Wednesday, January 22, 2014

No. Brokenness does not negate beauty.

From Toni Bernhard's book "How to be sick" 
this is Ajahn Chah talking about the brokenness perspective:
"You say, 'Don't break my glass!' Can you prevent something that's breakable from breaking? It will break sooner or later. If you don't break it, someone else will.  If someone else doesn't break it, one of the chickens will! Penetrating the truth of these things, we see that this glass is already broken...the broken glass is within the unbroken one. Whenever you use this glass, you should reflect that it's already broken. Whenever its time is up, it will break. Use the glass, look after it, until the day when it slips out of your hand and shatters. No problem. Why not? Because you saw its brokenness before it broke!"

I am continuing to explore the prompts from both the currently running 30 Day Journalling ROOTS project from Lisa Sonora and gearing up for the coming Circe Circle with Jamie Ridler.  Yesterday I posted about accepting groundlessness and brokenness.  A few responses came from folks who questioned how you can get anything done or appreciate anything if all is groundless and broken.  And then other prompts came from my dreamstate and from Lisa about considering how solitude is the antidote to loneliness.

So let me be as clear as I can be.  I'm not saying there isn't any beauty.  I'm not saying that it is fair that some people suffer and others are exempt.  I'm not saying that groundlessness takes away the relative life you live where you have to put dinner on the table.  I'm not saying that being conscious and in practice with death takes anything away from living your life.

In fact, I'm exploring that being clear about the "broken glass being already within the unbroken glass" actually lets us live our lives more fully.  I'm suggesting that by understanding the reality that death and decay and breaking will take everything from us, makes us more fully present with what is here this moment.  I'm suggesting that some lizards might be lucky enough to live their entire lives without any stress, trauma, or fear that makes them drop their tail at the fracture line, but they are rare.  Most of us lizards, those of us living fully in the world and loving intensely, will, at some point, encounter a grief that stuns us so that we drop our tails at the fracture line.  And we then must relearn our balance and how to walk and jump anew.

It was not my intention to say that you can't appreciate anything because of this, but rather that you can *BOTH* appreciate the pre-trauma experience *AND* the post-trauma experience.  I'm not talking shit here.  I'm talking from the experience of having lived my own life fully prior to the deaths of my three boys *AND* relearning to live my life after each of their deaths, too.

And as I said yesterday, my meanings and experiences will not be the same as yours.  But that doesn't mean one is right and the other is wrong.  One example I mentioned was the interviews Oprah did with Whitney Huston's grieving family.  While, from my own bereavement experience, I do think Oprah's comments at the end when she called cut because she "couldn't take anymore" were insensitive, that doesn't mean she was wrong.  Her reality in that moment of not being able to be present with the palpable grieving any longer was as real to her as was the palpable grieving the Huston family could not possibly have escaped in that moment as they felt the love and loss fully.  The beauty is that both realities are real in the moment.  Both experiences come from the beauty of love...Huston's family from loving and losing...Winfrey's from the love of aiming to give voice to the bereaved (insensitivity aside).

Personally, I face this brokenness within the unbroken daily.  In addition to past experiences, I currently deal with a chronic illness that came out of remission about a year ago.  I have to be real about the brokenness within so that I can get things done and appreciate the beauty.  It's just part of my reality at the moment that I can't just go out and about on a day and do everything I vision.  Some stuff might get done.  My body might crash.  Or I might get through it all.  I just don't know.  Much like loving and using and taking care of the beautiful crystal glass...I am simultaneously aware of the brokenness that will come when the chickens knock the glass off the table.  :)  It doesn't make me love the nurishment from the liquid in the glass right now any less.

So it is a practice of being in solitude, especially when I'm very shut down physcially and what that does to my ability to even have a conversation.  It could be lonely.  I could lament the brokenness.  But I don't.  I'm not.  I consider this all a practice.  Death is a reality I know.  My loved ones will die.  I don't say that to depress you or to use it as an excuse to do nothing.  It is a practice and knowing that truth and living in the face of it.  Maybe I'm lucky that I was an only child growing up.  I bear the solitude moments without much fuss.  My imagination is endless.  When the glass breaks, I see all the beautiful gleaming pieces that will make a wonderful mosaic piece.

My point to all this -- and yesterday's post -- just go back again and again to the thing I'm sure you are all sick of hearing from me:

It is a practice, not a perfect.

My coming experience with the Circe Circle will be to explore how I can live that, be authentic with it, and still be out here in the world relating to others, making a living, and whatnot in this relative world.  I come back again and again to all being groundless.  But how do I stay with that as my authentic reality and still relate to the world of "making a living" as a coach when most customers want reassurance and methods for securing something or being "successful" or other languaging that leans toward the "perfection" stuff.  Even more to the point, what do I want to do with this in the relative world overall?  I've never been 100% comfortable with "coaching" language, so how can my language come closer to representing?  Am I better served -- and do a better job serving -- when I stick to being an artist?  Or when I offer up sparks and let others do what they will from that?  Sort of the difference between presentation vs. interactive workshop?

An ongoing process to be sure.
Here's to the beauty of *BOTH* the unbroken *AND* the broken state!


  1. love.. just love. I so relate to the brokenness and learning to appreciate the beauty. Thank you for sharing.

    1. Love and more love right back to you, Chris! <3


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