“Perhaps the terrible is basically the helpless that wants help from us.”
Today I stumbled upon this quote from Rainer Maria Rilke, and it has caused a lot of Dadaistic thoughts in me.
Not only that I fully agree with this statement, no, it also reminds me of a practice called Chöd, which was very common among the shamanic Tibetan healers. Chöd is the confrontation with our demons and is based on the insight that we nourish everything we fight. If we instead deal with it, accept it for what it is, it can become an ally.
Since we have no time today (or no one has taught us how to take it), we do not do a lot of stuff until the end. We do not feel finished, we do not think over. Many of our inner movements are noticed only briefly and then buried deep under the noise of the outside world. The Chöd (pronounced “Tschöd”) is about not being distracted from the outside, but looking at all the inside suspected demons, to feel, and to internalize them, rather than rejecting them as something bad.
As Carl Gustav Jung already said;
“How am I supposed to be whole if I’m not allowed to outlive my shadow?”
And no, he did not mean that it’s okay to rape a child. He meant that no one has sat down with the one who will disgrace children in the future to clarify his inner demons with him. If this had happened, he would understand his wounds more holistically and not pass on the (most likely self-inflicted) trauma to the next generation. But there’s no time for that — we have to work, not feel or think. It does not matter to the system whether we are doing well — as long as we are able to work.
And otherwise there are thousands of pills that stifle any symptoms without healing the initial wound, the root of the problem. The practice of Chöd is based on the fact that we do not get sick when our mind is healthy, so the healing that comes with this technique refers to the mental and emotional levels.
I have been struggling with severe depression for a very long time in my life. I did not want to be here, in this terribly cold world, surrounded by people who are lost in themselves and through their suffering project even more tremendous suffering out into the world. It took me many years to learn how to deal with these feelings, but they still were not healed, for even psychotherapy misunderstands the true faculties of the mind, as it is based on a differentiating instead of a holistic view of human existence.
When, with the book by Tsultrim Allione, “Feeding your Demons”, the modern variant of the Chöd fell into my hands, I recognized the error in all past self-healing attempts; I always wanted to push the darkness away, make it invisible — I fought it with all possible means, which made it stronger with each battle. It took a great deal of courage to apply the technique described in this book, partly because I did not really believe in its success.
So I sat down, in front of me a second pillow on which the demon should sit down. Slowly, I dug in, breathing in and out, telling the demon of nagging uncertainty, self-criticism, and negative thought patterns to please show itself as feeling.
Cold ran down my back, my skin started to feel slimy. I felt gray and slippery and totally unlovable. Then I asked the demon to sit down on the empty cushion opposite me, so that I could not only feel, but also see it.
My God, was he ugly!
Thousands of scars from past struggles pervaded his slimy skin, furrows and warts were everywhere, where the scars were not enough. He was panting, barely able to breathe, and his eyes were so sad — exhausted, tired, yet so infinitely angry was the expression that lay in his gaze. Following my instructions, I asked the demon, “What do you want from me?” He replied, “I want to see you suffer for the rest of your life, I will destroy you,
drown you slowly in my slime, and inflict on you as deep wounds as you have done to me!”
I was shocked deeply by his malice, but still following my guidance, I asked: “What do you need from me?” Then this mountain of mucus fell down sobbing, and whispered, trembling like aspen leaf, very softly: “Love me, even if I’m ugly, love me, even if I’m slimy and spiteful and full of scars and old wounds, hold me in your arms when I scream, because my screams are cries for help. They only sound very brutal, because I had to become more and more demanding to make myself heard. Please, please, love me, me, which I represent all the sides of you that you do not like as much as others — the uncertain side, the anxious side, the sad side, the angry side, they all have their place in you! Every emotion is good if you can channel it, but you can only do that if you understand it, if you have dealt with it. So, please, please, love me, and please, please, do not fight me anymore — I’m a part of you, you’ve been taught to rate everything, to judge, because it was done to you, too — but we all contain light and shadow: it is the balance of both which makes us, as creators of our own reality, become true.”
I cried for hours afterwards, and after a few repetitions of the ritual, the ugly monster turned into a beautiful little girl. At some point I realized that she is my inner child — she is my ally now.
Everyone has access to the practice of Chöd, but no one has to commit to it — for me this disclosure is about showing other ways of healing (ergo wholeness) for which no outside master is needed. It’s all inside of us — we just need a few signposts and the rest will be done by itself.
I want to close this Dadaistic thought excursion with another quote from C. G. Jung:
“Enlightenment is not about imagining figures of light, but about illuminating the darkness.”