buddha























 


   






gandhi
Gandhi with Badshah Khan, nonviolent soldier of Islam










 













 













solomon and the queen of sheba


























































































































































































































odysseus






Chapter Nineteen


19. ACCEPTANCE


347

    Love and wisdom lack constancy. They keep changing on us. We live with the uncertainty that at the highest, furthest, deepest, or strongest moment we will find ourselves shifting down to a lower or lesser state. The physiology of desire and satiation work that way. The time of high achievement is the instant when diminishment and loss begin. The moment we fully realize the loss, the gain begins. Every meeting is a parting, every learning a forgetting. We endure calamitous disruptions and suffer unhappy endings. We can die too soon or too late or stupidly or in terror. Nothing lasts. Everything ends. As the Buddha said, “Whatever is of the nature of arising, all that is of the nature of cessation.”


348

    Our contradictions make us generous and stingy, isolated and social, credulous and skeptical, self-seeking and altruistic, giving and taking, ambitious and apathetic. Fear and hope endlessly wrestle inside us. We function that way because,

    o    The suppressive neural overlays in the triune brain pull us in different directions

    o    The conflicts between our modular personalities tie us to separate streams of memory and meaning

    o    The rapid fusing and decoupling of aggression with love undermines our trust in ourselves and each other

    o    Our sense of uniqueness keeps us in a perpetual shoving match with the commonalities of our lot.


349
Residual Suffering

    Many wisdom traditions trace the sources of suffering in our nature to change. Change brings impermanence, fragmentation. We get no rest. We suffer when we don’t rise to the needs of the occasion. We suffer when we try to cling to what passes. We endure halts, blocks and sudden alterations.
The Buddha called this Dukkha.

“In the happiest moments there is Dukkha, because they end. In the brightest insights is Dukkha because we want to believe in them. The Noble Truth of Dukkha is this: Birth is suffering; aging is suffering; sickness is suffering; death is suffering; sorrow and lamentation, pain, grief and despair are suffering; association with the unpleasant is suffering; dissociation from the pleasant is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering – in brief, the five aggregates of attachment are suffering.”1

    The cravings and aversions we experience along the legs of love and wisdom fit the Dukkha pattern. There’s nothing to cling to and no stable self to do the clinging. Nobody lurks behind the agglomeration of sensations, thoughts, perceptions and feelings even in our most memorable experiences. Nobody directs the passing show.
    The Buddha proposed a radical solution to suffering: Let go, stop clinging. He taught a method leading to the cessation of attachment. “These two entanglements – belief in an ego-personality and the conception of personal attainment – must be utterly destroyed and never again permitted to rise to define the true Essential Mind.”2
    The renunciation of attachment, however, does not bring with it a refusal to act. On the contrary, it opens the Buddhist to action in the untroubled, almost carefree way that Gandhi described as “renounce and enjoy.”
    He wrote of Hinduism, which shares the Buddhist analysis of the ego, that “He who gives up action falls. He who gives up only the reward rises. But renunciation of fruit in no way means indifference to the result. In regard to every action one must know. He, who, being thus equipped, is without desire for the result, and yet is wholly engrossed in the due fulfillment of the task before him, is said to have renounced the fruit of his action.”3

    Gandhi’s twentieth-century version of spiritual immersion makes one big mistake. Neither Buddhists nor Hindus consider a single life-time sufficient time to accomplish it. You cannot let go of attachment so readily. Past actions deeply etch the “stains” of craving, aversion and delusion in our being.
    Religious minded people solve this problem by maintaining that it is the illusion of a constant self that makes us mistakenly believe that our existence ends at death. It doesn’t. The self that is continuously being annihilated and recreated, many times a second in Buddhist psychology, keeps right on pulsing. Death counts as just another interval in the pulse/interval rhythm; at most, there is a brief hiatus. “When the Aggregates arise, decay and die, O Bhikkhu, every moment you are born, decay and die.”4
    The Buddhist treats death as another rearrangement of energies, a throwing off certain components of the aggregates of the self in order to take on others. We slough our skins. It is a stage in the karmic drama that continues over many lifetimes. We build up karma, and then work it off. Even the great meditation masters had to endure numerous incarnations to achieve release. The Buddha himself had to be reincarnated 500 times before he attained perfect enlightenment.
 

350

    So much depends on rebirth. Without reincarnation, the karmic process cannot accomplish release. Nobody wants to believe his or her suffering is meaningless. It seems to me that the Eastern world needs the karmic system, and the rebirths that drive it, more for emotional than metaphysical reasons. They need it to validate personal suffering, to console themselves that our misery is not a superfluous spawn of nature but part of a redemptive design that will lead to its eventual cessation.
    I don’t buy that. The evidence overwhelmingly suggests that we live only once, in this present life, the one that is fleeting by. Nothing comes after.
    How Buddhists, who expend such great efforts to overcome false hopes, can allow themselves to cling to the wildest hope of all, that they have many lifetimes to reach their goals, I cannot understand. Or rather, I see it coming from the same fallible human-heartedness that makes us all want to believe there is more to life than what we experience in the quotidian round.


351
King Solomon

    King Solomon rejected belief in an afterlife.

“For that which befalleth the sons of men befalleth beasts; even one thing befalleth them: as the one dieth, so dieth the other; yea, they have all one breath; so that a man hath no preeminence above a beast: for all is vanity. All go unto one place; all are of the dust, and all turn to dust again.”
(Ecclesiastes 3:19-20)

    He recognized no karmic system. There was nothing you could do to achieve permanent release from suffering. Death is the release. Life is full of difficulties.
    Solomon’s understanding of suffering, like the Buddha’s, came from a long meditation on the human condition. However, Solomon conducted his whole search from within the world of attachments. He didn’t meditate in the forest as the Buddha did. He was a lover, a father, a merchant, a rich man, a builder, a ruler, a judge, a court poet and cultural leader. He never relinquished his roles.
    Though he sought wisdom and prayed to God for it – and God answered his prayers; so the Bible says – he never found a path to the cessation of vanity and vexation. He insisted you deceive yourself if you think you have found one. Moreover, you end up living a smaller, more blinkered, less worthy existence by nurturing false hopes. You drain your vitality in masturbatory self-satisfaction or self-disgust.
    In the contorted world of broken vessels and scattered sparks, nobody attains full self-realization or true wisdom. Nobody transcends the ordinary strains of life.

“Then I beheld all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun: because though a man labour to seek it out, yet he shall not find it; yea further: though a wise man think to know it, yet shall he not be able to find it.”
(Ecclesiastes 8:17)


352

    As Solomon never found a solution to vanity and vexation in God’s providence, Kafka‘s hero, K., never finds a way to reach the castle. Neither do we. The human body/mind is too weak and vagrant to get that far. We’re too flawed to grasp hold of reality for long. Our minds work on dualisms. We’re too subject to internally generated pleasures, pains and anxiety states to become whole or fully conscious or “illuminated.” It’s an illusion to think we can fully control the mind, that its stains can be scoured clean. The spirit is unsteady sui generis; we cannot train it to steadiness.
    For brief joyful periods, the Dukkha may lift. When it does you sing and dance and compose a new song to God.
    Then suffering returns.
    Solomon taught that knowing our limits was better than not knowing them, though wisdom confers few benefits beyond the solace of knowing itself. Maybe knowing gives you a slight edge. It helps you cope. It brightens the playing field, but it does not help you win. Spiritual quests of the sort that Hindus and Buddhists pursued do not release you from the vanity of life in the one lifetime you have to do it. A Saddhu just transfers his vanity to his loincloth.


353

    Solomon encouraged us to accept our fallibility and live fully in the face of incompletion:

“Let thy garments be always white; and let thy head lack no ointment. Live joyfully with the wife whom thou lovest all the days of the life of thy vanity, which he has given thee under the sun, all the days of thy vanity: for that is thy portion, and in thy labor which thou takest under the sun. Whatsoever thy hand find to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.”
(Ecclesiastes 9: 7-10)

    Full engagement, moderated expectations. Courage. Creative enthusiasm. I call this living on the once-only plan. Do it with thy might. Indeed!


354
The Once-only Plan


    On the once-only plan, you accept that there is no radical solution to suffering. Dukkha can never be eliminated, excised, or extirpated. Basing a life on the hope that you can get a second chance in a subsequent incarnation diminishes the soul. We do better coping with the Dukkha inextricably woven into the onceness of life.
    On the once-only plan, you accept that the self is a natural illusion supported by your physiology in the same way that a stage magician supports his illusions with apparatus. Like the audience at a magic show, we may yearn to be taken in, but we don’t have to be duped. For the sake of our freedom, it is better not to be fooled. By learning to see through the smoke and mirrors and by resisting the diversion of attention from the sources of the illusion, and the sleight of hand, we can perceive and engage our modular parts. We can penetrate the veil of the I-sense. From behind the scenes, in the penumbra of consciousness, we can watch the brain’s illusions piecing together the world out of best-guess approximations and then filling in the gaps with more guesses in an ongoing act of creative imagination that gives reality its seeming continuity. And we can find the moments of freedom when they come.
    Life is better on the once-only plan. Without rebirth, without sure knowledge of results, the Buddhist virtues of altruism, generosity, service, compassion, the prospect of work without concern for reward become really tremendous accomplishments because without the karmic working off, without a final reckoning or release, this lifetime becomes our only chance, our precious “once in a lifetime” opportunity.
In onceness, we raise the stakes for freedom because we recognize that the mounting risks reach their peaks in our turning points.


355

    The onceness that is part of the once-only plan brings nowness with it. The virtue in action that brings meaning and purpose to my life only occurs in the present, and I have my present and you have yours and they are never the same. This gives our developmental processes and the signal events that mark them a paradoxical quality. They are both universal and unique. As lived, nobody has encountered love or loss before you, yet everyone has.
    In practicing virtue in action, the needful thing is to have the courage to endure the chaos when the turning dramas come. That is when the opportunities to see and understand vastly expand. In those moments, we come closest to learning how life really works. In those moments, we feel the pulse of the rhythms of nature beating in us, distinguishable in their separate frequency bands. We experience the fullness as we would hear with startling clarity the play of instruments in an orchestra.


356

    If you “live joyfully with the wife of your youth” (or husband or lover, or with whatever love and wisdom you find,) and have the luck, help and common sense to keep from getting too terribly lost, you will, by Solomon‘s counsel, live life fully. In doing so your “I-ness“ will slip into the background. You will still have to deal with your part-personalities. Your field-selves will continue to wrangle and succeed each other. But you will play your roles with more gusto by knowing they are roles. And self-consciousness will slip into the background. You will still prize your uniqueness, but as an instrumentality for doing, not a state of being, not an image seen in a mirror, but a living presence leaping through a window.
    We are built like finely tuned violins, made for playing, not for looking at.
    As we become less attached to the ego, we become more spontaneous. Moreover, this spontaneity does not lead to helplessness or passivity, but to eager activity, filled with choices, lit by heightened awareness of possibilities.
    Eventually even the Watcher recedes. One finds oneself dancing on the free edge of the moment, careless of heights. One identifies less with each dance step and more with the music as a whole. One takes on the transformative moments with less personal investment and more fully. Easily the deed falls clear of the doer to make their own way in the world. And the Prime Doer recedes.


357
Courage

    It takes courage to live by the once-only plan.
    We usually have our courage backward. On the long reaches of love and wisdom, when it is useful to be steady, we’re impatient with our shortcomings, flaunt our willingness to change and yearn for decisive action. But in the turning hour when the crisis comes and every tremor is evocative of change, we hesitate and resist. When steadiness is called for, we’re ready to change but when change impends, we want to hang tough.
    Three kinds of courage help us through our turning dramas. And these apply equally to our personal and historical turning dramas.
    The first lets us be brave during the long reaches of the voyage. This stalwartness, this steadfastness, is courage not to shorten the leg going toward the turning point, to stick with the consequences of our actions, to endure danger and reverses, yet, like Odysseus, swept beyond the known world, to be mindful of the journey home. This first courage helps bring us to our turning points with strength and presence.
    When we engage the turning process itself, we need a second kind of courage, to submit to chaos, to stay present with eyes wide open while the world falls apart. It means letting our old understandings go, including our sense of ourselves. Odysseus, his final ship gone, his raft destroyed, clinging to a spar, is washed ashore. He sleeps. Awakened by the sound of teenage girls at play, he gathers his wits, pulls a branch from a bush to hide his nakedness, then stands before the girls and politely asks for help. This courage in sheer naked awareness, bare and open in the face of total loss, has at its heart not excess but reserve.
    We need a third courage too: to seize the time when conditions change and we fly out of the turning to a new radial on the next long leg. The situation here is turbulent, intense, delicately poised between possibilities. Forward movement requires the courage to affirm your intention with an implementing gesture. We cannot leave it for later; we have to do it now.
    In Shambala, The Sacred Path of the Warrior, Chogyam Trungpa Rimpoche relates this courage to gentleness, and describes it as “energy beyond aggression.” He explains that

“The fundamental aspect of bravery is being without deception… Usually if we say someone is brave, we mean that he is not afraid of any enemy or he is willing to die for a cause or he is never intimidated. The Shambala understanding of bravery is quite different. Here bravery is the courage to be – to live in the world without any deception and with tremendous kindness and caring for others… When you develop bravery, you make a connection with the elemental quality of existence.”5

This quality, this Jen, human-heartedness, he applies not to life in the cloister but to living “in the world without any deception.” Moreover, that includes the business world, most importantly, in its next entrepreneurial outpouring under new rules of corporate governance.


358

    The wise people of the East generally don’t emphasize the moments of choice as dramatic turning points. But there are exceptions. In the Baghavad Gita, the warrior hero Arjuna confronts just such a choice. He is out reviewing his troops on the eve of battle. His charioteer drives him down the line between the opposing armies. Instead of seeing the “us” against the “them”, Arjuna sees the “us” on both sides – friends, relatives, teachers, beloved colleagues. He falls to the floor of the chariot overwhelmed with grief. He prays to Krishna for guidance. Immediately, the charioteer turns into Krishna, who addresses Arjuna as a friend. First, Krishna tells him to stand up like a man. “This despair and self-pity in a time of crisis is mean and unworthy of you, Arjuna. How can you have fallen into a state so far from the path to liberation?”6 
 Once Arjuna stands up he overcomes the grosser part of his “merely personal” anguish. By that act, he breaks the inertial hold of character on action. This prepares him to make genuine choices.
Krishna advises him to “Arise with a brave heart and destroy the enemy.” But Arjuna does not want to fight. “How can I ever bring myself to fight against Bishma and Drona,” he says, “who are worthy of reverence…I don’t even know which would be better, for us to conquer them or for them to conquer us… I will not fight.”
    Krishna proceeds to give him many reasons why he should fight. He argues from reincarnation to show that nobody ever really dies, not friend nor enemy. “As the same person inhabits the body through childhood, youth and old age, so too at the time of death he attains another body. The man of wisdom is not deluded by these changes.” (2.13)
    He argues that Arjuna’s choice to fight, if he truly immerses himself in the flow of action, will generate no new karma.

The seer says truly
That he is wise
Who acts without lust or scheming
For the fruit of the act:
His act falls from him,
Its chain is broken,
Melted in the flame of my knowledge.
Turning his face from the fruit,
He needs nothing:
The Atman is enough.
He acts, and is beyond action.7

    This desire to “need nothing” worked for Arjuna. The Atman is enough. He is a warrior by caste and experience. He leads his army into battle.
    That kind of submission to a social role worked well enough in classical India because personal action fit into an unchanging traditional order of life. You were a soldier, you fought. You were a priest, you officiated. You were a garbage hauler, you hauled garbage. But it doesn’t won’t work in the West where the culture deeply depends on personal distinction and self-actualization. According to Joseph Campbell,

“In the Indian tradition all has been perfectly arranged from all eternity. There can be nothing new, nothing to be learned but what the sages taught from of yore. And, finally, when the boredom of this nursery horizon of ‘I want’ against ‘thou shalt’ has become insufferable, the fourth and final aim is all that is offered – of an extinction of the infantile ego altogether: disengagement or release (moksa) from both ‘I’ and ‘thou.’”

“In the European West, on the other hand, where the fundamental doctrine of the freedom of the will essentially dissociates each individual from every other, as well as from the will in nature and the will of God, there is placed upon each the responsibility of coming intelligently, out of his own experience and volition, to some sort of relationship with – not identity with or extinction in – the all, the void, the suchness, the absolute, or whatever the proper term may be for that which is beyond terms.”8

    As the new human nature emerges in the coming sixth age, we will have both. We will establish a unique relationship with the “suchness” by becoming our individual selves. At the same time, our actions will fall cleanly from us, their “chain… broken”, because we will yearn more to contribute to the world than to aggrandize ourselves.
    That’s the Western contribution to world culture. Learn to trust your uniqueness. It is never too late to start. When you establish the focal distance that lets you become the exact lens you are, you enter the flow of life with a keener sensory presence and a more daring address to uncertainty. Even in a turbulent, changing world in crisis your transformational powers will count for something: they will help you get your balance; they will create parity between inwardness and outwardness; they will help strengthen the weak leg (see # 97-99.) So endowed, you will experience the signal events authentically. Your choices will make you canny and clever without turning you sour. You will find responses to hate and folly. You will counter malicious interference before the ruthless ones take you down.


359
Odysseus

    Odysseus had been a youthful hero of mine. He united primordial cunning with penetrating judgment. He was brave, willing to go where life took him. I admired his focus on the action at hand; it impressed me how he could use action as a springboard for knowledge. I admired how his power grew, and how he made his grief part of his power. Odyssean character, I believed, made us less self-involved, less self-interested, larger, more primal, and more open to a flowing interplay with events, more able to sail into our turning points in full career. I loved Tennyson’s poem on Ulysses:

I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethrough
Gleams that untravelled world, whose margin fades
Forever and forever when I move. 9

    What a shock I got when I learned later that Dante cast Odysseus into Hell. He was thrown there not because of the violent and treacherous parts of his character, but because he gave false counsel, because he didn’t stay home after returning to his wife and son, because he persuaded his crewmembers to sail away with him. In the circle of Hell reserved for false counselors, Odysseus tells Dante, how he failed his family duty.

“Not fondness for a son, nor duty to an aged father, nor the love I owed Penelope which should have gladdened her, could conquer within me the passion I had to gain experience of the world and of the vices and worth of men…”10

    After the Trojan War and his ten-year battle to return home and his campaign to restore his kingdom, he set off again. All along, a deep selfishness dominated him – a need for distinction, excellence, for the accumulation of experience. It made him blind to love, heedless of the continuities in the rhythms of relationship, oblivious to the needs of others and irresponsible toward his subordinates. Why did his wisdom fail in the crucial moments? Because he kept it apart. It did not converge with love.


360
Love and Wisdom Fighting Back


    I have learned from life that love and wisdom can fight back. They can resist assault. Particularly during turning points in the signal events, they can bring aggression back to its primordial role as a preserver of rhythm. On the strength of aggression alloyed to affection, many lovers, fighting off terrible reverses, surmounting every obstacle, have thrived in nearly impossible conditions. And people have grown wise in the most inhospitable settings too, because the urgency of their real needs for meaning required satisfaction regardless of conditions, and with fierce intent they commanded the aggredi to rise up against injustice. With brilliant means, they confronted opposition.
    The aggressive energy you gather up to surmount assaults on rhythmic love and wisdom not only keeps you engaged with the essential meaning-bestowing virtues of life, it helps keep you apt to your times.
    The recruitability of aggression, its readiness, its arousability, its quick bifurcation from the stress response, thrusts you into the moment (see # 133, 135, 154, 155.)
    To be apt in love is to be truly there for another person now, concretely, not in the sweet by and by. To love, care, and never give up demonstrates the true Spinozan impulse to self-preservation; it asserts our need for others (see # 234.)
    Aggression works in the service of wisdom too. It’s there when you resist the urge to throw aside a hard project. It gives you staying power. It keeps you from following false hopes. It rejects mediocrity.
    To stand always tentative and open on the path of possibility, and to be willing to countenance aggression in the onceness of your life while risking its abuses in an imperfect world imperfectly understood - that takes something more than courage, nerve, judgment and aptness. It takes the desire to win.


361

    Fighting back is one thing; winning is another. To win the historical struggles in a Dukkha laden world where nobody wins, your deeds of love and wisdom have to do more than express themselves authentically in small settings: they have to enter the wider struggle and transform territorial and dominance relationships. This they can only do when many people who have been driven into their depths and  intimacies by related psychological and socioeconomic problems return to social life bearing common solutions based on shared views of their human potentials and powers. In the return stage of wisdom, they find each other. In the approach stage of love they discover mutual commitments.
    Many important changes fly in under the radar when cultures falter and fail. Sometimes in perilous circumstances the resonant turnings of many people have synergistic effects. When anonymity is joined to anonymity moral currents are generated that change history.
    But how do you get there from here?


362
Keep On Keeping On

    Look closely and you will see that in all of its present inadequacy love and wisdom are still flowing in your life. Somewhere you are attempting to love and trying to get wise. Wherever love is flowing, keep it flowing. Wherever wisdom seeks for meaning, keep it searching. Know that you are already on the paths, and because you are, even if you are floundering and flailing there, even if you do not know what you are seeking, or where you are going, keep on. Keep on keeping on. You are heading toward transformational opportunities.
    By shedding egotism in favor of deeds, and for letting those deeds cut the path to individuation itself, you get the power to act in the moment according to its needs. With aptness, deeds find their own way.    
    However, you can only live a life of full engagement and follow this strategy if you have developed the skills to recognize a “me” who is there when the “I” has blown apart, a “me” of small moves and little hopes and finite interests who has shed the illusions of reference to a permanent self. To find this “me” takes secular spiritual attainment.
    Living in the moment without an overweening self, we become clearer valves for giving and receiving. Deeds performed this way require great finesse, and precise timing, since the assertion of a clear intention timed to the turning moment must be delicate and strong and apt enough to meet and join the world’s own energies. When they do, it feels as if volition is moving from the world to the world, finding their own way through the open valve of you.
    Only when we have this strong delicacy, this resonant rhythmic precision, do we achieve poise in the heart of time. Our deeds then fall clear of the doer.


363

    Nature ordains the value of life to be the full play of our propensities. The primordial center of each living being is uniquely tuned and differently sensitized to input. We are peerless transmitting/receiving devices. You will find your unique ways and I will find mine and we will help each other.
    Only this courageous openness leads to the thorough exploration of our genome and to the fullest possible expression of our potentialities. Our real task, then, is to struggle imperfectly with love and wisdom and to individuate, not discouraged by our temporal limits.
    It is good to touch the primordial core of our being. The deeds of love and wisdom that start there awaken to the needs of others. More beings surround us. More beings bring more life.
Doing the best we can from the center of our uniqueness, our journeys of wisdom will produce innovations that will move us toward freedom and justice. And from our loves will come the strength to care. And our caring will stir caring in others. And caring establishes a deep communion with nature.
When the rhythms of love and wisdom converge in our own lives, winding about each other durably, with aggression the third in the threefold cord, we begin to access the natural sources of meaning through which rectification of social injustices occur. With this impetus, we can organize our aspirations into something truly great.
    Stephen Spender wrote:

I think continually of those who were truly great
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the spirit clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.


364

    The deed carries the mind into the world better than a thousand volumes of philosophical reflection. By living in rhythmic congruity with nature, we gain the strength to be ourselves, and when we are ourselves we see that what really matters beyond the achievements and disappointments of life are the deeper rhythms of love and wisdom. We weave them as they weave us. We are our own flying shuttles. The patterns that take hold in the weft and weave are those we have earned or spoiled by living. You only get the gifts of self-realization in the moments you give them away. That’s the nature of true bestowal. The spoiled efforts you cannot give away. They go with you.
    Reality offers startlingly more than we know or can anticipate. And sometimes it delivers crushingly less than we merit. As lived, however, it is perpetually new. This newness brings with it an uncertainty that, if we are brave, is enlivening rather than debilitating, amusing rather than terrifying, inspiring rather than deflating.
    Of course, we can make a mess of it. We are only human. We are never fully formed. We don’t really know how to handle ourselves because we don’t quite know what is happening or where we are going. Fortune can come bounding in with hard surprises. We can get sick or die too soon. We can lose our bets. Or we can make fine choices and life can still turn out badly. There are no guarantees, not for outcomes or intentions.
    Yet we must live in the moment before judging it, because doing precedes knowing. To live well we must say Yes before we say No. We need to welcome the moment - this one, the next one, the last. We learn by living, and since we have hardly engaged the fullness of our capacities yet, we do not know how much there is yet to learn, or whether what we learn will hold up or whether we have gone too far or not far enough. No wisdom holds forever. Our understandings and our motivations vary, develop, evolve, and pass away. I wrote this in a poem when I was thirty:

We change and our changings change
And we leave behind us a refuse of small wisdoms
And this is the price we pay
To be present at our turnings.

    That is my best understanding of the way to freedom! Would that I could practice it better myself! The risks get higher as life goes on, perhaps because there is less time left to rectify mistakes, and more regrets, and one’s energy diminishes. But the greatest risk and the major drain on our energy is not taking the risk.


365

    Our saving grace is that transformation is always possible. Even up to the last breath in the final moment giving can become receiving. One kind of love can turn into another. Wisdom can refresh itself in other wisdoms. Love and wisdom can converge on each other.
    Once you start making the changes, you engage the deep turnings. Then the past comes back to you in a new way, it make sense in ways you never suspected. The mistakes you made were not for nothing. The past can be redeemed. Doors open. You can call forth more life.


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