Someone I once knew used to say that his prayer was “whatever it takes.” What he meant was that he would do anything in order to open his heart ever wider to Love, to surrender ever more unreservedly to the Beloved, to fly ever more fearlessly into the all consuming fire of the Heart.
I was attracted to and repelled by his intensity of passion. Could one really live with such wild abandon? I don’t know. He seemed to. His life, at least my brief glimpse of it, did not appear to be as crazy as his devotion sounded. I felt a bit like the restaurant customer in that famous scene in When Harry Met Sally where Meg Ryan faked … well, you know the scene. (And if you don’t, click here.) The customer was mesmerized and told the server, “I’ll have what she’s having.”
I wanted to feel what he felt. So I embarked on what I called my year of the heart. I read Rumi and sought to experience that rapture his poetry expresses so eloquently. I practiced five element qigong and Taoist healing exercises focusing on the heart. And I did experience a breaking open of the heart with increased heart energy. As I described it, my heart had come alive and I was “firing on all cylinders.”
But I didn’t approach anything close to the ecstasy imagined. Was I blocking it with fear? Or perhaps I was somehow defective, lacking the rapture gene. I tried harder. I read more, practiced more, meditated more, prayed more. Until …
Until I was sparring with one of my martial arts teachers. I kept attempting a particular maneuver with zero success. Finally, I stepped back and said, “I’m trying to….” Before I could finish the sentence, he interjected, “That’s your problem.”
An excellent lesson in life as well as in martial arts. One that I know and yet need to be reminded of … repeatedly.
There is a concept in the Tao Te Ching using two characters, 自 meaning self, and 然 meaning to be so. Together it means what is so of itself, what is as it is, what is naturally or spontaneously so. When we struggle against or interfere with what is so in this moment, we do violence to ourselves and to our environment. We suffer.
As Popeye the sailor said, “I am what I am.” No more, no less. And that is what I want most to be.
Whatever it takes.
Reason says, the world is limited in six directions.
There is no way out.
Love says, there is a way,
And I have traveled it many times.