything good about me. Imagine me, if you will, curled into the foetal position, weeping, shaking, and fighting to gasp out a few words.

The words were, “I am passionate about injustice, and I fight it to the end when I see how I can”.

The persecutor does not like me saying anything good about myself, and demands evidence. I have evidence. I come away having won the ability to say that for myself. I was sort-of aware of it before, but not really able to say it, bewitched by the persecutor’s doubts. This is a win. I came out delighted, in an emotionally labile state, again wanting my joy to burst out of me and infect everyone and fearful they might object to my vehemence or even [gasp!] not understand. It did, a bit, in M’s zoom group. Some caught it, and liked it.

Here are some more good words and true: “I love at least some of my enemies.”

I was also wrestling with what it would mean to find the light within. It is, to be a whole and integrated human being, and the bits missing will be different in each case. I am aware of the inner driver, that part of me that wants me to work hard at self-improvement, and the inner protector, that protects me from the worst of the driver’s goads. I am not really aware of what I want, other than wanting desperately to be safe, and feeling so unsafe that this manifests in wanting not to be seen, not to be noticed by other people (in the most attention-seeking way. I’m confused too.)

Knowing “What one wants” is clearly not the problem for, say, Donald Trump. The part of ourselves we do not know will be different in each case. For many people, it will be multiple suppressed parts of their personality. The Light, union with Christ in God, God in us, is the part we do not know.

Joy in sadness

Outside my window there is a single strand of spider silk, discarded, perhaps used for flight. The light reflected on it is beautiful.

When I first became conscious of my feelings, they were anger, frustration, resentment and fear. I have also been aware of pain. Tina spoke of seeing sadness in me, and I was aware of my anger at myself, holding the sadness down, asking it “What on Earth have you got to be sad about?” in contempt and derision.

And there is disappointment in how my life is turning out and what I have been able to do about that.

Jamie spoke of sadness too, when I sang to him. “D Minor is the saddest key,” he said. Now I am ready to face my sadness. What about? My nephew and nieces, crying out delightedly “It’s Uncle Stephen!” comes to mind.

I don’t need to cry. I just need to acknowledge the sadness. I don’t need to resist it: resisting is outdated.

George Fox wrote “Then you will walk cheerfully over the world, answering that of God in every one,” but the paragraph began “The spirit that is transgressed and in prison, which hath been in captivity in every one” and I can imagine if it had been cast slightly differently, and the phrase we would all know would be “liberating that of God in every one,” including ourselves. “People must be led out of captivity up to God,” Fox writes. It’s the Journal, Nickalls’ edition, p263.

The bars of the cage are melting and becoming pliable.

What have you got to be sad about? I am not sure. All of life, perhaps. Specific things. H, and H, and Covid, and Edinburgh. If I am mourning what I could not mourn before I am not conscious of all I am mourning.

There is sadness. Hello.

In the Meeting for Worship, held on video-conference, we have our microphones muted, so I can mutter to myself the message which is only for me, to help it to stick in my own mind. And, today, I can get a pen and paper to write this down. I have the lattitude to do my work here, talking, writing, and sighing, and am aware of the others.

Sadness at not being all-knowing: all that Confusion!

I am joyfully sad, because I am no longer sad or angry at being sad. The bars dissolve.

That silk catches the light. It is resilient. I think of the idea that I cannot see any quality outside myself that is not within me, and the word-play “resile” comes to mind. That is painful. I have an inner voice which denies all possible good qualities in me. That voice hurts me. The silk is beautiful.

I will resist that voice! I am crying helplessly.

Ministry on grief- a woman quotes. Something like, having a body is about feeling the exact feelings of this body, of being present in this body not just having a body to carry around. I am present in the mass and the matter of it. She sees the grief we are carrying. What would I say if someone asked why I was crying? “I can’t tell you, but it is good,” perhaps. I am

Opening, Flowering, Accepting, Loving, Receiving.

It is

Peace.

You cannot recognise something without you that is not within you, or acknowledge something outside that you cannot acknowledge within. If you resist yourself, you resist the world. If you reject yourself, you reject the world. If you accept yourself, you accept the world.

After meeting, I have the feeling that I have had a deep massage, removing long buried knots in muscles, or even a heart-bypass, removing blockages. Or it is suddenly being able to face what I could not face before.

Truth and beauty in London

This man has found what he loves, and can devote time to it. His t-shirt has the words “eat, sleep, practise” written on musical staves, and he is playing a Rachmaninov prelude on the St Pancras piano. I stop to listen which discomposes him, and he gets the chords wrong. He stops on a tonic chord, and apologises in a slight foreign accent that he has not been able to play for ten days. I reassure him that though he lost the line of the piece, he managed to create a musical ending. He went on to Mozart.

I can pay either my electricity bill or my Tate membership renewal, so this may be my last trip into London for a while. And it is so lovely I may spend the money I cannot afford. I cycled to the station in warm sunshine, and got to Meeting just in time. I am surprised to find an all-age worship. I have a leaf made of card to write or draw on for the central tree. I sit beside my gay friend, and notice “And Tango makes three” on the mat in front of me. I read it. It is beautiful. After we agree there is nothing anyone could object to in it. Yet people do. Also there is this lovely cushion:

In Meeting, children play with stickers and glue in the centre, which has no table today. I sit aware of the beauty of the children and their absorption. People read what they have written on their leaves, and I feel able to say daffodil ministry- “he has found what he loves”. One says the words spoke to her.

Then they have a shared lunch before AM. One tells me of the spiritual practice of being part of where she is. She is bounded by her skin, and her awareness extends beyond into the world. So does her action, fitting the moment, the real not imagined world, participating not resisting. It makes her come alive. I feel alive hearing her. I feel we are both finding our way into such a way of being: we see the possibility. For me it is a matter of letting go.

I stuff myself. I am not passing up a free lunch.

Thence to Tate Britain for the William Blake exhibition. In the Tube, which is terribly hot, I sit opposite a slim, tall, beautiful woman. The man beside me has tattoos all down his left arm, and a rose on the back of his hand.

With my mantra I am here. This is. I am I am bowled over by the beauty of the sun through the trees on John Islip street. How can I just stop coming here? It refreshes my soul! Yet I hope it is the practice rather than the place which renews me. I can find other sources of loveliness. See Heaven in a wild flower, as Blake said. Everything that lives is holy.

It is crowded, of course. I love a picture of Christ offering to redeem mankind. God, a man broad of chest and thigh, seems sunk in grief. Satan flies below, satisfied, awaiting his due. And Christ seems overjoyed. His arms are beautiful, spread out as if on the Cross yet as if for a hug, expressing joy. I love the theology of it, the grace of his body.

To the bookshop. No, I can’t afford books either. I still get one, of extracts from Proust using paintings to describe a scene, illustrated by the paintings. I wanted a reminder of Proust, and reading one paragraph on the goodnight kiss, on how his unexpectedly merciful father looked like a picture of Abraham, fits.

I am here. This is. I am. I am saying goodbye to it for a time, perhaps, and I take in the full delight looking over the Thames from the front steps. I stop and turn round to take in the view from the entrance to Pimlico station.

This is Life!

I hope the joy is in the practice of awareness, though it may also be in treating myself, going to a place that I love.

I chatted to a Filipina woman in the grounds of the gallery. She is here for a job, has an American accent, and was taking a selfie with the gallery as background. A woman held the handlebars of a child’s bicycle for a moment, then let go and the child wavered off, unsupported. I am now on the train, pausing to look out the window. I should get home before sunset.

I  had a kickabout with my neighbour in the back yard yesterday, my first this century, the first perhaps I have ever done for fun. She compliments me on my skills- “you must play!” Perhaps she thinks I am a cis woman. My skills are nothing for a man. I watch her keepy-uppy.

Being where I am without resistance, in aware presence, brings joy.

I hope.

Feeling good II

I moved her to tears. Happy tears, or those tears you cry when you had a burden, and it is lifted, and you are enabled to see the full pain of it.

That confidence building course built my confidence. But I have had to think about it, helped by this logic puzzle by Alex Bellos in the Guardian. I am fairly sure I have got the puzzle right, by squeezing every bit of information I can infer from the information given. As I write, the answer had not been published.

I made her cry by sharing my understanding of the inner critic, which I got from others, and my response to it, which is my own. The inner critic is a frightened child part of me, and of you, and I will not bully it because I will show love to all of me. That means listening, but not accepting its view, which is unduly pessimistic. So I imagined it as a little girl, and dressed her in a white velvet dress. Her options are to sit on the naughty step, or to dance and sing. Or, perhaps, to accept my reassurance. I am safe enough, good enough, capable enough. There is worry, and it need not overwhelm me.

Zoe wrote it down, as she wanted to remember it. This is always a lovely experience. At a community building event I recited a poem I had written, and someone asked me to write it out for her. The next day she recited it to me from memory. I feel warmed and valued. She treats me with respect, but she truly respects what I say.

Charlotte cried a little. No, she is not laughing, and concealing it by pretending. She values what I say. Another exercise Helen gave was to say three words about another person here. We have opened up a little, though at the jobcentre we don’t trust. I have opened up a fair bit as I will, even when I do not trust. Charlotte was given me, and called me “calm, inspiring, thoughtful, kind, unique”. Five words rather than three.

Inspiring.

That’s a good word. That’s not just picking a word for the sake of it. She has been bitterly attacked by her inner critic, and my words hold the prospect of relief. Those were tears of relief.

I felt a little low on Saturday. No, I felt low- do not minimise my feelings. I felt low. I thought, yesterday I did something worthwhile, I touched those women deeply, they valued it, they valued me. I did not find it difficult, saying a piece of wisdom I read and elaborated years ago, but not everyone could. That made me feel valuable. I have so few such experiences, so little opportunity for that! And now, squeezing every bit of joy from Charlotte’s tears, I decide that it need not be a transitory moment- Oh! I did something worthwhile!- but can be a memory to create joy. I was reminded of that NLP technique, at another time in the course: think of a joyous memory, associate a gesture with it, then use the gesture to evoke that joy and confidence. Years ago I picked on my nieces and nephew crying excitedly “It’s Uncle John!” as I went up their path, which was less joyous after I transitioned, and Susan stopped me seeing them.

So possibly those other two might value my company. I am not merely interesting as a specimen.

I am sailing close to the wind here, but- you have not hurt me. If you tell me something, and I know it is wrong, it need not hurt me. If we are distant, now, if you let me down then, that is all you were capable of at those times, but you appear capable of more sometimes- I have seen it. I want to be open to you, and show my darkness as well as light, for

the night is as bright as the day
darkness and light to You are both alike

My darkness is beautiful. You will see that in time. I have faith in you, though you have let me down (and I you, though I do my best)

No. I am quite certain I have that puzzle right, though as I write the answer is not yet published.

Mindfulness II

There are things I should do. The most important is walking in the sunshine; but first a phone call to the Samaritans. This time, she gave me an hour and I ended feeling satisfied of progress. I need to think about that job, but I called because I was crying over that.

I want to be Normal!
-What would normal look like?

A fair question. It has varied. At one time I would have been a solicitor in Edinburgh with a wife and two or three children: the eldest would have graduated by now. Now, I suppose I would have a job, which though it would have a share of drudgery, tedium and stress, would also have moments of pleasure, either in human contact or a feeling of having achieved something; a partner, so  I would not be so lonely, and a sufficient income.

The oil-seed rape is fading to green as the flowers turn to pods. It is still overwhelming as I walk though it, as some is neck-height and the path is through a slight decline.

Sunshine. Bird-song. Engine noise, not enough to bother me at any time.

Where a tiny stream drains over the path, some effort has been made to make it passable. Logs are dug in to make raised steps, and old planks go round the edge. Water is flowing though it has been dry; it would not be easy in a wet March.

Several times I stop to watch a bird fly overhead.

The borage is spreading. Is it overwhelming those nettles, or the other way about? No camera, of course, but here is a picture I took last year:

butterfly 4

That distinctive leaf. Sycamore? Oak, Google images tells me now, I am not good at identifying anything. Still, it has my attention.

At one time “normal” would have been a heavy mask, clasped to my face with tight steel bands, with bits of Real Me, or shadow, oozing out from behind- visible to everyone but me, subject to my desperate denial and feeling of utter inadequacy. From wrong to wrong the exasperated spirit moves…

This ecosystem is 3.5 or 4 billion years old- I don’t keep up with the journals, I don’t know the latest understanding- and it has produced this wonderful creature, her soft, yielding femininity, her gentle kindness, her heart full of Love. It is so beautiful, even though oligarchical capitalism might be hard put to set a value on it.

Two or three years ago, the wardens built a den here out of willow cuttings. Well watered, the cuttings took root and their branches are woven together. The path suits someone under ten, but I enter, as I want the experience, once- I stand surrounded by the willow, leaning in but not quite domed over me.

A woman stands off the path, holding her black spaniel back. “Thank you,” I say, then notice the milky discs. “Oh! Its eyes-”

Yes, he’s blind, she confirms, smiling. She is a few years older than I. I love her loving care for her friend.

Oh! This awful life! Yet, no- it has wonderful moments, and is bearable for me. The main difficulty of it is my fears for the future, and my desires.

In part this is inspired by Louise. Her lovely account of some frustrations and tensions in, well, being normal- marrying and having children- and the way the family works together- brought a moment’s resentment, as so often I hate being queer. I do want to be normal. I would have blathered on about how my great-grandparents’ families have produced so few in the generation below me, as some sort of excuse, or rueful exercise on the way to Acceptance…

-childlessness is just one of my failures-

Going, I held my arms bent, above the rape-plants. Returning through that field, I relax them and let the plants brush them.

This creature is beautiful. This experience- yes, all of it- is beautiful.

Affirmation IV

I am as I am because I am traumatised.

I could trot out my stories again, to try to persuade you- that is, persuade myself- that it really was that bad, that anyone in these circumstances would be this hurt. But that does not matter. If any person of more than minimal resilience could bear my burdens, hardly noticing them, they have still overwhelmed me. However strong I was, I have been overwhelmed.

Now, having self-respect for the first time, I no longer deny my trauma. “Get up, get up, Get On With It!” cried the inner critic, and I reply that I would if I could. I had a lovely time this morning: I cycled in the sunshine to Swanston for tea with Richard, who complained that the OED has accepted the “wrong” use of the word “refute” to mean “deny”. I can cope with complex human interaction.

These stories: serious threat of loss of funding and job; bullying and failure; failure; failure and loss of funding and job; failure. Ah, that’s interesting. Thinking of this post, I was planning to talk about various unpleasantnesses, but I am quite happy in certain social situations and even with Quakers. However I am quite literally work-shy, though that term is a pejorative, rarely or never thought to be a mental condition. The thought of going into an office, paid or voluntary, or starting the kind of project I used to undertake puts me into avoidance behaviour. I called this post “Affirmation” and thought of writing about how I was going to self-care by seeking out social situations. This realisation changes things.

I am Abigail.
I have been badly hurt.
I will care for,
nurture
and value myself
as best I see how.
 ♥♥♥

And then, something wonderful, and passing strange.

I am- upset. Sad, and likely to weep, without knowing why. And-

part of me-

asks, What is it? Something existential about my whole life, or some small matter just today?

That- part- is not unsympathetic, but still misses the mark. It is like a man seeing his wife crying, and asking “What’s wrong?” However kindly meant, his intention to find the cause of the problem and fix it is not right, in the moment.

I think of Robert Holden’s mirror exercise. “I am willing to make today the best/happiest day of my life.” Perhaps “let be” might be better than “make”. I want to let go of judgment as to what “best” might look like. What

part of me-

is doing the making?
In the shower, again. I permit the feeling of upsetness. Then,

Another part of me!
A wonderful part of me!
Beauty and Delight

in the upsetness
starts saying

I

I

I- I- I- I- I- 

I- AM! I- AM!

feeling the upsetness
permitting the upsetness

I am!

I- beauty and delight- repeat

I am

feeling the upsetness, then joy, and finally singing it, to a simple I , , , V , , , IV , , , V , , , … chord progression, bass line and descant, dancing to it….

I Am
is the only affirmation I need

Boldini, profile of a young woman

Feelings and joy

eejit osteen

When you’re tempted to be upset, ask yourself, “Is this worth giving up my JOY?” ~Joel Osteen

I loathe this passionately. Almost anything Joel Osteen says winds me up. Translation: “When you are actually angry or sad or frightened, suppress that emotion and pretend to yourself that you feel joy”.

This is very different from saying that where you cannot change a situation, it is beneficial to accept it and not let resentment eat at you. Indeed. But when I feel an emotion that is useful information, and I will not suppress my emotion. And also, when angry at one part of what I see, thinking about what delights me in my experience helps me.

Incidentally, “upset” is not an emotion. Being upset or wound up is a measure of the strength of the feeling, not whether it is anger fear or sadness or perhaps disgust. It is also a symptom of being disturbed by the feeling, trying to resist it. That is why the wording “tempted to be upset” is so poisonous: it tempts us to deny our feelings, so we have no sense of what is good or bad for us.

I suppose Osteen’s point of view could have benefits if we get upset about the state of the world- the wars and rumours of wars, the inequality, the roiling sea of anger- I would say, Trust in God. All manner of thing shall be Well, and Osteen might agree. But even there, I want to acknowledge my feeling, so that I may let it go; not suppress it, so that it eats away at my Joy and everything else. If I acknowledge my feelings of helpless horror, they can coexist with my Joy; and then fade away.

Enlightenment

Trautmann Transfiguration“Enlightenment does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with the Divine, awakening into a state of timeless grace – these experiences are more common than you know, and not far away. There is one further truth, however: They don’t last. Our realizations and awakenings show us the reality of the world, and they bring transformation, but they pass. … We all know that after the honeymoon comes the marriage. After the election comes the hard task of governance. In spiritual life it is the same: After the ecstasy comes the laundry.”

-Jack Kornfield,  After the Ecstasy, the Laundry

Seeing the title in the quote, I wonder if there is any point in buying the book. This quote from One Spirit winds me up the wrong way. It postulates Enlightenment as a feeling of Joy, freedom, timeless grace, oneness with the divine, in some way different from quotidian getting and spending. Ecstasy and laundry.

I should tease out my understanding of the concept from my reaction to the individual words. It is possible to have the feeling of being Present, when joyful, for example walking under the trees towards Greenbelt recently. Rather than “Chaos of thought and passion all confused” all seems integrated, with perception, emotion, thought and purpose all pointing the same way. It lasts a moment. Or, I get stressed and I get relaxed, and relaxation feels nice but is not necessarily Enlightenment. Similarly, Presence in washing up. I turn my attention to the task in hand, and it becomes beautiful. I delight in the sensations of the light on wet plates.

I would like to be more relaxed in the stressful situations. It seems to me that in those Presence moments my emotions are acceptable, and I do not spend energy suppressing them.

Raffaello, transfigurationOh, Christ. Even joy can be dangerous. An evening with my parents in Inverneill stands out, when we were relaxed and happy together and it seemed a moment of eternity, a Discovery. We all felt it. Dad proposed going out to the pub, to make the moment linger. Mum demurred, knowing it would not. After attempts at happiness through following conventional recipes, we had found it by accident. I did not know what my feelings were because none of them were acceptable, in my teens, but that evening I did, though it would have been hard to put into words.

I feel fear or anger when these things are appropriate, and I fear my fear and anger, because expressing them has been dangerous to me. I have said this here before. The situation is far worse from my Wrong feeling than from anything external. I know that if I feel fear like this I will die, so learning to flow with the fear is difficult. That would be the freedom and timeless grace. The Divine would be me inside, and ego-conscious me accepting not resisting it.

I have learned to accept joy. I can learn to accept fear and anger too. Ecstasy, an intense discovery, becomes quotidian, a continual process of learning and falling away. It is not that we build tents for Moses and Elijah, but that we see them walking with us.