Not the Naked Golden Wise Man
“Only to the extent that we expose ourselves over and over to annihilation can that which is indestructible be found in us.”
These are words that I found in Pema Chödrön’s book, When Things Fall Apart, are vital for me to come to grips with over and over again. If I fail to pay attention, then life finds a way to humble me and teach me that I have a long way to go if I am ever to become truly awakened.
For the past few days, the bottom again has fallen out from under me sending me again crashing from one of my cycles into ego inflation. Chödrön tells it like it is when she says:
“when we are nailed with the truth, we suffer. We look into the bathroom mirror, and there we are with our pimples, our aging face, our lack of kindness, our aggression and timidity – all that stuff.”
Being a naturist as well as a Buddhist is teaching me just what it means to truly expose myself over and over again to annihilation, as Chödrön puts it. It doesn’t simply mean exposing the outer layer of skin. We all share that in common with every other human – bare skin. But also in saying that, the bare skin also shows the unique traces of who we are – our scars, our feelings, our worries, our failures, and all the things we could celebrate about ourselves if we weren’t so down on ourselves. Mass media has done an admirable job in making sure that we will never be happy with who we are physically. Media cultivates, even nourishes our anxieties so that we are left wanting more and more liking ourselves less and less. But, it isn’t so easy and one can’t put all the blame on the media. This is a human tendency that has existed from the earliest remembrances of humankind.
We suffer. We suffer our own wounds received in childhood as we are unconsciously pushed by parents into independence, something we would never grasp if being a child, regardless of age, was an existence that was akin to the Garden of Eden. We are necessarily wounded. We are wounded by not enough love and too much love; not enough freedom and too much freedom – even perfection wounds us. And, it is all good.