Found a Profound Book

I am reading The Light Inside the Dark: Zen, Soul, and the Spiritual Life by John Tarrant. OMG. This is probably one of the top ten books I have read in the last decade. It speaks to me on so many levels. I am not done, but it has had me crying more than once. I am sure I will be quoting it a lot.

It explains why I want a life of spirit while going through this dark night of the soul. Spirit is idealistic, seeking the pure and detached. Soul lives deeply and messily and, at times, angrily. Soul is down and dirty. It changes diapers and feels the endless losses of life. I have always wanted the spiritual and then found many of the most spiritual people I know to be kind, but airy-fairy and ungrounded. For example, I love the idea of living in a convent and being totally devoted to spiritual goals but the nuns I have met in person have been creepily childish and weirdly innocent. Maturity simply does not develop when all of your real world needs are taken care of for the long haul. Uncertainty develops coping skills.

Much of “spirituality” is pure escapism. That is part of what always attracted me to it, I’m sure. I feel a need to be careful with Zen because using it for escapist purposes is just too easy.

It is showing me the effects of my dark night and how the superficial reassurances of others can never help. I need the guidance and supervision of someone who has been where I am. I hope to meet that person in my lifetime.

Page 44:

“During the descent we also lose the way others see us. This is not always a bad thing in the long run, but it is humiliating and painful. The mask that we present to the world slips off and the face behind it becomes visible, with its expression of terror, greed, despair, dishonesty–whatever is usually kept in the cellar. The moment of surrendering the old image–of life, of the self–is most painful. At such a time we know that we must strike out on our own, but in our new solitude and shame sometimes we go under, for a while, or forever.”

This is me, submerging. I wonder if I will ever surface.


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About cdhoagpurple

I live in Michigan. I was Greek Orthodox (and previously Protestant), but now am more Buddhist than anything. I am single now (through the till-death-do-you-part clause of the marriage contract). My husband Barry was a good man and celebrated 30 years in AA. I am overly educated, with an MBA. My life felt terminally in-limbo while caring for a sick husband, but I am free now. I see all things as being in transition. Impermanence is the ultimate fact of life. Nothing remains the same, good or bad.

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