The Drunkard and the Lover

The Drunkard and the Lover

As I transitioned into the new year, I felt ready to begin anew, to move past some of the grief and loneliness I had been experiencing in the last week of 2021. As if on cue, I was stricken with the flu on the 2nd, which gave me even more time to examine my current state, although this time mostly horizontal, through night sweats and skull-numbing headaches.


I intended to record a video to show up in this weak, raw, and vulnerable moment, but my voice is almost gone, and I am coughing heavily after a few sentences. But rest assured, I will still let you into some of my angst through my words.


It has been a journey into isolation and loneliness the past two weeks – my two closest friends here became unavailable for different reasons, one also succumbing to a severe illness. And while I have made many connections on this lake, I am someone who does not build up depth, trust, and intimacy with people quickly. A stranger in a strange land, the expression goes. In addition, and somewhat ashamedly, I still feel the effects of heartbreak from a couple of months ago. It was a short, intense relationship that pulled on the most profound aspects of my lifelong inner feminine healing process, forcing me to face all the ugly parts of that internal relationship: the betrayal and lack of trust, the dependency and validation, the overemphasis and need for sex and eros and contact. And experience has shown me that this inner feminine, the anima as Carl Jung referred to it, tends to possess the face of my previous beloved. This is very much a work in progress and one that has invited me into a state of pause.


One bright spot in the last week has been my discovery of the contemplations of Richard Rudd: poet, and creator of the Gene Keys system. I specifically found myself listening to an album called The Ecstatics, where Rudd explores the mystical nature of some well-known individuals like Walk Whitman, Ananda Mayi Ma, and Hafez, along with some lesser-known mystics that were new to me.


I have found this series incredibly inspirational, and I was brought back to a time, 10-12 years ago when my life shifted dramatically – I was in my Saturn return (~age 29), I left my comfortable corporate job, sold all of my possessions, discovered zen, yoga, tantra, meditation, and poetry. All things were pouring in and out of me with great ease and joy. AND there was so much that I was utterly unconscious of! And certainly still am. Looking back, I can see and feel that dream of youthful optimism, reaching ecstasy without pain, without suffering, without heartbreak and disappointment. And Rudd sums this up beautifully:


The path of love involves a different kind of suffering from the path of meditation.


The path of love drags us through the world, whores us through the taverns and marketplace. And we will be battered and bruised by it.
But one day, one day we may have the epiphany… that the love on the outside is but a shadow of love on the inside


We who have passed beyond the age of 40 or so, we have learned that all is not what was promised. And even if we find it, it slips through our grasp. It eludes us, and it must do, because love in the phenomenal world is the effect of a deeper love, an acausal love, and this deeper love, this ecstasy is beyond any effects; it does not have a target; it is simply our true nature.

Two small new years resolutions/intentions I have committed to are:

  • No alcohol for the first three months
  • Drastically reduced use of news and podcasts

Both connect to the ecstatic state referred to above. Both news and alcohol are significant distractions from the inner landscape. And while I have not been abusing alcohol by any means, even moderate amounts are not in the best interest of a human healing his body from serious disease.
Rudd’s exploration of Hafez reminded me that the reason for reaching for alcohol is all too similar to that of reaching for love, except that they end up in drastically different locations. Rudd quotes Indian spiritual master Meher Baba comparing the lover to the drunkard:

The Sufi master poets often compared love with wine. Wine is the most fitting figure for love because both intoxicate. But while wine causes self-forgetfulness, love leads to Self-realization.

The behavior of the drunkard and the lover are similar; each disregards the world’s standards of conduct and each is indifferent to the opinion of the world. But there are worlds of difference between the course and the goal of the two: the one leads to subterranean darkness and denial; the other gives wings to the soul for its flight to freedom.

The drunkenness of the drunkard begins with a glass of wine which elates his spirit and loosens his affections and gives him a new view of life that promises a forgetfulness from his daily worries. He goes on from a glass to two glasses, to a bottle; from companionship to isolation, from forgetfulness to oblivion. Oblivion which in Reality is the Original state of God, but which, with the drunkard, is an empty stupor–and he sleeps in a bed or in a gutter. And he awakens in a dawn of futility, an object of disgust and ridicule to the world.

The lover’s drunkenness begins with a drop of God’s love which makes him forget the world. The more he drinks, the closer he draws to his Beloved, and the more unworthy he feels of the Beloved’s love; and he longs to sacrifice his very life at the Beloved’s feet. He, too, does not know whether he sleeps on a bed or in a gutter, and becomes an object of ridicule to the world; but he rests in bliss, and God the Beloved takes care of his body, and neither the elements nor disease can touch it.

One out of many such lovers sees God face to face. His longing becomes infinite; he is like a fish thrown up on the beach, leaping and squirming to regain the ocean. He sees God everywhere and in everything, but he cannot find the gate of union. The Wine that he drinks turns into Fire in which he continuously burns in blissful agony. And the Fire eventually becomes the Ocean of Infinite Consciousness in which he drowns.

My favorite line is: He, too, does not know whether he sleeps on a bed or in a gutter, and becomes an object of ridicule to the world, but he rests in bliss, and God the Beloved takes care of his body, and neither the elements nor disease can touch it.

Cheers to the path of the lover – willing to love wildly and freely and have my heart broken repeatedly!!!

And the need for the break from news and podcasts is clear to me – I/we are being confronted with a pandemic of fear and isolation and division, and seeking outside solutions and answers and distrusting our inner guidance is only a recipe for more isolation and separation. How much of what I’m feeling is my own making? This topic I will soon explore on its own.

I leave you here for now. In the hour or so it took me to write this, I am feeling physically stronger, emotionally more connected, and overall much lighter.

Thank you for being with me, and I’d love your feedback.

To be a Slave of Intensity

Friend, hope for the guest while you are alive.
Jump into experience while you are alive!
Think… and think… while you are alive.
What you call ‘salvation’ belongs to the time before death.

If you don’t break your ropes while you’re alive,
do you think
ghosts will do it after?

The idea that the soul will join with the ecstatic
Just because the body is rotten –
that is all fantasy.
What is found now is found then.
If you find nothing now,
you will simply end up with an apartment in the City of Death.
If you make love with the divine now, in the next life you will have the face of satisfied desire.

So plunge into the truth, find out who the Teacher is,
Believe in the Great Sound!

Kabir says this: When the guest is being searched for, it is the intensity of the longing for the Guest that does all the work.
Look at me, and you will see a slave of that intensity.

By: Kabir

Translated: Robert Bly

The Way of Life

What we look for beyond seeing
And call the unseen,
Listen for beyond hearing
And call the unheard,
Grasp for beyond reaching
And call the withheld,
Merge beyond understanding
In a oneness
Which does not merely give rise and give light,
Does not merely set and leave darkness,
But forever sends forth a succession of living things as mysterious
As the unbegotten existence to which they return.

       ~Lao Tzu

Tinder Profile

You are beautiful, youthful, radiant. Each time we meet, my wide smile is a testament to your effect on me.

There is an intensity in your eyes, in your words and in your life. A touch, a whisper or a small glance sends shivers up my spine.

A seemingly unending reservoir of power, your myriad emanations continually grace me.

Your insatiable sexual desire is quenched only through our union; seeking the ineffable, the elevated, the eternal through the merging of our interlaced bodies, hearts and minds. Dancing in the sublime, we discover endless, transcendent time.

You have contemplated your mortality, you have gazed at your shadows, you seek to discover your unknown potentiality.

In this empowering presence you invite me to meet you from my own masculine centeredness. My heart exposed, my vulnerabilities laid bare, you invite my trust, if I so dare.

You see relationship as a deep dialogue, not a lifeless contract easily abdicated. Monogamy and polyamory are just words to you – you flow easily where you need to.

Blonde or brunette, tall or short, herbivore or carnivore – just minor details in a love that is based on so much more.

If this is you, please swipe right.

Tinder

Recollection of Certainty

Kalisada, a place promoting a peaceful life. Timeless rhythms of nature, an abundance of vividness.

Practicing alone together. Sangha is a precious gift. The mutual body, studying the mystery with many different eyes.

I feel a link to the past. Not surprisingly to the other places and times of immersion in meditation and nature. A recollection of certainty. No place to go, nothing to do, no one to become.

This little vow reaches so far.

Maybe when I retire I will create a lifestyle like this. Wait, aren’t I already retired?  The French origin of the word means to draw back  ( re – tirer).

Must communion with Self and nature wait until later?

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I must leave today – the time is near.  The scenery will change, the rhythm uprooted.

A sense of sadness, like that one as you awake from a beautiful dream as it fades from awareness.

It’s difficult to express this recollection in words. Yet it is deeply embedded in my cells, in my bones. Like a lotus bud waiting to bloom.

A Thousand Serious Moves

The best neighborhood to live in. The top career. The perfect partner. The most excellent time to visit a place, the finest month to begin a project. The preeminent spiritual practice, the greatest teacher.

In a time of fluctuation, I observe thoughts like these- comparative thoughts. They all revolve around a common theme- control. Or the illusion of it. A belief that if I make first class decisions, I will have a most excellent life. As I wrote about recently, the freedom of individualism has come at a cost. The cost is that we are fed an illusion that we are in complete control over our lives.

As I sit quietly in the jungle, I am reminded that it is simply not the case that we really have control. A strange sounds arises from beyond the pond. I am told- “that’s the sound of a snake eating a frog. The snake isn’t poisonous, so it will take a while”. Life and death. Always present.

Relishing in this jungle hermitage retreat, I am reminded of importance of simple, attentional awareness to our moment-to-moment activities. The divine interplay of breath, body, phenomena and the realization that if any effort is expended, it is best directed to accepting this interplay rather than trying to control it.

I leave you with one of my favorite poems from Hafiz, who beautifully expresses this dilemma:

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

That the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I am afraid you still think
You have a thousand serious moves.

~ Hafiz, I Heard God Laughing: Poems of Hope and Joy

Jungle Zazen

5am

religious chanting echoes in the distance

early morning light nudges away the darkness

walking the stone path towards the little wooden zendo

a glance upward and I meet the volcano, serenely present

3 bells

the scent of sandalwood

black cushion supporting my spine

in breath, out breath

stillness

not yet – this isn’t the zendo I’m familiar with

one bird, two bird, many birds

geckos skip across the roof

two frogs communicate their love across a pond

all of this is happening, just outside

outside what I wonder?

this jungle is inside, how can it be otherwise

zazen expands

fully alive

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I love you if

You expressed I love you in a poem. Six months later you took it back. Accused of manipulation, I respond in kind. The lack of eye contact should have been a warning sign. Pouring my insecurities and shadows into your lap, little did I know they were being weaponized. Saved for an opportune moment, to unleash the rage of all times. Attacking a fly with a grenade, clearly there was something amiss in your promise. Maybe it had to do with the omission of the word if.

I love you if you do not confront my insecurities; I love you if you do not challenge my ego; I love you if you constantly show me the reflection of my own masks in your eyes. Is that what you meant to write?

Blame me, blame a community, blame the style of relationship. Blame anything except your own wounded pride.

For the sake of the next one, please don’t forget the if.

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