QUESTION FROM READER: "Why do some items take once, others a few times and some go on forever despite working on it constantly? Frustrating when you hit it from every direction and every practice you know and it still comes back. The Spiral answer of going deeper each time gets old and is there an end or is it bottomless? Some issues seem the end comes quickly and others are a bottomless pit. It would be nice to have a discussion around it."
VL: It's been a year and a half of sitting with this question. I'm not sure we have an answer that can be satisfactory so here is an offering that may have some usefulness in shifting perspective.
SPIRIT: What do you consider a long time? Is that a long time for your personality or your soul? Could your healing be over a life time or many life times? Why the rush?
We can imagine getting the same answer each time does get old, might we suggest looking at location instead? Are you the same person each time the problem arises? Are you in the same location - geographically, in space, in your life? Would it be possible to ask yourself to review the problem from your current location now as if you had a fresh set of eyes (and tools) to review it from?
While from your vantage point somethings end quickly, have you gone back and asked your past selves if this is true? Maybe that ending was a continuation from another time and you just witnessed the tail end? And lastly maybe the problem isn't asking to be "hit" from every direction, but whispered to, that it is ok it has shown up, even if it is a downtrodden, weary traveler from a foreign land that is looking for a new way forward. For example, it needs a new wardrobe, fresh food, beauty, and the empathy that life is difficult, but they have found a place to land for the moment. And yes the houseguest may show up again and again. Not because you have failed, instead because you teach it something new, you offer it care and love, you welcome it when others would be destroyed by it.
Healing in your culture has been made to look a certain way. It has been taught that there is an endpoint and a cure for everything, instead of a more gentle approach. What would it have been like if you had been raised with teachers that shared with you their own healing journey that spanned lifetimes? What would it have been like if your community didn't push you to heal as manipulation to be a certain way? What if your culture understood time and space for healing is much longer than human time? What if you could complain about your suffering without a continual invitation to fixing, but instead be met with a deep compassion for the suffering as all humans will suffer?
This is our long way of saying zoom out which is not the same as deepen. It can lead to depth but in a different way and texture. Zoom out to see the interlocking spiraling wheels of your lives. Zoom out to give more spaciousness and time for you, your soul, and your suffering. Zoom out not to "hit it" with every practice but to just observe it. Observe it with beginner's eyes as though you are meeting yourself for the first time. How would you treat you the stranger? Certainly there is more to say on this topic. But we feel we have said enough for the moment.
VL: First, how funny they picked ZOOM as the answer...cue the groans. Second, I want to clarify, the weary houseguest they are speaking of is not trashing your house or harming you. That is a clear line that it is them and their issue and not you. (See Toko-pa's blog post, Everything is a Mirror, Until It's Not for a brilliant teaching on this).
We are not healing in isolation. Society does have a hand in our healing. We have family, friends, work, and other institutions that impact our wellbeing. And much of our world isn't set up for us to heal, what we are set up for is curing; quick, fast, and definitive. Curing certainly has a place in life, but it isn't the only endpoint for healing. Healing which may lead to curing, often takes more time, space, and boundaries and those energies aren't our cultural strong suit. Healing is swimming against this cultural current. Maybe it isn't you, but society that isn't getting the memo it needs.
Healing takes WAY more time than we as a culture think it should. I wonder what it would be like to acknowledge this societal layer as a part of your healing journey? What if you said in some form "This piece of healing that I'm needing isn't me needing to change or fix me, but it's some outward structure that I don't have any control over?" Or "this piece of healing/resolve that I am needing goes against a societal structure (family structure) and I have limited impact on that structure. How can I increase my capacity to be in this challenging space?" I believe these are relevant questions to ask, even if our pain and suffering is physical. We have a back pain or neck pain or foot pain. There's still structures that are in place that impacts our well being, that requirement us to sit at a desk or work, or to shower and get ourselves to a workplace and then when we get there we can only be half of ourselves. That all takes effort and brain capacity. And I don't think we recognize that enough in our world.
In closing to your question, gentle reader, I want to offer gentleness to you. I want to offer compassion to you. I want to offer grace to you. I firmly believe you have all these things. I hear the weariness in your question. I feel your urgency to get on with the goodness and joy of life. And I believe so much and have witnessed it, that we don't need to accomplish healing (or health) to have these things. Suffering and pain is an overrated teacher, this is what my teacher has said to me again and again and I agree. Maybe the learning is the joy between the suffering and that this joy is as tenuous and tender as the places that suffer and are in pain. Life is learning without a test to past or a next level to attain. Life is one big laboratory not a lecture hall. We come here because this is what our souls long for. We are the hungry ghosts for knowledge that is bigger than our personalties and these bodies can hold. Yes this plane is a bottomless pit of learning, may we find our way to enjoy it as the endless buffet our Spirit companions do.
In humble service and with an inadequate answer, I bow to your question and your willingness to speak from your heart.