Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Foggy Steps in the Path of the Heart


About thirteen years ago my son left this world. The passing brought grief, anger, depression, despair, and life changes. Slowly, never completely, the memories turned from torture to treasure, not entirely. While heart breaking, the loss gradually brought along an increased presence, a visitation, even inner openings for spiritual guides, perhaps the one some call a "new heart.” The unsettled presence prompted contemplation, and the restless questioning led to readings such as Rabbi Kushner’s When Bad Things Happen to Good People, further into his Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person, and on from there in this continuous searching. 
The questions around the realities of pain, death, and evil drive humans from and to the Reality of God, All-Powerful, All-Knowing, and All-Loving. While I accept the short answer that as human I must surrender the presumption to know the mysteries of God because they far exceed my comprehension, I also feel spiritual guidance wants to move on into the Mystery in a path of love. For this travel, humans need guides that lead beyond human mind; and I find guidance in nature, with natural horsemanshipin friendship, dreamsprayer, and spiritual verse. 
My restlessness is regularly attended by reading from the almost-endless library related to the big questions. Currently, the edge of longing finds support for the next step in Frithjof Schuon’s Transcendent Unity of Religions, a text that would have made little sense without having read in Henry Corbin and before that William Chittick (e.g., Sufi Path of Loveand all along translations, versions, and commentaries on Rumi. I’m not attempting to prescribe a roadmap for anyone else but suggest that there are scaffoldings toward greater peace. Pain, despair, and addictive avoidance are not the end.
For me and I suspect for most everyone else, the journey goes by the path of the heart, discerned by the individual, with each next step coming through the fog, sometimes after wandering awhile, stumbling. It’s not thought out but is felt by likeness, trued by experience. The tonalities of love vibrate differently; the key of a faith journey differs from one of reasoned explanation. Yet it’s not cut off from the mind. I couldn’t manage to engage the dense text of Schuon without developing some hermeneutical acuity;  but the finding of good stories and spiritual verses happens through recognizing resonance and moving by likeness more than by following a manual and literal application.
      Corbin’s articulation of the imaginal world allows further entry into Schuon’s esoterism. These expansions build the space that’s needed if we are move in the heart-journey. The teachings allow me to absorb more of Rumi’s unveiling of the spirit guide as like unto Moses:


Without hunger the body makes no movement (towards God)…./ Though it weep and wail most piteously, it will never become a true believer. Take heed!/ It is like Pharaoh: in (the time of) famine it lays its head before Moses, as he (Pharaoh) did, making supplication;/ But when it has been freed from want, it rebels (once more)… What wonder (then) if the spirit does not remember its (ancient) abodes, which have been its dwelling-place and birthplace aforetime,/ Since this world, like sleep, is covering it over as clouds cover the stars?—/ Especially as it has trodden so many cities, and the dust has not (yet) been swept from its perceptive faculty,/ Nor has it made ardent efforts that its heart should become pure and behold the past;/ That its heart should put forth its head (peep forth) from the aperture of the mystery and should see the beginning and the end with open eye.

[Mathnawi, Nicholson trans., Book 4, from lines 3623-3636]