Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche
People often speak about divine order, but what about divine chaos?
Instead we often say, “Let’s get everything in order. Let’s clean up this mess.”
As a housewife and mother, I tried to do just that—always trying to get things and people into the kind of shape that I thought was best.
Oh my, how much suffering I caused my family and friends!
As a minister/CEO of a church, things often seemed to be breaking apart, causing discomfort amidst the congregation.
The fear of the unknown looms large in many of us, for we don’t trust the universe to bring order out of chaos, thinking something is wrong when things fall apart, and we must get it all back together.
It’s not easy to just let things be what they are and trust the universe to guide us when we feel frightened or angry.
Instead we often push and try to force things into the shape we want, and away from what we don’t want.
This is what the Buddha named attachment and aversion, both which cause suffering.
Clinging to anything, not accepting what is present and happening cause dissatisfaction and unrest.
In my past (and sometimes in the present, too, when I am truthful) I have felt anxiety until what I want comes to pass.
And since life is out of my control, I often felt harried and sad.
Through my years of meditation and mindfulness practice, as well as doing shadow work, I now see life very differently.
I’m learning the value of chaos. These periods are wake up calls that startle us into a new life that brings joy and happiness. But it doesn’t seem that way when it’s taking place. It often seems more like agony and hard times.
Recently I embarked on a 15 day cruise to Hawaii. On the third night out I missed a step, fell and broke my right wrist.
I am right handed—not ambidextrous.
My right arm was put into a cast, causing me much inconvenience. Many of the things I do each day were no longer possible—or only with tremendous difficulty. Getting dressed was a problem as very little would go over the cast. I was fortunate to borrow some tops from my very kind roommate, who helped me in innumerable ways.
I sorely needed others to help in many simple ways, such as opening lids, cutting up my food and carrying what I couldn’t manage.
My illusion of being independent was blown apart. I simply couldn’t manage in the old way.
Besides the physical difficulties, there were the emotional problems.
I attend regular—as well as lead—mindfulness meditations.
Where was my mindfulness when I missed that step and fell?
I felt shame, as if I were a poor example of being mindful.
What I could do for myself, and did, was to acknowledge these feelings by simply breathing, reminding myself that this is the way things are for me, for now.
Much as I might like them to be different, this is the way they are.
I breathed, spoke these words over and over, continually shifting from the way I wish it was to what actually is.
Again and again I meditated on these words and shared metta (lovingkindness) with myself and everyone.
I reminded myself that I only have to live this moment, just this one—and brought awareness into the now.
When worries arose about how I would manage when I got home, or even the next moment, I returned to the breath, feeling this energy move through me, and accepted what is right now.
Again and again, over and over, this was my work.
Several weeks before the cruise I had become aware of a certain smugness, a subtle, nearly hidden feeling that I pretty well was on top of things. Life was going quite well and I felt some pride.
”Pride goeth before a fall.” And I did!
I’ve heard that pride is the last threshold through which we must walk. I have been slowly uncovering all the things I am prideful about. This is most uncomfortable—embarrassing—and very humbling.
Waking up to that smug attitude that I was pretty well on my path exposed the weak underbelly, the other side of the coin, that lies in the shadow.
Unconscious beliefs and attitudes block our happiness, our true light and beauty. Therefore it is divine that they be brought to the surface to be transformed.
Chaos can do a great job of this, when we cooperate.
So, I now give thanks for the experience of breaking my wrist, for this is the opening to greater love and the truth of how much I need others, and truly cannot manage on my own. For there is really no “I, me or mine.”
We are all interconnected; no one stands alone.
I had a nightmare on the cruise. I dreamed I broke my wrist and there was no one to help me.
When I awoke I remembered that I had three friends, my roommate and two other companions we had met on board who were with me through it all, helping me, bringing me joy, showing me that I wasn’t abandoned—besides all the many, many others who offered such kindness and compassion.
I truly was enveloped in the mystery of love.
Love is the single energy of the universe that courses through each of us—that grows, sustains and evolves all that is. This is what I call God.
Love breaks apart fixed opinions and concepts so that something new and beautiful can be born.
It looks and feels like chaos—and it’s divine.
It is in dying that we live.
We belong to the universe and it is sustaining us right now.
We don’t know what needs to happen, and we don’t have to know.
The unknown is a vast and secure place in which to live.
The unknown is trustable. It may look like chaos, but it’s divine.
It holds us, moves us and cherishes us every moment.