Thursday, February 12, 2004

The cold hour before dawn. I tuck one cold foot under my thigh, huddle down, and let my mind wander back. Back to before the dharma.

The echo of a foolish loneliness -- I will not see my friend today -- resonates down the long hallway, and I remember the persistent theme of my old journals and letters. That my love was wasted, isolated, under glass. Painful to me and useless to others. Invisible.

For, when the power of imparting joy
Is equal to the will, the human soul
Requires no other heaven.

Shelley was close to my heart. Like him, I imagined that sexual trangression could break the glass and bring my love into real contact with others. The truth turned out to be much more complicated than that. Almost the reverse of that.

I was incapable of friendship, then, and sensitive people knew that. The storm of need that arose in me when I drew close to people attracted them (disastrously) or put them off. But there was no way, without practice, that any relationship could change my isolation, because it wasn't in my relationships. It was in me.

I know, this is an old song, a platitude and a truism, and something that everyone but me and Shelley figured out a long time ago. I've taken the long road home, gone the awkward and inconvenient way. But I met the dharma on the way, so I could hardly call the trip wasted.

Just to sit. I was so pig-ignorant of what happened in my mind. The first time I sat, in an attic with a small Chogyam-inspired group in New Haven -- the first time I really sat -- I was apalled. Horrified. My mind was a mess. A huge, embarassing clot of anxious posturing and fantasizing. I could have dealt with that: what I couldn't stand was how repetitive it was. Over and over, the same pathetic stories would unroll in my head. They had bored into my mind and repeated endlessly, endlessly. In the course of half an hour the same stories might unroll fifty times.

The bravest thing I have ever done in my life, I think, was sitting down to meditate the second time.

No time right now to detail -- even if I could, which is doubtful -- how meditation undid the habits of mind that isolated me. But it did. My love is not under glass any more. I am not isolated, not like that. I'm naked and shivering in a new world. & I require no other heaven.

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