I reeked of unhappiness yesterday. I was adrift in uncontrolled and contracted thoughts overwhelming my sadhana, pulling my attention time and again from the felt relationship with The Heart’s Source, the One Who Appeared as Adi Da Samraj.
It’s an unpleasant lesson after months of such blissful, loving, connectedness and happiness. There are deep shadows and patterns of “personality” that only show up on special occasions. When they arrive they enter the room like a cymbal crash disturbing silence—sudden, surprising and demanding full attention.
And yet on the scale of life’s great challenges, my recent troubles are trivial. They just sound loud. They just seem overwhelming because they have been largely absent. But in recent times, there have been a number of occasions when my mind begins to talk and I find it difficult to return my attention to the source of love-bliss that continues to flow, even during these episodes of “Cage”, albeit pushed to the background.
One of my staff and I have found ourselves struggling to appreciate each other’s needs but because it’s my business and ultimately he reports to me, I’ve taken actions I feel are necessary but which only magnify his feeling of unhappiness and betrayal.
I’ve become very sensitive to unhappiness and contracted patterns of behaviour in myself and others. A little over a year ago, I am sure the average day was filled with identical or more pronounced feelings of unhappiness, although my memory of myself back then seems distant and unreal, like a dream you recall the next morning but can’t remember in detail.
Still, while seeing my mind continuously return to phrases and verbal conversations I anticipated having with my staff member, I was troubled to notice they weren’t dissolving like most other issues or patterns over the past months would have. Why not? How is this situation different than any of the usual difficulties that I encounter with family, the world and work, most of which as problems go, evaporate into love-bliss before I have a chance to become concerned.
Something about my relationship with this young man seems to really matter to me.
When I was three years old, my little brother, Mark, who was a bit over a year and a half at the time, was killed by a dump truck that was parked in front of the motel room next to our motel room. The driver pulled up some time earlier, parked and entered next door. Then he came back out, jumped in his truck and began driving.
No doubt he lived his entire life haunted by the feeling of driving his truck over a toddler. There were many victims that day of a mere accident. I am fairly sure I’ve been carrying a deep capacity for guilt ever since and my life’s strategies seem designed to maximally control my environment to provide immunity from feelings of guilt.
But this morning, the day after resolving the conflict with my staff member, I got a moment’s insight into to why something about our difficulty produced a pattern of distraction I could not simply release like so many other patterns in the past year.
I’ve dropped habits of diet, alcohol consumption and political ideology that seemed deeply entrenched previously without difficulty or remorse. But something about being at odds with someone dependent on me is a pattern that’s not so easily dissolved.
I do feel that it relates somehow to the very deep strategies I may have formed in response to the trauma of losing my brother at such a young age. But I don’t feel like guilt is the only or primary feeling that arises when I try to understand this.
This staff member and I aren’t close personally really, although I relate to everyone around me with a quality of love and care that is uncommon in business but appropriate as a devotee in Adidam. This young man has had a particularly difficult life it seems to me and is something of an oddball as the bell curve of socially normal personality types goes.
He’s also had a difficult circumstance come up for him professionally that he shared with me very passionately and very personally, expressing tearful emotions that are also not typical in a business relationship, but totally welcomed and honest. It’s not out of line to say there are times I feel like a big brother to him, but possibly more than that. In fact, I can see that I’ve nurtured this relationship to him.
It’s now been more than a week since I began this post. In that time, there have been a number of other intrusions of my talking mind into the otherwise quiet of my spiritual practice. I’ve come to notice that when my mind talks loud enough and incessantly enough to demand my attention, there’s a growing common theme. I’ve come to see that the times when my patterns assert themselves more loudly, it’s when I feel my personality at risk in some area where I’m still deeply invested in being Cage.
I am a hunter. For almost a decade I’ve been developing my bush skills and my interest and capacity for stalking and killing North America’s largest game species for sport and meat; black bear, deer, elk and moose.
While hunting in a mountain meadow a little over a year ago I was given a graceful moment’s understanding of my actual conscious location prior to all objects of attention. Since then, unimaginable grace has crashed down on me, melting away so many patterns of reactive behaviour that the changes, if visible as signs on my face, would make me almost unrecognizable…and yet, I am still a hunter. Or at least, I have yet to surrender that role in the theatre of being Cage.
When my hunting partner from last year in that field, Martin Hahn, invited me to hunt north of Sun Peaks a few days ago, I passed on the opportunity, bound by work commitments, but also caught in this twilight of personality in which I can feel myself moved toward a vegetarian diet as my Guru asserts is a necessary discipline in the effective conductivity of His Spirit Current.
I’ve absolutely seen this to be true as my diet has naturally become simpler, more vegetarian and free of the majority of modern toxins like sugar and alcohol. I’ve felt the force of conducted love-bliss magnify and diminish, pass freely or lock up in parts of the frontal line of my body depending on the quality of my diet right then.
Egos are stubborn! Why not just adopt the raw, vegetarian diet that Bhagavan has tested and determined best supports the responsive, devotional practice of relationship to the Siddha Guru?
Because I’m still a hunter. Obviously, I have yet to surrender fully those parts of my personality that so deeply define me.
Yesterday, while NOT out in a field with my good friend Martin, he sent me a picture of the largest mule deer I’ve every seen anyone locally shoot.
I felt a curious sadness that I wasn’t with him for this kill, but the feeling hasn’t arisen out of envy or a longing to have been part of what I would consider a lifetime buck. The sadness is in knowing that Cage the hunter is dying and I don’t know who I am to the people I love who know me as I’ve been.
I have another young man in my life who has been going through significant life trauma as his body and mind unravels from years of disease and mental illness caused by alcohol abuse. He’s been sober for five years, but this past year, he spent a great deal of time around me until his situation collapsed and he left for the coast. I have noticed my mind inserting itself noisily when thoughts of him arise.
Another guilt response to feelings of letting down someone who I feel depends on me? Am I big brother to him, or father figure.
Martin doesn’t depend on me, but as brothers in the backwoods, we both feel a special connection knowing the other is someone you would trust with your life. There is a common thread through all three of these relationships in which I can see the pattern of self-talk and distraction somewhat relates to feelings of remorse or guilt or responsibility, but I’ve come to see that this is not the real and deepest part of the pattern.
Instead, I can see that I am deeply invested in being a “someone” in relationship others.
Since the other day when my conflict with my staff member arose, I’ve begun to notice each time my attention wanders from Grace. It happens when I feel like I need to defend my role or existence or personality in some way. Who am I if not the person these people expect me to be?
And who am I to my property owners and community? To my children? To my wife?
The sadness I felt the other day when marvelling at Martin’s buck was pointing to the deeper context of my spiritual practice. It doesn’t conclude with Cage being the winner. Adi Da says, there is no victory for the ego in God.
So many of the patterns of diet and consumption have fallen away easily because I do not take pride or derive a sense of myself from those things. I’ve created personas as Cage the hunter, Cage the big brother, and Cage the man you can count on in a tough situation. Cage the uncle and father. Cage the husband.
Sadhana in the way of Adidam is not about refusing to participate in the world, in relationship with others. There’s no demand to not be a father or a husband (or a hunter for that matter). But I can now see the difference between being free in my feeling and emotion and relationship with others and the world in any moment and the unhappiness of being myself as I’ve presumed I must be.
I’m discovering that the support of these fictions comes with diminished free feeling. When my mind begins to talk loudly and my resort to Bhagavan is relinquished so I can argue the case for who I’ve been, the diminished conductivity and feeling relationship to the Mystery is the price of being “me”.
And remarkably, it becomes obvious that this is exactly how The Great One’s Grace of self-understanding becomes possible. Without this past year of extraordinary love-bliss and ecstasy, I would not see my own activity with such discomfort and clarity. The contrast between feeling equanimity and objectless love-bliss or feeling the contractedness of Cage arguing his case IS self-understanding. The details of the argument are irrelevant.
There is freedom, love, bliss, and happiness, or there is being Cage. The contrast becomes the communication. And the return of attention to Grace is the natural response.