I echo a previous comment here that it is truly fantastic to have this Q and A with you, so thanks for this service you are providing! I was re-reading your beautiful chapters in the middle of the Mary Magdalene book on the path of conscious love, and came across a curious sentence about those who traverse this trail: “There is a yearning to do so [to open the door to the soul cage], for the path of kenosis as walked between beloveds expresses itself in a deepening urge to hold nothing back” (123). What struck me here is that the “letting go” of kenosis expresses itself in a “deepening urge to hold nothing back.” I realized that once again the spiritual path naturally leads, as it matures, towards some kind of paradox: letting go in love results in a deepening urge to love. I understand, as you teach, that this is why there is the need to run the non-dual operating system that can hold both of these in tension. My question, which applies to all aspects of the spiritual life in that emptying and filling are occurring at the same time, regards the actual lived experience of this paradox, and perhaps for guiding metaphors to better understand the practice. Is it like driving a car where there is a constant rebalancing towards the center of the road, at times running towards one side of letting go and at other times towards the other side of feeling full-heartedness? Or is it a gradual process of purification where the two merge closer into one so that it’s hard to tell which process is at play? Or maybe it’s better to think of it as 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration where most of the focus is on trying to let go and then very occasionally one is surprised that some urge manifests in an unexpected pure state? Or are any generalizations hard to make, suggesting that those walking the path should simply trust that the proper “skillful means” will manifest themselves in time? I appreciate your thoughts on this.
~ Marty Schmidt
A couple of koans to ponder in response:
From The Cloud of Unknowing (chapter 16-4): “Do not be surprised at this, for it is the nature of all true lovers that the more they love, the more they long to love…”
From the Gospel of Thomas, 21 in response to a question (from Mary Magdalene), “What are your students like?” “They are like small children living in a field not their own. When the landlords return and say, ‘Give us back our field,’ the children return it by simply stripping themselves and standing naked before them…”
What if the “urge” to love is not so much DESIRING or “urgency” as simply a deepening capaciousness, like a bottomless well?
What if emptying and filling are not different operations, but joined at the hip in self-disclosure, or transparency? Or nakedness? Or intimacy?