Shocking language can wake up sleeping giants. A month ago I spent Sunday afternoon in Woodinville with a friend and colleague who does business development. I hauled Shingyo’s artifacts (services, products, models, offerings, course descriptions) to her home. I unpacked them by spreading 20+ years of history across her dining room table. She listened while I shared stories, history, ideas and plans, all of which finally trailed off into worries and fears. I noticed how vulnerable and weak I felt at the end of sharing everything and most importantly so did she.
Several hours into the afternoon when my turn was complete she said, “Ok. Now I am going to take you to the wall. Are you up to that?” I knew that she meant NO HOLDS BARRED.
“YES,” I replied, knowing it was exactly what I needed. I had been feeling puny and scared again about not having enough clients, filled classes and work – the typical Entrepreneurial Terror that accompanies the ebbs and flows of self-employment.
She continued, “This is all about feelings of unworthiness, about a part of you that feels like she is not enough. And here is what I want to tell you and she slapped the wooden dining room table for emphasis: Kill That Cunt.”
She went on to describe how prepared I was and how much I had to offer praising the numerous models and programs that I had invented and taught over the years. “Its all here, Shelley. You have everything. And if there is a part of you that is holding out, holding you back, then I say Kill That Cunt.”
I gasped. I felt the blood draining from my face. Kill That Cunt seemed violent and my Buddhist training tells me to offer loving kindness, acceptance and non-violence to all my parts. Killing anything, inside or out, was sacrilege.
Although I definitely got her point, I felt shocked into a different manner of thinking and being for weeks afterwards. No one is really allowed to use that word, the “C” word, let alone another female who is herself a feminist and on a spiritual path. Holy smokes. I left reeling.
But it turned out to be just the shock that I needed by provoking my entire system of being. It generated many recitations of the conversation to other colleagues, friends and companions, most of whom became whitened and expressionless when hearing it. It had struck a nerve and stuck en dente, with teeth, against the wall of my consciousness.
Then yesterday morning as I reading THE WISE HEART by Jack Kornfield, the following paragraph leapt out:
Now we are talking about thought patterns that are as sticky as Brer Rabbit’s Tar Baby. We all know them from experience, when a fear or doubt or obsession just won’t go away. The thoughts may be unpleasant, but our mind gets in a groove and we don’t know what to do but stay there. Like the Tar Baby, the thought of letting go of our ex-lover becomes a form of thinking about him or her. Ignoring the thoughts or walking mindfully and breathing slowly may reduce them. If not, the Buddha recommends a final and rarely used last resort: “Such thoughts should be met with force, teeth clenched, tongue pressed against the roof of the mouth, determined to constrain, crush, and subdue these thoughts as if constraining a violent criminal. In this way does one become a master of thought and its courses. In this way one becomes free.”
As we can hear, these are not sweet “self-esteem” practices, looking in the mirror every morning and saying, “I am a loving person and the world will give me what I want.” The destructive habits of mind can be tenacious. There is an element of fierce determination and self-discipline needed to take on the realities of the suffering world.”
Immediately I thought, “This is Kill The Cunt!” I had never before encountered this notion in Buddhist practice.
In Hindu traditions the goddess Kali holds this energy. Kali, with her pendulous breasts, necklace of skulls and sword, fiercely cuts the heads off of dangerous illusions. Spiritual texts talk about rooms filled with so much blood that she wades through it as she severs and unmasks; it is called Kali’s Sacred Rage. She is fierce with reality and lives in the charnel grounds, the cremation grounds of change. It is significant to share that she carries a sword in her right hand, but on her outstretched left palm sits an egg. Rebirth. New life. Two halves of one whole.
I called my friend and colleague to read the paragraph to her. We talked for most of an hour, winding around the differences between us. How she leads with the fiery sword and I lead with kindness. About how, due to that meeting and my reaction to her statement, she is now looking at offering loving kindness to that part of her that wields the sword. Softening.
I shared that I had been busy contemplating how to cultivate more sword energy. More fire and heft.
It was a powerful conversation and ignited yet another level of contemplation about the roles of compassion and fierceness. We agreed that we had much to learn from each other. She followed up by sending the following poem by Hafiz.
Tired of Speaking Sweetly by Hafiz
Love wants to reach out and manhandle us,
Break all our teacup talk of God.
If you had the courage and
Could give the Beloved His choice, some nights,
He would just drag you around the room
By your hair,
Ripping from your grip all those toys in the world
That bring you no joy.
Love sometimes get tired of speaking sweetly
And wants to rip to shreds
All your erroneous notions of truth
That make you fight within yourself, dear one,
And with others,
Causing the world to weep
On too many fine days.
God wants to manhandle us,
Lock us inside of a tiny room with Himself
And practice His dropkick.
The Beloved sometimes wants
To do us a great favor:
Hold us upside down
And shake all the nonsense out.
But when we hear
He is in such a “playful drunken mood”
Most everyone I know
Quickly packs their bags and hightails it
Out of town.
Shingyo Shelley offers one-on-one sessions, workshops and courses such as Designing My Practice: Practicing My Design, where work and life are mindfully crafted as a spiritual practice.The next Designing My Practice program begins in July, 2013. Email email@example.com or call 206.949.4286 for more information.
If you are ready to get real with your whole life and whole self, cruise the offerings on my site at http://www.shelleyglendenning.wordpress.com, or find me on LinkedIn or Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/shelley.glendenning
Come, come whoever you are, come and join me. I am a great teacher and guide because I am still learning…every single day.