I was speaking with a friend who had suddenly lost someone very close to him. His heart was broken wide open. He felt raw, exposed, unprotected, vulnerable, devoid of answers, unable to comprehend the mysteries of birth and death and sudden loss, unable to comfort himself with clichés. Why do loved ones disappear overnight? Why does such beauty seem to vanish so quickly? Why is there such pain, and why is there such grace?
In search of answers, he had gone round the circuit of contemporary nondual teachers, each of whom gave him a lecture about nonduality and what does or doesn’t lie ‘beyond’. One lectured about reincarnation, another about the experienceless experience of deep dreamless sleep, another about the soul’s journey after death, another about the pure perfection of pure uncontaminated consciousness, and another simply laughed at his questions and made him feel like an unenlightened fool. None of the answers spoke to his broken heart.
Who would meet him in the midst of this raging fire? Who would validate his pain, and the loss of his dreams? Who would, just for one moment, stop lecturing at him, stop telling him what they knew or believed to be true, and simply meet him as he was? Who would stop hiding behind their role as ‘nondual expert’, and allow their heart to break with him, just for one moment? Who was willing to be that unprotected, that vulnerable, that open to life and the loss of the image?
Friends, are we ready to stop pretending that we have the answers? Are we ready to end our ceaseless regurgitation of nondual and Advaita clichés (“there is no me”, “nobody dies”, “everything is perfect”, “there is only Oneness”). Isn’t it time for us to wake up from this dream of nonduality, to let go of these final crutches of ours, these last barriers to the raw, fragile, precious truth of existence… and truly meet the one in front of us?
For it is our sons, our daughters, our mothers and fathers and husbands and wives and beloved friends who have just dropped dead. We are only ever meeting ourselves, and our hearts break together. No movement towards answers is necessary. No second-hand formulas about reincarnation, karma, soul journeys and the existence or non-existence of the afterlife will hold themselves up here. No teachers, no students, no personal specialness at all, will ever survive this furnace of intimacy.
The broken heart requires no lectures.
Let us meet, now.