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Lions Roar : November 2008
SHAMBHALA SUN NOVEMBER 2008 110 We can’t be sure what’s down the road. But at Prentiss Smith & Company we believe that a disciplined investment approach, and attention to each client’s individual situation, can take an investor a long way. For a brochure that includes our performance record please call. TOLL FREE 800 -223-7851 The Long Run. PRENTISS SMITH & COMPANY, INC. Portfolio management for the socially conscious investor since 1982 Offices in Brattleboro & Burlington, Vermont • www.socialinvesting.com heavenly bliss. The clash and interplay of these polarities, with all its shocks and surprises, provides a ferment that allows for deep transformation through forcing us to keep waking up, dropping preconceptions, expanding our sense of who we are, and learning to work with all the different elements of our humanity. When we’re in the midst of this ferment, it may seem like some kind of fiendish plot. We finally find someone we really love and then the most difficult things start emerging: fear, dis- trust, unlove, disillusion, resentment, blame, confusion. Yet the fact that it brings our wounds and defenses forward into the light is a form of love’s grace. For love can only heal what presents it- self to be healed. If our woundedness remains hidden, it cannot be healed; the best in us cannot come out unless the worst comes out as well. So instead of constructing a fancy hotel in the charnel ground, we must be willing to come down and relate to the mess on the ground. We need to regard the wounded heart as a place of spiri- tual practice. This kind of practice means engaging with our re- lational fears and vulnerabilities in a deliberate, conscious way, like the yogis of old who faced down the goblins and demons of the charnel grounds. The only way to be free of our conditioned patterns is through a full, conscious experience of them. This might be called “rip- ening our karma,” what the Indian teacher Swami Prajnanpad2 described as bhoga, meaning “deliberate, conscious experience.” He said, “You can only dissolve karma through the bhoga of this karma.” We become free of what we’re stuck in only through meeting and experiencing it directly. Having the bhoga of your karma allows you to digest unresolved, undigested elements of your emotional experience from the past that are still affecting you: how you were hurt or overwhelmed, how you defended yourself against that by shutting down, how you constructed walls to keep people out. Another term for directly engaging our karma might be “con- scious suffering.” This involves saying “yes” to our pain, opening ourselves to it, as it is. This kind of yes doesn’t mean, “I like it, I’m glad it’s like this.” It just means, “Yes, this is what’s happening.” Whatever comes up, you are willing to meet it and have a direct experience of it. For example, if you’re hard-hearted, you have a full experience of that. Then you see how acknowledging this af- fects you and what comes from doing that. Bhoga involves learning to ride the waves of our feelings rath- er than becoming submerged in them. This requires mindfulness of where we are in the cycle of emotional experience. A skilled surfer is aware of exactly where he is on a wave, whereas an un- skilled surfer winds up getting creamed. By their very nature, 2 Swami Prajnanpad was an unusual and interesing Indian teacher who read Freud in the 1920s and developed his own version of psychotherapy for his students. He had a small ashram in Bengal and died in 1974. The quotes of his in this article come from letters and transcripts of conversations he had with his French students. Relationship continued from page 63 NOV 106-120.indd 110 NOV 106-120.indd 110 9/1/08 12:25:57 PM 9/1/08 12:25:57 PM