I was driving home to Karme Choling a few weeks ago, while listening to National Public Radio (NPR).
The drive was short, too short for anything profound to happen. In the little bit of driving, I heard an interview with Lou Reed who had just passed on.
The interviewers asked him about his photography, which was much more conservative than his music. When asked if he thought his photos lacked the same power of his music, Lou explained the photos were a different form of expression. They were still as emotional as his rock music, if viewers allowed them to be.
“Ya gotta blow the roof off of your heart, and let the universe in,” he said. I was so blown away by this statement that I almost drove off the road. It was so beautiful. In that instant, I knew I needed to investigate his statement in my life.
A few days later, I had a conversation with a co-worker. It was a tough conversation, reaching into the hot furnace of vulnerability. Conversations here at Karme Choling often do. A lot of our talks are based around trust, and how there is lack of it.
At the end of the conversation, I wasn’t sure where we stood. We both felt pretty sensitive. I asked, “How do you feel right now?” At the same time, I asked myself the same question. To my surprise, it was so painful! Literally a dam burst open and tears poured out. It had been so long since I had paid attention to my own tender heart and all the things I had been going through. I sincerely asked myself how I was doing. I had no choice other than to release my emotions.
This exchange made me realize how rare it is to ask myself questions like this. How I feel often falls secondary to how can I survive this situation. In this instance, what I went through was the experiential feeling of the roof of my heart being ripped open. My teacher, Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, says we usually want to impress, but we need to manifest. At this point, I was simply a human being, emotional and vulnerable, and nothing else.
I started thinking and realized something a bit scary. The further along the path we go, the better we get at manipulating our environment. We are constantly manipulating things in order to get our way, get what we want, and fulfill our agendas. We enforce our ideas, while at the same time leaving little room for the ides of others. We hide things and put them in little hidden corners completely free from the view of not only the people around us, but ourselves as well. And mistakes? They are unacceptable, whether they are our own or those of others. Often, the idea of letting someone else make a mistake and learn from it is simply not an option.
The point is to not be so clever! If you open your heart to yourself, people will notice. At that moment of openness, you don’t have to do anything; people will come to you. You can communicate in so many ways you don’t even realize. All you need to do is celebrate your own wakefulness, and the rest will come along. The path of how you be and how you help will become self-evident. It’s all about trusting and touching into yourself and your feelings, and touching into the very moment it is happening. This is the primordial moment without beginning and without end. This is now.
We Have to Trust
Trust means we can be loving, kind and gentle to ourselves and others. We can work with the mind. When we allow our thoughts to slow down, not only does the mind relax, we relax. From this trust and relaxation we can feel each moment as it exists. There’s no better moment than this one.
We trust, we relax, and we feel what is happening right now. With this genuine feeling, we can separate truth from fiction. We can finally quit manipulating our world and pushing our agendas. When we drop this “me” plan, we see so much more. We can really experience the intensity of joy in the world and the painful sadness in the world we are constantly holding in our hearts. With confidence, we can exhale and let go.
Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche says, “It is so pleasurable and so painful at once. You are almost falling in love with the universe, with the general situation. At that point, there is no reference point to anyone or anything. You can simply be a lover without loving anybody in particular. It is just being in love, just appreciating your world.”
I believe this is the experience Lou Reed was talking about when he said, “Tear the roof off of our hearts.” This is our role in life, to rip apart the steel plated armor protecting our hearts and our entire lives. We do this act again and again. Feel the space, and be fine with it. Be genuine. Feel ourselves, just as we are at every moment. Breathe, relax and allow the universe to come in. Get rid of the roof. When we tear the roof off of our hearts, anything is possible. Eventually, we realize we are not separate from the universe. We have never have been separate from the universe.
Life is here waiting to be lived.
Author: Evan Silverman
Editor: Travis May