David Singleton

David Singleton's Diary

Tuesday 19 April 2022

Within Without

My daughter, Iona, runs a monthly free creative workshop and meditation within her online platform, Within Without.
I joined the session last week.
It began with a meditation (at this point I should perhaps confess that I find it close to impossible to calm the whirling dervish which is my mind). But I tried. And failed.
The meditation ended with the Buddhist metta prayer - “May all beings everywhere be at peace. May they be free”.
Iona then read the poem “The Guest House” by Rumi:
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
The point of this month’s exercise was to “let go of our inner critic”. We were all then invited to get a piece of paper and write our thoughts continuously without censorship.
Fortunately, there was no suggestion that we should share the questionable rubbish that we wrote.
Unfortunately, I have my piece of paper sitting beside me now.
And I still find what I wrote disturbing. Thoughts that you would rather not have – and would perhaps normally self-censor.
So, the first things I wrote were the last thoughts from the meditation:
“May everyone be at peace
May everyone be free”
And then the thought from the poem:
“The dark thought. Invite them in.”
And finally, the dodgy bit, as instructed, I let my mind wander (coloured I am sure by recent shocking events in Ukraine) and invited the dark thought in:
“Are both the above possible? If everyone is truly free, unshackled, unbound by economic fairness or historic impositions, can they be at peace?
Does true freedom not create competition, and a world not at peace?
This is the dark thought that I greet at the door: is struggle maybe the natural state?
Is peace the glorious interlude between those periods of struggle?
Is freedom a natural state?
Do we even wish to be free?
What does it mean to embrace these thoughts and welcome them in?
What is the natural human state?
Are we naturally selfish?"
Hopefully, some of the other attendees wrote some happy thoughts to keep the world in balance!
No earth shattering insights. But an interesting exercise. More excitements next month. All are welcome, I am sure.