A few months ago I read about the house of a thousand demons. It’s a practice held in a Buddhist monastery wherein the initiates must pass through the house of a thousand demons – an interior, circular room with only one doorway and no windows. It’s total darkness inside. The initiates, in order to complete their training and become ‘enlightened’, must pass through the house of a thousand demons…..alone.
This is not easy. That’s because the room, in use for hundreds of years, is specially energized to manifest the initiate’s worst fears, his darkest demons. His demons appear in the room before his very eyes. The initiate must walk around the room, walking in circles in total darkness, facing his demons.
The individual is given 2 sets of instructions:
- The initiate is to remember that nothing he encounters in the room is real. The demons are the creations of the initiate’s own mind. If he forgets that the demons are not real he will be overcome by them.
- No matter how intense his fear is, no matter how terrified he becomes, he must keep moving. If he stops moving he dies. And many lifeless bodies of initiates who stopped moving have been dragged out of that room over the centuries
This journey through the shadowy wilderness of ‘homelessness’ has been a continuous sequence of shadow, loss, pain, gain, and triumphant revelation. And in spite of how heavy a cross it’s been there are moments punctuated by exceptional distress, exclamation marks in a maddening story of ultimate redemption. This whole journey has been a trip though my own personal house of a thousand demons and these punctuating experiences, like the one I’m about to describe below, I imagine are like the moments the demons appear.
I mentioned in the previous post that I would be sharing what I did during a moment of personal crisis, the kind that can incapacitate you by overwhelming your judgment, reason, and awareness with an avalanche of emotions. These are the moments that feel like the gods are shitting on your funeral. Not content with only your demise they demand a greater price of almost comedic misfortune and humiliation. Why?
In my response to crisis I did not follow a formula; I flowed with the moment and, when present and aware, asked a better question. Otherwise, I unconsciously engaged a way of approaching a moment, moment by moment, where alterations of intention and expression follow one another in a sequence that in hindsight would seem to be a result of some overriding, hidden guidance working for my growth and evolution. And on some level I believe that to be the case though the exact nature or meaning of it I don’t claim to know.
I truly believe it will benefit you in some way whether you apply or even find any relevance in what I share or not. At the very least, it will point you to the idea that within you, as you, dwells the Power, the same Power that births and sustains all of life and does wondrous things when you call upon It in times of need and crisis. It might whisper a question, a directive, give instruction and warning, or frazzle your senses in ways that heighten them and their metaphysical counterparts so that you might sense what otherwise cannot be sensed in order that you take action you might not take otherwise.
I greatly desire that we all experience ourselves, our faith, our spiritual life, in mystical ways singular and unique to each and every one of us.
Anyway, enough, let’s get on with it.
Personal Crisis: Thief!
When you are on the edge of your life’s capacity to withstand adversity and a whopper of a crisis is suddenly served to you – what do you do? How do you respond? Do you fall apart? Keep it together? Do you resist or submit? There is no right or wrong. What do you do?
Hint: you’ll never know unless and until you go through the experience.
When I was set to leave Redding, CA on November 18th for the Oregon Coast, hoping to get ahead of a fast-approaching snowstorm, someone stole my leather shoulder bag that holds my laptop, external backup drives, and work stuff. I had taken the bag into work on the night of the 17th, my last night working for the survey company, to show photos of my sons to some of the staff. I didn’t know it was stolen until much later, though.
I left work at 10pm and headed to my usual parking spot to sleep for the night. That’s when I realized I didn’t have my bag. I had left it at work. No big deal, I thought, I’ll stop by and pick up the bag tomorrow when they open at 9am and then I’ll head out for Oregon right after.
The short of it is that when I got to work my bag was nowhere to be found. It was clear that it was not in the building after a thorough search for over an hour by me and several staff.
You’ve got to be kidding me! This whole time living in my car in Redding nothing was ever stolen from me and now that I’m ready to leave to be near my sons I have this happen???
At first it all felt surreal so that I could not orient myself to the event and the ensuing reality. I felt lost, adrift, and very alone. Once the reality set in shock and anger followed, then complete dread. I hung around the worksite for hours, pacing and texting in the parking lot. It was a sunny morning and warm in Redding. But the day for me was draped in heavy blackness. All of my work and recorded memories were swiped from my world.
A well-meaning co-worker, whom I never spoke to before but whom I had seen on occasion, and who was living in his vehicle like I was, was outside smoking a cigarette. He noticed me in my state and inquired what was going on. I told him what happened and how it disrupted my plan to leave for Oregon. He advised me to forget about the bag and leave for Oregon, that being with my children was more important. He said the outcome will be the same no matter what.
I said nothing. I was not going to leave California without either retrieving my bag or exhausting every possibility available to me in my effort to retrieve it. The laptop holds my family photos, writings, and work-related stuff. I could not accept the fact that it was gone and that I had to move on. I found no peace in that. I felt too attached.
I walked away from him to be alone with my thoughts and prayers. I sat on a tree stump and closed my eyes. The sun’s light and warmth on my face felt like a caress well-timed to support and comfort. But I felt no comfort. I felt no support. Despondent, I got up from the tree stump to sit inside my car. I closed the door to the day outside, to the light and warmth it offered, and lay back into a full recline in the driver’s seat. I closed my eyes again, this time, unbeknownst to me, to enter the darkness within, to the house of a thousand demons.
This was not my desire nor my intention. This is part of the journey.
At once I felt pangs of deepest remorse and regret as I reviewed the details of the previous night when the bag was stolen. I questioned my motive for bringing the bag in the first place, finding in it not much depth but a shallow accounting of what is gain.
I wanted to show a couple of supervisors the photos of my boys. And for what?? To show off?? To boast in the beauty of my sons and a father’s pride?? To hear the ‘oohs and ahhs’ of people whose opinion I care nothing for and yet I bask in their expressions of approval??
And because of what I did with that pride I now was unable to cross the border of my long-held desire to be with Solomon and Salvador. I was a traveler with no home to go back to and without clearance to go any further.
Memories streamed furiously through my mind, and grieving flooded my soul, as I reviewed my choices in life that brought me to this point right now. Choices made, actions taken and not taken, trusts betrayed, expectations not met, potential unfulfilled, pleasures pursued imprudently. I traced back in my life the trails and patterns of choices that mapped out a course beset with fear and its twin, failure. With the tears that fell from my eyes also fell away all pretense and pride. I was naked, exposed. I felt frustrated, broken and worthless. I wept, and all I could do was grieve. These bitter tears burned like no other. I felt loathsome to myself.
It was not as simple as losing a bag or my laptop now. My sense of loss and grief extended to all that I did and didn’t do in life that brought me to such a precarious point where the loss of one thing could feel like the loss of everything. My grief extended to my feeling that I failed everyone – my sons, my parents, my brothers, friends….everybody.
Why have I been so vision-less with my life?? What have I lived for?? What purpose has my life served??? Why was I so wasteful with my blessings and opportunities???
I asked a thousand why’s and got no answers. But I wasn’t looking for the answers. I was bleeding out….and still moving.
I cried and heaved until my bones ached with shame and sorrow. At last, feeling crushed and ground to powder by the unforgiving weight of loss and remorse, I prayed…….to Spirit………..to let me die.
I prayed for death as relief from this pain, pleading and screaming to be rid of and released from a life that felt engulfed by it.
Let me die, please!
Please let me die!
Then, from the silence, a reminder to breathe….
Silence again……now, only silence.
No memories now. No grieving. No thoughts at all. It was as if all that I had experienced in life and held in memory had been wrung from my soul.
I don’t know how long this silence lasted. Time was meaningless at this point. I didn’t even have a sense of where I was as my eyes had been closed during this entire immersion into the darkness. If I had to guess I’d say 10, 15 minutes, maybe. But, really, I have no idea. That silence afforded me the space of stillness of mind, and in that stillness I felt like nothing more than a mere channel of breath.
Then, the silent void gave way to a feeling of acceptance. Not acceptance of anything in particular. Just acceptance and only that. Acceptance of all things as they were? Acceptance of the loss, the pain, the past and the present? As a thought it was vague, and yet I had the feeling somehow that was very clear at the same time. Vague because nothing specific came to mind to accept, and yet there was this clear energy of resolution thru acceptance that entered my sphere.
Accept all things.
Then, in the stillness I spoke a prayer into this silence, in a quiet whisper of mind. I stay connected through prayer and contemplation. They keep me centered, which is a fancy way of saying they keep me from falling apart. Anyway, I prayed, I reconnected, I rejoined Spirit, my Spirit, through prayer. Prayer, utterance – confirmation thru communication that life and consciousness are present…..and still moving.
My prayer was a simple question….more of a plea than a question.
Spirit, how do I make the best of this situation??? Please show me!
Rejoin your Self.
Silence again. But now, the silence remained.
I opened my eyes and looked up at the car ceiling. It was blurred by the wall of water that pooled in my eyes. I blinked my eyes hard, squeezing the last drops of tears from them.
I sat up in my seat. Then I spoke again, this time to myself….
Ok, I’ll go back to work then. There’s nothing I can do about what’s been lost except start over from scratch. And I’ll make it work. Let’s work.
The first thing I did was text some individuals who are ‘prayer warriors’ of faith, who practice and believe in the ability to bless and manifest through prayer. I texted friends around the country asking for prayers.
After sending the requests for prayer, I started the car and headed to the store to buy another appointment book (mine was stolen with the bag) to go out and start prospecting for new business. As I drove I thought only the task at hand to help me get to my next step. I got what I needed and then went prospecting small businesses on foot.
I had 2 choices that were clear to me then and there in the car (tomb?) – do something or do nothing. Live or die (and I did both).
I chose to do something. I chose to sit up, to get up and get started, to show up, to keep moving.
And that has made all the difference.
Your healing voyage is a solo journey that only you can take for yourself. No one else can do it for you. No one else has ever done it for you.
Yet, others have done it….for themselves. And in doing so successfully they made it possible for you to do it and overcome also.
Only you can feel your flow, your rhythm….you just won’t really know it until you know it.
Remember…..don’t run or hide from your fears and your pain. Run to them! Embrace them and hold them close to you. Feel all of their poison and their lies. Feel them and reflect on what the fear and suffering, which you create, agree to and control, have done to keep you back in life, to limit your self-expression, your joy, how they have colored your life, personality, character and choices.
Remember….your fears, your demons, your circumstances, your failures, your patterns of failure, are not real, they are not independent of you. They are creations of your own mind. You must reclaim mastery over the domain of your mind, your soul, your life.
Remember…..no matter how dark, how frightening, how terrifying, and how real it all feels, you must keep moving. Do not stop moving. Keep moving no matter what.
Remember…..ask better questions and you will get better answers, or at least you will expose yourself to better possibilities and opportunities.
Remember….in times of personal crisis and anguish these are 4 keys to help you in your transformation and redemption:
- breathe free
- accept all things
- rejoin your Self
- show up
If you are blessed by reading Healing Voyage then share the blessing!
Share it with as many souls as you can.
Why keep it to yourself?