Sunday 1 February 2015

A Golden Sorrow by Judy Croome

Life is confusing.

I look over my years — what has been, what is and what is yet to come — and, mostly, I’m content. Happy even, on those precious days when the gods are kind and all is well.

Other days, though, for no reason, I’m filled with a sadness at the incompleteness of my world. I grieve for the imperfections of both the worlds I live in: the inner world that contains the memory of my hopes and my losses, as well as the outer world of waking and working and washing the dishes.

What is it about life that the realities never quite live up to our hopes and dreams?

Somewhere between hopeful dreams and harsh reality lies a valley of feeling. Hidden in its green and lush beauty is a yearning for something I can’t explain; something I can only feel as a deep sadness for all that cannot and will not be in my short existence on this planet.

That sadness is born because, as human beings living in an earthly world, we feel but cannot know, that there is something else, some place better than where we find ourselves today.

We’re dipped in a 'golden sorrow', looking only at our unfulfilled and unattainable dreams, hopes and desires (1). We long for another time, another place, another dream fulfilled, whether a better future, a place called Heaven or a new car.

We seek our happiness in others, in the man-made things that fill the world around us. When we find it, too often it’s a fleeting moment fading as quickly as the red  rose our lover gives us on Valentine’s Day.  

Then we’re searching again, yearning once more for another shot of happiness, another job or car or adventure until,  no longer able to bear the inconsolable longing in our hearts for we know not what, we stop searching and try to ignore the secret, dull throb of our wounded souls.

Does this mean the only way to find happiness is to stop dreaming? To stop hoping for a better world, to stop longing for contentment in our lives and just accept that, in our time on earth as sentient beings, lasting happiness is but a dream that will forever remain unfulfilled?

That may be a sensible, realistic path to walk. We think if we see the world dressed only in all her evil, we’ll survive. We think if we stop  dreaming, we’ll stop hurting.

Yet to live an existence based only on survival deepens our wounds: like hurt animals, we lash out to create a safer world for ourselves and our loved ones.

How do we stop longing for that “something” lying just beyond our grasp, our vision? We’re surrounded by incessant demands (sometimes only from ourselves, our own ambitions!)  to be better, do better, have more, get more …! 

Too often, we feel empty and lost, despite all that we have already attained, all the other dreams that we’ve already fulfilled.  Too often, we live as victims or martyrs because our impossible dreams remain out of our reach and, in a desperate attempt to still the dull heartache we feel, we blame others for our sufferings, or try to save them from theirs.

As I’ve grown older,  I’ve come to realise that happiness can and does exist in this sometimes harsh and ugly world.

Sometimes it comes in a blaze of glory, a goal achieved, a family celebration or a dream fulfilled beyond our wildest imaginings.

Mostly though, it's when we seek joy within ourselves — in more simple dreams, in contentment with our less-than-perfect lives and souls — that our wounded hearts begin to heal.

Then, when we've learnt to find our happiness in small things, life is a lot less confusing. And our hearts, once more, are innocent.

Osho Zen Tarot – Major Arcana No 19 “Innocence”
The old man in this card radiates a childlike delight in the world. There is a sense of grace surrounding him, as if he is at home with himself and with what life has brought. He seems to be having a playful communication with the praying mantis on his finger, as if the two of them are the greatest friends. The pink flowers cascading around him represent a time of letting go, relaxation and sweetness. They are a response to his presence, a reflection of his own qualities.

The innocence that comes from a deep experience of life is childlike, but not childish. The innocence of children is beautiful, but ignorant. It will be replaced by mistrust and doubt as the child grows and learns that the world can be a dangerous and threatening place. But the innocence of a life lived fully has a quality of wisdom and acceptance of the ever-changing wonder of life.                   (Description from "Osho Zen Tarot: The Transcendental Game Of Zen Cards")

Zen says that if you drop knowledge--and within knowledge everything is included, your name, your identity, everything, because this has been given to you by others--if you drop all that has been given by others, you will have a totally different quality to your being--innocence. This will be a crucifixion of the persona, the personality, and there will be a resurrection of your innocence; you will become a child again, reborn.  (Osho “Dang Dang Doko Dang”, Chapter 7 )

 (1)William Shakespeare. “Henry VIII” (Act II, sciii, ll 19)

Tis better to be lowly born
And range with humble livers in content
Than to be perked up in a glistering grief
And wear a golden sorrow