true north lost

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

4 Comments

Filed under Advaita, Non-duality, spirituality

4 responses to “true north lost

  1. Hmm… powerful. Perhaps that’s an essay we should all read.

  2. Doubt is the friend that no one wants, and the next thing to come often can’t arrive without doubt to make room for it. The space doubt clears can feel very uncomfortable. Personal experience. This happened many ties in this life.

    Example: lifelong Roman Catholic until ~1998. Read a book PAPAL SIN by George Will, a very thorough and clear-eyed examination of the development of many “catholic” stylistic ways of doing things, problems, beliefs, etc. By the time I was done the book, it was all gone. I was not a catholic any more.

    Example: In 2000, I started attending Buddhist talks by a visiting teacher, left the christian church I was in, left the seminary I was in, took Buddhist lay vows. Big turnaround. There were others,

    This post is great. Hallmarks of spiritual life are loss, transformation and regeneration. (or the appearances of such) You have everything there.

    Dominic

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