Daily Wisdom / Pema Chödrön

The Journey Downward

Book coverSpiritual awakening is frequently described as a journey to the top of a mountain. In the process of discovering bodhichitta [the awakened heart], the journey goes down, not up. It’s as if the mountain pointed toward the center of the earth instead of reaching into the sky. Instead of transcending the suffering of all creatures, we move toward the turbulence and doubt. We explore the reality and unpredictability of insecurity and pain, and we try not to push it away. If it takes years, if it takes lifetimes, we let it be as it is. At our own pace, without speed or aggression, we move down and down and down. With us move millions of others, our companions in awakening from fear. At the bottom we discover water, the healing water of bodhichitta. Right down there in the thick of things, we discover the love that will not die.

From When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times by Pema Chödrön, pages 91-92

3 thoughts on “The Journey Downward

  1. In this quote from Pema, I was amazed at how familiar her words felt to me. 
         Over the years, I’ve had several dreams and visions of these concepts — the spiritual journeys up the mountain, down the mountain, into the valley, crossing the valley, the river, and the abyss. In the last year or so, these have coalesced — showing me that each is a part of my whole journey … a level of experience and awareness which is real and valuable in and of itself, but oh so much more when seen and lived as an aspect of the whole. The different parts of our journey are all one — just as We are One. Namaste, Dear Ones. <3

  2. I went through a process of enlightenment which was certainly the powerful movement from the root up and out into the skies – lasting over several months with a tremendous impact of heart opening and transformation.

    I thought that was it. Then, 7 years later, another process opened – what I recognize as the journey down. Existence itself incarnating to increasing degrees as a function of the amount of surrender and emptiness.

    Now, it seems both movements occur according to need, and behind around that central column of up and down are these still states of awareness of awareness – of presence.

    Yet the one movement which truly has gone beyond experience (for me) has been the movement down – of existence from an infinite source.

    Out of this there seems to rise a blend with the existence of the planet and of matter.

    Is there a difference with the initiations of up and down according to the male-female polarity?

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