For forty years I described myself as a quester, guided by my “true north,” an internal, virtual magnet always pointed toward what I understood as awakening, or enlightenment. That magnet would direct my next step of spiritual practice. Longing for the goal–and hence prayer–was a big part of my experience.
Three years ago, I read an essay on prayer written by a true friend and guide of mine, Elias Amidon. Somewhere in the ten pages I pitched the essay on the floor, overcome with both a searing kind of grief and an “it’s not fair” anger. In that moment I realized that the belief systems that had sustained me for so many decades were simply gone. They had fallen away, and I wasn’t aware of the process until after the fact: beliefs in reincarnation, karma, enlightenment, spiritual practice, past and future, prayer—all gone. Gone! And, I realized, with a powerful wave of shock, not coming back.
The grief was for a way of life lost—my whole adult life had been built around my spiritual path. I entered what I called “the bardos,” the Buddhist description of the afterlife-between-lands, neither here nor there. The old ways were clearly gone, but the new had not yet unfolded. This went on for a few months; I fluctuated between rage and loss. Life felt flat, without joy. I finally spoke with a dear and wise friend, Asha, who said, “This is a phase. Trust me, this too shall pass.” I did believe her, but one huge field of questioning remained: Now what? How do I talk with my friends? What about my spiritual path and family of forty years? How shall I live?
I’m happy to report that joy returned.
© Skye Blaine, 2011