Rev. angel Kyodo williams | Beyond idiot compassion

Rev. angel: I struggle with the contradiction of “being in the world and not of it.” I was living alone in upstate New York when I had an extended period of awakening—or an extended glimpse into the nature of things. Because I didn’t have a job or any of the other distractions that might keep one from reveling in that space, I was able to abide in it for a long time and see life in a profoundly different way.

But as I came back into contact with other human beings, I felt myself distancing myself from them. I didn’t want their energy, their stuff, their messiness, to get on me. I was disgusted actually. My eyes were wide open to the amount of suffering we create for ourselves, and I couldn’t understand how everyone didn’t see it. Why did they keep doing it to themselves?  What was wrong with them? I was viscerally rejecting the human drama, so I was living outside of relationship with humanity.

The profundity of awakening has this shadow side. You see into the nature of all things, but then you have to fight your way back into relationship with the nature of all things. And as soon as you do, you’re not going to stay clean. It’s one thing to see the nature of all things, but it takes a while to develop mastery in having a relationship with the nature of all things.

So that’s a huge and recurring space of contradiction for me. I know that as part of my humanity I need to be in intimate relationship with people, but I also want to maintain my window into the absolute—which makes me want to disengage from arguments, from struggle, from drama—which people can experience as haughtiness, or arrogance. There’s a balance I have to strive for—not only in my own life as lessons unfold, but for the benefit of others who look to me as a teacher.

I have to say it’s the absolute worst in intimate relationships. It’s a lot easier in relationships of positional power, where you have some role that permits you to express things in a certain way.  When you get to intimate relationships—with lovers, parents, children, and friends—it’s quite dicey, because it’s easy to hide behind your robes. It’s much more difficult to come out behind the robes and muck it out with everyone else.

The mountaintop experience—the seeing—is profound; it’s bliss. And it’s painful to feel as if it’s slipping away. But at the same time, life is where the action is. Trying to hold onto anything—including your experience of bliss and cosmic love—creates separation. You don’t have to hold on to anything that isn’t separate. So you have to be willing to let the profound love and bliss go in order to keep it—in order for it to be fully expressed and integrated.

The MOON:  So, when you get down from the mountaintop and you’re in a relationship, do you muck it up too?

Rev. angel:  If you’re being authentic in relationship, I think you have to. You’re either going to hold yourself above it, or you’re going to roll up your sleeves and get into it. In the big picture, you response to your partner doesn’t matter. But saying that to your partner doesn’t work for the relationship. When your partner says, “Listen, I want you to come with me to… wherever,” you can’t say, “Oh, that’s so relative.” Well, you can, but they’re going to call you on it.

One of the challenges for me is that I don’t particularly love being with people. I’ve had significant challenge in terms of being appropriately social. Hanging out with friends, going to parties, random socializing is no longer fun for me. Which is not to say that I don’t have lovely spontaneous connections with people; but I don’t seek them out and it’s not a major source of sustenance for me. But that is difficult for my partner, who quite naturally likes to visit friends and go to parties, and all the rest.

The MOON:  So what is your way out of that?



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