Tag Archives: self-sacrifice

Dialogue with a Teacher

[thoughts from ~burning woman~ by Sha’Tara]

“I would be a catalyst for change, a change agent.”
“Why?” She asked, her back to me. She seemed to be staring at something beyond the horizon only she could see.
“Why?” I replied, “It’s this world, Teacher; it breaks my heart.”
“So you would change it then?”
“Yes.”
“You understand how change happens, do you not?”
“I think so… but there are so many ways…”
“No! Not if you desire good change. Yes, many ways to bring about change that nurtures unhappiness, misery and endless grief. But the good change, how do you make that come about?”
“I do not know… I simply do not know how.”
“Very well. I am going to reveal some ancient wisdom to you, then you will understand though it may change your mind about being a change agent. Have you ever fallen in love with someone? Ever been so in love that nothing else mattered?”
“Yes I have been, long, long ago.”
“Can you recall your feelings of that time?”
“Somewhat, yes. Pure madness!”
“Madness yes, but all good change comes from that sort of madness. Life proceeds from that madness. Children are born because of it. Now for the great secret but first you get one guess: where does this madness originate? What is its genesis?”
“Trick question, Teacher? I honestly do not know.”
“Such a seed can only be found in one place in the entire universe: in your heart. You must mine for it, extract it, grind and polish it, love it above everything else, desire it more than anything else then give it out freely and completely to the world you wish to see change come about in.
“Know this, that once you give it away you must die. You know the truth of it, “unless a seed falls to the ground and dies it will not produce fruit.” You were taught this when only a child and you remember that lesson. Of all the lesser teachings you received from your tribal parents and teachers, you kept this one and one other.
“Now remember this also, my Avatar, there are many ways to die. Dying is easy but there is only one way to live: with compassion through complete detachment. You understand?”
“Yes Teacher, I do understand.”
“Does it make you want to change your mind?”
I was very slow in answering her, not because I was unsure about my choices but because the moment was so charged with “sacred” energy. I suppose she would have said my reply was predictable.
“On the contrary, Teacher, this is an affirmation. As to that second lesson you alluded to, I remember it well also…”small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”
“Be sure to remain on it.”

[thoughts from   ~burning woman~   ]

This morning there’s a burning in my heart to express something, but it wasn’t until I received the following in my mail that I realized where I was walking once again.

Quote: “Despair is the state in which anxiety and restlessness are immanent to existence. Nobody in despair suffers from “problems”, but from his own inner torment and fire. It’s a pity that nothing can be solved in this world. Yet there never was and there never will be anyone who would commit suicide for this reason. So much for the power that intellectual anxiety has over the total anxiety of our being! That is why I prefer the dramatic life, consumed by inner fires and tortured by destiny, to the intellectual, caught up in abstractions which do not engage the essence of our subjectivity. I despise the absence of risks, madness and passion in abstract thinking. How fertile live, passionate thinking is! Lyricism feeds it like blood pumped into the heart! ― Emil M. Cioran, On the Heights of Despair – 1933)

Some of us exist as bog fires. We burn, winter and summer and we are impossible to extinguish. Why? Because no one understands the source of our fire.

In fact, I don’t understand it either, it just is. Perhaps I should use the term “burning bush” because the more we burn, the more we have to burn. Nothing is consumed. No entropy here, quite the opposite. The world and its desires may well pass away, over and over, but this struggling thing I call “me” remains, dies, returns, again and again.

Why? If ‘nothing can be solved in this world’ (see above quote) why return? In those nebulous times in-between endless strings of lives, do we forget? Do we re-arrive here all innocent, a tabula rasa, having no remembrances of having walked through vales of tears and mountains of glory, in bare feet or harsh armour? Of hunger and surfeit? Of enslavement and mastery?

Passing through, surviving (to what end?) and perhaps fixing a few little things, I know I will not solve, nor resolve any of this world’s major and obvious problems. For those solutions I must defer to greater aspects of life than me. When I was young and my fire burned on the surface I would not have accepted this truth but now that I have gone underground and the burning is steady and controlled, I realize it is how it should be. I am not the conscience of this world, or any world or reality. Suffice that I am my own and that I have the power within myself, finally, to understand how to control that tiny part of all that is.

As Victor Frankl wrote: “Who would bring light must endure burning” Passion is burning. Some time back, feeling my burning, I wrote the following. Perhaps another in similar pain will receive validation; take comfort from these words, they are not empty utterances:

Where Hope fails Despair will Serve
[a poem by ~burning woman~ ]
There, I’ve shown you:
No hope, no hope left
Not for you, not for them.
Your children are dying
Don’t you see? Are you blind?
I’ve taken away every strand
Of your pitifully weak hope
And what can you do now
But admit my power,
And bow to the inevitable, to me?

She looks upon her foe as he gloats over her,
She turns and stares ahead
At a land stretching before her tired eyes
Dark, menacing, parched, dead.
She hears the incomprehensible,
The language of the damned, tortured screams
Rise from places she cannot name.

She looks down at the children
Cowering at her bloody feet
Whimpering, hungry, frightened,
Shivering in their bits of rags;
Her own clothes in no better shape.
She feels the hollowness
Of her own body and tired mind
Dragging her down to yield,
To sleep and to forget.

This must be the end she reasons once again,
And I’ve been misled, lied to, to take this way
Try to lead the children and find a way of escape:
I cannot go further; I have nothing left.

Her enemy laughs again.
You’re done then, hey?
Say yes, give up, give up!

“No!” she says turning to face him,
Her cracked lips bleeding:
This isn’t our end, this is our beginning.
Hope there may no longer be;
No comfort may be waiting
When we walk from here but know this:
Where hope fails, as it often must,
There is always despair.

Rousing the children
She leads them into the darkness:
We shall not be his slaves
She tells them,
Let death take us then if that’s how it must be.

But it wasn’t death that waited there,
It was freedom earned
From courage to say “No,”
Taking that last resolute step
Where he could never follow.

Despair is the end of all power usage and as rawgod said to me commenting on another post, “Non-use of power IS the ultimate use of power. To have it, and refuse to use it, that is powerful.”  I am just beginning to understand what that means, and the personal costs associated with it.

Another Gift of the Magi

(Short story from The Other Side  by Sha’Tara)

(According to my trusty old MS Word, this short story is five pages long.  Therefore, so as not to take up too much of your time, I’m posting it in three “installments.”  Some of the title is of course borrowed from the famous Christmas short story “The Gift of the Magi” by O. Henry.  A simplistic short story written to demonstrate the spirit of Christmas; also the joys and real dangers inherent to self empowerment.)

Ariana and Sylvia were twins and they were inseparable.  They did most things together and were seldom found far from each other.  Even as they grew older, they shared their times and even their friends.  When their parents divorced, they were ten years old.  In their innocent wisdom, they decided to “share” themselves between the parents.  Sylvia went with her dad and Ariana remained with her mother.  So every time the girls wanted to be together one parent or the other had to bring her over.  Thus, over a period of time, and even after they were re-married, the parents developed a deep friendship as they watched their children playing or talking together.

After their parents separated, both girls, raised nominally Catholic, began to consider their faith and returned to the Church, attending and helping organize various functions.  They shared the same intense belief in what the Church stood for.

Both grew into beautiful young women and over-achievers.  They were heading to college when Ariana told her sister that she had decided to enter the convent and become a nun. 

“I want to try on Mother Teresa’s shoes Sylvia, see how they fit and how long I can walk in them before they kill me!”  Mother Teresa had been their childhood heroine.

Being Catholic, entering the convent was not an issue.  Men and women were both desperately needed by the Church.  Sylvia cried when her sister put on the veil and became Sister Celeste.  She accepted her sister’s choice as they had always accepted each other’s choices.  Sylvia went to college then on to university intent on getting a medical degree.

After a few years Ariana, now Sister Celeste, confided her passion to Sylvia as they spent a Christmas day afternoon together. 

“I want to open a hospice for the homeless downtown.  It’s my dream, Syl.  It’s my passion, my inspiration.” 

“And how does your Order and the Church feel about that?” 

“If I can get private funding to open it and keep it going and convince at least four other sisters to join me, they’ll bless it.  Problem is, I don’t have any contacts I could use to raise the money.” 

“How much money do you need to start?” 

“I need at least one hundred thousand dollars to open.  I’ve got a tentative tender on a lease already.  After that, I don’t know.” 

Sylvia took her sister’s hands in hers and looking into her eyes, said: “Has God ever failed either of us, sister?”

“No, never.”  she replied, smiling.

“Then go ahead.  Do this and you will get the money… I promise!”

They talked some more.  That day they swore an oath to each other, that no matter what the circumstances, no matter the distance, they would always spend Christmas day together. 

Silvia sold her new car.  She broke her engagement and when he told her to keep the ring, she sold that.  She maxed her student loans and canvassed the campus and all her well-heeled friends.   A few weeks later, near the end of January, Sister Celeste received a call from the bank where she had opened her “hope account” for the hospice.  There was a one hundred thousand dollar anonymous donation in the account.

Ariana opened her hospice and from the very start it was a success.  A brilliant manager and tireless, she drove her staff and herself to meet the needs of the homeless.  Abandoned children were found temporary homes; pregnant girls were sheltered and placed here and there.  The sick and the dying found a place of refuge there — a warm place, not an institution.  She was often heard saying, “Unfortunately, our business is probably the busiest in town.  We’ll never go broke from lack of customers.”

(end part 1 of 3)