What tears your clothes off? What leaves you gasping and friendless? What consumes and erases your finest raiment ... of belief or hope or religion or habit? What leaves you naked-er than "naked?" There's the "bad" stuff, sure, but let's not forget the "good" stuff that can have precisely the same effect.
Today I had a note from a very old friend, Jonathan. On Saturday, with his wife in Paris despairing that she could not be present, Jonathan sat with his 14-year-old Belgian Shepherd, Christine, as the vet put her to sleep. Christine had liver cancer.
... The vet came to the house and the process was at least peaceful and painless, for her, which of course is the important thing. She was my best and truest friend.
... C. was the 4th dog we've had in 34 years. Each time the end is harder. The hard truth is that if you live with dogs it's part of The Deal. Happiness and wisdom have a price. Sure. To which I reply with a raging string of expletives.
Consolation and explication can suck a fucking egg in such circumstances. There is nothing but what is ... a naked yowling. All the spiritual gurus and texts and fortune-cookie-nostrums from time immemorial can walk into a wood-chipper. This ... is ... naked! This...is...true! This...is...hell!
There is no place to stand and yet here I stand. There's a crack in the universe ... that's how the light gets in. And that consolation too has less than zero use. Fuck that! This ... is ... this! N-a-k-e-d. Painful. Tear-stained.
No one can distance themselves from that which refuses to be distant. And yet there is the longing to be distant and at peace. What hard times, naked times, point out is that distance may make the heart grown fonder, but that same distance is the cause of incalculable, incurable anguish.
In so-called spiritual endeavor, a lot of emphasis (subtle and not so subtle) is placed on the "bad" stuff. No one, for example, ever became a Buddhist because they were so damned happy. So initially, spiritual endeavor is seen as a means of relief, release and escape... a belief system that points towards more blissful ground. A lot of adherents live their whole lives in this sort of relief mode ... and miss the point. They can tell that they have missed the point when the "naked" moments arrive uninvited.
And those naked moments are crucial to an honest spiritual endeavor. Crucial.
There are the "good" naked moments as well. I supposed everyone has a fave, but maybe it's an orgasm or maybe just a kiss or maybe a sunset over the ocean or some loving action or a piece of music ... and the world falls apart. It is beyond delicious. It is utter. It is ... to die for.
Weeping or smiling, these times when nothing can be added, when no hand-hold is available, when words and wisdom evaporate, when God and Buddha can go suck an egg ... these are times to cherish and investigate. What is this that infuses everything, from hair follicle to most distant galaxy ... that is as sure as salt and snickers at imaginative descriptions and fawning rhetoric? Really, what is it?
Weeping or smiling, but naked beyond "naked," what is this?