Hi Marcia - Reading and sipping my latte on the back porch this morning was so lovely. I'm still reading China Galland's "Bond Between Women" and here's a confession: I don't specifically recall our conversation that inspired you to lend this book to me. My thought when you handed it to me was I would remember during the read. I don't yet, but that morsel of extra inspiration to remember has been an element that has been bringing me back from my incessant "shiny things" distractions. I seem to glean something juicy from every brief read. The list of family and friends I want to buy this book for is continuously growing. And my bond with the women in my life - with my mom and sisters and Lana - seems to be evolving somehow. I'm so grateful.
This morning I'm at the part where she is in Varanasi. She is meeting her friend Tara again and is just stopping over on her way to Calcutta for a Kali puja. Samuel Salsbury and I spent two full days together last week, recording, jamming, kirtan-ing, socializing around a backyard fire with the most stunning firefly light show. (Fireflies this year!! Whoa!) He has mentioned numerous times he would love to tour Lana and I around Varanasi this next year if we want to take a detour there during the sabbatical. We're currently looking at a western-Europe vacationey kirtaning journey between southern Portugal and Sweden. Admittedly I'm not aware of a deep yearning to go to India as so many of my "friends on the path" seem to experience. But here it is again, a story of Varanasi, and similar to Samuel's telling, and Brenda's accounts, gorgeous, rich descriptions of the Ganges and culture-wide devotion like I've not seen. Temples and pujas and celebrations that would no doubt settle deeply into me. Maybe that deep yearning to visit India is awakening?
This is the yellow-highlighted passage I read a couple times this morning was the catalyst for emailing you.
"Hope is not what you mean, China. It's grace, that's what you're talking about. It's inappropriate to expect hope. It's irrelevant. It's born out of denial. Hope doesn't walk you through the narrows."
I get that. I FEEL it!! Hope seems born of the mind, it's conceptual. Grace somehow eludes conceptualizing, and remains more of a feeling. It seems to live somewhere around the intuition of my guts and the knowing in my heart.
"Grace and faith are much more of what we have, What's available. I think the Dalai Lama has given up hope. He's found grace. Hope is a burden."
Is hope what happens when your mind gets hold of grace? I have friends who's life focus seems to be 'recovery'. At the root of so much of their action is returning back to a better time, restoring themselves to an idea of a past state. To an IDEA of how they felt in the past. That does seem burdensome.
Admittedly, I've had a reasonably pain-free go of things so far. My recent toothache reminded me of how disorienting and overwhelming pain can be. When I focused on the fact it was temporary -"this will dissipate soon, at least after I see the dentist" - I was able to move forward. Without that hope I can imagine getting stuck in a fantasy about how it was when I wasn't in pain, maybe even welcoming death. It was bad. So I guess these comments about hope are around less immediate and coarse/gross experiences, like political or state-of-the-planet issues.
There seems to be a blurriness to hope, a dull vibration. Maybe since it is often so vividly conceptualized. Hope doesn't seem as real as faith. Hope begs doing something we think will manipulate things toward an idea of what the experience should be. The mind guiding the mind, at times even forcing the issue. And sometimes it works, sometimes the herbal supplement brings balance, sometimes the protest brings change.
But grace. Even the word brings ease. Grace. It's an invitation to the universe to flow right through you. Yet it's more than that, it feels like both an invitation and a confession. Not a confession of guilt, but of power. We have it, it's already here, and maybe we're afraid to admit it. Not a confession of confusion, but of not knowing. I think that is a critically important distinction. "I don't know and it's ok."
Grace gives the mind nothing to do.
I'm still not reminded of our conversation that inspired you to lend me the book, but I suspect grace is somehow involved.