cannot stay on the summit forever.
You have to come down again.
and one sees;
one descends and one sees no longer,
but one has seen.
is an art to conducting oneself
by the memory of what one saw higher up.
When one no longer sees,
one can at least still know."
the years 1991 to 2000, I went through a radical spiritual
transformation that really was a profound, peak experience for me.
all began when I read
after which I went
through more than 400 similar books, non-stop. I never thought the
passionate feelings of spirituality would mellow and lose their intensity.
But they have.
2000, I read a book called After the Ecstasy, the Laundry, by Dr.
Jack Kornfield. The author is an accomplished Buddhist teacher, a
meditation master of international renown and someone with wonderful energy
and insights. This book provides great understanding into how the modern
spiritual journey unfolds.
are some excerpts from After the Ecstasy that will hopefully prove useful to
you while on the inner journey...
does exist. It is possible to awaken. Unbounded freedom and joy, oneness with
the Divine, awakening into a state of timeless grace - these experiences are
more common than you know, and not far away. There is one further truth,
however; They don't last."
fact, in the awakening of the heart there is no such thing as enlightened
retirement. That is not how it happens to us."
all know that after the honeymoon comes the marriage...In spiritual life it
is the same: After the ecstasy comes the laundry."
of great wisdom, deep compassion, and a real knowing of freedom alternate
with periods of fear, confusion, neurosis, and struggle. Most (spiritual)
teachers admit this truth."
is only the beginning, is only a step of the journey. You can't cling to
that as a new identity or you're in immediate trouble. You have to get back
down into the messy business of life, to engage with life for years
afterward. Only then can you integrate what you have learned."
if our transformation is great and we feel peaceful and unshakable, some
part of our return will inevitably test us. We may become confused about
what to do in life, about how to live in our family or society. We may worry
how our spiritual life can fit into our ordinary way of being, our ordinary
work. We may want to run away, to go back to the simplicity of the retreat
or the temple. But something has pulled us back to the world, and the
difficult transition is part of it."
ordinary cycles of opening and closing (spiritually) are necessary medicine
for our heart's integration. In some cases, though, there are not just
cycles, there is a crash. As far as we ascend, so far can we fall. This
needs to be included in our maps of spiritual life, honored as one more
natural part of the great cycle."
any powerful spiritual experience there is an inevitable descent, a struggle
to embody what we have seen."
recognized teachers are not beyond the experience of finding themselves
shattered. One American seeker for twenty years, finally realized the
fullness of (spiritual) freedom with a guru in India...His path seemed to
be unfolding perfectly and he thought he had gone beyond the trouble of the
world, until a crisis came."
the Christian mystic Julian of Norwich says she knows of no lover of God who
is kept safe from falling, she is voicing the understanding that to descend
is God's will... The fall, the descent, and its subsequent humility can be
seen as another form of blessing."
a spiritual fall does not resolve quickly; it can take years to move into
the next phase."
are certain truths we can learn only by descent, truths that bring wholeness
and humility in surrender... We all need periods of fecund time, fallow
time, of being drawn closer to the humus of the earth. It is as though
something in us slows down, calls us back. And out of that time a deepened
knowledge and beauty can emerge."
the inevitable rising and falling, the cycles of expansion and contraction
that come as you give birth to yourself, there may be moments to push, to
strive toward a spiritual goal. But more frequently the task is one of
letting go, of finding a gracious heart that honors the changes of
matter what the situation, awakening requires trust in the greater cycles of
life, trust that something new will eventually be born, trust that whatever
is, is perfect. Wise letting go is not a detached removal from life."
If you find yourself wondering what to do with yourself after a
profound spiritual awakening, as I am, take heart. You are not alone, nor is
your experience unique. It is a normal part of the cycle that one discovers
while on the inner journey. Something will come into your life that points a
new way for you. It will be a way for you to use your new knowingness while
still in the world, but not of it.