When all is in confusion, when I don’t know what to do next or where to find inner quiet, I go and sit down by the well. Usually I’m at a point where nothing else works before I give up and just sit and listen to myself and the world, saying goodbye to all the permutations and combinations of efforts that seem to have brought me relief in similar past situations. There’s nothing more to do. Just sit. And wait.
The well is deep. I know that. Perhaps it’s bottomless. I don’t know if that’s true although it certainly feels that way. What I do know is that there is a life in me over which I have no control. And when I’m in anguish or at wit’s end some inner guide tells me nothing will change until I sit down by the well and give up all my usual solutions, all my doings.
It is essential to acknowledge ignorance and open to the unknown. Will help come? It usually does but you can’t count on it, because when you do that you are already creating a side-path, already haggling with the Almighty, so to speak, and trying to get things to go your way.
So you just sit there, listening. You sit there with all you’ve got, noticing your thoughts upstairs as they pass by like clouds, and your bursts of reaction like sparks of energy in the solar plexus: agreement, disagreement; I like, I don’t like. Maybe if you keep a focus on your body, sitting there in real time, legs crossed in yoga pose, or tucked under a Japanese kneeling stool or perched on a chair as your torso rises like a tree trunk and your head floats on top, a prayer will appear all by itself.
I just learned that a dear, dear friend has Alzheimer’s, so I sat by the well today with my heart/mind shouting, “it cannot be so!” Anguish rose and swirled around my chest, impeding my breathing. Tears fell, but I scarcely paid attention to them. Finally the pain settled down into a dull ache, and gradually a larger energy than mine surged up from below, from the bottom of the bottomless well.
This well of being isn’t mine even though it is in me. It is deep and wide and perhaps endless. Although it can connect me with a source of energy I seldom contact, life tends to pull me along as if I didn’t need or want to live with depth. Even after I sit, firmly seeking a deeper sense of myself, as soon as my attention wanders away to follow a thought, I’m back up at the surface of myself and of my life.
We live on the surface and seldom slow down to notice our own earth or have a sense of the depth of that well of the Living Water of Being. Why not take Rene Daumal’s admonition more seriously when he says, in MOUNT ANALOGUE, “Beware of the surface of things”? Or Marion Woodman’s clarification in CONSCIOUS FEMININITY: “If we have no bridge to the unconscious depths that drive us, our rational attempts to correct our situation are merely Band-Aids. They work only so long as we remain cut off from the living fire inside. When that fire blazes forth, our Band-Aids go up in smoke.”
How, O how, to rouse the fire and send those Band-Aids up in smoke? The only way I know of is to sit by the Well of Being, and wait.