A reflection on Doug & Catherine Sensei’s class on the dynamics of awakening by Ruth Levin:
Last Thursday I had the pleasure and privilege of attending a class taught by Doug Duncan Sensei and Catherine Pawasarat Sensei. Even having studied with them as my teachers and guides for the last ten years, I still find myself impressed with the depth of the message they deliver.
In this last class, called the Cha-Cha-Cha of Awakening, they emphasized the point that the process of spiritual Awakening is inherently dance-like. Like a dancer, they said, a still, clear center must be maintained internally for the dancer’s limbs to be free.
As a dancer, I know this to be true first-hand, and yet still, I find very often that when it comes to the process of growing spiritually, it can be easy to want to pin things down, to find some perspective or behavior to grasp onto as failsafe. And I also know that this isn’t possible, that indeed, as Doug & Catherine emphasized, true freedom lies in embracing and being aware of the dance.
For me, the message that was most central in what they covered was that awareness is the most important part of moving towards freedom, and that what tends to limit or hold our awareness in place is the fear of pain, usually emotional. In their words, “stuckness comes from clinging, and what we are clinging to is the fear of being hurt.”
To meet and skillfully negotiate this fear, we need to gain self-knowledge and strength. Doug and Catherine described this as being developed in two opposing, or balancing forms. The first is connection and union and the second is independence and autonomy. Connection and union is about just that, about connecting and falling into the experiences and other people in our life. Independence and autonomy conversely are about maintaining a strong sense of center throughout.
Each of us tends to be stronger in one of these than the other. For me, my tendency is to fall into experiences, and so connection and union is the more developed of the two. I need to learn to hold my own center throughout experiences – in Doug and Catherine’s words – to become my own mother.
In developing both of these skills in balance and tandem we can meet the pain with the strength and care it takes to let it go. Then, instead of going to all sorts of efforts to avoid the pain, I have the strength and softness to maintain awareness while being fully with the hurt until it dissolves on its own, leaving me freer to live, care and love fully.
A huge, huge thank you to Doug and Catherine for sharing their wisdom and presence so generously, and to the Dharma Hub for envisioning and acting to make spaces for people to hear such essential and nourishing teachings.
For more info and teachings from Doug and Catherine please visit their website at: http://www.planetdharma.com/