Within light there is darkness,
But do not try to understand that darkness.
Within darkness there is light,
But do not look for that light.
Light and darkness are a pair,
Like the foot before and the foot behind in walking.
Sandokai ~ a verse by Shih’tuo
It seems like a little “neural pruning” is in order. We spent the latter half of last week in Toronto at a workshop on the neuropsychology of trauma and the usefulness of bare awareness in its treatment. At one level, I “know” all this stuff: notice, notice, suspend judgment, notice some more. What I didn’t know was how much time I spend diving into the experience of sensations and using it “to understand that darkness.” It took deep noticing of the subtle ways I glide into the light hoping to grasp the nature of the dark from that vantage. As if separation of what is unity could make it more accessible.
Neural pruning means letting these old ways of acquiring wisdom die out which encourages the buds of new paths to understanding. Chances are, given my limited skills then (as now), those old paths are likely to be linear, rigid, and unforgiving of change. And yet, there is such a resistance to pruning because what if that linear, uncompromising logic is needed one day!
And then compassion says, “It’s not the linear, uncompromising logic you’re pruning away. It’s the death grip you have on it.”
Thank you for practicing,