Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, Chapter 40, February 9, 2024
- Today's playlist: Bach Transcriptions (Mao Fujita) https://classical.music.apple.com/ca/album/1712466829?l=en-CA
- Today’s questions: Do you have a practice, that you may feel the burn, that you may test yourself to burn to clarity? Do you have one who is your Kali, who asks only that you be your truest self, testing you, and accepting nothing less?
- Today's suggested practice: Day 9 of this month's practice, a breath work for "balancing," to allow these thoughts and feelings to move through you, with less resistance (see my "Short Practice,” below)
- My practice today: 6am: 30 minutes: yoga, pranayama to call Shakti (awaken kundalini), Ganesha mantra meditation
- My vulnerability practice: Putting myself ever nearer the fire, allowing myself to burn, trusting this burn...
★On February 20 the Apprenticeship to Love conversation features Katie Love. Our topic: the Sacred Womb, Turning Towards Marriage... FREE for the first 25 Apprenticeship to Love subscribers. Register at https://bit.ly/3uupVrW
She is my Kali. The one who accepts nothing less than my truest and deepest self.
I trust her, not to do what | want, but —when she is practiced, when she is connected to her flow— she will do what is right for her. She will test me against that awareness and experience of herself. And I am always richer, more blessed for this fire.
She is my Kali, the one I love. I signed up for all of her. For her silence, her softness. For the searing heat of her quiet but all-consuming fire.
It is an honour, beyond imagining, to be tested by this fire. An honour, to be trusted by her.
I've started to watch hockey again. It seems a silly thing. But, strangely powerful and worthy of my attention. After 40+ years of neglect, I am, again, consumed by it.
It's not just the talents of a particular player, though that certainly drew my attention at first (and that's what I tell people, because I'm still a little puzzled by the whole thing). Here's what I think it is this morning: For two to three hours I get to watch and experience intense play; and then it's over, with a clear winner or loser (for the most part —I love the way ties are avoided!); and then, whether "my team" wins or loses, I relax. I'm done.
David Deida says that the masculine in us is attracted to this rhythm, in life, in sports, and in sex: intensity, a clear and final resolution, a collapsing into exhaustion and relaxation. It's also a pattern in our romantic relationships: intense pursuit/ courtship, capture (sexual "conquest" / marriage), rest.
For those of us who are masculine-identified men it seems pretty clear. But we forget that there is a polarity to our rhythm, and that the feminine (within us and in the feminine-identified woman we are attracted to) desires and experiences another dynamic altogether. It's a marvel we play together at all. Because the feminine is not interested in resolution as a goal, but in the endlessness of the contest. The always-ebbing-and-flowing of attraction/disaffection, of intensity and calm, of high/low, short/long, slow/fast, of change and constancy. Of 100% presence 24/7. In Deida's generalization, masculine-identified men are drawn to the rhythm of sports, and feminine-identified woman are drawn to soaps. And where shall the twain meet?
The 100% 24/7 demand of the feminine-identified woman is too much for most of us masculine-identified men. It's certainly too much for me. John Wineland, a student of Deida's and a powerful teacher of men (and women), is careful to remind those of us who would step into full relationship with a feminine-identified woman, that we need to rest. And be clear with her about the limits of our rest. For while she is at home and is the source of endless and formless flow, she will not abide our formlessness: I need to be clear about both my need for rest, and my commitment to return. There is endlessness, and there are the defined and bounded moments within that endlessness that allow both of our polarities to be.
This endlessness is the fire of the feminine. It is meant to burn. To purify. In yoga we create the conditions —through postures (asana, mudra, drishti), breathwork (pranayama), sound (mantra), and meditation— for the burning of what is inessential. The things that stand within us, blocking us from being who and how we truly are. There is a name for this: tapas. We do not avoid tapas. It is a reason for practice.
There is formal yoga, the practice of creating the "yoke" or "union" of things. Marriage is a formal relationship found in cultures across the world. It is an informal yoga, formally bringing together two who are separate, and in the ritual of wedding achieving a welding —a transformation through intense heat— that changes us, changes the ones witnessing, changes the world. If we allow. (In our conversation Stephen Jenkinson said as much in his notes on matrimony and patrimony. In her description of her recent wedding Kimberly Ann Johnson said as much. Their words are, in my mind, worth listening to...
Marriage is one of the few conditions in our lives that inevitably burns away the inessentials, reducing us to what is true.
Most of the time, today, we avoid this burning-into-truth. Often, thinking we can avoid the fire altogether, we step from a fire that will weld us to a fire that destroys something we are too slow to understand. Our capacity to trust, to become intimate, to yearn to join —every separation and divorce burns that capacity to ash. We may recover. Some do. So many others ... We live in the ashes. It's why I write. Why I study. Why I practice. Why I teach. To redeem that capacity within myself. To let my own fires of failure become an apprenticeship rather than a slow dying.
I am here, as I said to the one who is my Kali, I am here for all of you. And for all that this commitment to loving you brings me.
One of the things I love about her, and about loving her, is that I feel called to this burn. I stand in the fire, and I feel her with me. She burns too. In her way. And, in this fire that consumes me, us, transforms me, us, I am grateful. And this is what I wish for my children, and their children. It's what I wish for those who work with me: that they find a fire that transforms them, changes them, their world, reveals them to be their truest incarnation of love.
I think this is how I am to live. In the fire. Burning. Becoming myself.
I think this is how I husband this strange marriage. Worshipping it as a fire that burns, eliminating all the inessentials, making of this union an experience of our divinity.
I think, perhaps, this is how we redeem this culture of fast-food and fast-sex and fast-marriage and even faster-divorce: by becoming willing to sacrifice ourselves on the altar of this fire.
🌀What would happen if we chose our romantic partnership less from a personal point of view and more from a family- or culture-building perspective? (paraphrasing Kimberly Ann Johnson)
🌀…we can use the power of suffering as a tool for inner growth and thus remove the negative connotation we project onto it. Kali is the power that helps us to withstand the negative forces of our ego and the emotional turmoil that can pull us down.
…Kali is the Devi of Time and Eternity. She is the inner desire in all living beings to live eternally. This is not just some foolish naive idea, but actually points us towards a deep spiritual truth: that which we truly are is deathless, our True Nature is eternal. (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 31)
🌀The Conscious Warrior makes death an ally, using it to sharpen his present actions, future plans, and current state of being. (John Wineland , Precept 11)
🌀I test you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren, the Kali of my life)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 9 of this month's practice, to let these thoughts and feelings move through you, with less resistance:
Please read through first, then ...
- Set an alarm, for a time of the day when you have a few minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day
- When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few minutes and:
- Ask yourself: Do I have a practice, that I may feel the burn, that I may test myself to burn to clarity? Do I have one who is my Kali, who asks only that I be my truest self, testing me, and accepting nothing less?
- Then, follow the short practice here:
- When you’re done, sit or stand for another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, Do I feel right? In alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
- Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
- Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.
RECENT & UPCOMING EVENTS FOR SUBSCRIBERS
The February 20 Apprenticeship to Love conversation with Katie Dove on The Sacred Womb" and "Turning Towards" Marriage is free to the first 25 Apprenticeship to Love subscribers who sign up. Sign up here.
The February 27 Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop with Sarah Anderson is free for Premium, Premium+, and Premium EXTRA subscribers. Upgrade here.
The *January Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop is now available on video to Premium, Premium+, and Premium EXTRA subscribers. Please ask me for the link if you haven't already received it.
"Talking about Matrimony," the Apprenticeship to Love conversation of January 31, about matrimony and other things, with two of my heroes, Stephen Jenkinson & Kimberly Ann Johnson, has raised many questions. Please watch and ask! To watch, see: