Midwifing Neskaya

I’ve been going through my journals, finding entries about the building of Neskaya.  I’ve posted two sets: Beginnings of Neskaya, and Steps on the Way to Neskaya.  Since then I read Cynthia Bourgeault’s book, The Wisdom Way of Knowing, and quoted her as saying:

Our role is more a creative midwifery that has to do with intuiting the new patterns as they arise in the imaginal and helping birth them into form.

I felt like this was the process by which I had known I had to build Neskaya, and doing it.  I continued to go through my journals, and was blown away to find this in October 1994

from my journal for October 26, 1994

I’ve been wanting to pray, but not knowing who to pray to, or even what to pray for.  I finally asked for clarity: to see the truth; for courage: to act on what I see; for health & physical energy, or if that wasn’t possible, for patience to deal with the lethargy.  I talked to Jesus/Avaloketeshvara/Kannon as the most real being I’m aware of that I could ask for these things.  I guess I really don’t know how to pray — is it the intensity or sincerity of the request or how often the petition is made that “counts”? — whatever that means.  I realize as I try to pray, that I don’t see the divine beings as being motivated by the same things as humans: not likely to respond quickly to anguish, or be worn down by repeated requests, or manipulated by emotion, or angered by a failure to follow the form.  So then, if they just listen, and watch with compassion, what is the point of praying?

And then I periodically have such an odd sense of the world being a radically different place than the one I’m used to.  Instead of a bunch of solid objects, which change according to rigid rules, and the most important things being money, and politics, and how will I pay the taxes and what will the neighbors think, the world seems to be much more fluid, things bloom and fade, dissolve and transform, money and social values are not important at all.  Part of this is coming from building Neskaya — the foundation walls are almost done, may even have been completed yesterday, and the shape is clear on the ground, we can see what size it’s going to be, the location of the alcoves.  The size seems just right: not too big, not too small.  It is really clear now that we are building a cathedral (for lack of a better word), a temple, a “unique sculptural presence.”  I’m tempted to call the bathroom wing the “apse” because it looks like one, a faceted circular shape bulging out of the main body of the building.  (Looking it up, I see that “apse” is correct: “A semi-circular or polygonal, usually domed, projection of a building, especially the altar or east end of a church.”)  Understanding that we are building a cathedral allows me to let go of the money, be willing to spend what we have to.  I have just the barest hint that this is god acting through me and therefore correct, but it’s confusing because all I have to act on is the inner sense of knowing or wanting or willing, but no outer sense that I am pleasing some great being “out there” who really wants this done.  Nor do I have any sense of help coming from outside in the form of synchronicity: it’s not at all like when I decided to make a trip to see the megaliths and everything fell into place.  No wonder I feel bereft.  There aren’t any signals coming from anywhere to tell me what to do, to let me know that what I am doing is “right” — whatever that means.  “Right for me” — what would that mean? something that furthers my growth, increases my compassion and self-knowledge?  “Right for the world” — it’s tempting to see that in terms of the standard idea of a contribution: does it make money, or help other people in some obvious way, does it make the world a better place to live in? does it make the world more beautiful, or cleaner, or safer, does it create peace or kindliness?  By some of those measures anyway, Neskaya could be said to be something “right for the world.”  But I also feel very strongly, with the part of me that “knows” (not intellectual knowing, but some other kind of knowing, more inward, that’s easier to doubt because I can’t look it up in a book) that what is right for me is also, automatically, what is right for the world, even if what is right for me is to try to create comfort or safety for myself by hiding and reading Elizabeth Goudge, or to try to understand myself by writing in here even if it never gets published, never has any value for anyone else.

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