Nondual Zen Article:

The Eternal Honeymoon

nondual title

The Eternal Honeymoon
by Kathleen Sutherland

Discovering the absolute is wonderful and wondrous. There is no person, no individual life, no separation. There is only the experience of such. We are unborn; we are the eternal. We are free and always have been. This is very clear, when it is clear. And we work to keep it that way.

But we cannot deny that the experience of an individual and a created world of other people, events and circumstances persists. How do we balance and reconcile these two seemingly different worlds? We know that they are one and the same, and fully integrated, just as the dreamer and the dream are one. But so often they seem to pull us in different directions.

When we initially see the source of the dreaming, we are so moved with its perfection and purity that we may see and accept all of its creation—the dream world—as the same. It is pure love. Everything is perfectly in place, down to each grain of sand. In this honeymoon period of awakening, we are not much troubled by the perception of the dark side of creation. We have a deep understanding that it is part of the yin-yang, a codependent arising. In the abstract, as an archetype, it may even seem romantic. Integration thus comes naturally to us, with minimal effort.

So we may float along serenely for awhile, with deep acceptance, even love, for all that arises. But rarely does this last. The shadow begins to encroach and prod us, insisting that it really is a problem. It should not or cannot simply be loved away. Once again we begin to believe that things should not be this way—or that way. Resistance reasserts itself.

This is the real test of our awakening. It is the call to go deeper. Can we accept the darkness when it manifests in frightening, apparently threatening ways? Can we face it with equanimity when it hits close to home? Can we let it in, and plumb our darkest moods, face our greatest fears? And can we do this as often or for as long as we may be summoned?

I find myself not wanting to do this, naturally enough. I want to be awake only to the lighter side, to all that sparkles and shines. I often think how much more I would enjoy “my” awakening if I could eliminate certain problems from my life. But awakening is not for the amusement or pleasure of the character. I must embrace everything. Turning away from difficulty only brings it on more forcefully. What we resist, persists.

True embodiment isn’t just acknowledging daily life, with its inevitable ups and downs. It is acknowledging and facing and dealing with the darkest parts, when they inevitably arise. Loss, pain, disability, death, depression, anxiety, despair—these may all at some point or another be part of the character’s experience, awake or not. When the worst hits, there is a tendency to contract and re-identify with the character in a futile attempt to protect it. This only leads to more suffering. The character’s best defense is to remain awake, resting in its true nature: unborn, unbound and untouched. This takes courage because in times of trouble we feel anything but invincible.

This is when we must be spiritual warriors. Maintain your focus, summon your courage, and remain awake to this arising, no matter how difficult. Hold this space for Oneness; resist the urge to flee. This is your mission—you are needed here! Your clear vision is needed to illuminate this corner of reality. And keep in mind that remaining awake and clear is only an effort for the character. Oneness is always here, always clear. Should you feel your strength or courage ebbing, then surrender to awareness. Awareness can easily hold the space. Awareness is the space.

Abide in that which neither comes nor goes. The fear of the fear, and all the subsequent forms of distress it generates arise from the deluded self. The bad dream grows even darker. But the awakened self perceives only fear, and knows to ask, whose fear is this? It will find no body, no owner of the fear, only the sensation. It can allow this sensation, no matter how strong the illusion of ownership is, because it trusts and rests in the truth. It can withstand the very worst experience because it recognizes that this is all that it is—an experience.

Ironically, we call this embodiment. Awareness accepts the fear, pain or despair and accepts the experience of a body/mind that perceives these things. It has no need to turn away from this or from anything. It fully embraces all that is dark and all that is light, knowing that neither relates to any independent entity. None of this is personal; it’s just the play of light and shadow.

Embodiment means fully acknowledging and allowing all experiences. No body and nobody is needed for this, which is as it must be, as there no bodies to be found. There is only perception, only experience, only mind, only consciousness. Experience does not arise from an outside influence. It is integral to your sensations and thoughts. It does not happen to you, or even through you. It is you. And as such, there is no escape or avoidance, only futile attempts at such. But to our relief, we also find that there is no need for escape.

Embodiment means surrender. Surrender is simple when it is clearly seen that whatever you fear is nothing other than you. Allow yourself to be exactly where you are, as you are. No matter what demons besiege, no matter how frightening nor how many strong they appear, know that you are safe—perfectly safe. Your essence is love. You are resting in love. You are in love. And so the honeymoon continues, right through the darkest night and into the awaiting dawn.