Hot spot! Hot spot!

I’ve been pretty sick lately. Due partly to arthritis, partly to two chronic sleep disorders, partly to who knows what else, I haven’t been in deep sleep in about two months. As a result I have migraines nearly every minute of the day and can barely function. My mind is like a boat in fog. I haven’t been out of the house in over a week.

My very dear friend Charlie (he of the amazing poetry, magic camera, and sagely teeshirt slogans) wrote to me today:

I hope you will be doing better soon. I don’t like you to suffer.

I replied:

I’m not exactly suffering. It’s interesting. My body can hardly move, it hurts like hell when I roll over in bed, I have a migraine 24/7, I haven’t been out of the house in almost two weeks … and right now I’m as happy as a clam.

Maybe those old dead guys were on to something when they said, “You are not your body or your mind or your feelings.” I don’t especially feel that I’m one thing or another but maybe that’s the explanation.

Charlie replied:

Looks like your sadhana is working well if you’re able to be settled and peaceful in the midst of that physical discomfort. I admire that. 🙂

I answered him:

Whatever I got, it surely wasn’t from sadhana. 🙂 I barely ever did any. Well, I hardly ever did any voluntary sadhana. Involuntary sadhana — that’s something else. This situation is lucky in a way but it’s about as admirable as having toenails that grow. I can’t take credit. It’s not something I’m responsible for. 🙂

The Goddess told me the reason I got what I got was simply because I wanted it. I had a desire for God and the desire for God is automatically self-fulfilling. That is its nature. I never chose that desire. Nobody chooses their desires. Desires are given to us not chosen. Put those two ideas together and I suppose we can call them “grace.”

When I was about 24 [40 years ago] I wrote a song with a chorus that went like this:

You can’t want what you want to want
You only want what your heart’s got
A-throbbing and a-kicking and a-burning and a-beating
Inside it’s fevered hot spot
Hot spot! Hot spot!

No idea what made me write that song — oh yes I do, it was John Bailey’s book about Tolstoy’s novel Anna Karenina. Bailey says something like, “Anna Karenina is one of the few great novels of which it can be said, it has a simple moral, like a fable. The moral is, ‘Getting what you want doesn’t make you happy.'” At the time I was a typical 20th century American pseudo-educated person and all I could think was, “Wow, that’s the exact opposite of what Sigmund Freud says!” Being a typical 20th century American pseudo-educated person, I knew Freud but not Buddha. I didn’t know that Tolstoy was only saying what Buddha had said, and what many other of the wisest humans in our whole history had said.

But despite my ignorance I recognized that Bailey’s remark was very profound and still remember it 40 years later. But how did I get from there to the fact that the objects of our desire aren’t voluntarily chosen? I must have thought about this stuff a great deal. That was probably one of the things that pushed me toward spiritual things.

8 thoughts to “Hot spot! Hot spot!”

  1. Freddie, one of the easiest ways to know if sadhana is genuine is when you feel we are not doing it, that it is happening on its own, without effort n our part.

    1. That’s fine but I think you’re thinking of activities like japa and meditation that we undertake as purposeful practices.

      That’s what the word “sadhana” usually means but I was using the word in a different way.

      I was thinking of illness, depression, and loving somebody. Those were the three main sadhanas God gave me.

      Those things were involuntary at the start. They didn’t become involuntary later. They were always that way. The question of effort didn’t apply. If anything, the only efforts I was aware of were efforts to escape from the sadhana, not to practice it.

      I call this second category involuntary sadhanas because they are always involuntary. I call the first category voluntary because they start out voluntarily.

      Arathi calls them imposed sadhanas which may be an even better name.

      I have a close friend who suffers from obsessive compulsive disorder. She would do anything to get rid of it. She hates it.

      I listen to her suffer and I think, “One day her obsessive thoughts may become so unbearable that they will motivate her to discover how to look away from them. And then she will say in retrospect, ‘My obsessive compulsive disorder was a sadhana. It led me to enlightenment.'”

      Ironically, her compulsive thoughts are something she’s doing. But she can’t see that. If she could see it, they would stop instantly.

      Maybe I’m using the word sadhana too loosely. I mean anything that pushes or pulls somebody toward God. That’s why I include situations and not only tasks.

      I often avoid the word God because it repels and confuses people but right now —

      God! God! God! I assert my right to use the word. 🙂

      1. I am fond of God. 🙂 Everything that happens or does not happen turns out to be exactly what we needed. Sadhana is noticing that.

  2. The many afflictions which occur with severity like thunderbolts in the life of great devotees are only to establish their pure mind more and more firmly [in tapas, that is, in Self-abidance] and not to shake them down [from it].

    Discriminating and knowing well that all the sufferings that come by prarabdha in his life are sent to him by God’s Grace in order to make his mind stronger and thereby save him, let an aspirant bear with them patiently as tapas without being alarmed even in the least.

    Said by Ramana to his friend Muruganar

  3. Freddie how’s your posture?

    Year’s of chronic headaches, eye pressures, jaw clenching – happens to be posture related. Bad posture = trigger points, neck/shoulder stiffness = chronic upper body and head/facial tensions. I thought it was related to sinuses, allergies, third eye opening, etc. Once I started working on proper sitting, standing, walking, other activities’ posture these issues started going away. My ENT figured out what the issue may be and since then month-long headaches start to alleviate.

    Too many in spirituality deem headaches to be kundalini related. That may be. But I would really stress keeping proper form. In fact I use it now to be more mindful of body sensations.

    Good luck

    1. As I said in the article above, my migraines are caused mainly by lack of deep sleep due to a sleep disorder. They stop when I use a CPAP machine and they resume when I don’t.

      Too many in spirituality deem headaches to be kundalini related.

      One of the reasons why people believe this is that they get headaches from meditating.

      In many of these cases, I think what really happens is that people hold their breath while they meditate in a way that raises intracranial pressure. It’s easy to do this if they contract muscles in the chest and/or neck while holding their breath.

      In principle the solution is simple: breathe freely and relax. But many people, especially beginners, can’t stop themselves from holding their breath involuntarily when they meditate. It can take months or years for this problem to subside.

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