I’m sure it’s happened to you a time or two. Caught in some black mood, a stinginess, utter misery, perhaps even despair, you’re unable to extricate yourself no matter how hard you try. You pull out to a more spiritually enlightened vantage point for a few seconds or minutes, and then…boing!…you boomerang right back into the thick of it again.
A few weeks back, I was right there with you. I reoriented myself many times, and just as often, I ricocheted back into distress. I realized, almost after the fact, that I’d become hooked once more in duality. You know, “spiritual, groovy, large~picture me”, versus “miserable, wallowing, myopic me.” As I find the former a whole lot more pleasant, I’d been trying to force myself to that shape. And my moaning self was havin’ none of it!
When we’re caught in either/or thinking, how do we choose something different? First, by remembering that there is something different. It’s only these brains of ours that collapse life into two possibilities, our egos that identify one as bad, the other as good and try to force the more pleasant fit.
The way out for me came in realizing I needed to allow my two selves to exist at the same time. I needed to stop trying to escape to higher ground and turn to face my misery.
And so, compassionate awareness embraced anguish. My insides were no longer in opposition, but joined now as one, with this coupling also positioned within the larger context of my personal growth. I zoomed out even further, though, seeing this experience as firmly anchoring me within the larger human condition. My suffering became linked to the suffering of others. And while I couldn’t fully conceive it, I knew all of us to be held by something larger still.
The image that came to me was of matryoshka dolls, those Russian nesting dolls in which progressively larger and larger figures envelop smaller ones. Wiser me held distressed me~~whose discomfort, incidentally, soon began to subside~~within the context of my personal, then our collective, unfolding. And we were all encompassed within something much, much larger.
These dolls, my painted Russian teachers, have stayed with me. In today’s meditation, my mind wandered to worries about a particular individual. I chose not to abandon the thought or this woman in order to return to open awareness. I brought her there with me. I nested this heartbroken and soul~weary woman within my larger awareness, trusting that we were both cradled by still larger arms.
As I now envision us all~~and that means you, too, dear reader~~nestled within progressively larger Matryoshkas, ever expanding circles of love.