I used to have a client I would read for quite regularly. She was about 24 years old. Her grievance? Unreciprocated love.
‘There was something there, once,’ she’d say, ‘fugitive glances that were pregnant with meaning’. Such narratives excite me, even in spite of my rigorous practice against excitement. I’ll come back to this point.
The languorous glances, however, were exchanged on Facebook. Every move on Facebook would be interpreted as a sign. Signs excite me, that’s why I’m in the business of reading cards. But signs that only go one way – from her to him – are dull. There has to be concrete feedback, one way or another, for the excitement to last, otherwise there’s just waste of time.
The young woman here got none. None whatsoever. So she would come to me with her anguish, expressed in this question: ‘Does he see my posts on Facebook? Does he read them? I know for sure that he likes me. He told me so and gave me signs. In the beginning.’
When she got tired of my cards telling her to focus elsewhere, she went to another fortuneteller. I know this because she would call me to check with me on what this other fortuneteller told her. She would ask me to interpret the other women’s cards for her.
Are you laughing yet? Me too. But this has a name: it’s called despair. I guess my client didn’t trust this other woman. After all, some read cards for money only. Others for the stories. Each with their business. But it’s more like she didn’t trust her own heart.
On our last encounter – for I have dismissed her thence – I told her what the cards said:
The Woman, The Cross, The Key
I said: ‘Yes, he does keep an eye on what you do on Facebook. The key to this attention is his desire to follow your pain, and see what it unlocks. You are stuck on him, looking towards an unknown past, while he has you dead and buried. He has the key to your crossroads. You mark the spot, but you don’t know it. He knows it.’
I’m not sure she understood. She left happy.
Following someone’s pain for the sake of seeing what it unlocks is obviously an advanced state of behavioral thinking, but taking this as a sign of love would be to stretch it.
Sometimes I regret not having become a full time counsellor for the young. They come to me on occasion, but they are not always the ones I work with intimately.
Yet I watch their anguish, fears, and a whole arsenal of emotions ranging from despair to bliss. Quite sublime. Quite useless.
The experience of love gives us something invaluable, but how many actually understand what is at stake in love?
How many understand the impossibility of uttering, ‘you broke my heart’?
What we call a heart is a whole universe. The universe is indestructible. In love your heart is selfless, that’s why it’s a whole universe. So how can the universe be broken? It cannot, and that’s the whole point. A simple logical point.
‘I vow to never do this again’, some with a broken heart say, forgetting that it’s not the heart that’s broken. Or else they take a spiritual vow, a bodhisattva vow, pledging to come back to this earth for as long as suffering exists, and free others of their brokenness. Which does not exist, other than in their own heads. So what are we freeing, when we ourselves are not free?
I was reminded of this episode by a few comments I’ve made the other day in another forum, where the fear of having taken the wrong vow cropped up. I paraphrase the gist of the question here:
‘I took the bodhisattva vow, and my world has turned upside down. Heavy stuff is hitting on me. What’s happening?’
What I had to offer generated curiosity and a sense of wonder. I give it to you here as well, so that it may benefit you in your practice of taking vows, coming from your commitment to your heart or your words:
The bodhisattva attitude is one of radical acceptance. In light of always seeing things as they are, you don’t even have a choice than to radically accept what is. If you’re not ready for radical acceptance, to practice it, not to merely understand it at the level of theoretical enlightenment – which is very easy – then don’t take the bodhisattva vow.
So the solution is very simple if, however, you do take the vow: Abide in radical acceptance, and you’re there full force. Anything else is a prolonged identification with your own misery and that of others.
Just remember that you are neither your emotions nor your cognitive capacity. That will keep you in perfect balance, as you will never get excited over anything. That’s the art, and ultimately the most exciting thing in itself.
What is the meaning of never getting excited?
Liking excitement means being attached to excitement. This, in my book, is bad, as it sets you up for all sorts of disappointment, sending you back to your miserable emotional state.
I myself prefer to do without it. In my own practice, I just sit and observe. That’s as exciting as hell, as a practice, precisely because it affords me the luxury of never getting involved.
I sit and laugh at a lot of things. This practice is easy if you do it constantly. It doesn’t work if you are not rigorously disciplined.
So, you can’t get excited if you’re on a date? I don’t get this Buddhist talk.
Exactly. If I go on a date, I bring myself to the table with my whole magical arsenal that’s available to me, as I show up fully vigilant and present, and without judgment.
Where the hell would I fit a pitiful excitement into all this? Do I need fleeting emotions when I show up in my most powerful brilliance? Methinks not. So there you have it. I’m not a Buddhist in the traditional sense, as I don’t get excited about ideas. I just practice the shit, and it serves me well.
There was silence in the room, followed by a strongly felt, whoa, and then the promise: ‘I’ll pester you again, if I may’.
KNOCK ON YOUR HEART
Going back to the heart. Here is a little practice inspired by Shakespeare:
Go knock on your heart three times. Give it time to respond. Listen to how it beats. Then ask your question:
My heart, were you ever broken, for real, if this is even possible?
Sit and listen to what the heart tells you. Don’t cheat. Give yourself time. Just sit with your heart, and the let universe sing through it.
You can also knock on other doors, if you think your heart needs a second opinion. You can try my door.
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