Monday, August 31, 2015

exposure to annihilation


It was what I often felt before running an operation in public.  No matter how many times I had been through the very same operation in the past, under the very same conditions, those feelings of fear were always present and strong, instead of absent or at least weaker, as I had expected them to become over time.  Then, one day, I stumbled upon the following words:
Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.
At that instant, I was in love.  In love with these words.  I believed that they spoke the truth, albeit in a rather poetic manner.  After all, they expressed what I had experienced over and over again ‒ the fear of being exposed when I was about to launch an operation and the fear of getting annihilated afterwards, metaphorically speaking.  Yet in the end, it was quite the opposite, because I usually felt empowered as a result of my actions. Sometimes, the feeling went beyond empowerment ‒ it bordered on invincibility.  But only for a moment, naturally.

I had long attributed the words to Pema Chödrön, who wrote them in her book, "When Things Fall Apart".  It was only a few weeks ago that I learned that she may have been quoting Karlfried Graf Dürckheim, who had included the words in his book "The Way of Transformation".  So I went looking for the source and discovered the passage below.  Nothing but love.
The man, who, being really on the Way, falls upon hard times in the world will not, as a consequence, turn to that friend who offers him refuge and comfort and encourages his old self to survive. Rather, he will seek out someone who will faithfully and inexorably help him to risk himself, so that he may endure the suffering and pass courageously through it, thus making of it a 'raft that leads to the far shore.' Only to the extent that man exposes himself over and over again to annihilation, can that which is indestructible arise within him. In this lies the dignity of daring.

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