Thursday, February 11, 2010

Things Get Broken

Here are the 2 panels of a recent work. These paintings are definitely working for their keep; each has been posted separately and now here they are together. I guess I can't really say they are working for their keep as the real flesh and board paintings are on their way to New York right now. So no keeping.

Victoria has been treated to some well known Dharma teachers/visitors lately which is nice for this little, slightly off the track island. We saw Brad Warner in January and Reginald Ray several weeks ago and on Tuesday night we went to hear Susan Piver at the Shambhala Centre.

She was here talking about her new book, "The Wisdom of a Broken Heart". The broken heart she speaks of has to do with romantic love as you probably guessed. And while I listened to her talk I thought there are lots of things that can "break your heart". Illness can break your heart, the death of your child can break your heart, life can break your heart. There are many things that can break you open in this way, I suspect. She said that her book is really summed up by Pema Chodron when she says, "feel the feelings, drop the story".

And again this instruction can relate to all of life's circumstances but we are always challenged by the difficult ones, the ones that make us crazy and confused, the ones that make it hard to sit still. She reminded us that the story is all the add-ons we like to conjure up in our little mental wizard's bowl, the what ifs, and if onlys, we like to stir about.

She talked about the obsessiveness she experienced, how everything seemed to revolve around the loss of this loved one and the shame that accompanied it; how in her mind it confirmed her unworthiness. And she searched everywhere for either confirmation or denial of this, in the smallest acts of the day.

But Piver takes the Buddhist view on a broken heart. She sees it as an opportunity to grow and and work with life. She discovered that in our culture we are always wanting love, always trying to get love. All the relationship books are about finding love (and mostly aimed at women). She looked deeply into the eyes of this and found that wanting love in many ways is about wanting security, and comfort and protection. And she, interestingly, points out, that in the act of falling in love whole heartedly we actually give up control.

She talked about loving kindness and how she found that the path to finding love is to give it. This of course is an integral part to every buddhist practice, perhaps every practice of humanistic principles. Want to experience generosity, be generous, want to experience kindness, offer kindness.

She had a lovely genuine, grounded presence. She was funny and honest and gentle and her talk felt like a true offering. I suspect this book would be very helpful for anyone struggling with the challenge of a dissolving or dissolved relationship that is still tugging at the heart strings.


  1. yes, treat people like you would like to be treated is a human universal idea-- and yet so simply zen wise.

  2. How true that there are so many things that can break your heart - not just romantic love - but even life itself... As Susan Boyle sang: "life has killed the dream I dreamed" - and yet - it's seems good somehow that our fantasies and *ideas* about love and life are "broken" so that our True Heart can be broken *open* - as painful as that is...

  3. I love how she says "feel the feelings, drop the story".
    And I agree that there is growth and freedom in pain, even though we might not see it at the time.

    Beautiful work!

  4. "wanting love in many ways is about wanting security, and comfort and protection. And she, interestingly, points out, that in the act of falling in love whole heartedly we actually give up control." This really struck is in letting go into the mystery of love (any kind of love) that our hearts really open, expand and grow...beautiful post. Thank you.

  5. I really resonate with this post...."feel the feelings,drop the story" husband has cancer that recently spread to his lungs...everyone tells me to be strong for him...i understand that, but, I need to feel my true feelings, too and not pretend that i am some ways that does feel a tad bit selfish... The saying "its better to have love than lost than to have never loved at all" brings me comfort..."I know Love, therefore I am truly Blessed" is my mantra...

  6. Yes! to all the deeply thoughtful comments. And especially to you Coleen. What difficult times. Having done the cancer dance myself (although not the recurrence dance) I understand the complexity and ups and downs, the fear that goes with the territory.

    I learned that in the process sometimes we are strong and sometimes we are afraid and that there can be great depth in sharing our feelings. I remember when I was first diagnosed I just walked around the house crying sometimes. I simply said to people, it's okay, I just need to cry I suspect that by experiencing your true feelings, you will find the strength to share with your husband when he needs it. Many blessings to you at this difficult point in the journey.

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