highly sensitive people : spiritual openness : the innocent rose within
A book excerpt from the Iconoclast Press online library.
In every one of us there is an angel dying. And yet all that is needed is a shift, an inversion, for at the furthest reaches of the ignorance which ensconces us, lie the antipodes of sorrow and ecstasy. We have dwelt in the former, dark end too long. Now we need only fight our way to the lost extreme, for these opposites are not actually opposed, but are the same thing, viewed from different directions.
Thus, when the walls and chains you are bound in finally show themselves plainly as webs of your own ignorant devising- that these arise from neither the Good, nor Evil, but from your own confusion- that is when you stop struggling to break away from false prisons, chuckle a bit at the lesson, genuflect for a moment or two, gape wildly with wonder at it all, and float calmly away without caring.
To explain this further is impossible, for explanation may comfort and console us, but it will never set us free, because freedom comes at the expense of understanding, of expectation, and of meaning. And to grow up in a world of explanation, and to long to be free, is to be born with shackles implanted inside of you, and to have to tear yourself apart into little pieces to get the manacles out. But what must be done must be done.
Such an overwhelming predominance of odd events happened to me that I began to take in the full and unbelievable drama, and thus to realize what was really going on- I was coming to the end of my karmic cycle, for reasons of which I cannot be certain, but to be sure the firmament had broken overhead, and the Spirit was surging forth, desperate to retake command of my being.
I had been spinning out there on the fabulous ride of the tumbling manifest; out on the whip of the disintegrating circumference, where everything comes and goes and no time to wait or you’ll miss a part of the show. But I could not stay out there forever. The gravity of my disparate parts began coalescing and cooling, and falling into the center from which there is no return, because there is no desire to return, because there is no desire, because nothing is missing.
One of the last of these fragments which I came to contain, was the long sought after flower of eternity- the Rose. The Rose is a particle from the Garden, brought down with mankind during the Fall. The Rose is the innocent, guileless, virginal aspect within all of us, though occasionally it is fully manifested in the life of certain individuals more than others.
There was no specific one person who became the Rose in my life, for I met a number of true Roses, generally in doe-like, gentle, and inwardly beautiful men or women, whose spirits express that part of the Garden.
I believe that we all harbour this aspect in a precarious and hidden spot within ourselves. I say ‘hidden’ because to bring it forth without thorns is to send a sheep out to the wolves. For the Rose belongs more to Heaven than to Earth, and it is this precious aspect of life which is guarded and rarely exposed to the marauders.
And so I have no doubt why I was drawn to these sorts of people outwardly, and to Rose Bay itself, so often. For I had to finally meet the Rose within myself, and I needed to see it manifested out in front of me before I had a clear image of what it was that lay buried within.
Thus the Rose became a part of my inward life because it was a part of my outward life, or perhaps it is the other way around. No matter. I can say this about almost everyone I have ever met- that they were either manifested aspects of myself, which lay dormant or clouded within me until I met them in true and living colour, in the outward show of my inward life; or they were living aspects of my inner being which lay dormant externally, until I became them inwardly and then expressed them outwardly. Either way, the outer depends on the inner which depends on the outer. Oneness is duality.
It is like this for all of us, though at times there are certain opportunities afforded which allow life to provide the entire make-up of our inner beings, brought to us on the canvas of the world, thus aiding us towards completion.
And so, just as I had to encounter outwardly, in another person, the Adversary within me, the Shadow, Hero, Guide, Mercurius, Anima, Wanderer, Madman, Alien, Christ, Coward, and Fool, so also I had to meet and assimilate the Rose.[i]
Which is to say, I had to become absolutely innocent, and absolutely inviolable.
And so that autumn as I was heading back down to Gomorrah from the pure and beneficient islands, and I could sense the oncoming doom of the weeds- those psychic fiends- along with the rest of the city’s effluvium, which in the past had so easily soaked in through my tender shell- having fallen asleep, I dreamt of a knight in black armour, and when I awoke I knew that the armour was for me to wear, and that the armour was …indifference. I knew then that I had been given the right to not care, to offend the offenders when necessary- to gird up my loins and let nobody through the portcullis who was not welcome in the castle. Which is to say, I had been given the order to be as cruel and unfeeling as ...God.
This was a turning point for me, because I had spent the last many years consciously breaking the walls down which separated me from others, from the spirit, and from the heavens. And now I was being told to build them back up again, so that I might walk back into Nineveh and survive the stoning. For, up until then, I had not been able to hold the inviolable space within myself because I had been rejecting the darkness required to defend it.
Now I had to become dark myself, and had to stop accepting people’s slothful, chaotic, or vulgar ways, simply because they had allowed to happen to themselves what was happening, and which they had neither intent nor energy to transform, and therefore by my not accepting them, they were forced to accept themselves without my acceptance- and that was a greater gift, and a harder lesson, than my unconditional, courteous acceptance would have given.
It was a decree and consciousness shift which, to this day, I am still struggling to perfect- and that is: how to stay open to the sublime event, and yet have the walls necessary to protect myself from the dis-eased hordes. It is an art unlike any other, but I see now that it is an essential element of the psyche if the virgin soul is to live amongst the rapists.
It had been my temperate disposition within the world’s malice and errors which had left me slow to wallow. I had been trapped and languid in the horrible pathos of the day. I had no composite tendencies, replete or inviting, which might have gathered me full into a fury. I had suffocated in the torpor of lies because I had no anger, not even for myself. And without anger there is no way out of this lovelessness. The only way out is to punch your way out, with a wrathful love as murderous as a mother has for her child in danger.
Love, violent love- that merciless, uncompromising mandate; you must love your own soul with an inviolable madness bent on nothing but freedom, or you will die softly in this world of courteous lies.
And if I now appear brave upon the turbulent waters, it is because I have found that I will no longer drown; because I learned to breathe below the surface of life, to sink into the mud like a frog in winter, and inhale osmotically through the pores of my numinous membrane. I learned how to die and be reborn every day, and so to remain strong in the battle. I learned how to retreat when I am out of bullets, and how to attack with a loaded gun; I learned how to yield and hide, burst forth and conquer, how to flex when the force would break me, and to hold firm when a hill can be won. I learned how to stop caring when things became futile, and how to care when life was prepared to grow in the sun.
I learned to forget the monstrosities called right or wrong. I learned not to search for happiness, truth, knowledge or meaning, but only for beauty and love. I learned not to fight the day, but to fly in the wind like an ethereal dove.
A dove, I learned to float over the earth like an indifferent dove. And I learned to fly towards nothing ...but beauty and love.
As such the Rose- the Rose with thorns- and many other characters came to exist within my consciousness, as parts of my fuller self, which was itself a part of a greater self, which was part of a greater self still perhaps, and so on, and by accumulating my completeness I came into the service of the Greater Vehicle, by which all my aspects will rise up with me at the end of time.
In the end we must all contain the whole world; we must take everyone in, give them shelter, devour them like food, digest their unique occurrence, and absorb them into ourselves. We must become everyone if we are to ever become ourselves. The walls of individuality must die, the shell of the scared chick must crack, and the little bird must screech, totter, fall, and fly, if ever it is to soar away one day, mate in another lost land with another infinity, build a nest, and bear another world of its own.
I dove and ascended, digested and expelled, grew and shrank, and gathered every pair of opposites into me before, like old Noah, I entered into the Ark of the Self. Then I rode out the deluge, landed back upon the stainless earth, and dispersed my seed across the insubstantial cosmos.
But to allow this to happen I had to keep letting go of the circumference, keep releasing my grip on the ride and allow the sense of falling and vertigo to overcome my frantic need to grab hold; to fall away from it all, over and over again, until the mass grew large enough to pull everything else into it, and that now warm and molten whole ...began to glow.
I had to toss my little self away and become nothing and all. I had to take others in, modify them, and be modified by them, assimilate them, and be assimilated by them, and then let them go.
I could not define myself if I was to engulf the Mystery. I could not deny life if I was to affirm the glory of being. I could not limit myself if I was to accept my eternal non-being. I could not contain only myself if I was to grow to contain the entire world.
If I had kept trying to be something that I no longer was, or kept looking for something that wasn’t there, I would have gone mad. I had come from the sky and had no desire to accept life on earth, but I had to accept it. I had to include myself in all of it, or remain on the outside forever.
You see, people who are born of the earth need, oddly enough, less from life than those born of the sky. Because to be born of the sky means to come here with nothing, and therefore, like a refugee, to need everything. To come here from the sky means to need to be drunk with ecstasy, inspiration, wine, poetry, wonder, love, nature, or God, because to be here with naught but the sober profanity of mankind, is to waste the reason you came. And to deny this reality is to deny your very self. To live here without being ever intoxicated with some form of existence or another, is to be barren of both the sky and the earth, which is a horrible vacancy to endure, for that is all that is left- to endure. And so you have to learn either how to die, or how to live. Or both.
I found that to exist within all contradictions, is to learn to exist beyond them.
I realized this necessity because I had been rejecting all of life, but not in the way that a man rejects something- by knowing it is wrong for him, saying ‘no, thank-you’, and moving on towards what he truly desires. No, I had been rejecting the world like a spoiled child, throwing away the toys I had been given and then asking for more, and then throwing these away and so on. I had to learn to accept life and understand that it is a gift, and that one of the gifts is the right to reject the gifts, but only if it is done like a man who looks to heaven, thanks the giver, and yet says he is better off without them. Only then is rejection a form of acceptance, and the contradiction, which destroys life, is finished for good.
[i] For the reader’s own interest, about other understandings on The Rose, I refer them to Rainer Maria Rilke’s little known work, Roses and Windows, and to the 13th century French classic, The Romance of the Rose. I do not claim that these works corroborate my perspective, but that they offer genuine observations on this phenomenon.
(excerpted from In and Of: memoirs of a mystic journey, by Jack Haas)