• Adam Jogen Salzberg

Letter To a Student - The Love In Being Lost

Dear Alicia,

Thank you for sharing this richness of your practice and the dark places you’re feeling your way through. I feel honored whenever anyone shares their inner life with me.

I am experiencing the wish to have something helpful to say and simultaneously knowing that fundamentally you don't need help, whatever this word help means. Because embedded in the notion of ‘ I want to help this person or I need help ‘ is the belief that the current state should be changed, that it’s a mistaken presence in the universe. Sometimes the current state should be changed. Of course, sometimes help is helpful and needing or giving help is the most appropriate and honest outlook. Here I’m addressing how addiction to changing our state is one of the primary habits that keeps us from our depth. As Rilke said, we face away from ourselves perpetually, always with an eye towards the future, and thus we are impoverished of being. In Wisdom , you know your current state is like a waking dream and is the ideal gate to further depth within this dream-like waking. Easy to say, hard to put into practice. Because it’s hard to put into practice, we both do and don’t need help. I ask for a lot of help!

You’re helping me by helping me sort out my thoughts on these matters of helping. Spiritual practice is nuanced, the certainties of Is and Is Not mislead us, they cast duality’s spell, conjuring an image of a binary world where things and people and places are solid lumps of non-interactive matter. The truth of the matter is (ha!) that heart and world are in a beginningless partnership of co-creation, air-tight. If it is beginningless and air-tight how can we catch it in action and know that these words are true?


A mentor told me recently, after i shared a dream where i got lost and panicked and hurried to get unlost - " you need to get lost more, you're identifying with knowing how to proceed... " That was interesting. Hearing that, something in me agreed to allow a little more lostness. Lostness wants me to love it and not only worship clarity of purpose. I’m trying to practice loving what’s actually here and where I’m actually at. I like loving lostness because then i don’t have a place to stand where I look and see my life's unfolding in terms of right or wrong. Them i’m not lost or on track. But i’m Here.


It sounds to me that love, in its various guises, animates you a good deal of the time! When I hear how hard you are on yourself, I wonder what eyes you see yourself through and whether you can see those eyes. I had an insight awhile ago that’s been a trusted mirror - when there’s negativity in my assessment of people ( myself included!) i’m not seeing from the most expansive mind- the place that I stand has me seeing things inflexibly, as only right or wrong, good enough or falling short. In expansive mind it’s like this: “improvement is needed- yes, and…” “ Perfection is now - yes, and…"


I loved your children's story! It reminded me how precious and fragile curiosity is. I think that that with our life's pressing questions, most of the time we feel a compulsion to answer them. That’s what you do with a question, right? But an answered question is no longer a living question. What if questions aren’t there only to be answered, but can be appreciated as the articulation and practice of wonder, resolution not the point? It’s hard to convey with the written word, but feel and hear the difference between asking “ what should I do next? ” with an impatient demand for an answer and asking “ what should I do next? ” floating the question into silence, letting it’s energy create a charged receptivity, an invitation for the universe to respond, from whatever direction, in whatever language, in whatever way it will. The universe is responsive.


My last piece of shoddily veiled and unsolicited teaching - thank goodness you're touching into the underbelly of the soul! People who do so with consciousness bring back something vital, necessary and nourishing for us all. A Chan master said we should destroy the heavens. We know what this means and why this is a kind statement after we enter the underbelly and dance awake and intimate with our demons.

If you find your zoom fatigue lightens ( I get it!) , i'd be happy to talk pixel face to face.

Hugs and bows,

Jogen.

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