This past weekend I took the time I had off to go visit my old Zen Master. I’ve been called to revisit my Zen and Buddhist roots and have rekindled a lot of those practices. I don’t necessarily consider myself a Buddhist anymore (and I do jokingly refer to myself as a retired Buddhist) but I do very much practice and honor the Dharma.
Master Shin was his usual self, seemingly unaged (despite his 85 earth years) taking us into the heart of Zen, the Kayas, Emptiness, and Om Mani Padme Hum. He talked at length as he normally does, and as I often experience in his presence, my mind was still, absorbing and somehow following what his words were pointing to. Or perhaps I experienced a gnarly head trip, the jury is still out.
Contrast this experience with a Buddhist Group I decided to briefly join. It was a discussion around a book on Mindfulness. Harmless enough yet, I can’t shake the feeling that spirituality and especially Buddhist practice should shake you up a bit.
I have my fingers in varied spiritual practices, not just Buddhism. I also study Shamanism, am familiar with Witchcraft, read the Tarot, study Astrology, and am an avid fan of Rumi. I also have some basic (not extensive by any means) knowledge of Hoodoo and Ancestral work. This is just how my Gemini mind likes to operate. What I can tell you about my limited understanding but profound experience of these is that they make you a bit uncomfortable.
These practices not only expose you and make you question your values, they also call you our on your bullshit.
As it should. I find both comfort and solace in it as well as discomfort.
Our spiritual practice is about embracing and nurturing our humanity, not bypassing it. That sometimes it not comfortable, often it is messy, filled with uncertainty and you learn to become comfortable with the seasons of your mind. Your spiritual practice helps ground your erratic mind but also question why it was erratic in the first place with a strong dose of compassion. Buddhist practice can be treated as this pretty thing we pick up because it may feel good, but the deeper you are exposed to the dharma the more it exposes those aspects of you, you rather no look at.
We cannot integrate our entire humanity if we are always bypassing the discomfort for what just feels good. I am by no means discounting pleasure, I actually feel like pleasure it all its ways should be more embraced, but I also know that the work happens in the trenches of your soul with your willingness to embrace yourself, not by meditating your way in circles trying to grasp some opium filled state of mind that will help you forget sometimes you do behave a bit like an asshole. I would also say mainly to yourself.
That discomfort that I am referring to is the aspects of yourself that inherently you know are not based on truth. Those discomforts help us stretch into the bigger versions of ourselves we are constantly becoming and shedding. Yet spiritual practice should also help you awaken that aspect of you that exists in others; how we all succumb to pain, suffering, and how we all benefit from compassion and loving kindness.
Meditation is a way of questioning all the little stories that you tell yourself about a thing that may not seem like a big deal until you realize that is how you hurt yourself and sometimes others. Meditation is intimacy with the self, and self is not just this personality that I call Daniela or you may call *insert your name here*, but the self that was not born nor does it die, or what we call in psychic circles, your higher self. Intimacy requires vulnerability, which helps with trust, which is based on emotional connection, which carries compassion, but it isn’t always comfortable.
That is kinda the point.
Your spiritual path allows for you to have a foundation you can fall back on when shit hits the fan, it allows you to embrace that you are indeed who you say you are, but also questions who you are not. A bit of discomfort is necessary, healthy even. Flirting with a spiritual path is fun, cute almost, but it truly doesn’t have the substance that commitment and a few arguments under your belt with a deep practice provides.
This is up to you.
What do you truly want and how willing are you to meet yourself as you are so you may be who you’ve here to be? If a spiritual practice is your way of changing your life, or how you relate to life, don’t you think a bit of discomfort is necessary? Food for thought.