Monday, January 05, 2009

The Healing

Sleeping woman, dressed in white

The year that just passed yesterday, 2008, brought me that which I had not experienced in a long time: rest. Sleep. And ultimately, healing.  

Almost exactly a year ago, I underwent a secluded meditation that aimed to empty the self out, amongst other objectives. Days later, on the New Year night, I woke up in shock from a dream - only to feel a great deal of something leave me. I had just read excerpts from Eckhart Tolle's book Power of Now, with my attention drawn in particular to the phenomenon of the "pain body" - an unconscious entity within the self that thrives on suffering and, of course, unconsciousness. It is that part of the egoic self that thrives on pain to further its illusion of separation.  

At this point, I will go on a small tangent suitable for the strong-nerved. It is this "pain body" (by any other name) that some believe possesses the human - "possession" here referring to that paranormal/extraordinary phenomenon that is described variously in clinical and spiritual literature but essentially refers to the same condition. In movies on the subject, it is shown in its extreme form, within the extraction of the pain body referred to as an act of exorcism. That, of course, is literal truth to some and a commentary on the condition of the individual or collective psyche to others. 

Yet everyday people are overwhelmed by strong emotions that would seem utterly absurd should one be able to step back from and out of the context and just see the situation and the characters within. The greed rampant in the world, for instance, has led to more destruction and chaos than an individual in a scary movie possessed by distorted, horrific, growling demons. We are faced with a crumbling planet and collapsing social-political-economic systems with staggering monetary and intangible costs. We are perfectly used to a media that brings murder, insanity, vulgarity, crassness, and abasement of all kind a mere few inches away from our body. And we engage in this theater. 

By the end of 2008, many, many people and societies around the world have become acutely aware of this phenomenon that may go by any other name. There is a hue & cry for self-restraint, and an active global shift towards "doing good." Entire communities have sprung up around causes of goodness such as care for the environment, promotion of values of motherhood, and paying-it-forward. At the same time, a process of individual and collective purge continues, with very visible effects. 

A year ago, on the night of December 31st, 2007, I woke up a start from a dream where I was being shown into a hospital. Within that swaying state of consciousness within sleep and awakening, I sharply felt something leaving me. I thought I heard a scream and I let out what I considered a sharp yell, but what came out of my lips - as I felt like dead weight - was a faint whispering addressed to my roommate. She thought I whispered in my sleep. As I lay in panic, I felt... empty. After a spike of fear that had lasted only a few seconds, I thought the subject of my roommate and my discussion that eve before we retired to bed - the pain body - had indeed suddenly dashed out of my system. My roommate had been reading through the book Power of Now and had brought the passage to my attention, as part of my work on cleansing my Self. 

Later, I picked out Eckhart Tolle's book and found that he himself had experienced a much more intense version of the same experience. The cleansing of his self from the whirlpools of past and future were spontaneous and sudden. 

My route remained more academic - I was thinking about it, and thinking about a thing makes it grow - and therefore it took me an entire year to proceed with a further "clarification of my intent," as my spiritual method puts it. Certainly, thre were no rituals like we see in the movies to drive out the egoic self - rather a very contemporary approach that involves an opening to life while gently cleansing the heart of malice, envy, fear, greed and other such ailment of the self. 

The result has been a revelation of my life purpose - the meaning which emerges after our inner resistance dissolves. Yet I have not obsessed over outcomes. I have - after a long time in my life, after spending a great period in the academic and corporate world as a "Type A personality" - honored the journey more than any destination that I could preconceive. I have, therefore, rested, slept and wept a great and unprecedented deal the entire year of 2008

To have honored myself and to have accepted my own condition, even as the world around me experiences its own painful ego shattering, has been a tremendously liberating, rewarding experience of my life. 

Your task is not to seek for love,
but merely to seek and find
all the barriers within yourself
that you have built against it.
- Rumi

Image credit: "Saturday Afternoon" by Edson Campos - from

1 comment:

  1. Alhamdulillah!! The mercy you have been shown and the gift you have been given could only come from the Most Merciful and Most Generous.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you :)

    Ya Haqq!