Turning and twisting, tossing and whirling. As we tumble through the cascades of revelation, we discard our old selves and adopt new forms. This is always true, unless we turn our backs on life itself. We can seem to freeze a relationship, an age, a lifestyle only by throwing up walls of mind to block out the light. Turning your back may seem positive if you consciously choose it through worldly pursuit, but the snare of fixed identity inevitably leads to suffering.
The spiritual practice of renunciation is easily misunderstood as turning your back. You may suppose that, to deny the dark creatures claim on yourself, that you must refuse to see them. It is not true, for the desires of flesh and worldly dominion thrive best in the darkness. It is only in the full light of awareness that they shrink and shrivel away. One must look the dragon in the eye if it is to flinch away.
Renunciation does mean a choice of endeavor and attention, to an extent. Whatever we eat with our mouths or our eyes – for television and reading is consumption equal to that of the dining table – nourishes habits of mind and body, which are the forms of the dark creatures. But if we insist on purely consuming things sold by the spiritual vendors, or purely of those that rise in the field, then there are other parts of ourselves that will grow twisted and unattended where we do not look. Rather, renunciation means turning your back on unconscious reactivity and selfish expression. Renunciation is turning your back on ignorance, on un-mindfulness, and nothing more.
If there are pains to be felt, let us feel them. If there is unpleasantness to be witnessed, let us witness it.
Turning your back on worldly ways should never mean that you turn a blind eye toward human abuse or animal abuse. Rather, you must see it, and find a way of reacting that is compassionate without enabling empire. Reacting in hatred, even against hatred, is the act of one who sleeps.
Turning your back on addiction should never mean ignoring the whispering in your mind. Rather, you must hear it, take time to yourself when you need solitude, and find company when you need a shoulder. Acting as though nothing is wrong bottles the energy until it explodes. Wholeness lies in awareness and conscious activity.
Although we discard our old selves and adopt new forms as we tumble through the fiery display of this garden, no refusal or suppression of self ever really works. In the work of actually experiencing and living your life, you will unearth all the blockages that have kept you heavy. I have found much in myself that I thought behind me long ago; I have found proclivities and dispositions in myself that have laid dormant for decades. And that is well, for it means that you possess the keys to your cages. Once you stop turning your back in a misguided attempt to manage the very creation of the world, you will find that the light of awareness nourishes even the darkest of seeds into flowers of light and love.
Winters has its flowers, and there are some things that only bloom in the night. In your inner garden, dear hearts, your awareness is a brilliant golden sun – but also a lovely silver moon.