With birth (a new granddaughter!) and death (my Dad's passing) knocking at my door this month, my natural inclination is to become pensive. I draw inward and notice how I am feeling, what is happening inwardly for me as big life events jiggle my consciousness and emotions stream through my being. During the last week of my Dad's life, in the early hours before dawn, I was contemplating my Dad's life and my life with him, allowing a spontaneous life review to flow through my mind. Flashes of insight flowed throughout the review.
Suddenly I saw life as a koan. What is a koan? Here is the definition I like from the internet "Koan : a paradox to be meditated upon that is used to train Zen Buddhist monks to abandon ultimate dependence on reason and to force them into gaining sudden intuitive enlightenment." Notice that one must abandon mental activity, at least momentarily, in order for the enlightening moment to emerge.
I thought about feeling emotionally disconnected from my Dad early in life and the impact it had on me. Paradoxically, we made our way to a sense of emotional and mental peace, a true closeness with one another through our journey of simply being ourselves with one another - accepting all that this means. Suddenly I saw life as a journey that you can't know about ahead of time. You must surrender and live it fully to experience the truth of its meaning for you. Being ever true to Self leads to reaping the rewards.
I thought about my Dad's dedication to living with spiritual awareness, and his clear desire to support others on the journey into this awareness. Paradoxically, at times he could alienate those of us closest to him. He had a way of speaking at us about this truth that we must discover, and how to get about the business of doing this. That didn't feel spiritually aware, it felt bossy. At the end of his life, he was a demonstration of remaining ever-constant to his beliefs about the body simply housing his personal consciousness that will indeed make its transition onward one day. He lived a very conscious end of life process, very aware and very clear about his desire to be present to the entirety of it. I grew to feel even closer to him as he prepared to leave this reality.
I thought about my family dynamics and the lessons I learned by living through, and also by leaving behind, the dynamics I no longer wished to perpetuate. My determination to live a clear and consciously directed life set my course onto a path of deep healing. I remain grateful for the challenges of ending old patterns, of leaning into being forgiving and open-hearted. It is often through overcoming personal inner difficulty that we grow to become our strongest and wisest self, able to serve the world in the best of ways. Paradoxically, those difficult dynamics, when worked with consciously, become a gift. They are the fire that burns away the clouded conditions that keep us from seeing our own inner truth. With this kind of consciousness we may launch into our best life.
Life as a koan - a thought that brought comfort and then clarity in many ways. Suddenly I want to consider everyone's life, and presence in my life, as a koan. Each life a paradox that I can meditate upon, to sit with in wonderment, in curiosity about the purpose, the meaning of it all. And in that wondering, in that spacious holding lightly for review, perhaps I will be gifted again and again with these little enlightments, with the release of reason, opening me to the greater gifts of intuitive insight and deep personal peace.