HOW TO GROW A LOTUS BLOSSOM: Reflections in a Disciple's Life

by Rev. Koshin Schomberg

Section XV
The Return Flow

The inner essence of the Eternal is the soaking Water of the Spirit;
It can moisten all things deep in the earth of our body and mind.
It can penetrate, touch and converse, like the wind,
With all things in the highest Heaven of the Great Immaculacy.


Dark Grief

I think of the floods of intense, dark and desperate feeling that came rolling in day after day during the first four months of my retreat in 1998-99 as a "firestorm" of emotion. Feeling is the "reaper of karma," and in these floods I was reaping what was sown in the creation of some of the largest knots of confusion and pain of my karmic inheritance. While fear, anger and despair all arose and passed at times, my most constant emotional companions during this time were longing and grief. And it is the grief that has always stood out most vividly in my memory.

Rev. Master once described to me the great flood of grief that welled up as soon as she entered full retreat in the spring of 1976. In 1998, I found that the same dark, anguished grief was in me.

The depth of grief is in proportion to the depth of love combined with the depth of conviction that one has lost that which one has loved. Herein lies the greatest pain of our humanity (an anguish that is not limited to man, however, for animals feel it too). And the greatest grief of all comes from judging ourselves to be unworthy of the Love of the Eternal, for there is no loss like the loss of Love Itself. Of course, one cannot really lose the Love of the Eternal, but, in ignorance, pain and confusion, beings lose sight of this fact.

Saddened Love

As the lined-up spiritual need of my karmic inheritance found its way to the surface of consciousness and then on to the Help of the Eternal, the spiritual skies began gradually and imperceptibly to brighten. After four months of retreat, the major knots of spiritual need had unravelled. The floods of dark grief were replaced by quiet sadness: "quiet" because it did not come in great emotional floods. Nonetheless, it was deep sadness. It felt as if I was in the middle of an ocean of sadness.

Again, feeling is the reaper of karma. Dark, desperate grief was reverting to sadness--sadness tinged with love (or, more accurately, love tinged with sadness): the "saddened love" of which I had heard Rev. Master speak many times.

Behind and beneath the long and varied history of karma lies love that became imbued with expectation. Inevitably, this expectation was one day disappointed. Then love was saddened. Each successive disappointment darkened the sadness. Desperate clinging, resulting in deeper disappointment, further darkened it. Eventually grief lived in a world that seemed apart from Love. This is called the "forward flow (or process)"--meaning that the wheel of suffering is being propelled "forward" into the future.

If the darkening of saddened love into desperate grief signals that the forward flow is happening, the reverting of dark grief to saddened love is a signal of movement in the direction of the "backward (or return) flow" through which our body and mind are brought back into (or return to) harmony with our wonderful True Nature. Therefore, the way of contemplative training that makes possible our return to harmony with the Eternal is sometimes called "the backward-flowing (or return-flowing) method."

A Quiet Flow

Very gradually over a period of several months, the relative proportions of sadness and love in the saddened love that I was experiencing were reversed. At first the feeling of sadness was strongly dominant. But as the weeks and months passed, the sadness diminished and the feelings of love and gratitude increased.

Feelings are signals. These brighter feelings were signals that the Compassion of the Eternal was quietly finding Its way to the roots of spiritual need. Indeed, it seemed to me as if clean, healing water was seeping into every nook and cranny of body and mind.

This soaking Compassion was accompanied by teaching on how to live without re-saddening love. This is the subject of the next Section of these "Reflections in a Disciple's Life."


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