The unbearable beauty state was first described by the Buddha. It occurs in those moments when we surrender to the perfection of the design of the universe. It’s not a state that I can hold onto for long. As an acolyte it comes in bursts, between stretches of unconsciousness. The more time we spend being at peace in our minds, going with the flow of this physical experience, the less desire we have to return to the fear that generates depression and anger~based emotions.
Most of us live in pain but want to be pain~free: a desire that is actually a call for pain. Because life does as we command, we are presented with a steady stream of pain, practice problems we work on over lifetimes. We begin to see a pattern and realize that passing each test moves us to other lessons. Life begins to look less like a calamity spiraling out of our control and more like a game we can play to cause any number of desired outcomes.
Eventually we come to the state of Unbearable Beauty, where we can see both the suffering of the world and ourselves as well as the perfection of the suffering in the grander scheme of beauty. We comprehend the often crushing difficulty of the questions even as we experience the simplicity and succor of the answers. This is an odd state to experience, the beginnings of the lonely part of the journey in which most experiences can no longer be shared. You’ll find that a lot of my posts are about this same subject, if under various sub~categories.
This state is equally horrific and exquisite. Having at last stepped away from the self far enough to be able to see the full game as I am playing it, I can also see the other players; all of our hands, through the many masks we wear and pseudo~names we shelve ourselves under. I can see the past: genesis, what caused the masks to be first put in place, as well as the possible futures in which a mask is removed…or not. Often times, it feels like the equivalent of both being an adult that can see the obvious actions of a child and being the child who is obvious to an adult.
During the initial stages of becoming familiar with Unbearable Beauty, the meaning of the infinity symbol begins to fully sink in, with its realizations of the repeating pattern in which life’s lessons occur, becoming more difficult as certain sections of homework are done and tests are taken and passed. In every instance, stepping back far enough to see the perfection of the bigger design is what causes us to pass to the next level.
And so we must suffer. In my experience lessons don’t take summer holidays, they intensify right out of the gate, so to speak. Every time I become accustomed to swimming in pure bliss, a shark begins to circle. If I attempt to ignore it or try and outwit it, more sharks come. What is happening is life giving me a taste of safe waters so that I will be more tempted to swim faster towards safety.
The lessons in my life this past week have involved long~time friends and relatives. Nothing hurts like pain related to those we love as we find ourselves unable to accept the choices people make for themselves.
Over a couple of year’s time an old friend of mine, to whom I have looked as a guru most of my life, has been revealed to be an intensely angry, bitter and childish person. It is said that the guru should not be judged by his personality, but my interpretations of this event have left me feeling devastated. The pain that his actions have caused me and others close to him have made me feel like I have plenty of justification for my pain. There is always justifications, but in the end we either choose to be in pain or we focus on the larger picture.
Another friend of mine is making the best of an abusive relationship. She’s never known anything better, and this new man is less abusive than any of the others. Needless to say it’s painful to watch her go through, even with her best~possible~attitude. Still, I can find justifications all over the place to allow her suffering to become mine. There are many ways to learn any one lesson, we need not be in abusive relationships to learn something we could learn from healthy ones. Yet, we all attract those like us, so that we all may be given the chance to heal together….or not. “It’s our choice, and no one can say we don’t have the right to make that choice!” my Spiritmother used to remind me.
That’s the beauty of the design, the unbearable beauty. Perhaps my male friend has chosen bitterness and self~righteousness in this lifetime because his own pain is too great to face. Perhaps my female friend has chosen an abusive relationship to quicken her pace towards freedom. This is their game of chess and this is how they play. They were meant to experience the exact experience they are creating for themselves.
So…what is left for those of us who suffer because of the struggles of our loved ones? If a person’s actions cause us pain we have every right to move ourselves out of the line of fire. But…what is the pain that we feel? It’s nothing anyone else has done to us. In fact, that pain is ego. I need him to be this or that for me. I want her to see the big picture or I wish she would stop choosing punishment for herself. None of these judgments are truly sympathetic to the person they are made against. Neither of them take the current lesson into account, nor the perfection of the design.
Every moment the decision is this: surrender to the pain, surrender to the silence and find that nothing painful truly exists or continue to choose to hurt. Pain is something we do or choose not to do to ourselves. I am completely justified in being hurt by my friends, but I’ve gotten the taste of something much bigger, a state in which I am free and no pain exists. It’s increasingly harder for me to hold on to my opinions and judgments. I’m tired of the pain. I don’t want it anymore.
While working that next morning I listened to this meditation, the Sai Gayatri by Sumeet Tappoo, fighting being overwhelmed when considering the possible futures of my friends. My male friend may very well run everyone that loves him away. My female friend may be trapped in an increasingly isolated and painful relationship whose wounds may take years to heal. With the Unbearable Beauty state comes what is called by many teachers “the Witness”, the deeper self that watches all the games of chess that we play as they occur, no longer being helpless to move forward like pawns, yet not having control enough to play the Queen. I went about my daily work, my soul mourning the loss I felt and what I perceived to be some sort of end to something. But the Witness could only see that I was choosing to be in pain, as if standing on the brink between Heaven and Hell. So I decided to use the Sai Gayatri meditation to its fullest. It consists of an hour of approximately ~15 second instrumental parts with a ~15 second chant between them. I decided to allow myself to mourn through the music, but to use Sumeet’s voice to re~awaken and become conscious, immersed in the unbearable beauty, the yin and yang.
When the music came on I didn’t have to make myself lose focus. I felt like shedding tears. My mind ran in circles, going over every justification I had for why the two should not be doing what they were doing. My back began to hurt along with my feelings. I would completely lose myself in sorrow. It felt as if my soul was weeping. Waves of exhaustion would wash over me. Then his voice would come……
Om, Saayeesh~varaa~ya Vidhmahe,
Sat~hya Dhevaay~a Dheemahi
and my soul would break free of its physical shell and hover on the very edge of the cosmos, looking out at the infinite string of pearled galaxies, places for infinite physical lives to exist, to suffer and learn how to stop suffering. In those moments nothing existed but the awe and pure ecstasy of the universe and the perfection of the design. In those moments none of the pain existed, nor the forms which it took on.
I continued this until the chant was done, then played it again. By the second time around I had become so light, released from the sorrow, having mourned my fill. Many realizations of why my friends are like they are, which caused me to accept their choices, came to me once my mind was still. I realized that sometimes people need to walk their walk without us by their side, and that is okay. And sometimes friends need us to be there even if we don’t approve of their choices, to allow ourselves to love without judgment. We can only be true to ourselves, whatever that means. Walking away with love is better than staying in resentment. Walking beside without judgment is better than leaving because of love.
It’s a constant process that we partake in, choosing surrender over justification. Choosing faith over untrust in the universe and our fellow man. The Unbearable Beauty of the Sugmad, that god that we are, waves and waves above this realm, experiencing hate and love simultaneously, savoring the taste of each. The image below, made by parablev at Deviant Art, is a place I have been, a journey that can be read in my post Foreversong. Perhaps the symbols are different but we create our gods as we see fit. To be a god is to see the perfection of hate and love, sorrow and joy; to allow others to experience their lives as they see fit and to stop expecting people to live their lives according to our rules. To let go of opinion and judgment and simply BE for the joy of Simplybeing.