6 Nov
Posted in: CDL, Homework
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After the Spell was Broken

Last month’s homework for the CDL (Community Dharma Leader) program I’m in was to “write a vignette from your own life that expresses an aspect of…and hopefully, an insight into…one or more of the Four Noble Truths.” Here’s what I wrote:

Once upon a time (when I was in my late 20s), I fell in love with a man who was creative and passionate and sensitive and successful….who took me on fabulous trips and gave me beautiful gifts he made by hand…who loved art and music…and could cook!…but who also, it turns out, had….“issues.” At the time, I didn’t fully understand the situation. I just thought he was afraid of making a commitment.

Commitment, however, was something I very much wanted – so naturally, there was a lot of suffering. I was not practicing meditation at the time. I didn’t know what meditation was and I hadn’t heard of the Dharma. I like to think now that if I had been practicing, I would have seen what was going on and would have gotten “off the wheel” of that particular suffering right away. But I didn’t. And the situation went on – with LOTS of suffering – for 13 years.

If anyone had asked me back then if I understood suffering (First Noble Truth: There is suffering. It is to be understood.), I would have said “YES, of course, I am suffering!!!”

But I didn’t really understand the suffering. The situation was so painful and I was so unable to let myself fully FEEL the pain, that I couldn’t see that I was suffering NOT because I couldn’t get him to make a full-hearted commitment to me, but because I was clinging to a fantasy….to the belief that at some time in the future the relationship WOULD BE happy, satisfying and healthy. (The Second Noble Truth: The cause of suffering is clinging. It is to be let go of.) But I couldn’t let go of my belief in the fantasy relationship because I wouldn’t let myself see – and experience – the relationship I was actually in.

So it went on….(and off and on and off and on)….for 13 years. Until one day, completely by accident, I stumbled upon the fact that several years prior, he had purchased a house (quite a large, palatial house) and had moved there – along with another woman. I was stunned. (Hurt. Angry. Furious. Etc. Etc.)

But it was such a shock that somehow my normal, quite-well-developed habit of denial didn’t get the chance kick in and hide what I was actually experiencing. So I really SAW the relationship I was in….and immediately the fantasy disappeared. I didn’t have to “let go” of it – it was just GONE. And in that moment, even with all the shock and shame and anger and sadness….there was peace. I had not expected it, but it was there. I had seen clearly; the spell was broken; there was peace. (Third Noble Truth: There is an end to suffering. It is to be experience.)

I still had to work through all the grief, pain, humiliation, rage, etc., but that was do-able. I wasn’t stuck any more. The process wasn’t quick. Or easy. But the knot was gone and all those painful, even devastating feelings could come….and go. I wasn’t stuck. I was free.

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