Home > Lessons for the Modern Man, Men and Spirituality > Love and Self-Love: Part 2

Love and Self-Love: Part 2

(Post-Epilogue: Today, November 30, I broke one of my special, probably most precious, Yixing teapots, one that I’ve had with me for years. Another loss, this one more permanent than misplaced reading glasses and a lot closer to my heart. Lesson? Another one; very hard this time? Really? Clearly I am in a fast-paced learning mode at this stage of my journey!)

Self-Love. Not a simple path. Practice Love; begin with self!

It is even difficult to go back to my last post and read my own words on this subject. How do I love self, the clumsy oaf who swept his pot from the counter in an over-exuberant flourish? But life hasn’t stopped and I must Love on!

My first step in working through the lesson today, the loss of another precious object, is to accept impermanence. It’s all just temporary, right? Let go. Yes, of course, grieve the loss. But within the grief is the built-in praise. I can certainly find gratitude for all the years of service the pot gave me. My memories of pouring tea from it, admiring the design, experiencing the beautiful color develop over the years of use are still with me to celebrate. This is another reminder of the cycle in everything; the pot began as dirt in a ditch in China; the dirt was harvested, hopefully with ceremony, thanksgiving and praise; then it was processed into clay, worked, hand-shaped, finished and fired; somehow it made it all the way from China to me safely; and now it returns to dust.

When I worked with micaceous clay in New Mexico with master potter, Felipe Ortega, we experienced the entire life-cycle of the clay. I made several small pots; and while my first attempts were nothing to take pictures of, they were special to me. One of the assignments, we later learned, was to sacrifice a pot to the Holy. We each broke one of our pots against a post as an offering, as a way of giving thanks for the clay and for our hands that shaped the clay, and the Holy who shaped us all. The shards remained in that spot for years afterward. And we each took a shard from that pile of rubble to grind down and incorporated into our next pot; the cycle was unbroken.

I can do this with a shard from my teapot. I can keep it going, giving, by recycling it in a personal and useful way. The object doesn’t go away, it only changes its shape. “Pots are fashioned from clay, but it’s the emptiness that makes a pot work.” – Taoteching, Ch. 11. The pot may be impermanent, but the clay is still there as is the emptiness!

As another step in the learning, can I turn the curse at my ill luck at breaking the pot into a blessing? This is another practice I learned in Bolad’s Kitchen with Martín Prechtel. Oh, yes, I did curse myself, my luck, my inattention, my carelessness, my mindlessness as I watched the pot tumble to the floor and become shards. Then I withdrew before my anger spilled over too far to hit others in the path of my negative energy, the antithesis of self-love. And I went inside for awhile. And as I write I am still processing, learning to do it through words coming from the inside rather than holding it all in where it churns and festers. Where are the blessings that come from this loss? In a sense I have already done some of this work, thanking the pot for its years of service. But what about me? Can I find a way to bless me through this lesson? This is where it gets really hard!

I am here, at the keyboard, writing words that will help me work through the curses that I can’t take back. I am letting go the anger, giving it to the compost heap where it can metabolize back into usefulness rather than metastasize within me. And I can recall the years with the pot and all the use it gave me and the care I gave it during those years; we took good care of each other for a good long time. And I can place the pot in a corner of my mind to remind me to come back, cycle back to the present moment. And I can know that the pot can help me pay attention to everything in the moment; to expand my awareness beyond a narrow focus and take in my environment, appreciating very thing around me and near and dear to me.

So, I bless myself for my deep thought, my appreciation for fine things, my attention to detail and my broad and extraordinary experiences that come together to inform and refine my approach to life, and the impermanence that threads through it All.

And with moist eyes I come back to Love, even self-love as I accept my blessings and learn a bit more about forgiveness.

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