– Heartwood Path Waypoint 1.91 –
The Power Of Both Eros/Thanatos And Awareness/Equanimity
To progress into the far reaches of the Heartwood Path, the eartHeart takes a difficult and often terrifying step: the abandonment of the sense of a separate self. This step is difficult because the Ego repels one back to a lower level or tricks one into accepting false symbols of transcendence rather than actual unity. These ultimately unsatisfying stand-ins for true unitive experience include money, fame, power, profane sex, titles, drugs, and food. These enticing yet unrewarding tokens of non-dual awareness can be overcome through the power of both Eros and Thanatos.
Eros can be thought of as that positive, ontological hunger or force that draws a person toward non-duality. This force can lead one to a higher developmental stage.
Thanatos—death anxiety—does its part in the drive towards a higher developmental stage by encouraging the person not to commit physical suicide but to accept the death of the separate sense of self. One reason why so many people in Western society strive to control Nature—including the female—is the fear of becoming separate and the view that Nature is the source of infirmity, finitude, and death.
Talk of the erotic and of death is disconcerting to some, a discomfort that is less than helpful in one’s quest to grow, to be happy, and to live in a healthy environment. If such talk makes you squirm, I encourage you to get over it eventually; but for now, let us get right to the topic of the other key set of wings for one’s practice down the Heartwood Path (which has a point of completion, much as house-building has a completion) and thereafter (which means the work of growing as a person using the Heartwood Path goes on after you finish these series of courses, much as houses are always being remodeled and used in various ways far after they are built initially).
These wings of practice are vital tools for the worthwhile task of acknowledging, experiencing, and bearing reality--a primary goal of most worthy spiritual paths. I am speaking of awareness (seeing clearly) and equanimity (calm abiding). Care exists in the tension between these two poles of our practice. On one pole there is awareness, which has to do with clear seeing, the mind, wisdom, the no-self, seeing through the self, insight, acknowledging reality, and reliance on the Seer. On the other pole, there is equanimity which has to do with calm abiding, the heart, compassion, the self, building up the self, bearing up to reality, and relying on the Mother. The Heartwood Path––the practice laid out in this course–– spans between both of these poles, as any good psychotherapy would.
For those of us who travel the Heartwood Path, as you are doing in a summary and additive way by reading this course, the mother is not just your maternal biological parent. Along with this mother, we will be describing the transformative role of both significant feminine partners (discussed in detail in The Heartwood Path for Couples course) and the Mother Earth (described in the pages that follow). By spanning both poles--awareness and equanimity--we will make sure that we are not just relying on the mind but also on the heart.
My jobs working with people with special needs (mental illness and developmental disability), my comforting and consistent paternal grandmother, my loving mother, my time at the breast of Nature, and the significant female partners I have had in my life have shown me the value of the dual awareness/equanimity approach to personal growth. These relationships with the feminine have demonstrated to me clearly that, in personal transformation, the application of both mind and heart, working in tandem, is an important requirement. Anyone being cared for will do best when they are both . . .
— informed by awareness, which we will show to mean way more than seeing clearly or being book smart (we will, by the way, show that the world is awareness and that there is, therefore, no sense in quibbling over whether guidance from Nature comes from non-human natural sources or from the human mind), and when they are
— assured by equanimity, which comes, not from clear seeing or the libraries of schools and towns, but from the compassionate handshake of therapists, the laps of grandmothers, and the lips of lovers.
As you work toward your goal of finding happiness or improving environmental quality or attaining a state of non-duality (described next) you can apply your own individual mind and heart to the task of furthering your own growth. To this end, your mind does a fair enough job on its own but your heart does not do this work so well alone. A good way to your own heart is through the heart of another.
Here we come to a crucial lesson, and it has to do with non-duality. This lesson is illustrated by the falseness the duality inherent in my own (and probably most person’s) choices. When it comes to choosing between clearness of awareness (seeing clearly) and equanimity (acts of compassion and nurturing), for example, I would like to have both but if I had to chose one, I would in a knee jerk reaction pick equanimity any day.
This choice is an illustration of both the allure and the falseness of duality. Compassion, and any of the other warm aspects of equanimity, tends to keep the person seeing clearly longer because it adds a welcome sense of calm abiding. It is, therefore, alluring to pick compassion but doing so is a false choice for two highly instructive reasons:
First. The loving embrace of the Mother, the Earth, the therapist, the grandmother or the lover is only knowable through awareness.
Second. As we will prove in certain clearly marked activities throughout this book, the appropriate arms of the guru or therapist, the lap of the loving grandmother, the guidance of the Earth, and the lip of the lover are not really warm things at all. They, like all other so-called things, are arisings of awareness itself. This is one of the biggest lessons in life and, in a smaller sense, it is instructive here because soon in this book you will likely encounter a quandary—am I guided by non-human natural objects (beings) or am I guided by my own brain? Like my quick desire to choose equanimity over clear seeing, such either/or questions are misleading because they stem from duality. They are answered by the non-dual reality that such things as attractions in nature are not physical objects (beings) but are arisings in the oneness of awareness itself and so, that being the case, why make the distinction? The guidance you will receive in doing the activities of this course does not come solely from a natural being nor solely from your own mind. It is not one nor the other. It is all one and that one is awareness.
If this is not a day when you prefer to spend time in nature without an agenda, do the following activity:
Covering The Poles Of Transformation
For this activity, answer the following questions:
Write something down even if you are dissatisfied with your ability to answer such a question. It will be interesting to compare your answer now to your answer after taking this course. To write out your answers, create a table like the one below in your journal:
Natural Systems Reflection Process
For best results, write down your impressions of this activity in your journal using as many of the following components as you see fit, afterwards, share your interpretations with others.
The Heartwood Path Exchange:
Swap Your Ideas, Impressions, Photos, And News With Others
Your input is vital. Enjoy sharing!
Heartwood Path Axioms: