Page 1 of 1

Disease Brings Solitude (6/14/08)

Posted: June 15th, 2008, 6:55 pm
by anna
Toward the middle of this traveling time, I developed a strange and inexplicable inner ear disease while visiting Kauai, in Hawaii, which created vertigo, and which was to turn me inside out, and enforce seclusion during which time I would spend months, which evolved into years, of inner work and solitude. While the doctors could offer no reassurance nor did they actually know what caused it -- “perhaps a “virus?” -- they also did not comfort me by stating that perhaps it was a brain disease, or some kind of exotic unknown disease for which they had no cure. At the time, I was bereft, not to mention terrified, at the implications of this calamity. I could not walk straight, nor gaze without nystagmus, a shifting of the eyes in an effort to re-balance or respond to the inner ear’s balance mechanism. Initially, I could not even walk without falling down. It occurred at 4:00 am in the morning, and required hospitalization for several days. After that period of stabilization, I returned to Maine and lay essentially on my back for several months’ time. Eventually I would gradually, over several years, regain my stability and the vertigo would subside.

At the time, of course this disease was anathema to me. I would have given just about anything to get rid of it. And yet, curiously, I did little to get rid of it, and instead, allowed it to unwind its apparently cruel fate. In retrospect, and even at the time, somehow I concluded that this event was necessary or pivotal to my own progress along my own path. I did write to two of my “Gurus”, which in turn, resulted in no improvement. (This was to be an instructive moment about the limitations inherent in human healers.) As it turns out, this time in my life was the most important time I can recall in my own spiritual journey, as it was an enforced retreat, or solitude, which permitted the unwinding of my own self-absorption and brought great clarification of who I was, my relationship to God, the mystery of consciousness, and the discovery of the depths of mind and consciousness and its spiritual, not to mention worldly, implications. Up until this time, no matter how spiritually embellished my motives and ideas might have been, I was still solely an egocentric individual. I was still absorbed in myself, without true understanding of the mechanism of thought, the body/mind tyranny, and the externalization of everything that goes on within. I understood much of the “problem” intellectually, but I was not “living” it, being it -- my extensive knowledge and understanding in the past, through all my studies, meditations, prayers and conclusions, had not anchored itself at all.

I was also to discover that contrary to what I had always believed about myself, that there was truly no “center” within that I could call “me”. This latter realization took me by complete surprise, and it generated enormous anger and wrath that somehow I had been duped into believing that there WAS a me. Moreover, that I had agreed to this conspiracy to delude myself. At the time, I thought there should be a “real me”, and that I had somehow been prevented from creating one by all my conditioning and culture, but instead labored under the “false me.” When this realization came upon me suddenly, I initially “blamed” the world and those in it for somehow creating a “false me” by not permitting me to develop a center of my own. I did not realize, until much, much later in life, that there never WAS a central me, nor could there ever be, either false or real, and the realization should not have generated anger as it did then, but elation, and relief, as it does now. I had somehow stumbled upon the actual experience of “no mind”, or “headlessness”, not yet recognizing that “me” is actually only, and solely, a conglomeration of concepts that created an illusion of continuity, that I labeled “me” heretofore. My reaction to this revelation at that time is just one small example of how the ego can turn what is otherwise a truly significant and transcendent event into a threat, as opposed to a blessing, in its struggle to maintain dominance. Here was a moment in time where I was exposed to the illusion of the ego, and my reaction was anger and blame as opposed to gratefulness for the exposure. The ego rushed in and distracted me from that realization with deflected anger toward the external world.

I spent many months alone in our small cabin in the woods, which S and I had built one summer during those years of travel in order to give us, me in particular, a semblance of roots, despite all our traveling. For a while, we would travel and rent between travels, but eventually I longed for some kind of home base that we could call our own, so we once again built together a small house on the acreage we kept aside from our original sale of the first Maine house. Therefore, while S continued to travel, teach, and speak, I remained home. It was within this tiny little two-room cabin that I was to discover just how human I was, and just how insignificant the body and its mind’s accumulations are. Initially I struggled just with dealing with disease, and found I only began to heal when I accepted the disease and even the possibility that I might possibly die if this was more serious than I wished. Indeed, I went through a day of actual dying, and finding that I lived through it despite its fearsome promises. At the time, when I fully surrendered to this “death”, there developed a sensation of deep stillness and rock solidity which was immovable and eternal. This did not last, of course, the mind rushes in given just a chink of space.

I found the solitude that remaining in this little cabin provided, was excruciatingly instructive. I could no longer run from myself, or from my own demons. I could not embellish what is often distraction with spiritual significance. I had to face the quiet, the silence, the fear of disease and the loss that implied, without recourse to anything else but my God and me. And as God seemed unable, or unwilling to heal me, I eventually had recourse to nothing, but surrender.

It was also during this enforced solitude that I experienced many of the “kundalini” experiences, but only discovering after the fact that they were legitimate experiences that other individuals had likewise experienced. Whether or not the vertigo was related to this shifting of energies, I am no longer sure. It may well have been simply a disease picked up in Kauai and became a vehicle for solitude and inner work for me, during which I then was able to unlock some of these energies. On the other hand, I had been struggling for many years with my own relationship with outer authority and my infantile and submissive attitude toward that authority, and just prior to the Kauai incident, I had experienced a very strong realization that those who love you do not always love unconditionally, but instead are human and fallible and thus prone to human frailty and may in fact find you unlovable. This came as a great shock to my system and my carefully built up façade of security and self-knowledge, so the blow could easily have unlocked stagnant energies and released all kinds of hitherto unresolved issues. In many ways, that realization was a kind of death for me, and a consequent new birth from the ashes. This could easily have caused conditions receptive to disease.

In any case, during this enforced solitude, I experienced all sorts of floating lights, visions, energies that swept through my body, burning and cold alternating, a sense of falling away and disappearing, shakings and tremblings, tears and laughter, fears and certainties, a presence of God, and an intimate sense of communication between God and myself, heard through songs, words, visions, and events. This was a time of mystical connection with something other than me, and its presence was heartfelt and real to me. There were many out of body experiences, one which I can still palpably feel when remembering, whereby I floated above my body, and looked down at my body lying there, and looking at the wide open eyes of my body lying on the bed being amazed at how “material” and dead the body actually was. (Of some interest, I was to learn because of the frequency of these events, that the dream body is usually dreamt in reverse, left to right, in a mirror like effect when dreamed or envisioned. If taken into consideration, dreams of one’s own body, or another, can warn or signify important clues to disease or problems, but in reverse.)

I also experienced what I believe to be sartori-like events, whereupon I was dissociated from the body, bathed in white light, and free and without limitation, but fully conscious and entirely “here”. All these experiences occurred prior to my reading about similar ones experienced by others, which was crucial to my own process I believe, because I could not so easily assume that I was simply responding to suggestion and therefore fantasized these events. It is also important to note that these were all experiences, events that I personally experienced, and not after the fact memories of events. However, there were times when I became engulfed in light, and THEN lost consciousness, and would not remember anything further. They were always preceded by meditation and prolonged immersion in spiritual considerations. The loss of consciousness was remembered only after the fact, upon awakening or recovering. At the time, I thought this highly significant. Today I conclude that this too was a kind of experience, but one in which I lost consciousness. Nothing more than that.

In retrospect, had I been distracted by travel and teaching, I doubt very much if I would have done the inner work and faced the turmoil this inner work generated, that in turn, presented me with these experiences. Therefore, I cannot help but conclude that disease has its place in the spiritual search, if one is on a spiritual search, and indeed, may be a welcome visitor along the way, particularly to those within the western culture of constant activity, accomplishment, and “doing.” And while at the time I was frightened and sometimes terrified of the consequences of this disease, it was actually my friend, because it brought me to my knees in supplication to something other than myself-- or my culture --who was at that point, unable to get through the disease alone or intact. It humiliated me, and it uplifted me. It was essential to break my arrogance and self-certainty, and to bring with it a newfound sense of confidence and purpose, but overshadowed by a wholeness and self-lessness, a sense of non-importance, generated from that humiliation. I spent those many months grappling with the old, in order to re-birth some kind of understanding and compassion that, for me at least, I might otherwise not have discovered within my depths. This took many years to anchor itself, and it is still doing so, but it built the foundation for inner work and discovery that has never left me.

Of course, at this point in my life, as I write this, I realize that perhaps the only value to this entire episode in my life was to learn to sit still and be happy sitting still. Prior to this time, I was an individual addicted to activity and accomplishment. This time wiped out that addiction. Whether it has any relevance whatsoever to my personal spiritual situation, if one can call it that, is uncertain, because my understanding of what the spiritual search is all about has changed radically from what it was while this event occurred. That said, any self-discipline, any situation that reduces complexity and misunderstanding can’t be bad, and may be good. It certainly brings a kind of peace and happiness that is more than likely not attainable to those who are immersed in worldliness and all its distraction - certainly it did for me.

Re: Disease Brings Solitude (6/14/08)

Posted: March 10th, 2009, 4:12 am
by anvil46
I am at the end, God willing, of a respiratory 'spell' ,as my fraternal grandparents would refer to reoccurring medical conditions. I believe this time it will result with O2 24/7 as opposed to the night only present situation. Reading of your journey has helped me take different views of my situation . This will bring a much narrower focus . I feel compelled to complete several sculptural projects as a means of my spiritual practice. This condition is stomping the ego out of the work , and I believe that now I will be able, that is to the extent I have any physical ability left, to reach a place inside that is more pure. I do not make any money so I am not ' tainted ' by gold. Thanks , love the fence and am so pleased it is waiting here for me in the night.
there is only in and out and in is bigger than out.

Re: Disease Brings Solitude (6/14/08)

Posted: March 31st, 2009, 3:47 pm
by anna
I am pleased to hear that my own experience brought some kind of solace to another who is struggling with the inevitable deterioration of the physical body. This comes to all of us, one way or another, sooner or later, and for those who escape it early in life, there is the end of life that awaits them. In other words, disease is inevitable, sometime in life, if only at the end of life, and from my own experience, having gone through my own peculiar experience fairly early in life, disease has taken a different coloring, and one which is not quite so terrible as our culture has suggested.

I suppose what it brings to those who look into its depths with an attempt to find a reason is that the reason is to generate silence, and ceasing of activity, and silence and sitting still inveitably generates understanding and humility if not fought against. (Indeed, the Tibetan practice of meditation, in large part, is preparation for the process of dying, indeed, IS a kind of meditative dying, so that, at the actual time of death, there is silence, peace, and stability, in order to pass over without resistance and chaos.) And, without the humility and understanding that dis-ease, or disease creates, without the humility that is inevitable when we truly recognize that we are creatures who will die, and that we are vulnerable and fragile, life is superficial, externally oriented solely, and thus, to my mind, pointless.

I grant you, physical activity to which a healthy body is ideally suited, is also inevitable, so long as the body functions, but it is the activity of the brain, tied to that activity and therefore addicted to it, that generates a ceaseless continuation of activity for activity's sake, and leaves the actor exhausted and empty. Indeed, if it is uninspected activity, I would venture to say that the individual involved in it is probably unaware of the superficiality, because she hasn’t inspected it nor found the time to do so. So, some of us need a hard push to sit down and shut up, and to my own mind, that is the purpose of disease, particularly for a seeker -- but even for a non-seeker, the latter who is either driven or obsessed with activity to the neglect of an inner life. Indeed, it is those who refuse to succumb to the silence and quiet of enforced seclusion that disease demands that often aggravate the disease, even sometimes die prematurely from it.

So, you, Stewart, are obviously looking inward and asking yourself what can you learn from this. The mere fact that you expressed your conclusions on this forum indicates that you are already THERE, or you wouldn't have contributed to this kind of forum, nor would you have recognized the logic of the purpose of disease and integrated it into your own life.

That said, this can't be a happy time for you, and to be angry or frustrated about it is justified, if you ever feel that way, which no doubt you do. I remember that for many months, the fury and anger I felt at finding myself confined was tremendous, and in retrospect I believe that expressing that anger and disappointment in a body which failed to perform as it had previously was a healthy approach, rather than a resigned one. (However, it was a stage in the process, and had I remained stuck in that stage, I doubt if I would have learned anything other than resistance!) I recall in particular that I railed against the fact that “I couldn’t do what I used to do!”. I have heard that in many different forms from others who succumb to a debilitating disease. The mere expression says volumes about our human condition. Who is the I that can’t do what I used to do. Who is that I that used to do these things? It is a great riddle that expresses the actual function of the ego, and its obsession with continuity. In other words, it is only an ego, obsessed with continuity, that objects to change, and rails against the fact that it can’t continue to be, or do, what it always had. In other words, it is all lthoughts, all concepts that generate the resistance and therefore, suffering. It is of course absurd, because in time, we all change, and what we used to be or do we no longer do. But the illogic of the ego will not accommodate this observation, and will respond “Well, that’s different!”

Of course, this doesn't address the initial fear that comes with disease. That is both instinctive fear, which we can do nothing about, and generated fear, by thoughts generated by the ego, about which we can do much. There is an instinctive bodily fear that is cellular, and that occurs however much understanding we may have, and which is generated by a survival instinct, which is hard wired within the body itself. Even the great masters allude to it as occurring despite their great knowledge and understanding. But it is transient, and it is not thought generated.

I am not suggesting that surrender to a situation and to one's possible or eventual demise is contradictory to this expression of anger and fury over it , as we ALL must eventually surrender to our fate, in one way or another, either today, or at the moment of our death -- but it is to say that one has to acknowledge, realize, express, and observe the failure of the body to perform perfectly, BEFORE one can submit and surrender to something greater and more expansive than the confines of a body. In other words, distracting oneself from the obvious disease will not serve the seeker of understanding, or any other kind of deflection from directly accepting the disease and its consequences and its obvious statement of the limitations of bodily existence. In other words, so long as the body is perfect, then we take pride in that body, remain confined to that body, and think that we are all that the body is. This confinement to a bodily existence is the problem all along. And so long as we remain bound to our body as “me”, there is no hope to transcend that bodily preoccupation, is there? Thus, we will not expand, if the body meets what we perceive to be our every need. Likewise, the ego, which maintains its existence and dominance via its bodily existence -- and is generated by the brain of the body to create a semblance of continuity, must eventually be transcended if one is to lose the fear of dying or of disease.

It is to my mind obvious that all fear comes down to fear of dying, and what is fear of dying but fear of loss of ego? Indeed, if we were absolutely certain of continuation of ego after death, there would be no fear of death, because the cause of fear, the ego, would be convicted of its survival. It is that uncertainty that tears at the ego, which we believe is “me”, that generates the fear, that holds us back from embracing death as much as birth as a continuation of LIFE in all of its aspects, which include both birth and death. After all, when we were born, were "we" there? Was the ego developed enough to inform us, as infants, that we were born, and alive? I don't believe so. And yet birth we rejoice about, and death we fear.(Perhaps that is an indication of the prrof of the ego’s dominance – it rejoices in its inception, or the promise of its inception, and its “memory” of its birth!)

And yet. are we afraid of going to sleep? No, but we do shut down the ego while sleeping. Indeed, we welcome sleep. The only difference from sleep and death is that we are certain we will awake the next morning! Isn't that curious?! And telling! Indeed, the way I see it, death IS the loss of ego. And who knows who or what awakes after death. And one must conclude therefore, that in sleep, even though the ego is gone, something remains, something that is transcendant to the ego bound bodily consciousness.

So, we can do it then, or we can do it now, BEFORE then. And we can do it consciously and voluntarily, or involuntarily. Whether there are great advantages to doing it now, I suppose it all depends upon one's perspective and one's values. It certainly creates a struggle. But I DO know that with the lessening of the hold of the ego, one becomes more content, more adaptable, more tolerant, more loving, more humble, quieter, listens more, sees more, is more grateful and more forgiving of others, and of life. I suppose those are pretty great advantages, no?

Re: Disease Brings Solitude (6/14/08)

Posted: April 11th, 2010, 1:37 am
by anvil46
Thanks ! That was beautifully written. I have just re read it and it means more each time. I can not believe it has bin that long ago. Are you still 'there'. I have not bin to the Fence in awhile and it seems deserted. There is much here that I cherish,.