“Give up all the other worlds except the one to which you belong.” ~ David Whyte
When Dorothy peered behind the curtain in The Wizard of Oz her world fell apart. All that she hoped for, all her dreams, all her plans dissolved in the sudden awareness that no great and powerful being could save her, could rescue her from the suffering of loss or satisfy the cravings that beset her, and her companions.
I know just how she must have felt. More and more I’ve sensed the smoke and mirrors of this illusory life as they shift and shatter all around me. Possessions I once thought I couldn’t live without have lost their pulse of beguile. The dull ache of lust for all the pretty things and beings of the world has faded. Ambition has leaked away through the cracks in the veneer of my livelihood. I’ve come to question my countless views, each insipid thought as it arises, seeing more and more how dukkha, dissatisfaction, permeates every corner of our human existence. I’ve also seen how much peace can enfold me through my practice and how I long for that peace to be my way of life.
At times it seems as if I am watching an absurd Felliniesque world in which we all are playing our prescribed parts with addictive accuracy. Addiction to anger, hatred, fear and greed. Tantalized by the temporary, crossing a desert of quicksand on our relentless quest for an imaginary mirage and never considering the possibility of another way. Yet it is in the seeing of the absurd, of questioning the assembly line of the mundane that another way can be found, can be awakened. Disenchantment with the worldly is the potion for our ailings. The spell can be broken.
Last week disenchantment asked a kind and rather pointed question of me: what are you waiting for? The answer was as clear as a summer sky.
Poet David Whyte in his book Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words writes that “Longing is divine discontent, the unendurable present finding a physical doorway to awe and discovery…making us willing to give up our perfect house, our paid for home and our accumulated belongings.” The answer inside of me was that divine discontent opening the doorway to my heart.
At the end of August I will retire from the working world, give up my perfect apartment, nearly all my belongings, and will go to live among the trees at Birken Forest Monastery to be of service in the role of steward.
This time, this place, this practice is where my longing lies now. And Dorothy, there’s no need to look any further. You are always home.
Forest of Light by Petri Damsten via Flickr Creative Commons. Some rights reserved.
Opening quote excerpt from Sweet Darkness by David Whyte from The House of Belonging © 1996 Many Rivers Press